The Wisdom Tree Hike is a short but strenuous trek up the steep and rugged Wonder View Trail to the somewhat iconic Wisdom Tree that sits alone atop Burbank Peak. By itself, it’s a superb short hike with about 740 feet of elevation gain in just 0.8 miles. But it’s an even better hike when combined with Cahuenga Peak and the Hollywood Sign. Which is what we’ll cover here.
Distance: 3.2 miles
Duration: 2-3 hours
Elevation Gain: 925 feet
Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous
From the 101 freeway in North Hollywood, exit on Barham Boulevard and proceed north for 0.3 miles. Turn right on Lake Hollywood Drive and continue for 0.5 miles to the intersection with Wonder View Drive. Park on Lake Hollywood Drive and walk up to the intersection. The official trailhead is 0.3 miles up Wonder View Drive.
You can use a virtual address of 3052 Lake Hollywood Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068 for navigation. Or the GPS address: 34.131801, -118.337757.
Hikers on the corner of Wonder View Drive & Lake Hollywood Drive
Note: If you are doing the alternate Wisdom Tree Hollywood Sign loop hike, you will want to park near the bottom of the hill near the 2750 block of Lake Hollywood Drive. That way you will be near the porta-potties at both the beginning and ending of your hike and won’t have to trudge up the hilly section of Lake Hollywood Drive twice.
Wisdom Tree Hike Description
The actual Wisdom Tree Hike begins at the Wonder View trailhead located at the end of Wonder View Drive, about 0.3 miles from Lake Hollywood Drive. You will have to walk up a residential street past a few homes. Be considerate of the residents who live here and their properties.
You will see a posted sign declaring that there is no access to the Hollywood Sign. Just continue walking up the street until you reach the official Wonder View Trail Head at a dirt clearing. This is where the REAL hike begins.
The rocky trail to the Wisdom Tree
You can see the hill you will be climbing from the trailhead. It doesn’t look easy and it isn’t. But it IS a fun hike. So take a deep breath, stretch out your legs and start hiking up the trail to your right. This is the Wonder View Trail. Some hikers call it the Wisdom Tree Trail. Google Maps calls it the Tree of Life Trail. Regardless of the name, the trail is steep, rugged and loose. Fortunately, there are a few switchbacks along the way to help you up the hill.
Hikers on the Wonder View Trail
Just before you reach the summit, you will see the Wisdom Tree pop into view. A short spur trail leads to the tree, which sits majestically on the spacious Burbank Peak summit. There’s a register box near the tree where various hikers leave their Pearls of Wisdom or notes of good tidings to fellow hikers.
Along with the Wisdom Tree, there are several cairns, a few interesting rock outcroppings and nice views of Los Angeles and Burbank. This is a good place to take a break before continuing on to Cahuenga Peak. The views from the summit are nice.
Burbank Peak overlook
If you’re really pressed for time, you can hike back down the Wonder View Trail for a short but exhilarating 1.6-mile round trip hike. But for this hike, you will continue across the ridge to Cahuenga Peak and then on to the Hollywood Sign on Mt Lee.
Compared to the rough and tumble climb up to Burbank Peak, the trail across the ridge to Cahuenga Peak is fairly mild. Plus, you get outstanding views of downtown Burbank on one side and Los Angeles on the other. But you still have to watch your step, of course.
Cahuenga Peak is located about 0.4 miles past Burbank Peak and the Wisdom Tree. You may encounter some vegetation and brush along the way. The summit of Cahuenga Peak is marked by a benchmark. It’s a small summit with decent views but there’s not a whole lot to do or see there aside from taking a few photos.
Even so, Cahuenga Peak is on the official Sierra Club’s Lower Peaks list, so you at least get credit for bagging a peak.
Small summit and benchmark on Cahuenga Peak
From the Cahuenga Peak summit, you can see the gaudy looking radio tower on the neighboring Mt Lee, which is your next destination. Make sure your trail shoes are properly tied and your trekking poles adjusted, because the trail down from Cahuenga Peak toward the Aileen Getty Ridge is very steep and slippery. You may have to use your hands to help you navigate down the trail.
