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Hiking in to the Movies

Apart from travelling, my great love is films. Ever since I was little and became captivated with The Wizard of Oz, watching it on repeat until the VHS wore out, I have been entranced with the idea of Hollywood. Now I am certainly not an aspiring actress but I love getting lost in the movies. It was therefore a huge moment for me when I walked up through the Hollywood Hills to the famous sign. Standing above the sign, overlooking Los Angeles, it just seemed surreal!

The Hollywood Sign from Mount Lee Drive

The hike through the hills was something that I was particularly glad to have researched in advance. There are several routes up to the sign but I wanted to be able to see it at lots of points along the way. The route from the Griffith Observatory does allow you to see the sign but it is distant and you approach it from the side. Fortunately there is a great route from Canyon Lake Drive that starts in front of the sign and provides great photo opportunities. We started this route from Lake Hollywood Park (a fantastic view of the sign, even if you don't want to walk up to it), Canyon Lake Drive leads on to Mulholland Highway, which leads on to Mount Lee Drive. This hike is very achievable, approximately 6 miles, and has lots of brilliant photo opportunities along the way. I have marked up a map of the route that we walked:

Walking route

We didn't hire a car in LA and after looking in to the bus routes, I decided that a taxi would be the best way to get from central Hollywood to Lake Hollywood Park. We had a lovely taxi driver but he was new to the job... and the city... and did not have a clue where we were trying to get to, he had never heard of it and his sat nav didn't recognise it. Cue us mapping it on our phone and directing him around various estates until finding it. He seemed very happy when we got to the park though, said it was one of the best views of the sign and said he would remember the location for future tourists - we were glad to have been of help to him!

The view from Lake Hollywood Park

The main reason that I was glad to have researched in advance was walking through the estate to get to the hills. The route (as per the map above) is easy to navigate and a good clear path at all times. Mulholland Highway follows the road through the estate but then Mount Lee Drive is a wide dusty track up to the summit. Along Mulholland Highway, the residents have put lots of signs, barriers and even painted on the road notices stating that there is no entry. It is such a shame; these houses are worth millions, they have an iconic view as well as luscious greenery all around and the whole area is just littered with signage and blockades. The truth is though that you can walk through to get to the path on the other side. Be respectful, use the pavement and progress by and you are not hurting anyone. It is a short walk through the blockades and then you are on to the dusty path that leads to the sign.

The fencing that surrounds the sign prevents any good photos from immediately above but climb on up to the top of the hill and you will be able to get the sweeping view of LA and photos of the back of the sign from another level above. The view was wonderful and it was genuinely surreal to think that I was standing in the image that I had seen for so many years. Wonderful LA LA Land!

View from above the Hollywood Sign 1
View from Hollywood Sign 2

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