It’s nice to be reminded that Los Angeles isn’t just a traffic-ridden smoggy city. It’s also full of nature, hikes, and preserved parks. This hike starts at Beachwood Canyon and takes you to the base of the Hollywood sign, and it’s a great quick walk for experiencing some quiet nature in the city of LA.
The hike is equal parts residential and wilderness. Parking in the area of Beachwood Canyon, you begin the hike walking through the eclectic array of fancy Hollywood homes. I always wonder if it would be lovely to live in those unique homes – great views, quietly looking over the city—or inconvenient because of the tight roads and the distance to the nearest store. But they are fun to look at nonetheless!
It was a hot day and the sun beats down pretty much the whole way on this hike. Each turn on this residential incline gives you more unique houses to look at. Some have fountains, some have balconies, and some look like castles. Who lives here? I always wonder. And here’s a game to play. It’s called count how many times you see a Prius. (Hint: There are a lot.)
Once you get to one home that is especially castle-like, the hike turns into a dirt walk through cactus and shrubs. The house you turn at is apparently called the Wolf’s Lair and it was built by one of the original real estate men of the Hollywoodland era. These rich people began building homes in this canyon and devised a method of marketing and advertisement to attract attention to their new neighborhood. So they built the Hollywood sign, as a way to show that this was “Hollywoodland,” a new real estate area. Now, without the “land” part, it symbolized Hollywood’s golden era of film and fame.
Behind the Wolf’s Lair is a trail that leads you to the Hollywood sign. It was very sunny and dusty out there this time of year. Winding through the shrubbery, it’s easy to get great views of the Hollywood Reservoir, a man-made lake just down and to the left of the trail. This is a great spot for pictures, like the yoga pose picture featured below. (By the way, hiking yoga is a thing? Sign me up!) On a clear day, you can see the buildings of Downtown LA and beyond.
The trail that leads you to the Hollywood sign is actually an old part of Mulholland Highway. Broken up beneath your feet are bits of concrete left over from when cars used to drive the road around the area of Hollywoodland. Mulholland Drive and Mulholland Highway extend from the beach in Malibu (close to Camarillo) all the way to this point and stops. The trail is an extension of the road, but now unused by all except hikers on foot. The cliffs leading down into the valley are lined with concrete too, showing that this elevated road was once stable enough for a car to drive on. While it is still called Mulholland Highway on maps, it’s now just a part of Hollywood’s hidden history.
Eventually you reach a house that once belonged to Madonna. Here you reach the point beneath the Hollywood sign. Here is also where you can choose to continue on to reach the top of the sign (which is a strenuous but rewarding hike!) This time, we just turned back at this point.
Back where we parked, there is a fun little shopping area with a market and a café. We ate at the Beachwood Café, a trendy hipster-y place with its own cool vibe. I definitely recommend this hike and restaurant. A perfect day outing!
My story is called “Golden Age” and I can see it turning into more than a short story one day…
Sources! This hike is featured on the LA Times website, which provides detailed directions. The Beachwood Café website has a lot of great history on it, as well. This blog I found describes the same trail.