Aileen Getty Ridge Trail between Cahuenga Peak and Mt Lee
To get a better idea of what the Aileen Getty Ridge Trail looks like, check out the photo below. It’s a rough and tumble trail for sure but you should be able to get through it without taking a tumble if you have the proper trail shoes, take your time and watch your footing.
Although certainly doable for experienced hikers, this section of trail is not recommended for beginning hikers or anyone not prepared for a slippery trail.
Slippery section of the Aileen Getty Ridge Trail
Once you get down to the Aileen Getty Ridge, you will still have to climb back up another unnamed bump before you reach the intersection with Mt Lee Drive. But fortunately, this section is not nearly as intense as the Cahuenga Peak descent.
There’s a small spur trail leading up to the scenic Hugh Hefner Overlook just before Mt Lee Drive that loops back to the main trail. The overlook is small and is marked by a small monument that has sadly been defaced by graffiti.
Hugh Hefner Overlook
Mt Lee and the Hollywood Sign
After checking out the views from the Hugh Hefner Overlook, you can then walk down the remaining few feet to Mt Lee Drive, which is a paved asphalt road. From there, it’s just a few hundred feet to the Hollywood Sign Overlook on the Mt Lee summit. This is your destination. And even though you will be looking down over the top of the world-famous Hollywood Sign, you will still feel the vibe.
Two hikers enjoy the vibe and views from the Hollywood Sign
There’s plenty of space on the Mt Lee summit but it will likely be crowded with hikers and tourists. So you’ll have to wait patiently for your turn to grab a nice photo of you and your group above the sign.
Take a well-deserved break or just soak in the views before you head back the way you came. Enjoy it while you can because the trek back will be nearly as demanding as the hike up. In a nutshell, this short 3.2-mile rough and tumble hike combines two iconic locations with a REAL hiking experience on a seriously rugged hiking trail. This is the peak bagger’s way to do the Hollywood Sign.
Alternate Wisdom Tree Hollywood Sign Loop Hike
Instead of returning the way you came on the Aileen Getty Ridge Trail and Wonder View Trails, you can make a loop hike of it by continuing down Mt Lee Drive to Mulholland Hwy and then walking through a few residential streets back to your waiting car, truck or motorcycle on Lake Hollywood Drive.
Doing it this way, you still get the real hiking experience of the Wisdom Tree Hike, Cahuenga Peak, and the Hollywood Sign along with nice “below the Hollywood Sign” views. This increases the overall distance to 5.4 miles but the entire walk down from the Hollywood Sign to the trail head is mostly downhill and ends up being a much easier walk than trudging back up the hill and over the peaks.
View of the Hollywood Sign from Mt Lee Drive at Mulholland Hwy
This alternate loop route is optional of course, but if you’re interested simply walk down Mt Lee about 1.4 miles to the junction with Mulholland Hwy. Grab whatever photos you like at the viewing area below the sign and then continue down the Mulholland Hwy walking path, past the gate.
Mulholland Hwy walking path
Stay on Mulholland Hwy walking path whenever possible and only walk on the street when safe to do so. You will eventually reach Canyon Lake Drive where you can now walk on a sidewalk. Follow the sidewalk around a bend and along Lake Hollywood Park.
Lake Hollywood Park
Walk past Lake Hollywood Park and make a left on Tahoe Drive. From there take a short stroll down Tahoe Drive to Lake Hollywood Drive. Make a right and continue walking on Lake Hollywood Drive for about 0.7 miles until you reach your parked vehicle.
The entire walk through the residential area is about two miles long and should take about 45 minutes to do. It should be noted that this optional loop route down residential streets is not an official part of the Wisdom Tree hike. It’s an optional route to consider if you so desire.
Regardless of how you do it, the Wisdom Tree Hike to the Hollywood Sign is a fine hike and a superb way to do the Hollywood Sign. But the rough and tumble trail isn’t suitable for beginning hikers. If you just want to hike to the Hollywood Sign, consider the Canyon Drive Trail (aka Brush Canyon Trail). Cheers!