Reviews of bucket-list-worthy things to do all over the world

Getting as close as legally possible to 
the Hollywood Sign!

Most people who travel to LA are eager to catch a glimpse of the famous Hollywood Sign, but I wanted to do more than merely see it. I wanted to get as close as legally possible to the Hollywood Sign. A friend told me that he knew how, then he led me on a hike to the top of Mount Lee, just above the iconic letters.

Through a tall chain-link fence, I looked down at the backward corrugated metal letters and support beams, a behind-the-scenes look at the Hollywood Sign that most people never see. There were also gorgeous views of multi-million dollar homes; the glimmering man-made, but lake-like, Hollywood Reservoir (Lake Hollywood); and, because it was an exceptionally clear day, the Pacific Ocean. The Hollywood Sign Hike instantly became one of my favorite things to do in Los Angeles.

A few years later, I was charged with helping my little brother with one of his elementary school projects. My brother, Matthew, mailed me a paper cutout version of himself, “Flat Matthew," along with a note asking me to show Flat Matthew around California and photograph his adventures. Of course, Flat Matthew had to do the Hollywood Sign Hike.

A friend and I drove Flat Matthew to Hollywood. At the intersection of Franklin Avenue and Canyon Drive, we headed north on Canyon Drive. Soon, we could see the Hollywood Sign in the distance. (fun fact: When the Hollywood sign was originally built in 1923, it read Hollywoodland, to advertise homes for sale. Over the years, the sign has been repaired, rebuilt, and shortened to read Hollywood.)

We knew that we had arrived at the trailhead when we reached the end of Canyon Drive. We parked, tied on our hiking shoes, tossed some bottled water into a backpack, and began our hike. (note: From the same parking area, you can access "the Batcave." See my photos and story about the Batcave here.)

Our moderately strenuous, mostly shade-free, hike gave us beautiful views of Griffith Park. Depending on the time of year, the park is mostly green-brown (winter to spring) or brown-green (summer to fall). In the spring, the park is peppered with wildflowers.

As we gained elevation, we could occasionally see Griffith Observatory sitting regally on a hilltop with downtown Los Angeles visible in the distance.

About three quarters of the way to our destination, our trail changed from dusty dirt to a paved road. The road wrapped around the north side of Mount Lee. We looked out over Burbank where we could see Forest Lawn cemetery, Walt Disney Studios, and NBC Studios.

Finally, we continued around to the south side of Mount Lee and photographed Flat Matthew with the backside of the famous Hollywood Sign.

Two years later, when “Real Matthew” visited Los Angeles, I took him to see the Hollywood Sign. Although Matthew’s visit to Southern California included many exciting adventures, he told me that Hollywood Sign Hike was his favorite!
P.S. In the novel Lost in Los Angeles (about a young woman who travels to L.A. looking for a reason to live), the characters hike to the Hollywood Sign, in addition to experiencing other bucket-list-worthy L.A. adventures. Check out Lost in Los Angeles by J.W. Lynne on

I did this most recently in 2017 in Hollywood, California, USA.

Jen (California, USA)

Find Jen's list of bucket-list-worthy things to do in the Los Angeles area here.

Hollywood Sign Hike map T-shirts and water bottles are available at Cafepress for men, women, children, and dogs!

Bronson Caves "Batcave" to Hollywood Sign Hike map