We know, we know, there are all kinds of ways to hike to the Hollywood sign. But to see this icon in its best light, go closer to sunset and take the short, classic route up Mount Lee in Griffith Park. A late-day start means fewer people, less heat, and more lenient parking regulations. The 3.2-mile out-and-back journey starts from Hollyridge Trail and follows a wide fire road for a 750-foot climb to a, well, Hollywood ending!
While ascending Hollyridge Trail, and then carving a hard left on Mulholland Trail, you’ll get plenty of city views, along with glimpsing the early sparkle of Griffith Park Observatory as it starts its evening glow. When you hit the paved Mt. Lee Drive, follow the road left to a plateau just below the Hollywood Sign, and a great vantage for viewing the 45-foot-tall aluminum letters. Then you can trace your steps back to follow the road, this time up, for a 0.9-mile ascent on Mt. Lee Drive, which gets you right behind the letters for a different perspective. You might still see some selfie-snapping tourists late day, but it won’t stop you from enjoying pulsating city vistas to the south.
Bonus: Post trek, head to the charming Beachwood Cafe, less than a mile down the road from the trailhead, in Beachwood Canyon. This locals’ eatery also pours a select line of pints, including a rotating tap (currently pouring Drake’s IPA, copper-colored with a pine aroma and citrusy, dank hops for a bitter, clean finish). Or cozy up window-front, and grab a watermelon and ricotta salad and a glass of kombucha on tap. On Saturday nights, the cafe also screens movies. In August, look out for favorites from India, in September comes Spain.
The Hollyridge Trailhead is located just beyond a metal grate to Sunset Ranch at 3400 N. Beachwood Dr. Keep right at the spur to head up the dirt trail. Follow signs towards the Hollywood Sign. Take a hard left on Mulholland Trail, then head both directions on Mt. Lee Drive to see front-side and then back-side views of the sign. Street parking is available after 6:00 p.m. but is restricted from 8:00 a. m. to 6:00 p.m., so if going earlier, plan to add some mileage when hiking from your parking spot to the trailhead. Beachwood Café is located at 2695 N. Beachwood Dr. in Hollywood. Hike is dog-friendly! Beachwood Cafe has water bowls for dogs out front but no dogs allowed inside.