Take a Hike to the Hollywood Sign

Melody Waintal/SAConScene

Melody Waintal/SAConScene

The Hollywood Sign symbolizes the city, movies, and fame. Over the years, with the marvelous invention of Google Maps, travelers have been able to find different locations to trek up to the sign; paths people who weren’t from the area couldn’t get to before because they weren’t really shown on maps.

There are several ways to get as close to the sign as possible, but not every distance is the same. From the 7.5-mile hike starting at Griffith Park to the 1.4-mile hike on Mulholland Highway, there are plenty of options to choose from.

While anyone today can go online and research a trail to the sign, not many know that the most popular one, Hollyridge Trial on Beachwood Canyon, might actually be redirected.

At the top of the street where Hollyridge Drive meets Beachwood Drive, there is a gate known as Beachwood Gate that leads to Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables, which also has a trail to the Hollywood Sign. However, rain or shine, there is always a guard stationed in front of the gate.

Even though the gate was open to walkers, hikers and runners from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., the Ranch ran into a problem over access to the land the guards were guarding.

Back in February, Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables went to court with the City of Los Angeles regarding their “Right of Way Agreement” with the city, asking for exclusive access to the Ranch from the Beachwood Gate along a paved road that also connects the Hollyridge trail to the Hollywood Sign.

The “Right of Way Agreement” was made back in 1940, granting the owner of the Ranch a right of way from Beachwood Gate to the stables. The Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled against exclusive access because pedestrians (including hikers) cannot be excluded from the agreement.

However, the judge did agree that the city was interfering with their ROW agreement by having guards turn away Sunset Ranch customers, not allowing them through by car, and channeling pedestrians along the road to access the Hollyridge trail (because the other access point to the Hollyridge trail was blocked by a house that was constructed at the entrance). So, the final ruling was that the city would try to redirect people from that path as of April 18.

What does redirection mean for local hike lovers? Do we have to slog 7.4 miles from Griffith Park to get to the sign? Not necessarily.

There are several routes to the sign. On the other side of Mt. Hollywood, instead of continuing through Lake Hollywood from Barham and the 101 Freeway, turn left onto Wonder View Drive where there is access to a trail. It’s about a 3 mile hike from there.

The other trail, and the fastest by car, is at the end Mulholland Highway. Going down Lake Hollywood where it turns into Tahoe Drive, turn right onto Canyon Lake Drive. Straight ahead on Mulholland Highway there will be a hill the end of the street.

On weekends after 6 p.m., anyone can park on the street, but be careful. Do not attempt to park on the street any earlier because law enforcement roaming around will give tickets even ten minutes before the time. On that hill, there are signs that say “Residents Only” or “No Access to the Sign” which is not completely true. Don’t get discouraged. Walk with confidence past those signs and up the hill. You will see the beginning of the trail and the front of the Hollywood Sign on your left.

Alternate trail to the Hollywood Sign.

Continuing on that path, there will be a gate that will make you feel as if you’ve reached a dead end. You haven’t. Take a left and go up the stairs. The trail continues, but once you pass the gate, you have to decide whether you want to hike down – and commit to the 1.4-mile hike to the back of the sign – or go up and stick around for great photos of the front of the sign. The choice is yours.