Easy Way To Hike To the Hollywood Sign via Canyon Drive Trail
Hiking the Hollywood Sign is one of the coolest things to do in LA. This guide shows you how to hike the Canyon Drive Trail to go behind the Hollywood sign.
Growing up in Los Angeles, seeing the Hollywood Sign is something that seems so normal and ordinary. I always wondered how people actually hike to the Hollywood Sign but never bothered to do it myself. But now that I’ve moved away from LA I actually want to do this touristy yet local hike to go behind the Hollywood Sign (I have to admit that I also saw a lot of people hiking behind the Hollywood Sign on Instagram so I wanted to do it).
Finally on my most recent visit to LA we decided to do a nice morning hike to the Hollywood Sign and the most straightforward way we found was to hike the Canyon Drive Trail.
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Overview of Canyon Drive Trail to the Hollywood Sign
Distance: ~6 miles (to go behind the Hollywood sign)
Time: 3 hours
Elevation: 100-1200 feet
The Hollywood Sign hike via Canyon Drive is a moderate 3 hour round trip hike. The first 30 to 40 minutes of the hike has a moderate elevation that will get your heart pumping and get you a bit sweaty. The trail then levels off for a bit followed by another 0.9 miles of moderate steep uphill to Mt. Lee summit behind the Hollywood Sign.
The trail name is a bit confusing to be honest. The Trail starts off in Canyon Drive but the trail head is actually Brush Canyon Trailhead, followed by turning onto Mulholand Trail, merging onto Mt. Lee Drive.
How To Get To the Hollywood Sign Trail Head & Parking at Canyon Drive
The official trail head (Brush Canyon Trail head) starts at the north end of Canyon Drive in the city of Hollywood.
There are 2 parking lots before the trail head, one small and one large. The small parking lot at Canyon Drive Trail is the closest to the trail head and holds about 15 cars. 4 minute walk downhill further away is a large parking lot that holds about 50 cars.
If you get there late (like I did) around 10am, both parking lots would be filled up on the weekends and you will have to park along the road, which could add an additional 5 to 10 minute to your hike.
You should aim to get to the Hollywood Sign hike trail head no later than 9am or later in the afternoon. It’s best to hike the Hollywood sign either super early or before sunset because the weather will be cooler, and around sunset you will see the lights from the city as well as the pretty sunset color.
There is a porta potty at the large parking lot and there is no other bathroom on the hike to the Hollywood Sign.
Detail of the Hike To (and Behind) the Hollywood Sign
Uphill Battle (30-40 minutes)
Start your Hollywood Sign hike from the parking lot following the sign to Brush Canyon Trailhead. If you have time, you can also explore the Bronson Caves first, which is only 0.2 miles away.
The sign points to Brush Canyon Trailhead with 2 Hollywood Sign viewing Areas, the Hollyridge Trail viewing area as wlel as the Tyrolian Tank Viewing area. This may sound confusing but in reality, you just follow the road.
The first 30 to 40 minutes of the Hollywood Sign hike is wide but a little bit steep on a dirt path. You will have the first glimpse of a partial Hollywood Sign after 15 minutes of going uphill. Depending on the time you start the hike, you may see a lot of other hikes on this trail (with dogs).
After another 10 minute of so you will be able to get a glimpse of downtown LA. Unfortunately when I went it was cloudy in the morning so I could just barely see the buildings in DTLA.
After another 7 to 10 minutes, you will come to a bench at a viewing point, there you can take a break and enjoy the view of downtown LA. In addition you should be relieved when you see the bench because you just conquered the first steep part of the Hollywood sign hike!
Flat Road on Mulholland Trail (25 minutes)
After the first moderately steep 30-40 minute uphill hike, it’s time to relax and stroll on a flat path.
Right after the bench, you will come to a fork and a sign that’s marked Mulholland Trail (not sure when it changed, but whatever). Follow the sign to go left towards the Hollywood sign. If you go right, you will be hiking 2 miles to the Griffith Observatory.
After another 20 minutes, you will come to another sign and a fork. There are two options to see the Hollywood Sign, either go up on the fork or continue flat (or down) from the fork. We decided to go up following the sign that points to Tyrolian Tank (0.7 mile).
Soon after you go up at that fork, you will come to another fork (so many forks!) and this time it says that if you want to see the Hollywood Sign at Tyrolian Tank, it’s 0.4 miles. Otherwise if you want to hike to the back of Hollywood Sign it’s to Mt. Lee Summit which is 0.9 miles. Follow the sign to go right onto Mt. Lee Summit.
Mt. Lee Drive (20 minutes)
If you decide to hike to the back of the Hollywood Sign, note that the walk on Mt. Lee Drive is quite steep. It’s a paved wide road but it’s slightly steeper than the first part of the hike. Follow the path and in 20-25 minutes you will come to the back of the Hollywood Sign.
The Hollywood Sign is fenced off and the best view is to go up the hill behind the fence for your Instagram shots. You will also have a nice panoramic view of Los Angeles from this point.
If you have energy, you can come down from the back of the Hollywood sign and continue hiking to Cahuenga Peak (0.3 miles) and Burbank Peak (0.7 miles). It was getting really hot and sunny so we didn’t hike to those peaks.
Hollywood Sign at Tyrolian Tank
After coming down from Mt. Lee Summit, if you want to have a direct view of the Hollywood Sign from below it, turn right at the fork (the fork where you followed sign to Mt. Lee Summit). This time you will follow the sign to Hollywood Sign Tyrolian Tank (0.4 miles).
This part of the walk to Tyrolian Tank is an easy paved flat road. You will reach a wide open area with unobstructed view of the Hollywood Sign from below.
What To Pack For the Hollywood Sign Hike
The Canyon Drive Trail to the Hollywood Sign is completely uncovered and moderately difficult so you want to make sure you are adequately prepared for this hike.
Sun block, hat and sunglasses are absolutely necessary on this hike even if it’s cloudy. Most of the time the weather clears up and the sun comes out and the sun in LA can be quite strong. You should reapply your sunscreen every hour and make sure not to miss a spot (I got very sun burned at one spot on my shoulder because I forgot to cover that spot). Alternatively if you could bring a thin layer with you to cover your shoulder/ arms that would be the best.
Bring 1 to 2 bottle of water with you on this hike to the back of the Hollywood Sign. I didn’t realize how hot this hike was going to get and one bottle of water was barely enough for me.
Wide Angle Lens is extremely helpful if you plan to hike to the back of the Hollywood Sign. I didn’t realize how big the sign was going to be and I couldn’t fit it in my regular zoom lens or even my iphone. If you want to take a photo of the entire sign, bring a wide angle lens.
You don’t need to wear hiking shoes or have hiking poles for this hike. I did see people with holes but it’s not really necessary.
Dogs are allowed on the trail, leashed or unleashed. Many people had their dogs running around while hiking.
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