When to fit a trek to this Los Angeles icon into your trip schedule
Sprawling and mostly flat, Los Angeles doesn't have a particularly identifiable skyline, but one location is nearly synonymous with the city itself. Erected in 1923 as an advertisement for real estate development Hollywoodland, the Hollywood sign is accessed via a view-worthy hiking trail that leads to the top of Mount Lee.
How long is the hike to the Hollywood sign?
There are three main approaches to the Hollywood sign. Each trail surrounds trekkers with the lush and verdant Griffith Park, one of the nation's largest urban parks. Hikers ascending along any of these are rewarded by views of downtown skyscrapers, the homes dotting the hills of Beachwood Canyon and Silver Lake, and on a clear day, the silent glittering blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
- The Brush Canyon Trail is the longest, a 6.4 mile round-trip hike to the sign which takes you to the top of Mount Lee above and behind the sign itself. This hike traverses a wooded area interspersed with sunshine. The trail is perfect for travelers looking for a longer respite in nature before descending back to the traffic and commotion of the city.
- The shortest, but most strenuous, trail is the Wonder View Trail (also called Burbank Peak) to Cahuenga Peak. This 3-mile round-trip route is steep but generally less crowded than the other two.
- The Hollyridge Trail provides a happy medium. The trail is shorter than Brush Canyon, but less steep than Wonder View. The hike clocks in at 3.5 miles round trip, but views of the sign are available to hikers early in the ascent.
Three things to keep in mind
- Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen . Even if you don't feel thirsty or tired, the sun is strong and it gets hot, so drink water both before you set out on your hike and on your return. This is especially true during the midday hours in the summer months. There are plenty of trees, bushes and brush on the trail, most of the hiking paths are not shaded, and you will likely be in direct sun for most of your hike.
- Look around. Your end goal might be the Hollywood sign, but the nature, vistas, and wildlife around you are pretty spectacular, too. Small lizards, hummingbirds and birds populate these areas in Griffith Park. Don't forget to take a break every now and then to see what's around you.
- Stay on the trail. As with all of Griffith Park, authorized trails are open to visitors between sunrise and sunset, but all visitors must remain on the designated trails.
Two things that you can't do
- Touch the Hollywood Sign. So, before setting out on this journey, understand that you can't actually get to the Hollywood sign. You can get pretty close, but the sign itself is fenced. It may be disappointing that you'll never have the opportunity to watch the sunset nestled in the hollow of a 45 foot tall "O," but you'll be able to get close enough.
- Smoke. California has strict laws about fire prevention in all its national parks. Dry conditions can lead to wildfires, so smoking is strictly prohibited. If you're a smoker, take heed: lighting up on the trail could mean a serious fine.