I hopped off the plane at LAX with my dreams and a cardigan. Welcome to the land of fame excess…am I gonna fit in? Jumped in the cab, here I am for the first time. Look to my right, and I see the Hollywood sign… this is all so crazy! Everybody seems so famous! My tummy’s turnin’ and i’m — OK, OK I’ll stop. But I definitely tuned into my inner Miley Cyrus and sang that song (Party in the USA) as soon as I touched down in LAX. And I admit, it was “so crazy” when I saw the Hollywood sign.
I like to consider myself a casual hiker — if I can even say that. I love the idea of hiking, I’m up for it whenever, but never really have the opportunity to do it. So, when I knew I was heading to L.A., hiking up to the Hollywood Sign was at the top of my list. Before attempting this, I looked up some basic info: how to get there, which trail to take, ect. Turns out getting there is a clusterf&%k. The Hollywood Hill natives have put up signs — official looking signs — directing people in the OPPOSITE direction of the Hollywood sign! ALTERNATIVE FACTS, GUYS. These signs are put up to confuse tourists and reroute them to locations outside of the park. Apparently, they don’t want their neighborhood full of tourists, which I get, but it’s so mean. I also heard it’s a safety hazard for it to be a major tourist attraction. If something were to happen, let’s say a fire, because of the small winding roads it’d be hard for rescue teams to make it up there with all of the traffic.
Luckily, I came across an AirBnb listing by this guy, Joe, an aspiring actor who also hosts Hollywood Sign hikes. And let me tell you, he was nothing short of amazing. He sent out emails to everyone who booked the tour with directions and photos of the meeting spot in case you or your Uber driver got lost. His instructions were thorough. Along the hike, Joe stopped us at 3 locations for perfect photo ops. Joe came READY, the guy had suggestions on poses, boomerangs, ect. He played all roles: tour guide, photographer, water bearer, snack provider, good conversationalist. Legit this was the red carpet of hikes. Total Hollywood. It was great, I mean the only way this hike could’ve been any better was if Joe simultaneously carried us all on his back.
Joe shared some history with us about the sign itself and the area. Here’s some of what I learned:
- The sign was erected in 1923 and originally read “HollywoodLand” in attempts to advertise for a housing development there.
- In 1949 the city of Los Angeles removed “land” from the sign, leaving it as we know it now.
- The “Y” is owned by Hugh Hefner and the last “O” is owned by Alice Cooper.
- Unfortunately, in 1932 a 24-year-old struggling actress, Peg Entiwistle jumped to her death from the “H” achieving her sought out fame, in the worst way.
During our hike Joe pointed out some of the sights: the Griffith Observatory, Madonna’s old house, and the Wisdom Tree. He made sure the group stuck together, while allowing everyone to walk at their own pace. I will say this hike was INTENSE – for me. Up to this, the hardest hike I’ve done was climbing Mount Vesuvius and in my mind after that victory I was a hiking master. Elevation? Incline? Whatever, let’s go. Mind you I am not in shape. I huffed and puffed up to the Hollywood sign as the two 6 year olds in the group walked merrily past me. But thankfully Joe lugged like 80 pounds worth of water and snacks in a backpack for us. Seriously, high praises to Joe. From what I saw everyone was able to have at least two bottles of water.
After an hour and a half of blood (pumping fast), sweat (lots of sweat — sry), tears (on the inside) and bomb photos we made it and the view was totally worth it! Not only was the day beautiful, it was clear AF giving us the perfect view of L.A. along with a view of the back of the sign. Check out more pics below!