We’ve all seen the Hollywood Sign from the freeway, but how many have seen the views from the big white letters? All it takes to catch what you’ve been missing is a 3-mile round-trip hike on Wonder View Trail. The rugged rock-and-dirt trail gets down to business immediately, gaining 900 feet via a series of switchbacks. After this, things get a lot tamer. Stride along a ridgeline to the top of Cahuenga Peak, taking in broad views of the San Fernando Valley. Golden patches of monkey flower mark a summit rich with history. In the 1940s, Howard Hughes purchased this peak with plans to build a home for Ginger Rogers. When she called off their engagement, he called off construction. (In 2010, the peak was donated to Griffith Park.) Continue on to the slightly shorter Mount Lee, dropping across a saddle with unobstructed views of the Hollywood letters towering above the city. At the end of the trail, maneuver around a fence and walk up the paved service road for a behind-the-scenes look at the letters. The blockbuster view takes in the Hollywood Reservoir, the Griffith Observatory, and downtown. That’s a wrap!
Near the Cahuenga Pass, exit the 101 at Barham Blvd. and drive north 1/3 of a mile. Turn right onto Lake Hollywood Dr. and take this winding road for half a mile. Park at the intersection with Wonder View Dr. and begin walking up Wonder View. After .25-mile mile, the pavement ends. Pass under the power lines and turn right, heading east up an unmarked singletrack. Wear pants; there’s calf-scratching brush along the trail. Dog-friendly!