Wondering how to get to the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles? We’ve found the best ways to get to the top to take that perfect picture.
The Hollywood Sign, high up in the Santa Monica Mountains, has come to represent the magic and glamor of California.
Gleaming white as a movie star’s teeth, the 50-foot-high letters can be seen from many viewpoints across Los Angeles.
Created to promote real estate in 1923, the iconic landmark was a giant outdoor ad to sell homes in the Beachwood Canyon neighborhood below and originally spelled out “Hollywoodland”.
Over the years, the American dream may have changed from home ownership to something more intangible, but the Hollywood Sign’s aspirational message is the same: this is a place where dreams can come true.
Although Los Angeles is an exciting city full of diverse neighborhoods, entertainment, and fabulous beaches, getting close enough to the Hollywood Sign for a picture was top of my list when I first moved to California.
I couldn’t find much information on how to get there back then. The locals–those who bought into the Beachwood Canyon neighborhood–kept the hiking routes through Griffith Park a closely guarded secret to keep the tourists away.
Since then, I’ve discovered the best ways to hike to the Hollywood Sign, plus the best viewpoints in the city for that postcard picture.
Whether you’re looking for a selfie in front of the sign, a unique angle, or want to enjoy the view from above, these are the best and easiest ways to get to the Hollywood Sign.
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History of the Hollywood Sign
Erected as a giant housing development billboard in the ‘20s, the Hollywood Sign has a lot of history.
Back then, the movie industry was new and big money could be found in selling the American dream of home ownership.
Over the years, the sign fell into neglect and disrepair as the land management company that owned the letters found it too expensive to maintain.
Pranksters changed the sign on several occasions, including “Hollyweed” to mark looser marijuana laws and “Holywood” to commemorate Pope John Paul II’s visit to Los Angeles.
Fundraising efforts led by Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner in 1978 led to a complete rebuild of the sign, and recognition of its cultural significance to the city.
Today, it’s carefully maintained behind a chain-link fence.
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Overview: How to get to the Hollywood Sign
The iconic Hollywood Sign, featured in so many Los Angeles-set movies and TV shows, sits just under the ridge line at the summit of Mount Lee. Its GPS coordinates are 34.134226, -118.321387.
Taking a shot of the sign or hiking as close as possible to the letters is one of the most popular things to do in the Los Angeles area.
There are a couple of important things to know if visiting the Hollywood Sign is on your bucket list.
The first is that it’s not possible to get close enough to touch the sign. The famous letters are protected 24/7 by security to deter vandalism.
Secondly, parking is difficult in the narrow, winding streets in the Hollywood hills. If you’re driving to a Hollywood Sign hike or looking for the best Hollywood Sign view, take note of our advice on parking.
My biggest tip is this–don’t try to drive straight to the Hollywood Sign.
There’s no way to easily get there without at least a short hike on a Hollywood Sign trail. Instead, consider public transport, an Uber or Lyft, or a tour instead of driving.
Or, if you prefer not to hike, there are a few other options to get close to the sign, which we outline below.
Alternatively, you can get your shot of the Hollywood Sign with an interesting foreground. Some of the best views of the Hollywood Sign can be found from neighborhood streets, parks, and lakes around the city.
My favorite view of the Hollywood Sign also includes the beautiful Griffith Observatory, which involves no hiking at all.
Finally, although you’re hiking in a city of four million people, you may still come across wildlife on your hike. Wear sturdy shoes and bring plenty of water on your adventure.
The Best & Easiest Way to get to the Hollywood Sign
The closest place to park and take a snap of the Hollywood Sign is at 3000 Canyon Lake Drive, Hollywood. There’s free street parking available outside Lake Hollywood Park.
Parking is not too much of an issue at Lake Hollywood Park, just steer clear of people’s driveways. This will give you a nice view of the Hollywood Sign with a park and hills in the foreground.
However, if you want to get a shot of the Hollywood Sign from the top of Mt. Lee, you’ll need to hike a short way up through Griffith Park. There’s unfortunately nowhere to stop on the road above the sign.
The closest entrance to Griffith Park is at the end of Deronda Drive. Pass through the blue gate under the white arch and head up the trail until you reach the summit of Mount Lee.
This is where you’ll get the unique vantage point of looking directly down at the sign and beyond to Los Angeles below.
Parking for non-residents is permitted on weekdays, but only on the western side of the street. Provided you’re not blocking a driveway, you can park for free Monday to Friday on Deronda Drive.
If you want to visit on a weekend or a holiday, it’s better to take a Lyft or Uber to this neighborhood. Locals are notoriously quick to call the tow trucks on hapless tourists who park in the wrong spot.
