Monday, February 9, 2015

Griffith Park & The Hollywood Sign

One of the most photographed areas in the LA area has to be the Griffith Observatory and the Hollywood Sign, so of course I had to make a day trip to Griffith Park to experience this classic tourist destination. I did a lot of research ahead of time to figure out the closet place to park and the trail that goes up behind the sign. I found that the fastest way to the sign would be to park on Beechwood Drive and use the Hollyridge Trail. I also found out that this trail has been closed on and off recently, so I didn't want to risk it possibly being closed. I decided instead to park at the Griffith Observatory and hike to the sign from there. 

To get there I put 2800 E Observatory Rd into my GPS, and it took me right into the entrance for Griffith Park and Observatory. Traffic began for miles outside of the park, and I didn't think I would find a parking spot in the small lot at the top where the observatory is. We took a chance and just parked at the bottom of the hill on Vermont Canyon Rd (free) and walked up the hill to start the hike. When you get to the observatory you can see the Hollywood Sign in the distance as well as downtown LA. We explored the observatory for a bit then decided we would hike to the sign first then come back for sunset. There are trails at the opposite end near the parking lot that will take you over to the sign although they can be hard to find. 
Front of the Observatory
Deck above
View of Downtown LA 
I love this view
View of the sign in the distance
We started on Fire Rd in the parking lot then eventually hopped onto Mount Hollywood Dr and then Mulholland Hwy which brings you in front of the sign. Pretty much the entire time you are hiking towards the sign, you can see it in the distance. I think being able to see what we were hiking towards played games with my head. It doesn't seem that far away, but in reality from the start of the hike to the front of the sign is about 4.5 miles. You can get some great pictures in front of the sign once you come to the gate and houses on Mulholland Hwy. 
View of the sign from Mulholland Hwy
We're so Hollywood 
If you want to hike up behind the sign you have to go back down Mulholland Hwy till you get to Mount Lee Dr. This is the only part of the hike with any elevation. The hike from the start of Mount Lee Dr till you get to the sign is only about a mile, but after the first 4.5 miles it was difficult for me. Once we finally came around the corner and I could see the letters, it was all worth it. The letters are HUGE and a lot bigger than I expected them to be. There is a fence that separates you from getting too close to the sign and a ton of cameras, so you will have to enjoy the view from a distance. At one point someone tried to jump the fence, and immediately security came over a loud speaker and threaten him. If you keep going towards the cell towers you will see a small trail that allows you to gain a little more elevation and see the entire Hollywood Sign, downtown LA, the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Reservoir, and the ocean on a clear day. 
View behind the sign of LA in the distance
All of the sign
I really didn't want to leave the amazing views behind the sign, but we eventually hiked the same way we came back towards the observatory. Once we made it to the observatory the sun was just setting. If you can stick around till sunset you will be in for a real treat. We tried walking around inside the observatory afterwards (free), but it was so crowded that we gave up and just went home. Round trip this hike was about 12 miles when we got back to the car.
Observatory and LA
Downtown LA back at the Observatory
Amazing sunset
Everything is free including entrance to the park, parking, and the observatory. There are bathrooms outside in the parking lot. The views from the observatory are spectacular. Warning, the trails are open to horseback riders so they are covered in poop, and it really smells. The park is really crowded and parking can be hard to find. Next time I want to go back to the Griffith Observatory at night to watch the stars. Overall, a must see in LA! I am so happy that I finally got to check hiking to the Hollywood Sign off my lifelong bucket list.