How to Hike to the Hollywood Sign (aka Mount Lee)

By Heather

For the longest time, I’ve believed the warnings that you can’t go to the Hollywood Sign, that the closest you could possibly do is stand at the Hollywoodland entrance gates on Beachwood.

Who has two thumbs and is gullible as all get out? This chick. You can get to the Hollywood Sign and it’s actually not too difficult.

That’s behind the sign! And so close! Awesome!

Directions

I will not give you any directions, because that’s already been ably done by Dan Simpson. Print these out, because you will need them.

Tips

I will give you lots and lots of tips, however. You will need these too!

Getting there

  • The best way to get to the Hollyridge Trailhead is to take the 101 and exit Franklin. If you’re driving north on 101 and take this exit, there will be a teeny, tiny blink-and-you’ll-miss-it turn that looks like a driveway on your right. Turn there! That’s Beachwood. You’ll see the Hollywood Sign right there in front of you.
  • There are signs on Beachwood that say “No Hollywood Sign Access.” Take a picture of it, because it’s a lying sign. Pretty rare.
  • Ignore the sign, obviously, and drive up Beachwood as far as you can. At the very end, there are stables and a parking lot. If you’re there during the weekday, you’ll probably be able to park much closer to the trailhead. You may even get a spot in the lot.
  • On the weekends, forget it. Don’t even try to go to the parking lot. Just find a spot on the street and walk up. Even if you walk and additional mile, it’s worth it.

The trail

  • On your way up, you will see a sign pointing you in the direction of the Hollyridge Trail. This is your one and only notification. The unlabeled trail is on your right, directly off the parking lot. You’ll see it, but ask someone if you’re not sure. If you get to the stables, you’ve gone too far.
  • On the weekends, you can usually just follow the herd. Still, have your directions, because there are several trails in the area and you could easily wind up going in the wrong direction.
  • It’s a dog-friendly trail, but your dog should be in good shape. It’s a nearly all-uphill hike.
  • The hike is three miles round trip. It feels much longer going up.
  • When you arrive at your destination, there is a fence between you and the back of the sign.
  • You don’t have to be a hard body to do this hike, but you should be in very ambulatory condition. If you have no lung capacity and constantly aching knees or some other physical ailment aggravated by physical activity, this isn’t for you.

The sign

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  • It’s crowded up there, especially on weekends. Just don’t think you’re going on a secret hike or anything. The picture above is just a fraction of the crowd.
  • Here’s the deal: Los Angeles is very attached to that sign, and the police are i-n-s-a-a-a-a-n-e about protecting it. Do not try to jump the fence. Don’t even go near it. There are cameras everywhere and police on motorcycles all over the park who are ready to pounce.
  • It might go without saying, but I’ll say it: Bring a camera! The view up there is really impressive. Probably even more so after a rainy or windy day!

After the hike

  • Your hike back is all downhill. Sweet mercy. My butt and legs were sore for three full days after this hike, and I go to the gym regularly! Apparently I’m not working as hard as I think.
  • Go to lunch at the 101 Coffee Shop in the Best Western on Franklin. Just head back the way you came on Beachwood and hang right on Franklin. It’s on your right. Parking on the Best Western property is a nightmare. Just park on the side street – it’s much easier and I generally have good luck finding spots that way. You can also valet if you’re into that.
  • 101 isn’t life-changing, just a really yummy diner where everything is better than it has to be. It’s also completely Hipstertown in there, but occasional celebrity sightings make up for it, if you’re excited by that kind of thing. I definitely am. Aimee Mann came in for lunch when we were there once!
  • We’re not 100 percent sure, but we think that the 101 might have been the setting in Swingers for the scene in which Trent is flirting with the girl (who plays the younger sister in “Some Kind of Wonderful”) who turns out to be making faces at her baby. According to this, The Hollywood Hills Coffee Shop used to be in a Best Western (this one, I presume?), then moved to another location after the movie was shot. If it became the 101, it makes sense that things look similar in some ways but very different in others.

Have fun!

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