Checked Off My California Bucket List: Hike to the Hollywood Sign!

A hike to the Hollywood Sign has been on my California bucket list for a long time. About two years ago, our family attempted, but we failed. It was a new area to us and we started our outing too late in the day. I chalked it up as being a reconnaissance mission for a future visit.

This past holiday season I finally had a chance to try again. My family was in town for the holidays, and my 11-year-old niece expressed an interest in getting a good view of the sign. Quickly, a little group was assembled for an excursion to the sign. We were my sister, my niece, and my father (in the best attire he had for a hike—slacks and loafers!).

The view as we drove up Beachwood Canyon Drive, approaching what we thought would be the start of our hike

The view as we drove up Beachwood Canyon Drive, approaching what we thought would be the start of our hike

We had a little hiccup in the beginning. I began by taking them to the trailhead at the top of Beachwood Canyon, which I had figured out on our reconnaissance mission was a good place to start. I knew there had been some issues between neighbors and hikers/tourists and faintly remembered that the trailhead had been closed for a while, but I thought that was over. Turns out it wasn’t. The parking at the trailhead was still closed, but there were handouts that suggested we go to Griffith Observatory and begin our hike from there. We had no time constraints so we headed over there.

We were not the only ones there that Sunday, the third day after Christmas. Cars snaked up the road from the Griffith Park entrance to the parking lot at Griffith Observatory. Parking was extremely hard to come by. Just as we had given up on finding a spot in the parking lot, a car started pulling out and we actually ended up getting the closest spot to the trailhead.

Sporty grandpa in loafers and slacks is ready for a hike on this beautiful day!

Since I hadn’t planned or prepared for this particular hike, we weren’t totally sure how to proceed. But with the sight of the Hollywood Sign in the distance, a trailhead named Mt. Hollywood Hiking Trail in front of us, others heading in the same direction, my cell phone with a satellite map showing trails, backpacks with water and snacks, and time on our side, we felt confident as we set off.

A stop for a must-do picture session

A stop for a must-do picture session

From the Beachwood Canyon trailhead, I had anticipated about a 3 to 4 mile hike. Now it was looking like a 7-mile hike! Though it was long, it turned out to be not too hard. Much of it was a fireroad and even at times we walked along a paved road. We did choose to take a single-track trail at one point to mix it up a bit.

Single track trail along the way

Single-track trail along the way

Generally, the hike wasn’t steep, though we did have two very steep passages we had to scramble down. We even had a chance to search for a few geocaches along the way. My niece was an eager fellow geocacher. We found two successfully but had to leave many behind for next time.

We made it!

We made it! And that’s as close as we could get to the sign.

Enjoying the view from the top—Hollywood Reservoir, Century City, the ocean

Hollywood Sign and view of downtown LA

Reaching the sign and seeing the city from behind the sign was so well worth the time and effort of the hike! Now whenever I see the sign from various places in the city, I view it with totally different eyes and have a much greater appreciation for it. I’m very grateful my niece mentioned that she wanted to see the sign and that she, my sister, and my father were game to go on a hike that day. I would love to bring my own family there. I feel like it’s an experience every Angeleno should have.

For more information on visiting the Hollywood Sign, visit The Hollywood Sign. There you will find information on the history of the sign, a 24-hour live webcam, and tips on how best to see the sign, whether that’s from a viewpoint in the city, taking a shuttle to a viewing area, or hiking there.

4 thoughts on “Checked Off My California Bucket List: Hike to the Hollywood Sign!

  1. Great story and super photos, Thanks! We hiked to the Hollywood sign in the very early 90s when we were newbies to LA… We struck out through the chaparral from a road above Griffith Park Observatory and headed for the sign by dead-reckoning. Quite a thrash! It would no doubt be illegal or at least ill-advised to do that now, but our mountain climber instincts kicked in. 🙂 C climbed up to sit atop the “W” and take in the view, but I was chicken to go much higher than part way up the base of the letter. Probably just as well. It was a fun, challenging, long day! I hope you and the family have a chance to enjoy the modern-day trip together sometime soon. Cheers, -D

    • What a great story about visiting the Hollywood Sign. That was very brave of C to climb to the top of the W, but I’m sure great fun. Thanks for sharing!

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