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discover the beauty of L.A. from the Hollywood Sign

  • By Amy Seed
  • March 10, 2012
  • 13 Comments

Snap a picture of the Hollywood Sign early on in the hike because the letters are too big to fit in one picture at the top. | Amy Seed/THE CHIMES

If you’re like me, you might find yourself thinking there are no great hikes in Southern California. Well, if you are also like me, you’re wrong.

I hiked to the Hollywood Sign last weekend, and it changed my perspective of Los Angeles, figuratively and literally -- There is a fantastic view from the Hollywood Sign!

Arrive early for prime parking

This is an easy hike. The most difficult part is finding a place to park. If you get there early enough, you might be lucky enough to find a spot at the top of the hill near the beginning of the trail. Parking is located near the Hollyridge Trail sign. If you get there around 11 a.m. like I did, the bottom it is.

As you approach the start of the hill, you’ll notice that cars line the streets. If you find a good place to park before you reach the dirt hill, go for it. Even though your walk will be a little longer, you’ll thank yourself later when you’re trying to make a U-turn and leave.

Spectacular views from the sign

Don’t be turned off by the steepness of the hill. The rest of the hike has much more gradual inclines. You can hike it quickly, probably in about 40 minutes or so, if you don’t take time to enjoy the scenery. It took me about two hours round trip because I had to stop at every turn, admire the breathtaking view (excusing the smog) and take pictures.

At one point, the hike overlooks Burbank and the Disney Animation Studio is in full view. Until I started the hike, I never realized there were so many mountains in Southern California, but the hike definitely changed my perspective on that. As soon as you see the studio, you’re almost to the top.

Aside from the view, the trail has its fair share of animals. Many locals (and visitors, I’m sure) bring their dogs on the hike, an I caught a glimpse of a wide variety of breeds. A few minutes into the hike, the trail splits. People following the horse trail continue straight, and hikers turn left. Be careful to watch where you step.

The horse stable is right off the trail a few minutes into the hike. If you’re lucky, you might hear the rooster crowing. And, there is also a peacock walking around. You can see it if you look closely.

Once you get to the top, a fence keeps you from getting too close to the sign. Don’t try jumping the fence to touch the sign. There is a cornucopia of security cameras and a helicopter flying around nearby.

Look up the hike beforehand

A great website to read through before taking this hike is Hollywood Sign Trip. It has detailed instructions for hiking the trail. They are important because there are several splits in the trail, like the one I mentioned earlier where the horse trail splits away from the hiking trail. These instructions include pictures to help you visualize what the directions are trying to tell you.

It also includes driving directions and some history of the Hollywood Sign if you’re into that kind of thing.

I highly recommend this hike. It is great exercise but it does not require hikers to be physically fit. Take some friends with you and enjoy spending some time in Hollywood or downtown L.A. I went over to Olvera Street for lunch afterward and made a day out of it.

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