Note that the Deronda Drive pedestrian gate entrance to Griffith Park is locked between sunset and sunrise.
Best Hikes to get to the Hollywood Sign
For your Hollywood Sign close-up, trek to the top of Mount Lee along one of these beautiful trails through the largest urban park in the US.
Griffith Park has over 4,000 acres of shady forests, sunny picnic spots, and spectacular views of Los Angeles. The park also has several trails of varying length and difficulty that lead right up to the 50-foot-high Hollywood Sign letters.
The park is also home to P-22, a mountain lion who took up residence in the hills around ten years ago.
The big cat gained worldwide fame when he was caught on camera crossing in front of the Hollywood Sign. It’s unlikely you’ll spot him, as he’s most active at night.
If you want to take a Hollywood Sign hike along these trails, plan to arrive early before the sun gets too hot and the parking lots too busy.
The Mount Hollywood Trail
Distance: 3 miles | Elevation gain: 1.250 feet | Difficulty: Moderate
Trailhead: North end of Griffith Observatory Parking Lot.
Head up Mt. Hollywood for a moderately difficult hike to the Hollywood Sign that takes you through a pleasant pine forest.
Parking at the Griffith Observatory, one of Los Angeles’ iconic landmarks, is free until noon. The lot fills up early on weekends, so plan accordingly.
Or, you can avoid fighting over spaces by taking the LADOT DASH Observatory Bus from the Vermont/Sunset station. It’s just 50 cents per ride or 35 cents with a Metro TAP card.
The Mt. Hollywood trailhead sign is located at the north end of the observatory parking lot.
Half a mile into your ascent, you’ll enter the Berlin Forest. The Berlin Forest is a pine grove planted by Berliners in honor of the German capital’s sister-city status with Los Angeles.
After another half-mile, you’ll come to Dante’s View, a good opportunity to catch your breath while admiring the views across the city.
Approximately a quarter of a mile further uphill on the Mount Hollywood trail is the view of the Hollywood Sign. This is a popular hike, so arrive early to avoid the crowds.
Brush Canyon Trail
Distance: 3miles | Elevation gain: 1171 feet | Difficulty: Moderate
Trailhead: End of Canyon Dr.
Park at the end of Canyon Drive in the parking lot for another Griffith Park hike, the Brush Canyon Trail.
It’s a six-mile out-and-back hike to Mt. Lee’s summit, where you can look directly down at the Hollywood Sign.
Although the slope is gentle, six miles is a long way to walk in an area with little shade, so bring plenty of water with you on this Hollywood Sign hike.
I also recommend taking a short side trip to Bronson Caves, an old rock quarry used as Adam West’s bat cave in the Batman TV show.
You can access another trail with great views from this path too: the Hollyridge Trail. The trailhead to Hollyridge Trail has been closed, but you can get onto it from Brush Canyon Trail.
Cahuenga Peak Trail
Distance: 6 miles | Elevation gain: 875 feet | Difficulty: Moderate
Trailhead: Wonder View Drive & Lake Hollywood Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068
Summit the highest peak in Griffith Park for incredible views of Los Angeles, as well as the Hollywood Sign.
For the Cahuenga Peak Trail, use the free street parking on Lake Hollywood Drive before walking up Wonder View Drive to find the trailhead behind the yellow gate.
This trail is a little rockier and less well-defined than the Brush Canyon Trail, making it better suited to more experienced hikers. It’s also slightly shorter, at six miles.
Start on the Burbank Peak Trail (formerly known as the Wonder View Trail), heading up the mountain to the Wisdom Tree, a hardy survivor of recent wildfires. Check out the notes left by fellow hikers and maybe leave one yourself.
After taking in the incredible 360-degree views of the Santa Monica Mountains and the city below, continue on the Aileen Getty Ridge Trail to the summit of Cahuenga Peak. The trail then connects to Mt. Lee, where you’ll reach the overlook for the Hollywood Sign.
The trail features some interesting Hollywood history as well.
The land around the sign was bought in the 1930s by Howard Huges, who wanted to build a house for Ginger Rogers. But she was uninterested in the extravagant gift after their breakup.
In 2010, the land was once again slated for residential development.
However, after fundraising efforts led by Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner and the Save the Sign campaign, philanthropists including Andy Williams and Alice Cooper were able to buy the land for the Hollywood Sign Trust. They then donated it to Griffith Park for all Los Angelinos to enjoy.
Look out for Hugh Hefner Overlook, which was named in recognition of his efforts to preserve the landmark. You can find more information about the history of the sign on the Hollywood Sign Trust website.
Distance: 4.3 miles | Elevation gain: 764 feet | Difficulty: Moderate
Trailhead: 6301 Innsdale Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90068
While the hikes up to Mt. Lee will get you geographically close to the sign, you’ll be getting the backside of the famous letters. This makes for a very cool picture, but perhaps you want to get the front side in your shot.
