On Hiking to the Hollywood Sign

Ah, the Hollywood sign. It’s one of those iconic landmarks that pretty much everybody knows. Although I grew up in Los Angeles and had seen this iconic sign time and time again, I had never done the hike up to the sign itself. One morning, my husband and I decided to remedy that.

We woke up early at the Culver City Airbnb we had stayed the night in with the intention of heading straight to the hiking trail before the day got too hot. Once we were awake, however, my husband decided that he really wanted to go out to brunch first (typical), so we didn’t end up getting to the sign until about 11am, by which point it was extremely hot.

A word of advice if you’re planning on doing this hike during the hotter months…it gets hot. Really hot. There is little shade on the trail (except for the shade in this one spot, pictured below). Try to get there earlier in the day when it’s cooler. It’s ok to hike it during the hot part of the day, but know it’s a long, hot hike and you’ll need to bring more water with you than you think you’ll need. Just some advice.

That being said, it’s an awesome hike!

Ok, so you’re probably wondering about the details on how to do this hike yourself. I’ll give you the scoop…

There are several different ways to get to the Hollywood sign and they do have varying difficulty levels, so definitely plan accordingly. The three “official” ways to get to the sign are via the Mt. Hollywood Trail, the Canyon Drive Trail, and the Cahuenga Peak Hike.  Mt. Hollywood is the easiest of the three trails, and Cahuenga Peak is the most challenging, so depending on what kind of workout you’re looking to get, keep that in mind. I would leave more detailed descriptions on these trails, but this site has done such a good job of it already that I’ll just link to them.

So….which way did I go? Well…it’s complicated, hahaha. My husband and I poorly planned our Hollywood sign hike and just “winged it” like we always seem to do. Clearly, it turned out fabulously, however, so I’ll tell you a little more about our experience.

We had been thinking about doing the Hollywood sign hike but hadn’t researched it at all in any way, shape or form beforehand until we found ourselves thumbing through a book called 10,000 Steps a Day in L.A.: 52 Walking Adventures that our Airbnb hosts had left for us to enjoy. In the book, it described various walks and hikes you could do all around the city while earning your 10,000 FitBit (or whatever tracker) steps a day. I saw it had directions to the Hollywood sign hike in the book, so we took a quick photo of the page with the descriptions, filled up a couple bottles of water, and we were on our way. So prepared, I know.

Getting There

So, the directions we followed told us to drive to 3200 Canyon Lake drive and park on the street, near Lake Hollywood Park. Interestingly, although I had grown up in L.A. I had never visited this particular park, so it was cool to park there and discover one of the best Hollywood sign views in L.A. from that little park (hint, in case you’re visiting and looking for a good view of it).

From there, we were to walk to the dead-end of Canyon Lake Drive, proceed around the white gate, and walk up the gently sloping fire road. Easy enough instructions, but we did get lost a couple times. It wasn’t too hard to find our way, however, due to about 1,000 other people attempting the same hike. The first part of the hike takes you through a neighborhood. Don’t drive into this neighborhood, however, as only residents are allowed to park and you will get towed if you try it. You’ll go up through the neighborhood for a while and eventually you’ll come across a sign for the hiking trail. Follow that and you’ll end up on an actual trail. From there, you’ll follow the trail for quite a while as it meanders upward. Occasionally you’ll see sign posts along the way to point you in the right direction. I can’t stress enough that you should bring more water than you need for this hike. There isn’t much shade and it can get really hot.

Keep following the road up, up, up…and you’ll eventually make it to the backside of the Hollywood sign! Hooray! There’s a great viewpoint up there and you can see all of L.A. on a clear day, which is amazing. It’s pretty awesome to see the sign from behind. It’s much bigger than it seems from below. Enjoy your time up top, rest a bit, take some fabulous photos, and then start heading down. It takes about 1/3 of the time to get back down as it takes to hike up, so it will feel quick. After that, go enjoy an amazing meal as you’ll be hungry and L.A. is a world-class city for food!

Have you ever hiked to the Hollywood sign? Did you go a different way than I did? Would love to hear about your experience!


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