Distance: 6.4 miles
Time: 2-3 hours
Elevation gain/loss: 1,050 feet
Drive: around 25 minutes’ (15 miles) drive from Pasadena old town (west on the 134, south on the 5, and then skirting round the south of Griffith Park)
Route description with lots of photos and a bit of sign history from Hiking Guy here, or more helpful description from Hikespeak here
Also a nice PDF map of the whole park, including trails, here
You can’t hike (or indeed live) in LA without going to the sign at least once, and with James’s sister and her boyfriend (Helen and Dan) visiting, it seemed like the time. They didn’t have proper walking boots, so we choose a middling-easy route, parking on Canyon Drive and following Brush Canyon trail (keeping right on the main trail where there were any options) up along the eastern side of the canyon. Just after setting off, we saw a rattlesnake that was fairly large and also fairly unbothered by humans, but that was about as exciting as the wildlife got.
After climbing gently for about a mile and a half, you reach a junction with the east-west Mulholland fire road and turn left (west). Just after the junction with the Hollyridge trail down to your left, we took a tiny side trail down along a ridge looking down over the Sunset Ranch stables to have a picnic with an oblique view of the sign.
After rejoining the main trail there are a few more bends before you join the tarmacked Mt Lee Drive, which you follow for about a mile to the summit. The road curls round the northern slope, giving views north to Burbank and the Disney and Warner Bros. studios, and the Verdugo range beyond, as well as a nice little lookout gap to the south again before wrapping back round to the south side where the sign sits.
Just reaching the top when we did was a guy who’d made the amazing decision to bring his date up there with a personal sound system: a very tinny speaker in a very large plastic box on wheels which he towed very effortfully behind him all the way up and down. It was hard to tell whether she was impressed. Sadly we got no photos.
In other news: we did this on Halloween, and on the way back down Dan spotted the ideal accoutrement for my evening’s costume, tested out here and found adequate.
There are lots more walking options that take in the sign, and it’d be nice to try another sometime, perhaps the fun-sounding Cahuenga Peak one (described by Modern Hiker here) – maybe also on a sunnier day!