One of our 16 Ways to See the Hollywood Sign
People are always looking for the best places to spot the Hollywood Sign inside Griffith Park — but unfortunately a number of factors have led to the funneling of most visitors to an overlook at the Griffith Observatory. While this overlook is fine for those who just want to step out of their car or bus, take a snapshot, and leave — there are much nicer viewpoints located very close by — so you can get a better view and significantly smaller crowds with just a tiny bit of effort. This loop takes you to FIVE of them — and all you have to do is keep your eye out for the Three Mile Trail.
It is possible to park a car near the Observatory, especially if you get there nice and early. When paid parking kicks in — it’s $8/hour during the high summer season and $6/hour afterward — the price can add up quickly. Parking is enforced from noon until 10PM during the weekdays and 10AM to 10PM during the weekends. In addition to the fees, you’re also going to have to fight the other cars trying to snag a parking spot nearby. Also note that those parking fees have been rising over time, so they may be higher on your visit.
There is free parking near Fern Dell (take the West Observatory Trail up and enjoy another good Hollywood Sign viewing spot!) or park down near the Greek Theater (free parking when there isn’t a show at the Greek) and hike up the East Observatory Trail (sometimes also called the Boy Scout Trail).
To be honest, the most pleasant way to get to this trailhead that doesn’t involve a hike is via mass transit. This route as described begins and ends at DASH shuttle stops. The DASH shuttle runs every 20 minutes, 7 days a week, and costs just 50 cents to ride. You can pick it up from the Metro Red Line at Vermont and Sunset or at several stops inside the Los Feliz neighborhood. As a bonus, when you’re hiking during the summer months, the blast of ultrapowerful air conditioning on those DASH shuttles is REALLY nice when you’re getting off the trail.
OK. So you’ve made it up to the Observatory and you’re ready to start the hike. First, check out the ‘official’ Hollywood Sign viewpoint just south of the Charlie Turner Trailhead. You’ll probably have to fight through some crowds to get there.
Now head back north toward the Charlie Turner Trailhead. There’s a nice map of Griffith Park here if you want to get your bearings a bit. There’s also a water fountain if you forgot to fill up before you left (the water’s not cold, but it’s wet!). You will also see this very important distinction on the signs nearby:
I live near Griffith Park and hike here pretty regularly, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into people who think the Hollywood Sign is on Mount Hollywood. You can get really nice views of the sign along the way to there — and a great view of the park itself from the summit — but no sign, folks.
Pass the water fountain and start hiking up the Mount Hollywood Trail and you’ll quickly enter the Berlin Forest.
This gift of pine trees from L.A.’s sister city Berlin provides some welcome and rare shade in this section of Griffith Park — and also has a nice viewpoint of the Hollywood Sign, too. You’re barely more than 0.1 mile from the Observatory but you’ll see a tiny fraction of the tourists here.
A fire in 2018 did singe the northern stretch of the Forest, sadly, but it’s still mostly intact.
When you’re done checking out the sign, it’s time to keep hiking north on the Mount Hollywood Trail. Keep to the right at the junction with the West Trail at 0.3 mile and cross the tunnel over the road to the Observatory. On the other side of the tunnel, keep left to stay on the broad Mount Hollywood Trail (fire road) and ignore the narrow footpath that climbs more directly up the mountain.
The fire road trail makes a long, meandering loop to the west. Right at a sharp switchback and incline, you’ll reach the third Hollywood Sign viewing spot on this route — the Tiffany and Company Foundation Overlook.
Hiking groups like to stop here for group shots and selfies, but you can usually find a decent view at this angle. Snap your selfie and stay on the Mount Hollywood Trail. You’ll reach a major junction at the 1 mile mark. Heading toward both the Captain’s Roost and Dante’s View will get you to the summit of Mount Hollywood, but only Dante’s View has a water fountain — so stay straight to loop around the southeast slope of Mount Hollywood. Enjoy the shade and water when you get to Dante’s View at 1.3 miles.
Enjoy the views north toward the Verdugos and San Gabriels, then keep left at the Hogback Trail and left again at 1.4 miles to reach the summit of Mount Hollywood at 1.6 miles.
Mount Hollywood is a fantastic perch to enjoy sweeping views of Griffith Park … but the famous sign is a little more Hollywoo than Hollywood from this angle.
When you’re done enjoying the vistas from here, head back toward Dante’s View and keep left at the Three Mile Trail (don’t go toward Captain’s Roost / Tank 113). This gently descending fire road returns you to the paved (but closed to cars) Mount Hollywood Drive at 2.4 miles.
There is an oddly verdant picnic area here, along with another water fountain in case you’re running low on liquids.
Enjoy a bit of shade, then head south along the road. You’ll have some very lovely views of the interior of the park along the way.
At about 3.1 miles, you’ll reach the final viewing area for the Hollywood Sign on the Three Mile Trail, which is clearly marked but not often visited since the park ended its pilot shuttle program on this paved road.
The view from this location is slightly closer and at a lower angle than the Tiffany Viewpoint you passed earlier, and is usually less crowded. It’s actually very close to that viewpoint as the crow flies, and you’re likely to see people cutting their own trails between the two.
Don’t do this. It damages the landscape, increases erosion, and makes it more likely that parts of the park will be tougher to hike in in the future. So just stick to the established trails, OK?
From here, it’s just 0.4 mile on the road back down to Vermont Canyon Road. The Mount Hollywood Drive ends pretty much right at a DASH stop, which makes it easy to head back to where you started. Alternatively, you can also hike back down Western Canyon to get to the Fern Dell area and Trails Cafe.
Tags: Berlin Forest, Griffith Park, hollywood sign, mount hollywood, three mile trail