Sooner or later, you will want to do the Hollywood Sign hike. As places of interest go, you’ll be hard pressed to find a Southern California location as famous and iconic as the instantly recognizable Hollywood Sign. With the demise of the Hollyridge Trail, the Canyon Drive Trail is now your primary option for the hike.
Sure it’s a bit longer than the old Hollyridge Trail. But it’s also far more moderate than the route from the Wisdom Tree and Cahuenga Peak. Plus, with the Canyon Drive Trail, you also get the option for a side trip to the iconic Bronson Batcave while you’re at it.
Note: The video includes a few spots that are not a part of the Canyon Drive Hollywood Sign hike, including an off trail scamper near the Bronson Batcave, an ill-advised and sketchy shortcut to the Hollyridge Trail and a side trip to Cahuenga Peak.
Distance: 6.5 miles (7.5 miles with optional side trip)
Duration: 3.0 – 4.0 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet (1212 feet with optional side trip)
From the 101 freeway, take exit 8C for Gower St, turn right onto N Beachwood Dr and then in 253 feet, turn right onto Franklin Ave. Follow Franklin Ave for 0.2 miles to Canyon Dr and turn left. In about 1.3 miles, you will see a dirt parking lot across from Bronson Canyon Griffith Park at 3200 Canyon Dr, Los Angeles, CA, 90068.
Bronson Canyon Griffith Park parking lot
Hollywood Sign Hike GPS Waypoints
As is often the case with hikes on fire roads, service roads, and side trails, things can get confusing in a hurry. When you have too many options, there are more opportunities for you to make the wrong turn. With that in mind, here’s a table featuring the approximate GPS waypoints for the Hollywood Sign hike.
|Bronson Canyon parking||34.122871||-118.315432
|Bronson Batcave spur trail (optional)||34.124460||-118.314264|
|Bronson Batcave (optional)||34.121378||-118.314353|
|Canyon Drive & Mulholland junction||34.134389||-118.307159|
|Mulholland & Hollyridge junction||34.132949||-118.313610|
|Mulholland & Mt Lee Drive junction||34.133332||-118.315997|
|Viewing area below sign (optional)||34.130932||-118.318788|
|Mt Lee Hollywood Sign overlook||34.134595||-118.321793|
|Aileen Getty Ridge Trail (optional)||34.134780||-118.322632|
|Cahuenga Peak (optional)||34.137032||-118.325833|
The actual hike to the Hollywood Sign is not that spectacular. It’s just a 6.5 mile round trip trek on paved and dirt roads. You don’t actually get to hike to the sign itself, but rather to the 1,708-foot summit of Mt Lee, just above the sign.
What makes this hike potentially epic is the world famous location and the sign’s worldwide iconic status. When you stand above and behind the Sign’s huge 45-foot-tall aluminum letters looking out over LA, you’ll definitely feel the vibe.
Canyon Drive Trail (Brush Canyon Trail)
Your hike starts at the Bronson Canyon parking lot. Walk easterly up Canyon Drive, past Camp Hollywoodland to the end of the paved road. This is more or less where the actual hike begins. It’s just a dirt road continuation of Canyon Drive, also known as the Brush Canyon Trail.
Note: If you also plan on taking the side trip to the Bronson Batcave, the spur trail leading to the cave is located about 600 feet from the parking lot. You can also get nice views of the Hollywood Sign from an overlook area near the Batcave.
Bronson Canyon Overlook near the Bronson Batcave
Once you’re ready for the Hollywood Sign, walk up the Canyon Drive Trail for about 1.1 miles to the junction with the Mulholland Trail. Along the way, you may notice an inviting looking single track trail that seems like a nice shortcut to the Hollyridge Trail. Don’t fall for it! It’s a ridiculously sketchy and arduous false trail that you definitely want to avoid. We cover it in the video.
There actually is a 0.25 mile shortcut from Canyon Drive to the Hollyridge Trail, across from the check dam. It’s less sketchy than the false trail but is still fairly steep and strenuous. Plus it’s overgrown with brush and is hard to find. Just stay on the Canyon Drive Trail.
The Mulholland Trail
Walk the 1.1 miles up the Canyon Drive Trail and then turn left at the Mulholland Trail toward the sign. In about 0.6 miles you will come to a fork in the road. The downward path is the Hollyridge Trail leading down to Beachwood Drive that most people used for the Hollywood Sign hike before the City restricted access. In any case, continue hiking up the Mulholland Trail by taking the fork to the right.
Mulholland & Hollyridge trail junction
In about 0.2 miles, you will come to a scenic overlook on your left with outstanding views of the Sunset Ranch horse ranch and downtown Los Angeles. You will also see the Hollyridge Trail that runs alongside the Sunset Ranch. This is a nice place for a scenic photo or short break.
Nice view of the Sunset Ranch
Once you’ve enjoyed the good views, continue hiking up the trail. You still have a way to go and the Hollywood Sign awaits you.
Mt Lee Drive — The Road to the Hollywood Sign
In just under 0.2 miles, you’ll reach the junction with Mt Lee Drive, which is paved. From here you have two choices. If you turn left and hike for about 0.5 miles, you will reach an informal Hollywood Sign viewing area sandwiched between Mt Lee Drive and Mulholland Hwy. This is probably the best “under the sign” photo location you will find on the entire hike.
Hollywood Sign viewing area at Mt Lee Drive
If you make a right turn at the junction, you’ll hike up the winding asphalt path seemingly in the wrong direction. This is your option if you want to see the Hollywood Sign from above and get to the Mt Lee summit. It’s only 0.9 miles from the junction to the summit. The views from the top are superb.
Your best option, of course, is to hike to both the Hollywood Sign viewing area below the sign and then to the Mt Lee summit above the sign. Sure, this adds an extra mile to the hike and a little backtracking, but so what? You will kick yourself if you don’t get pictures at both locations. So you might as well do both.
Cahuenga Peak Side Trip
For a REAL hiking experience, you might consider hiking the Aileen Getty Ridge Trail to the neighboring Cahuenga Peak in addition to the Hollywood Sign. It’s a gnarly little hike on a very steep and rugged trail. So don’t attempt this trail unless you have good trail shoes and adequate hiking skills.
Aileen Getty Ridge Trail to Cahuenga Peak
The trail begins just below the Mt Lee summit and takes you up and down a ridge and then back up to Cahuenga Peak. Look for the large Cahuenga Peak trailhead marker in the dirt clearing next to Mt Lee Drive.
Cahuenga Peak is listed on the Sierra Club’s Lower Peaks list. It’s a nice destination with great views of downtown Burbank on one side and the LA area on the other. Getting there is a lot more challenging than just hiking to the Hollywood Sign.
Cahuenga Peak summit facing Burbank
This is also the back door to the Wisdom Tree should you wish to continue on past Cahuenga Peak. For more about Cahuenga Peak, see the Wisdom Tree, Cahuenga Peak and the Hollywood Sign hike description.
Let’s face it, with this kind of hike, there are no lofty mountain peaks to bag or perilous trails to navigate. It’s all about experiencing the vibe of a world famous location that attracts visitors from around the world. Go ahead and embrace it. Then treat yourself to a cold beer or a bite to eat at a local eatery. You’ve earned it. Cheers!