Hollywood Sign & The Batcave: Hiking LA’s Famous Spots

One of the most iconic symbols of Southern California, the Hollywood Sign, is also very accessible and should be a go to destination at least once during your time in California. The hike is easy enough that any member of the family can do it, but still difficult enough to get your heart rate pumping and your blood flowing. Once you make it to the Hollywood Sign you will see a unique view of LA that is unlike most other views as you see the Hollywood Sign with LA behind it instead of vice versa. Bundle this with the Bronson Caves, the Batcave from 60’s TV lore, and you will have made a full day of experiencing the essence of Hollywood nostalgia.

Hollywood Sign History

The sign was first erected in 1923 and originally read “HOLLYWOODLAND”. Its purpose was to advertise the name of a new housing development in the hills above the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. Each letter of the sign was 30 feet (9.1 m) wide and 50 feet (15 m) high, and the whole sign was studded with some 4,000 light bulbs. The sign was officially dedicated on July 13, 1923. It was not intended to be permanent. Restoration company Bay Cal Painting says on its website that the expected life was to be about a year and a half, but after the rise of the American cinema in Los Angeles it became an internationally recognized symbol, and was left there. In 1949 the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce began a contract with the City of Los Angeles Parks Department to repair and rebuild the sign. The contract stipulated that “LAND” be removed to spell “Hollywood” and reflect the district, not the “Hollywoodland” housing development.

Following the 1978 public campaign to restore the sign, the following nine donors gave $27,777 each to remake a letter (which totaled $250,000):
H – Terrence Donnelly – publisher of the Hollywood Independent Newspaper
O – Giovanni Mazza – Italian movie producer
L – Les Kelley – originator of the Kelley Blue Book
L – Gene Autry – singer, actor and businessman
Y – Hugh Hefner – founder of Playboy magazine
W – Andy Williams – singer
O – Warner Bros. Records
O – Alice Cooper – singer, who donated in memory of comedian Groucho Marx
D – Thomas Pooley — donated in the name of Mathew Williams

Bronson Caves

When you park at the bottom of Bronson Canyon Park near Camp Hollywoodland, you are literally less than a half mile from the Bronson caves. Simply proceed up the road, take the first right and climb the hill to the caves. These man-made caves harken to a time in the past when Hollywood was coming of age and Batman had one liners instead of dark battles. It also has great views of the end goal of this hike, the Hollywood Sign. I love all things Batman, so I was excited to walk through the caves, snap a couple of pictures, then proceed on.

The Hollywood Sign Hike

From here the hike starts. You will be walking up for the next two miles and this is by far the hardest part of the hike. Take your time and enjoy the changing views. Make sure to pack a lot of water if it is a hot day as there is almost no shade, a better hike to do during the cooler months. The trail will flatten out for a while after the initial climb and then it will dump you at a paved road. From here you can go to the left and get good views of the Hollywood Sign as seen below, or proceed right and make you way up to the top. This is also where the easier hike starts to the sign but you miss seeing the Batcave if you go this way.

Optional excursion for a nice view

The Hollywood Sign

After proceeding another half mile you will find yourself at your destination behind the Hollywood Sign. Unfortunately this is as close you can get to it and I recommend taking pictures through the gate to get a better angle. The sign itself has like 10 cameras watching every angle so I would not suggest trying to sneak in as it is heavily watched.

You can however, proceed to the little hill behind it and get a great panorama view looking down on the city and the sign. You can even update your Facebook to tag yourself at the sign if you are into that. From there simple proceed back down the way you came, watch your step though it can be kinda steep going down. If you hiked from the Batcave then you will have done about 7 miles by the time you are done.

I highly recommend adding this hike to your list. It is a quintessential view of LA history. It shows the Hollywood sign, from an angle that you never see and lets you get close to this iconic landmark. Here is a panorama I took as well click to see it full.

Hollywood sign panorama from above

I am glad it has so much protection as I am sure people would mess within if it didn’t like many of the other deteriorating parts of nature in California. Check out the rest of the pictures and get directions below, and congratulations, you have made it to the Hollywood sign.

Photo Gallery

Get Directions

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  • I’m SO taking my boys to the Batcave! (I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve lived in Los Angeles my entire life & have never hiked to the Hollywood Sign.)

    • Debi,

      You will love it! It is a great hike, just make sure to take sun screen or go when it is not hot as you will be walking in direct sunlight most of the way! Excited to see what you think.

  • Any hike with a cave gets my seal of approval!

  • mickey

    Hello! your blog is awesome and so helpful! Thanks for sharing! I have a quick? you stated that if you hike from the Bat Cave to the Hollywood sign, it would be around 7 miles. Is that round trip? or 7 miles each way?

    • Yea it is around 7 miles round trip based on the way I described here. Thanks for reading the blog!

      • mickey

        Your welcome! and Thank you for responding. Hey have you ever heard
        of Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon, check it out its BEAUTIFUL!

        • Ya I have, it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to!

  • Kirstin Weathermon Tidwell

    Love all the cool info. My kids & I are taking this hike on Sat. Can’t wait !

    • Have fun! It is great to see the famous sign from this vista point

  • KD

    Hey thanks for sharing! My siblings and I are going this week. This will definitely help us. Its our first time! I am so excited. Do you know where I can park? You mentioned above ” When you park at the bottom of Bronson Canyon Park near Camp Hollywoodland” is the street Canyon rd? Sorry I’m not familiar with LA. Thank you and hope to hear from you soon.

    • Yea, when I went a few years ago I parked on Canyon Drive. Just make sure to look at the street signs so you do not get a ticket.

  • Tisha Suarez

    My husband and I hiked this on Saturday August 27th, 2016…perfect overcast cool day for this hike that has been on our list for awhile now. Parked in the lot by the Bronson Caves but decided to hike to the Hollywood sign first. We hiked to where you see the sign from the front, then turned around and hiked to where you stand behind the sign and did a little bit of hiking off some side trails. When we got back down the hill we hiked to the Bronson caves. Great day we picked as Dixie had set up a Dead zone Diner in the cave and we’re going to shoot a commercial. We didn’t stay for the commercial but we did walk thru the cave and the Diner they had set up, very cool experience. Total for us was 8.2 miles. Thank you for directions!

    • Sounds like a great day! So glad the information in this post was helpful!