If that’s the case, take the Innsdale Trail for the closest view of the Hollywood Sign from the front.
This is a moderately challenging Hollywood Sign hike, with plenty of opportunities for photos along the way, so keep your camera out.
Find free parking on Tahoe Drive or Canyon Lake Drive, before walking to the top of Canyon Lake Drive. At the dead end, you’ll see a gate that leads to a dirt road. This is the trailhead.
The dirt road, aka Innsdale Drive, winds up through the hills, offering some great angles of the sign.
Eventually, you’ll be able to cut through to Mulholland Highway, which is about the closest you can get to the front of the sign. There’s a walking trail running parallel to the road.
Residents of the housing development here are sensitive to tourists trespassing on their property, so be sure to stick to the road and don’t stand on anyone’s driveway.
You’ll eventually get to a bend where you’ll find the last house on Mulholland (this is marked on Google Maps), a fantastic spot for pictures of the Hollywood Sign.
Want to go further? Continue up Mulholland to connect with Deronda Drive, where you’ll find the blue gate that leads to the summit of Mt. Lee. This way, you can get great shots of both sides of the iconic sign.
Lake Hollywood Trail
Distance: 3 miles | Elevation gain: 134 feet | Difficulty: Easy
Trailhead: Hollywood Reservoir, 6451 Weidlake Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90068
This is not a hike to the Hollywood Sign on Mount Lee, but an easy, flat alternative hike where you can find a unique shot of the sign with a dazzling blue lake in the foreground.
If you enter the reservoir from Weidlake Drive, you’ll find a small dirt parking lot.
The view is right at the start of the trail, so you can hop out, take a picture, and continue with your day if you’re short on time.
If you want to take a stroll, head onto Mulholland Dam for more views and a pleasant, tree-shaded path around the perimeter of this man-made lake.
Although you can’t get down to the lake itself, this is one of the prettiest urban hikes in Los Angeles and perfect for a hot day.
You’ll get a great shot of the Hollywood Sign surrounded by nature, in contrast to most other pictures of the letters.
Best Views of the Hollywood Sign Without Needing to Hike
If you’re lacking the time or inclination to walk, there are plenty of places to view the letters without hiking to the Hollywood sign on Mount Lee. These are a few of my favorites.
Location: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Griffith Observatory is an iconic Los Angeles landmark in its own right, and worth visiting for its planetarium, exhibits, and special events.
You’ll also get spectacular views of the Hollywood Sign from Griffith Observatory as a bonus.
The easiest way to get to the Griffith Observatory is to take the LADOT DASH Observatory Bus from Vermont/Sunset station.
This bus, which costs just 50 cents per ride, also stops at Mt. Hollywood Drive for Griffith Park hiking trails at the Greek Theater. Bring exact change.
Parking is available for free before noon on weekdays in the small Griffith Observatory parking lot, but you’ll need a credit card to pay for parking in the afternoons or on the weekend.
Lake Hollywood Park
Location: 3160 Canyon Lake Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068
Lake Hollywood Park is a scenic, grassy area below the Hollywood Sign that offers a great view of the letters. The park itself is dog-friendly and has a children’s play area, plus picnic benches.
There’s no parking lot here, but street parking is available. Although like street parking everywhere in this city, you may find it hard to locate a spot.
Fortunately, it’s easy to organize an Uber or Lyft to get here. After Griffith Observatory, this is my second favorite spot to photograph the Hollywood Sign.
This is one of the easiest places to get a shot of the Hollywood Sign, especially if you have young children, as they can safely run around while you get the perfect shot.
However, this is used locally as an off-leash dog park so bear that in mind if your kids are afraid of dogs.
Location: 6101 Mulholland Hwy, Los Angeles, CA 90068
The Beachwood Canyon neighborhood directly below the Hollywood Sign has plenty of good viewpoints for the sign. The last house on Mulholland has the best vantage point.
The drawback is finding parking here without getting a ticket, a telling-off, or towed.
Residents here really don’t like tourists blocking up their driveways, taking up street parking, and generally being tourists.
Pay close attention to street parking signs, or better yet, get an Uber or Lyft to this location to avoid any parking hassles.
North Beechwood Drive
Location: Beachwood and Glen Holly intersection, Los Angeles, CA 90068
Another good Beachwood Canyon vista point is at the intersection of North Beachwood Drive and Glen Holly Street.
If you walk up a block or so, you should be able to find a clear view through the houses.
Location: Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue intersection, Los Angeles, CA 90068
You can find interesting views of the Hollywood Sign right in the heart of Hollywood itself at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue.
