7 Epic Hikes for a Close-Up View of the Iconic Hollywood Sign

Trek to one of LA’s most famous landmarks.

hollywood sign
Photo by Michelle Rae Uy for Thrillist

Perched atop Mount Lee in the Santa Monica Mountains, the Hollywood Sign represents one of LA’s most significant monuments. Yet most never get the chance to see the sign up close and in all its 45-foot glory, instead settling for distant photos of the landmark captured from the Hollywood and Highland intersection or the Griffith Observatory. But to truly experience the grandeur of these iconic letters, you must trudge those dirt trails and make that trek up. Within Griffith Park—LA’s own Central Park, but better, with 4,310 acres that make it one of the largest urban parks in North America— there’s a tangle of trails and numerous trailheads that serve as jumping-off points to this LA emblem. From effortless footpaths meant for non-hikers to challenging trails for the more experienced ones, here are the seven best hikes to reach the Hollywood sign.

Lake Hollywood Park, Mulholland Highway Trail | Photo by Michelle Rae Uy for Thrillist

Mulholland Highway Trail

Hollywood
Starting point
Parking: Hollywood Reservoir parking near the gate on Weidlake Dr; street parking is available as well.
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2 miles round trip

Only locals really know about this mile-long gold-and-green stretch that skirts around the eastern fringes of the Hollywood Reservoir. Well, them and a handful of tourists that stumble into its northern terminus after posing for obligatory Hollywood Sign photos. Start at the southern end where there are some parking spots near the dam entrance, and work your way up to Canyon Lake Drive where photo opportunities abound. This is a gentle climb, so pack some supplies and carve out time for a picnic at Lake Hollywood Park. On your way back, don’t rush. Views of the reservoir and nearby mansions are stunning, especially as it approaches sunset. The Mulholland Dam is worth a stop before you hop back in the car.

Innsdale Drive Trail

Hollywood
Starting point
Parking: Street parking along Innsdale Drive and Canyon Lake Drive.
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: up to 4.4 miles round trip

The Innsdale hike to the Hollywood Sign can be as easy or as challenging as you want it to be. It’s a lovely one-mile hike from the trailhead at the end of Innsdale Drive through the winding Mulholland Highway fringed with flowering shrubs to the very Instagrammable viewpoint, making it perfect for romantic first-date walks. However, if you’re looking for a bit of a challenge, continue on along Mt. Lee Drive and make your way up behind the sign where you’ll be treated to shimmering views of the sprawl, especially if you wait past sunset. Pack a wide-angle lens to get all those letters in your frame.

Fern Dell Nature Preserve to Mount Lee

Griffith Park
Starting point
Parking: Ample street parking along Fern Dell Drive.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Distance: 12.5 miles round trip

Don’t be intimidated by that over ten-mile distance. This hike, which takes you from the quiet Fern Dell Nature Trail through the wide yet dusty West and Mt. Hollywood Trails, is merely trading a shorter, tougher trek for a long and gradual incline, making it friendlier to inexperienced hikers. There are some small sections that might take your breath away (literally), but they are very few and far between. Plus, the road is paved with vistas stunning enough to distract from them. There’s hardly any shade, so this isn’t a middle-of-the-day type of adventure, but it’s a spectacular one to do closer to sunset.

Charlie Turner Trail, Mt. Hollywood and Mt. Chapel Trails to Mt. Lee | Photo by Michelle Rae Uy for Thrillist

Mt. Hollywood and Mt. Chapel Trails to Mount Lee

Griffith Park
Starting point
Parking: Ample paid parking along W Observatory Road and the Griffith Observatory parking lot.
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 6 miles round trip

Starting at the Charlie Turner Trailhead across the parking lot from the Observatory, this trail feels like an amalgamation of everything Griffith Park has to offer: expansive dusty tracks, shrub-fringed footpaths, craggy bluffs. It’ll take you to Mt. Hollywood for sweeping views of the Observatory and the Hollywood sign itself, best seen at sunset, then on to Mt. Lee for more covetable views. While some parts of this hike might not be for the less intrepid, especially the untampered Mt. Chapel Trail that’s off the tourist trail, it’s more rewarding than it’s given credit for. It does call for a pair of hiking shoes with excellent traction, however, and swap out those shorts for something longer to avoid thorny stabs from the overgrown brush.

Mt. Lee, Brush Canyon Trail to Mt. Lee | Photo by Michelle Rae Uy for Thrillist

Brush Canyon Trail to Mount Lee

Griffith Park
Starting point
Parking: Ample paid parking at Bronson Park; street parking outside the gates is also available.
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 6.4 miles round trip

The Brush Canyon Trail is a favorite among Angelenos, which means that that trailhead parking lot gets pretty packed, especially on weekends. It’s well worth scavenging a spot for, but if you’re a late afternoon or a night hiker, we’d recommend parking outside the gates, anyway. This 3.2-mile trek to the sign is ideal if you want to work up a sweat with its 1,050-foot elevation chance and minimal shade, which is why it’s best tackled when the sun is low. Take your time if you must do it in the morning and are not used to uphills. Luckily, an occasional tree should offer a bit of respite from the heat.

Riverside and Hogback Trails to Mount Lee

Griffith Park
Starting point
Parking: Ample street parking along N Vermont Canyon Rd; The Greek parking is available when there’s no event.
Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
Distance: 9 miles round trip

Hikers typically tackle the Riverside and Hogback Trails when making their way up to Mount Hollywood. That steep section of the Hogback Trail that takes you up to Dante’s View and Mount Hollywood, while a tad tough, is fun and rife for Instagrammable hiking photos. However, since Griffith Park’s trails are interconnected, you can certainly hit the 3-Mile Trail or the North Trail and make your way to Mt. Lee as well. In fact, we’d recommend it for a more challenging and energizing hike. Luckily, most of the way is wide and well-established, making it less daunting to novice hikers. Before crossing that small bridge, meander along the captivating Henry’s Trail, a wilder out-and-back path to Glendale Peak, and take a much-needed breather before heading back out.

Wisdom Tree, Burbank Peak Trail | Photo by Michelle Rae Uy for Thrillist

Burbank Peak Trail

Hollywood
Starting point
Parking: Street parking along Lake Hollywood Dr.
Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
Distance: 3 miles round trip

Those who are intensely turned off by steep uphills should either avoid the Burbank Peak Trail or really lean into it and make it your next big challenge. It might be among the shortest routes to the Hollywood Sign, but it’s hardly the easiest, steadily climbing more than 700 feet from the trailhead and hitting two peaks in the first mile. And, just in case that doesn’t push you past your boundaries, it’s a slightly narrow and craggy scramble up as well. Trust us when we say it’s well worth the sweat and silent tears, however, as there are many tantalizing spots worth pulling over for (and to use as an excuse to catch your breath), like the Wisdom Tree. Start your hike very early in the morning, and you’ll bathe in glorious rolling fog.

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Michelle Rae Uy is a Los Angeles freelance travel, tech and gadgets writer covering everything from computing to the latest in green commutes to the best adventures in Europe and Asia. She currently contributes for TechRadar, T3, IGN and Business Insider, as well as Thrillist. When not testing cool gadgets, she spends her time gallivanting around the world and cuddling with her cats, Bow and Arrow.