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Hooray For Hiking To The Hollywood Sign

The Alphabet Adventures With Nancy Hubbell Fournier (pronounced Forn yay)

Journey along with our resident humorist Nancy as she embarks on unusual adventures from A to Z. With the alphabet as her guide to new experiences, Nancy rates her excursions as a “Fourn-Yay” or “Fourn-Nay.” 

Letter “H”:  Healthy Hike to Honor a Hundredth Anniversary

There are 50 million tourists who come to Los Angeles each year and most of them catch at least a glimpse of the iconic Hollywood sign.

As a California native, I’ve seen the sign all my life.  In fact, I had an office that looked north across the LA Basin and on clear days, I could look at it all day long.  The funny thing was, I had never actually been to see it up close and personal.

Screen saver of hike in Hollywood CA

One morning while hiking with our Covid-inspired texting group labeled “Sat hiking crew” I mentioned that I had never hiked to the Hollywood sign. “Bucket List!” my friends responded. “Let’s do it.”

Then the world opened up and three years passed. Fast forward to 2023 and I was approaching the G and H on my Alphabet Adventures list.  I had secured a date in April for my friends to join me for Goat Yoga in a brewery. Unfortunately, either the yoga instructor, goat herder, or brew master had a conflict and the date fell through.

So, instead I sent out a text to my crew, “Anyone want to hike to the Hollywood sign?” Three friends quickly responded that it was still on their Bucket List and they were game to join me. Perhaps it was meant to be because our hike aligned with Earth Day – April 22.

I did some research on trails to the Hollywood sign.  Ok…I confess…my exact search terms were “easiest hike to Hollywood sign.”  I also logged into my hiking app, All Trails.  It didn’t take long to identify that the best hike would be one that started near Lake Los Angeles. I saved the location on my phone and prepared for the day.

First, a little background on the Hollywood sign:

  • Built in 1923, the Hollywood sign is celebrating its 100th Anniversary.
  • Originally its letters spelled out HOLLYWOODLAND to advertise a housing development on Mt. Lee.
  • The billboard was intended to stay in place for 18 months, but no one took it down. In 1944, LA City bought the land and planned to remove the sign. Due to a public outcry, they instead refurbished the sign in 1949, deleting the last four letters so it read “HOLLYWOOD.”
  • Over the years, fences and a boatload of security have been added, so when we say we hiked to the sign, we got as close as we could without being bitten by a rattlesnake or arrested for trespassing.
From left: Hikers Sue King, Nancy Hubbell Fournier, Joanna Callaghan, and Christine Frankwick

Joining me on the trek were friends Joanna and Christine, also California natives who had never made the hike. Sue is a native of England but has lived here for 25+ years and had never ventured up the hill.

The hike we chose is called “Hollywood Sign via Innsdale Trail and Mt. Lee Drive.” Reviews promised a partially paved route that gave us plenty of photo ops as we approached the sign, then took us east and around the hill for views of Burbank/Glendale, then up above the sign for glorious LA vistas.

We started early on a Saturday morning, arriving before 9 am to avoid crowds and heat.  The good thing is that there were enough people on hand to show us the path as it wound through some neighborhoods, and also to serve as our photographers.

overview landscape of Westside Los Angeles

As promised, the trail started off on well-groomed dirt and was easy to follow. The views took our breath away.  The Hollywood sign loomed above us and in the other direction, all of LA was on display. Homes with interesting architecture were fun to see, and there were just enough trees to stop and rest in the shade as needed. While I didn’t see any bathrooms, a nice water station was available along the path.

At a certain point, we converged with several groups of tour companies who had brought their clients to one of the best vistas of the Hollywood sign via a shorter route than ours. “Big, fat cheaters,” I thought.

As great as the views were, the smells were just as impressive. The aroma of wildflowers in full bloom permeated the air, and as we moved through neighborhoods, the sweet smell of orange blossoms was captivating. Further up the trail, the scent of pine trees helped us realize we really were in nature.

Once at the end of the trail, we had a 360-degree panorama of Los Angeles, toward the beach and over the San Fernando Valley.  We had that top-of-the-world feeling. Or at least, the top of the Bucket List!

overview landscape of back of Hollywood sign

Fourn-yay – It feels good to embrace the LA life and enjoy a beautiful, healthful, adventure with friends. While I can check it off my Bucket List, I’d absolutely do the hike again.

Fourn-nay – Like most tourist sites in LA, it can get very crowded. Also, going on a hot or cloudy day would have diminished this adventure. We hiked 5 miles in 2 ½ hours, so if you want something shorter, you can research the route the big, fat cheaters took.  

Hiking in the heat, not your thing? Here are some other H adventures: Hot Springs, Home Tours, Handball.

Got something fun on your bucket list I should try? We’d love to hear your suggestions at intentfullyfit@gmail.com

montage of fun faces