The Walk of Fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and the Dolby Theater where the Oscars are hosted are all a stone’s throw from this popular tourist destination.
Sunset Ranch Hollywood
Location: 3400 N Beachwood Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068
Many of the trails around the Hollywood Sign are closed at sunset, which is frustrating if you want to get that sunset sign shot and see the city light up below.
The best way around this is to book an evening horseback tour from Los Angeles’ only horse ranch, Sunset Ranch Hollywood.
Beginners are welcome on the two-hour evening or day tours, which take riders along the trails through Griffith Park below the Hollywood Sign.
Don’t try to go through the gate if you don’t have a tour booked through Sunset Ranch, as the company blocked this cut-through to Griffith Park with court action a few years ago.
Franklin Avenue at Gower
Location: N Gower St. and Franklin Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90068
If you’re looking for a picture of the sign from a palm-lined street, Frankin Avenue at the intersection with Gower gives you a good view of the sign.
The utility wires lining the street either spoil the shot or add urban grittiness to the scene, depending on your perspective.
Mulholland Drive Overlook
Location: 8591 Mulholland Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Confusingly, Mulholland Drive and Mulholland Highway are two different roads and both are good places to see the Hollywood Sign.
There’s an overlook on Mulholland Drive with a few parking spaces where you can see the sign as well as take pictures of the city below.
This is a great spot to see Los Angeles at night when the city lights up.
Best Tours to get to the Hollywood Sign
Enjoy the best views in town from the air in a private helicopter tour. Seeing the City of Angels from the air will give you the ultimate view of the Hollywood Sign, plus many other Los Angeles landmarks.
Join a group and take a walking tour with a guide who can take you to the top, showing you all the best viewpoints along the way.
Star Homes Tour
It’s a little cheesy, but tours of the stars’ homes usually include a quick photo stop in front of the Hollywood Sign. I did this many years ago and getting that photo was the highlight of the tour for me!
Tips for getting to the Hollywood Sign
- Bring plenty of water, and time your trip for earlier in the day–the California sun can be brutal in the summer and there’s little shade to be found in the mountains above Los Angeles
- Wear sturdy walking shoes. These hikes are several miles long and there are snakes up there.
- Sunset and sunrise are amazing times for pictures but be aware that trail entrances to the Hollywood Sign at night are closed. Also, P-22, the mountain lion who lives in Griffith Park, prowls the slopes at night.
- Griffith Park is open from 5 am to 10.30 pm.
- Follow our parking tips to avoid tickets or simply take an Uber/Lyft to your destination so you don’t have to worry about finding parking spaces.
FAQs About Getting to the Hollywood Sign
How close can you get to the Hollywood Sign? Can you touch it?
You can’t get close enough to touch the Hollywood Sign without risking arrest. An LAPD officer is stationed near the sign and security cameras are trained on the landmark 24/7.
Hiking to the summit of Mt. Lee will take you to a spot just behind the sign, which is the closest point to the Hollywood Sign.
How far is the hike to the Hollywood Sign?
The shortest hike to the Hollywood Sign is along the Burbank Trail, a three-mile out-and-back hike. Although the shortest route, it’s also the most challenging with two peaks to scale.
The paved route up Mt. Lee Drive is the easiest trail to get behind the Hollywood Sign, if slightly longer. Access this hike through the gate at the end of Deronda Drive.
Can you drive by the Hollywood Sign?
The Hollywood Sign was never meant to be a destination, so there’s no road past the sign that you can drive on.
The paved road to the sign, Mt. Lee Drive, is off-limits to cars. However, you can walk up as a pedestrian.
How do you get to the Hollywood Sign without hiking?
There’s no way to get close to the Hollywood Sign without hiking, due to its location at the summit of Mt. Lee.
However, there are a ton of great spots all over the city where you can find a Hollywood Sign viewpoint without hiking.
Where is the best spot to take a picture of the Hollywood Sign?
The best place to see the Hollywood Sign depends on what you want in your shot. If you want a picture from behind the sign, with Los Angeles below, you’ll need to hike to the summit of Mt. Lee.
If you want a picture of the sign from the front, you’ll need to look for another spot. My favorite viewpoint for the front of the sign is from Griffith Observatory, which is also easy to access by public transport.
For a unique take on the Hollywood Sign picture, head to Lake Hollywood, where you can get a shot of the sign with a beautiful reservoir in the foreground.
I love the contrast between the famous man-made sign and the natural surroundings here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah McDonald is a travel writer based in the Bay Area. She writes for the national parenting website Red Tricycle and on her own family travel blog, Tiny Trailblazers. She loves exploring California’s outdoors and has a weakness for a national park gift shop.
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