We’ve all seen it in movies, TV shows, photographs, postcards, and commercials: the sign that lets you know you’re in the motion picture capital of the world.
The Hollywood sign was dedicated in 1923, originally reading “Hollywoodland,” and was built to last just 18 months, as its goal was to advertise a housing development. After seeing some lean times in the 1970s, when one of the “O”s completely fell down, the sign has been revived and is a beacon to all visitors to Los Angeles. What many people don’t see, though, is the back of the sign—but it turns out it’s pretty easy to access via an approximate 45-minute (one-way) hike.
When you get to the top, don’t try to climb (or even touch) the fence, as security will be called and you will be hauled away. Just take in the panoramic views of the ocean, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, downtown Los Angeles, the Santa Ana Mountains of Orange County, and the rest of the majestic California landscape this vantage point has to offer.
Don’t just stop behind the sign, either. Look behind you and find the steps that go even higher, giving much better views of the city, the Observatory made famous by “Rebel Without a Cause,” and the Hugh Hefner Overlook marker.
Behind Mount Lee (which you’ll be standing on, along with the Hollywood sign) is the so-called Valley, and the Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), the burial site of Bette Davis, Liberace, Ronnie James Dio, and John Wooden, among others.