Mount Hollywood Hike

I’ve never been one to hike in Griffith Park often.  Since the park is located in the center of Los Angeles, it’s usually crowded, and, although it’s covered in miles upon miles of trails, most of them are wide enough to be called fire roads.  I’d much prefer a single track in the neighboring San Gabriel Mountains or further west in the wilder side of the Santa Monica Mountains.  Despite these pet peeves, I’d be the first to recommend a hike in Griffith Park to out-of-town visitors and friends alike who are looking for a great view of Greater Los Angeles.

Mount Hollywood is located just south of the center of Griffith Park.  It is commonly mistaken for the location of the Hollywood sign, which is on neighboring Mount Lee.  Mt. Hollywood stands at 1,640 feet in elevation (495 meters), and offers impressive views in all directions.  From the peak on a clear day, visitors can see downtown Los Angeles to the south,  the beach cities and Catalina Island to the southwest, Glendale and Burbank to the east, and the San Fernando valley to the north.  To the west runs the ridge of peaks that make up the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, which includes Mount Lee and the famous Hollywood sign.

There are a few ways to get to Mt. Hollywood, all of them are relatively easy.  The shortest route to the peak is from the world-famous Griffith Observatory, which was built on the southern slope of Mt. Hollywood.  The five-mile round-trip hike starts at the northern end of the Griffith Observatory parking lot (the Charlie Turner Trailhead).  Due to the popularity of the observatory, you should arrive early to find a parking space or prepare to park along the paved road leading up to the observatory.  I prefer approaching Mt. Hollywood from the north, starting at the parking lot for the historic Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round off of Crystal Springs Drive. There are two parking lots, each able to hold over 150 vehicles.  Even on the most crowded of weekends, these parking lots usually still have spots available.  From the second parking lot, it’s about a 5-5.5 mile hike to the summit. This route takes you past the abandoned Los Angeles Zoo (1912-1965), where you can explore the old bear and monkey cages. Higher up along the trail, you can hear some of the animal calls from the present location of the Los Angeles Zoo, which is also in Griffith Park. As with all hikes, it would be best to print out a map of the park’s spaghetti-like trail system.  (see link below)

No matter which path you decide to take to get to Mt. Hollywood, please remember to wear sturdy shoes and bring a bottle of water and layers of clothing.  The temperature can drop suddenly after the sun sets.


Here are a few photos I’ve taken on a recent trek up to Mt Hollywood.

Two new parents introduce their infant to one of the famous Los Angeles sunsets.

Enjoying the last of the sun, the Hollywood Sign on Mount Lee is to the right.

The sun setting over Los Angeles.

The marine layer came inland during the late afternoon, covering the west side.

Mount Lee and the Hollywood sign look like an island in a sea of mist.

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