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Saturday, September 7, 2019

Hike to the Top of the Hollywood Sign, Brush Canyon Trailhead

The most iconic symbol of Los Angeles is also one of the most challenging to actually experience. 

My family and I were back in Los Angeles during our kids Spring Break - and my wife and I (finally) made it to the top of the Hollywood Sign. 

Technically you can NOT hike to the Hollywood Sign. However, there are several trails allowing you to hike to the top of Mount Lee, just behind the sign - with, potentially stunning views. 

We opted for the Bruch Canyon Trailhead. There was a small parking lot, with additional parking down the hill. Here's a couple links ("Trails to the Hollywood Sign" and "Hiking to the Sign" which we found very helpful. Please note: as of April 2017, the trailhead to the Hollyridge Trail is closed). Whichever route you choose, I strongly recommend doing a bit of research ahead of time.  


Above, a map of Los Angeles' 4310 acre (1,740 hectare) Griffith Park. The majority of the park is mountainous open space, with hiking trails along it's various canyons and ridges. Very different than, say, New York's Central Park or Chicago's Millennium Park. 

Where ever you start, know where you're going - even if it means just taking a photo of the route, which is what we did. Our destination was Mt. Lee, overlooking the Hollywood Sign. 

There was a small seasonal stream running down the canyon, which was beautiful. All this is within Los Angeles city limits. 

Looking up Brush Canyon. The hike was pleasant and cool when we started around 7am. 

While there's some great views along the trail, there's little or no shade. If you go - go early.


View of the Griffith Observatory (left). Beyond it, the skyline of Downtown Los Angeles

Pay attention to the signage, and your map. The Brush Canyon Trail is considered a moderate, three hour hike. It's 6.4 miles (10.2 km) roundtrip, with a 1,110 ft (335 m) elevation gain.


As you hike, you'll catch small glimpses of the Sign.


The "trail" is actually a fire road, which is actually paved towards the top.


In addition to some spectacular views from the "city side," the trail also offers views on the other side of Mount Lee, of Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. 


Looking north with views of Forest Lawn Memorial Park, the Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Brothers Studios. Unknown to most people, only one of the six major studios (Paramount) is located in Hollywood proper.


Cahuenga Peak, adjacent to Mount Lee, was added to Griffith Park in December 2010. Our family, along with thousands of other individuals from around the world, made a small donation to this project. Here's a link with more information.


View of the Lake Hollywood, the reservoir in the Hollywood Hills. Here's a link to when my wife and I hike around the reservoir back in 2011. Which I'd recommend if you're looking for something more leisurely. 


Made it to the top. Was it worth it? You tell me.


There's a small, very handmade bench of sorts at the top. The City of Los Angeles is in a perpetual tug of war with an incredible landmark that people from all around the world want to see --- AND a group of wealthy and very influential homeowners that have worked to make access to the sign very difficult. In 2017, local residents were able to close access to the sign via the much shorter Hollyridge Trail. Which is too bad.


While you can see the sign - the backside of the sign - there is a fence preventing you from getting to the actual sign. Of course, people try. Don't be one of those people. 


Time to break out the "pano" feature on the iPhone.

And, of course, a selfie or two. 


In addition to views of downtown Los Angeles, there were views of Hollywood, Koreatown, and Miracle Mile district along Wilshire Blvd in the distance.


A final photo before heading back.


Apparently, there's a trail along the recently acquired Cahuenga Peak, but is described as a "rugged single track" trail. Maybe another time.


Heading back down. The fence to the left - with several "keep out" signs - are along the top of the Hollywood Sign. The City has gotten very serious about keeping hikers or adventurous types away from the actual sign. Again, please don't try it.


A final view looking over the fence with Beverly Hills, Century City, and the Pacific Ocean off in the distance. 

A view of the fireroad, plus Griffith Observatory and downtown Los Angeles, heading back. 

Unfortunately - there are no toilet facilities anywhere along the trail (or at the top). 

Back towards the parking lot.


The seasonal stream. Apparently, the Bronson Cave is located 1/2 a mile from here. The Bronson Cave has been used in many movies and TV shows, it's most famous role as the Batcave in the 1960's Batman TV Show.


Back at the parking lot. Our teenage kids were not excited about getting up at 6am for the hike. Sorry. They missed out. 

Heading back, we rolled up the the Emerson College, at Sunset Blvd and Gordon Street. Emerson main campus is is located in Boston. This is their West Coast extension campus.


Waiting for the light at Sunset and Gordon, I grabbed a final photo of the Hollywood Sign out my rear view mirror. 



More next time. 

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