Hollywood Sign Hike | A First-timer's Experience

I know I've been posting quite sporadically the past few weeks since we got back from the States and I also realised that if I were a reader of my blog (the blogger being, not me), I wouldn't really know what kind of content is coming up next. Well, the latter I've known for the longest time already and I hate to admit it but I've been pushing the idea of keeping an editorial calendar on hand just because I am a lazy ass. The past few months of being in control over my time, the one thing that really kept my creative juices flowing is this blog and my YouTube channel. Funnily enough, the first thing I knew I had to do for youtube is create a calendar. Hmmm, why did I never do that for this blog? As much as I enjoy dressing up and taking outfit photos, I also have to admit that it's getting kinda old, ya know. And there's only a certain period where I'm travelling and the travel posts keep coming then in an instant, they're done. So you know what, I'm caving in and doing what I should have done a lone time ago. I'm creating and editorial calendar and sticking to a certain schedule for a certain topics. Don't fret, I'll still be sharing outfits and travels as per usual. We'll just create a balance on everything that I have sectioned out here (I'll try to anyway, as much as I can) - Style, Travel, and every sub category under Lifestyle. Now, let's begin with Travel because yes, I still have a couple of Amuhrica posts on draft waiting to be published.

So one of the things that Pierre and I badly wanted to do in LA is to see the Hollywood Sign from up close. The closest that we can get. Heck if it were even possible (which we thought was), we wanted to sit on the back of the sign. I scoured the Internet to find the most reliable information for people who wants to do the hike but do not have a car. Believe me, nearly every search result I got said people had to drive to the nearest trailhead. But we don't easily take no for an answer so I continued to research. A few of our options were:

1. Take UBER or LYFT to the nearest trailhead from Mid-City which is where we were staying at. Doable but there were two problems:
 A. It was hella expensive! and B. How were we supposed to get back to the city assuming calling an UBER or LYFT from the hiking trail would be difficult.

2. Commute to the nearest nearest trailhead. Though it would take a couple of twist and turns, you know, various commute and additional walking, it was doable.

Option 2 seemed more reasonable for us, and hey, we didn't mind the extra walking (at least that's what we thought at first), and so we mapped out the commute.


From Mid-City, we took LYFT to Hollywood Boulevard for a power brunch before our big hike. The ride took around 15 minutes which is pretty standard for every LYFT ride we took in LA (Mid City is a great place to stay at if you want to get around LA within the 15-20 minutes range via LYFT or UBER). Post brunch, we took to the subs. The nearest station we found was HOLLYWOOD/VINE. From there, we needed to get to the VERMONT/SUNSET station, where there was a bus station that had buses running to and from the Griffith Observatory. So we hopped on to the Metro Red Line towards Downtown Union Station.

Now, the good thing about this route is that we could kill two birds with one stone. The Griffith Observatory is one of those tourists spots that I often see and although I wasn't really keen on seeing it (not one that I would break a leg for), why not? I mean, we were already there, after all. And correct me if I'm wrong, but the hiking trail nearest to the Griffith Observatory is by far the only one you can reach via public transport.

The bad thing though (this is subjective), is that is the longest route of all hiking trails available, generally because the Observatory and the Sign are separated by a mountain so hikers will have to literally cross a mount to get from the first point to the second. To have a reference point, here are the different hiking trails and distances:

  • Brush Canyon Trail – 6.4 miles round trip with 1,050 feet of elevation change
  • Hollyridge Trail – 3.5 miles round trip with 750 feet of elevation change
  • Burbank Peak Trail – 3 miles round trip with 875 feet of elevation change
  • Innsdale Drive – 4.6 miles round trip with 750 feet of elevation change
  • From Griffith Observatory - 8.8 miles round trip with 425 feet and 525 feet elevation
If you're not big on walking, I'd suggest for you to drive to the shortest trail possible. But again, this is for losers like us who don't drive.

So we got on the bus that goes to the Observatory from VERMONT/SUNSET bus station. The bus station is easy to spot, it's just right outside the Metro station of the same name, and it is operated by DASH. The bus name is pretty straightforward, it's called DASH Observatory. But if you aren't sure, you can always ask the driver like we did and they'll tell you straight up if you're on the right bus or not. Once you're on, just wait 'til you get to the last stop.


Upon arriving at the Observatory, we wasted no time in waiting around and straight to find the starting point of our trail, which, as I've come to learn is called the Charlie Turner Trailhead. Now the Observatory is located at the peak of a mountain so you'll need to walk back down a little to find the Mount Hollywood Hiking Trail, which honestly does not look much like a track but a road (asphalt and all) closed off to vehicles. The goal is to get to Mount Lee.

