- Location: Griffith Park. From Los Angeles, take the 101 freeway to Gower Street (exit 8C), take the Beachwood Drive ramp, stay straight and go right on Franklin. After half a mile, take a left on Canyon Drive and follow it into the park where available, either in the two designated lots or along Canyon Drive. From the Valley, take the Vine exit off highway 101 and keep left at the fork to get to Franklin and follow it to Canyon Drive. NOTE: The lots fill up quickly, especially on weekends. There is a good chance you will need to park farther south on Canyon Drive. Ambitious hikers can take the DASH Hollywood bus to Franklin and Bronson and walk an extra 1.5 miles each way.
- Agency: Griffith Park
- Distance: 6 miles (plus possible additional walking due to parking difficulty)
- Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
- Suggested time: 3 hours (plus time to find parking)
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain, distance)
- Best season: October-June
- Recommended gear: Sun hat, sunblock
- Dogs: Allowed on leash (exercise caution on warm days; expect to see many other dogs)
- Cell phone reception: Good for most of the route; weak to fair in some spots
- Water: None
- Restrooms: Chemical toilet at the lower parking lot below the trail head (editor’s note: only for desperation)
- Camping/backpacking: None
- More information: Trip descriptions here, here, here, here and here
- Rating: 6
Updated February 2019
The Hollywood Sign needs no introduction, but those who are visiting from out of town or are new to hiking in Griffith Park need to be aware of two things: first, the sign is not located on Mt. Hollywood but Mt. Lee and second, only the back of the sign is visible from the summit (the best views are on the way up). Access to Mt. Lee has recently become a hot button issue, pitting local home owners against hikers and tourists. As of this writing, the idea of an aerial tram is still being considered. Politics aside, there are two straightforward approaches to Mt. Lee: a challenging route from the west, also visiting Cahuenga and Burbank Peaks and the route from Brush Canyon, described here.
From your starting point, enter the park via the fire road and begin the steady ascent up Brush Canyon, picking up about 600 feet in 1.1 miles. This brings you to the wide Mulholland Trail, a main east-west artery of Griffith Park. Head left (or right if you want to add Mt. Chapel to your trip). After the climb, this level stretch will be welcome. On clear days, you will have excellent views of downtown Los Angeles and beyond, possibly as far as the ocean.
In 0.6 mile, stay right as the Hollyridge Trail branches off on the left. The Hollyridge Trail once led up from Beechwood Drive before access was cut off. In another 0.3 mile (2 miles from the start), turn right on paved Mt. Lee Drive, just below the sign. Now you are back to work, climbing 450 feet in the next 0.9 mile. On your way up, you are rewarded with more views, notably to the north, including the Santa Susana Mountains, the Verdugo Mountains and the San Gabriels, towering above the sprawl of the Valley.
The road, which sometimes sees vehicle traffic, curves around the back of Mt. Lee and under the shadow of taller Cahuenga Peak before coming around the front above the Hollywood Sign. A use trail leads to the summit, which will likely be crowded. Here you can enjoy a 360-degree view, including a bird’s eye perspective on the sign and the Hollywood Reservoir far below.
After soaking in the scenery, return via the same route. If you still have time, you can make a side trip to the Batcave.