Admittedly, I didn’t know the Hollywood Sign hike existed, or rather, was legal until last week, and I’ve lived in LA for four years. I could have sworn I went on a horseback riding tour up there like six years ago, and the instructor said it was illegal to go up, but now I realize that she was probably just referring to touching the actual sign, which has a monitored fence around it.
The hike up to the area just above the sign is totally legal, totally easy, and totally awesome. I’m actually surprised that the Hollywood Sign hike isn’t more popular, but with Runyon Canyon closing for the summer, I’m sure it will start to be. Just to note, you won’t get to go in front of the actual sign, you’ll just get the close up view from behind it, and some close views of it from the sides. Another thing to note is that this is one of three different hikes; I’ll post the other two when I do them.
So here’s all of the info on how to drive to the starting point of the Hollywood Sign hike, how to get up to the top, and some photo tips to get shots like I did!
1. What Time To Go
Doing the Hollywood Sign hike at sunset is beautiful but tricky..
I went during sunset and got some really awesome photos, and of course a beautiful display. Depending on the time of year, you should go one hour before sunset (just Google what time sunset is) to give yourself enough time to park and hike up. The only downside is that there will be rush hour traffic, and it’ll start to get cold afterwards.
Mid-day hikes are always nice too, and if it’s at the high-point in the day when the smog is burned off, you can get a clear shot, however the brightness may not highlight the sign and city as nicely. Don’t try to go at night. The sign doesn’t light up, it’s cold, obviously dark, and there are wild animals that could eat you.
2. How to Get to the Trail Head
Just search “Franklin and Beachwood Dr.” on your maps and it should come up here, then drive North for a mile or so
The entrance to this Hollywood Sign trail is essentially straight up Beachwood Drive, about a mile or so north of Franklin Ave. You’ll see the Hollywood Sign as you drive north on Beachwood, so just make sure you stay to your left until you get to the end of the road.
Start looking for street parking, there’s no lot at this entrance…
Once it dead ends, start looking for parking along the roads, and pay attention to street signs. You’re going to be looking for something called Hollyridge Drive to park on, which will be on the right after you see a big gate for Sunset Ranch, which is where you’ll enter.
3. Starting the Hike to the Hollywood Sign
Just follow the horse poop
The gates to Sunset Ranch are usually closed for cars (it’s a private horse ranch) but the pedestrian gate to the left is open. Go through it and continue up the paved road until you see the big white letters that say ‘SUNSET RANCH’, but don’t keep going straight! Take a RIGHT (first star) and continue up the steep dirt pathway that then winds to the left and continues up.
After you walk a bit, you’ll see the entry for the actual ranch along with a lot of horse poop, but keep going straight (to the right) until you reach the next fork.
4. First Sneaky Fork & View
The total walking hike to the Hollywood Sign..the stars indicate sneaky forks in the road
I almost missed the first fork which would have sucked because it leads to the other side of the hill. So watch out for the first fork (second star on the map) because it’s a sharp left turn that takes you up and around a hillside.
This is the view you’ll have after the first sneaky fork
You’ll have your first close up view of the Hollywood sign from there, as well as a view of the city!
5. Second Sneaky Fork & View
So you’ll continue on this picturesque dirt road portion of the hike until you get to another fork, which is extremely obvious (third star on the map), but confusing because it seems like you should go left towards the sign. GO RIGHT even though it seems like the wrong way. Just remember that you still need to go up higher. It’ll be a paved road now which is nicer, and there’s a dirt path shortcut if you’re really ambitious, but it doesn’t make that much of a difference.
The view from this fork is probably the closest front view of the Hollywood Sign you’ll get on the hike so take a picture of it!
6. The Paved Road Past Studio City
To the right is Studio City, and the Hollywood Sign is just on the other side of that peak
The rest of the hike up to the Hollywood Sign will be paved, and you’ll get a great view of Studio City…even though there’s nothing really that cool to see there. Just keep following it until you round a corner and see a massive ‘H’…
7. Behind The Hollywood Sign
The Hollywood Sign is massive, and a fence prevents people from climbing on it
I thought the view from behind the massive letters was pretty cool, even though I wasn’t in front of it. It was hard to get a picture, I even tried half-way climbing the fence, but it was too hard, and I got scared of getting arrested… But then I realized…
8. Climb Up Above the Hollywood Sign
Tadaaa!! Below you can see the paved area and the fence..but you can go higher!
If you walk towards all of the scary radio towers and security cameras, you’ll notice a dirt area to the side of the peak. Follow it to the left because there’s a little pathway you can climb up that takes you to the very top of the peak, and directly above the Hollywood Sign!!!
9. Photo Tips
Aerial shot using a GoPro 3 and a tourist
In my opinion, the lighting at sunset works best because of the tones, but a bright blue sky is always a nice depiction of Hollywood as well. Keep in mind that the sign does NOT light up at night, so yeah…don’t go then.
For my shots, I used a GoPro Hero 4 because they get that cool aerial angle that’s great for getting the whole sign in one shot. I’ll admit that my usual selfie stick broke, and I couldn’t get the whole sign using just my arm, so had some random tourists help me by holding my GoPro over me so I could get the whole thing, and be in it!
The panoramic option on your phone would also make for a really cool shot, and for the people who use it, SnapChat has its own Hollywood Sign filters!
Alyssa is a self-made, full time travel blogger who loves adventure and typically travels the world solo. She's been to 53 countries and 6 continents so far, and believes she has mastered the art of chasing waterfalls, traveling solo, wine drinking, and making budget-traveling look good. Curious to know how she started this career? Check out the About section above!