It's actually quite easy to find your way as soon as you're off because nearly every turn have signs pointing to specific directions. As long as you know which area you're trying to get to (again, ours was Mount Lee), we didn't need google maps or whatsoever. Oh and having said that, you actually can't rely on google maps because network in the area is close to nonexistent. Old school navigation is required.

Along the way, we found that there are also signs that tell you if you're on a viewing spot. For example, Dante's View is the first viewing spot we came across where we were able to see the Hollywood sign up close. But it wasn't close enough. So we proceeded to get even closer.


The hike to Mount Lee took us an hour, give or take. OK, maybe one hour and fifteen minutes. I went in with a tee, arrived with just my sports bra and my leggings stretched and folded towards my thighs. It was a super sunny day and I was drained. One mistake that we did was forgetting to bring cold water, rather warm. Well, Pierre didn't mind that but I'm a cold water kind of person and I specially like it when I just finished a workout so I was feeling really dehydrated after the hike despite having downed a bottle. The thing is, even a bottle is not enough to quench my thirst. 

But you know what, upon taking the last turn up the peak of Mount Lee, I forgot all about my thirst looking down at the view that greeted us. The whole of Los Angeles below us looking so picturesque. For a moment, I was emotional realising that that was something I've only ever joked about with Pierre; being on top of the Hollywood Sign looking down at the LA skyline. I mean, come on, we're from halfway across the globe. Seeing things that we only used to see in movies, well, that's quite an achievement IMHO.

Now, Mount Lee gives you the view of the Hollywood Sign from the back. We wanted to see it up close from the front and to do that, we had to walk back down then a little more hiking up towards a viewing spot which I totally forgot what it was called, but according to my recent searches, seems to be somewhere near the intersection of Deronda Drive and Mulholland Highway. Not exactly that but close (sorry if I'm not making any sense, but it makes more sense when you're actually there).

Anyway, after the much needed photos and videos, selfies and whatnot, we needed to get back to Griffith and try catch the sunset. By this time, it was pas 4PM and knowing that it'll take an hour for us to get back, we knew we really needed to go. Like heck, I don't wanna get stuck in the dark on the hills without network coverage. Who does? So we made our way back.

An hour past and we're back where we started, just in time to catch the sun set behind the Hollywood Sign. I think I said this somewhere but it was the most magical thing ever. Ugh, just typing that made me reminisce for a second and all I wanna be right now is back in LA.

I digress.

Back in Griffith Observatory, it was already too dark to take photos with us in it so pretty much we just stayed for a bit to catch our breathe. But our lucky stars were with us that night when we came back to a planet viewing session happening in the Observatory. Apparently, Venus (the planet) was visible that night. There were telescopes readily available for visitors view the planet up close. Curious as we were, of course we joined in. Hmm, what did I expect? I don't know really, but looking through the glass, I thought Venus looked just like the moon. But maybe that's just me.

After that little encounter, we were ready to hit the road back to our Airbnb. The same way we came, we took the bus back to VERMONT/SUNSET. This time around, we did not take the Metro but called a ride back to our place by way of LYFT instead. I think we can forgive ourselves for the comfort of a shared ride having walked pretty much all day already. But before we called it a day, we headed to the nearby El Pollo Loco near our place for a much needed dinner. Remember that our main sustenance for the day was our one and only brunch from noon and some water. You can imagine how hungry we were by then. We we had a hearty meal that consisted of everything we shouldn't be eating post hiking but whatever (hey, it's chicken and there's salad on the side, kay?), then walked home and called it a night.

By the way, there's a part in one of my LA vlogs where I briefly talked about the hike. If you'd like to see that bit, head to my youtube channel or watch the video at the end of this post.


Now before I finish off this post, I'd like to give a few reminders just in case you're planning to go down the same path that we did:

- The hike from the Observatory to the Sign is graded level DIFFICULT. If you're not used to hiking or walking for that matter, I strongly suggest to find an alternate route.
- Wear shoes that you're okay with getting dirt on. While most of the path is cemented, there are areas where you'll be walking on soil (and mind you, there's plenty of horse poop on them too!)
- Bring more water!
- Eat before you go or otherwise, bring some light snacks to munch on.
- And of course, don't forget your camera!

Additional info on this very trail can be found here. Do read it if you'd liked to know more.


Photos by Pierre Elma and Yours Truly


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