I moved to LA a year and a half ago and have been talking about hiking to the Hollywood sign ever since. Last weekend I finally threw on my Nikes, did a quick Google Maps search, and actually finally did it! And it was amazing. Which brings me to the purpose of this post: my goals for 2018.
In 2018, I would like to “walk the walk” instead of “talk the talk” more. This means I want to actually DO the things I talk about, think about, or say I want to do. There are so many time I talk with friends about making plans or going on adventures, only to end up doing the same thing over and over again instead. I also have a tendency to write down pages of bullet points containing a bucket list and then end up never looking at it again. Thus, this is the year I am going to consciously make an effort to try new things and actually execute the plans I have in my head instead of jabber on and on about them. Hiking the Hollywood sign sets the tone for how I would like the rest of my year to go: actually getting out there and checking boxes of my proverbial to-do list.
Getting Outside My Comfort Zone
While I have been wanting to do this hike for a long time (and get that Instagram picture, let’s be real), I’ll be the first to admit that “nature girl” isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of me. Let’s just say I prefer to be comfortable…. lounging…. or shopping, instead of becoming one with the great outdoors. However, once I’m out there (like half way up a mountain out there) with no other option than to keep going, I actually start to like being active outside. Yes, I was tired, sweaty, and covered in dirt, but it was such a fun adventure with a surreal award at the end. Seriously, these views are STUNNING. Plus, how much more epic does it get than being feet away from the iconic Hollywood sign?
I find that it’s usually the things we might be skeptical about at first that end up being completely worth it (and perspective-changing) in the end. I never regret doing things like going on a hard hike because once it’s over I feel so accomplished and productive. And I got to experience something unique and beautiful on top of it.
Advice For Hiking This Trail
Now on to the actual hike itself. There are multiple trails you can take to the Hollywood sign. The way my friend Katie and I went is what is considered the “hard” way – a fun little fact we found out upon arriving at the trail. The hike took two hours roundtrip and was about five miles. Oh, and did I mention the majority of it is incline?
If you want to hike to the Hollywood sign, I would recommend doing your research first. Here is a good website that breaks down the different routes you can take, in order of difficulty. I did the one that is the hardest (yep, you heard that right), which is called the Cahuenga Peak Trail. For this route, you can park your car on Lake Hollywood Drive, at the start of the trail.
This hike is also known as the “Wisdom Tree” trail, as you will stumble upon the Wisdom Tree about halfway to the sign. You will know you are there when you arrive; you can’t miss it. There are usually tons of people hanging out taking pictures at this point. Plus you’ll see a huge, lone tree that people leave little notes of wisdom or inspiration on, hence the name. There is also a gigantic American Flag set against the scenic backdrop of all of Los Angeles, which is absolutely breathtaking. Take a little rest once you get here (you’ll need it if you’re anything like me), and then hang a right to go on to the next leg of the trail.
Once you get going, you will think “oh this is so much easier”. And then suddenly not so much. Am I making you want to go on this hike yet? Once you’ve almost hit your destination it gets a little hairy about 20 minutes out, with steep slopes, jungle-like features, and rocky paths. It almost seems like you’re going the wrong way, but you are not. Keep going and see the sweet, sweet white letters peaking through the dirt covered hill and you know you’ve made it.
Once you get to the sign, there’s a nice little lookout where you can rest, take pictures and take it all in. It’s truly awesome.
Before embarking on the hike, here are some tips:
- Bring a backpack with plenty of water, sunscreen, and maybe a snack.
- Be prepared to get a little dirty. There is lots of powdery dirt along this trail, and at some points you may have to climb on some rocks, hands and knees style. Basically, I’m saying don’t wear your favorite white shoes or trendy yoga pants. This is something I wish someone told me…(c’mon this is still a fashion blog).
- Do not go on this hike on a super hot day (like above 75) or at peak heat (noon).
- Be aware of other hikers. At some points, the trail gets narrow and people are going both up and down at the same time. Wait off to the side for a moment and be considerate of others if needed.
- Have your phone charged so you can get some pics at the end. (Yeah, yeah, enjoy the moment, whatever. I know you want that panoramic view for your IG story.)
Luckily, going down is easier than going up, so you’ll be back on level ground and on your merry way in no time, knowing that you just were mere feet from one of the most photographed and historic landmarks in the world. Looking up from the bottom to see where you were is a pretty cool feeling and one I highly recommend checking off your bucket list. Seriously, JUST GO DO IT!