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Mount Lee to the Hollywood Sign, CA

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Rated  Favorite Wish List CA > Los Angeles
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 6.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 642 feet
Elevation Gain 1,067 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,220 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 12.6
Interest Historic & Peak
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
15  2016-03-13 Uncharted
30  2014-12-25 winotron
Author winotron
author avatar Guides 2
Routes 6
Photos 1,167
Trips 298 map ( 1,218 miles )
Age 37 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
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Preferred   Jan, Feb, Dec, Mar → Early
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:41am - 5:50pm
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Hike to the Hollywood Sign
by winotron

This is a popular hike to the top of Mount Lee in Griffith Park using a series of fire roads. The Hollywood Sign sits just below the peak on the southern slope, and that is your destination. Like most of the trails in Griffith Park, these are very wide and well-maintained fire roads. Some parts are paved, but it's mostly graded dirt. These are very busy trails, and you likely won't have any solitude at any point. None of the trails or junctions are signed, but it's usually fairly obvious where you need to go.

The main trail starts through the gate at the end of the road, but before you start on the main trail you have the option of taking a sharp right and passing through another gate, which in just a few minutes will get you to Bronson Caves. These are man-made caves that were used as the Batcave in the original Batman TV series from the 1960s. They're pretty cool to see and walk through. Definitely worth the short side trip. Head back to the trailhead to start the main hike.

You start out on a paved road that quickly turns to dirt. You start your slow descent up the canyon, gaining about 550 ft in the first mile. There are a lot of huge oaks and sycamores that continue all the way up the canyon, but once you start ascending out of the canyon there is pretty much no shade for the rest of the hike. At just over a mile you'll reach a 3 way junction where you'll want to go left. Going right will take you over to the Griffith Observatory, which you can see from here.

The next mile is fairly flat, and you'll get your best front-side views of the Hollywood Sign here. Hike out onto an obvious spur trail from one of the overlooks for a minute for the best view of the sign. On clear days you'll have great views of LA, the Pacific Ocean, and even Catalina Island in the distance.

Eventually you'll come to another 3 way junction, and you'll want to stay right and start heading up. You'll quickly come to another junction. Take a right again onto the paved road. This paved road will get you to the top in about another mile. This is the steepest climb of the hike, but it's all paved and manageable. Before getting to the top the trail hugs the north side of the mountain. You'll get some shade here, and some great views of the San Fernando Valley to the north and the Verdugo and San Gabriel Mountains. Once you turn the corner you'll be right behind the Hollywood Sign, with a chain link fence keeping you from getting too close. Keep heading up about another 50 ft to the peak. Take in the views and head back the way you came.

On the way down you have an option of extending your hike a bit by heading over to Cahuenga Peak and the "Wisdom Tree", which I highly recommend. Right before you start descending the north side of the mountain, on your left there's a large plaque. The trail to Cahuenga Peak starts here, and it's actually a pretty steep and rugged climb to the summit. Cahuenga Peak is the highest peak in Griffith Park at 1821 ft., and you'll have awesome 360 degree views. Keep going another quarter mile or so to the Wisdom Tree, a large pine tree that is supposedly the only survivor of a 2007 fire. This extended our hike to 8.5 miles and 1700 AEG. A great day hike.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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2014-12-29 winotron
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Review
    Mount Lee to the Hollywood Sign
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    My girlfriend and I spent our Christmas vacation in the LA area with her family, so I wanted to get a couple hikes in while we were there. This seemed like a quintessential LA city hike, going up to the iconic Hollywood Sign. I'd been to the Griffith Park Observatory but had never hiked here. We got started fairly early on Christmas morning, so the crowds weren't out yet and we easily found parking. The weather was just perfect. Slightly chilly but sunny and breezy.

    The hike is basically a series of wide fire roads that go right up to behind the sign. None of the trails/roads are marked so I made sure I knew which way we were going beforehand. It's just over 3 miles to the top of Mount Lee where the Hollywood Sign is. It's a steady climb, but nothing too steep. It gets a little steep in the last mile before the sign, but it's very manageable as it's on a paved road. It was an exceptionally clear day, so we took our time and really enjoyed the views of the LA area, the San Fernando Valley to the north, and the Pacific Ocean. It was even clear enough for us to see Catalina Island off in the distance.

    We made it to the top and even though the trails weren't too busy on the way up here, there were at least 2 dozen people hanging around at the summit. We didn't stay long because of that. On the way down we decided to extend our hike by taking the connecting trail over to Cahuenga Peak, which is the highest point in Griffith Park. It's only about half a mile to Cahuenga Peak, but it's a good 500 ft climb, and it's a surprisingly steep and rugged single track trail. Nothing like the fire roads we hiked to get up here, so it was a nice change of pace. The 360 degree views from the peak were awesome...much better than the views from the Hollywood Sign.

    We made it to the peak and saw the Wisdom Tree another half mile away to the west and decided to keep going. It was a nice hike along the ridge to the tree, with great views on both sides and further into the Santa Monica Mountains to the west. There was a summit register under the tree full of all kinds of odd things. We hung out for a bit, enjoyed the breeze and the beautiful weather, and headed back the way we came. There were a LOT more people coming up as we were going down. Good thing we made it out here early. I can only imagine how crowded these trails get on the weekend.

    And to cap off a great hike, we crossed paths with Vince Vaughn just before we got back to the trailhead! He said hello to us as we passed. Only in LA! We got back to the trailhead and took the little detour to Bronson Caves, aka the "Batcave" from the original Batman TV series. Pretty cool to see.

    Don't expect even an inkling of solitude, but this is a great urban hike. If you're in the area it's definitely worth doing at least once. We'll be checking out more of the Griffith Park trails the next time we're here.

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
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    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Los Angeles, take the 101 North to the Gower St. exit and turn right onto Franklin Ave. In less than half a mile, turn left onto Canyon Dr and follow that 1.7 miles to the trailhead. There is a fairly large parking lot right at the trailhead. There is also overflow parking and on-street parking just before the trailhead.
    page created by winotron on Dec 29 2014 3:10 pm
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