Let’s face it Angelenos, the tourists that visit our city often know more about what there is to do and see then we do; and the Hollywood Sign is no exception.
The Hollywood Sign is LA’s most famous landmark and is one of the most recognized landmarks around the world. It may also be the only major landmark whose status was completely unintended. It was originally built in 1924 to promote the Hollywoodland real estate development in the foothills and canyons of Mt. Lee, a neighborhood now known as Beachwood Canyon.
The 50-foot high billboard, placed on Mt. Lee 1,000 feet above the city, was originally lit with 4,000 light bulbs. It was only designed to last until all the property was sold, which they expected to be about 18 months. Nevertheless, until 1939, the company paid for a caretaker for the sign, who lived in a cottage behind the first L. When they ran out of funding for the caretaker, the sign fell into disrepair, so the developers deeded the land north of Mulholland Highway, including the Hollywood Sign, to the City of Los Angeles in 1944 and it became part of Griffith Park.
In 1949, the City of Los Angeles was beginning to tear down the dilapidated sign when community outcries changed the plan and led to the sign’s restoration, minus the LAND and minus the lights. In the 1970s, the sign was once again in bad shape. Hollywood’s A-list rose to the challenge and various celebrities helped foot the bill for a complete restoration. Alice Cooper sponsored an O, Gene Autry paid to rebuild an L, and Paul Williams put up the cash for the W. The famed landmark got its most recent paint job in 2006.
You can’t drive up to the sign, but there is a service road you can hike that will take you up behind the Hollywood Sign. You can start at Sunset Ranch at the top of Beachwood Drive or farther east at the Bush Canyon Trail. Both trails lead to a service road called the Mulholland Highway, which you follow up the hill to Mt. Lee Drive, which continues up behind the sign. There’s no shade, so if you’re planning to do the hike, take plenty of water and sunscreen.
Keep in mind that hiking to the sign is prohibited, so make sure you stay the marked path. Take the following steps to reach the Hollywood Sign:
Step 1 – Franklin Ave
Drive to the intersection of Franklin Avenue and Beechwood Drive in Los Angeles. This is about three blocks North of Hollywood Blvd.
Step 2 – Beachwood Drive
From the intersection of Franklin Avenue and Beachwood Drive, drive 1.7 miles North towards the Hollywood Sign on Beachwood Drive. Just make sure you stay on Beechwood Drive. Do not take another street that looks like it leads towards the sign. The only one that will take you there is Beachwood Drive.
Step 3 – Sunset Ranch
On your way, you will pass by the first Sunset Ranch Horse Rental sign. Drive until you see the Hollyridge Trail sign. Park on the right side of the road. Get there early! Parking spaces are scarce.
Step 4 – Hollywood Sign
Follow the Hollyridge Trail sign and walk up from the parking lot. If you keep a steady pace, you can get to the top of the trail and reach the Hollywood Sign in about 45 minutes. Walk until you reach another Hollyridge Trail sign. Follow the sign and go left. This is where your journey to the Hollywood Sign begins.
Now pay attention, this is the most important part of the journey. The trail will split. The main road will continue straight. The trail leading to the Hollywood Sign will sharply turn left.
Here is another angle of the split. The person in the picture is coming down. You will be going up. The road will continue to curve. Just keep going up.
You will once again see the Hollywood Sign on your left side. However, when the road comes to a fork do not make a left, go to the right. Make a right when the road ends. This will seem like you are walking away from the sign.
Here is a closer look at where you have to make a right. This is the last time you have to pay attention. The rest of the trail to the Hollywood Sign is easy, just follow the trail.
Now you are almost at the Hollywood Sign. All you have to do is make it to the other side of the hill!
When you see the fence, you have made it! You are steps away from the Hollywood Sign. From here, you can already see the sign.
Now take a deep breath, you are bout to witness one of the most well known landmarks in the world!
From here you have a great view of Los Angeles; from Lake Hollywood just below to downtown in the distance. On a clear day you can see the ocean and the Catalina Islands. Enjoy the view and capture the moment.
WHAT: Hike to the Hollywood Sign
WHEN: Sunrise to sunset
WHERE: Hollywood, CA
CONTACT INFO: Ranger Station (323) 913-4688
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