Cahuenga Peak Hike Griffith Park Hollywood Sign Wonder View Trail Aileen Getty Ridge Trail

Cahuenga Peak rises over Griffith Park, offering excellent views of Los Angeles, Burbank, and that iconic landmark, the Hollywood Sign. Wonder View Trail climbs to the top of Cahuenga Peak from the west. After taking the summit, cross a saddle on Aileen Getty Ridge Trail to reach the Hollywood Sign at the top of Mount Lee. This is a shorter alternative to the tradition 6.4-mile hike from Brush Canyon Trail to the Hollywood Sign or the 3.5-mile hike from Hollyridge Trail to the Hollywood Sign. By hiking up Wonder View Trail to Cahuenga Peak, the Hollywood sign may be reached via a 3-mile round trip hike that ascends 925 feet. The hike crosses a rugged single-track, visiting two peaks while providing a good workout on a less-traveled trail.

Cahuenga Peak Hike
Looking up at Cahuenga Peak and Mount Lee from Wonder View Drive

The first thing to note is there is no parking at the trailhead, or along the top of Wonder View Drive. Don’t be dissuaded. Instead, utilize the free street parking along Lake Hollywood Drive and hike a paved quarter mile up Wonder View Drive to the start of the trail. Walk through the yellow gate at the end of the drive and make the first right, after the road turns to dirt, on an unmarked single-track heading east up the mountain. Wonder View Trail ascends the lush southern slope of Cahuenga Peak, rapidly gaining elevation. The radio towers atop Mount Lee are in view straight ahead, marking the destination. Half a mile from the end of the road (and 575 feet higher), the steep rocky trail reaches a ridge running west from the peak.

Cahuenga Peak Hike wisdom tree
The tree and the end of the ridge

To the right, the trail continues up Cahuenga Peak, while to the left, a short path follows the ridge out to a well-positioned tree that provides a resting place with nice views over Burbank and Hollywood. There is a trail register beneath the tree used by visitors to leave notes to the wisdome tree.

Follow the track east along the ridge toward Cahuenga Peak. The trail is more gradual now, climbing 175 feet over 1/3 mile to the summit. The northern slopes are recovering robustly from wildfire damage, but there are several scorched remnants along this side of the mountain.

Cahuenga Peak is the twelfth highest summit in the Santa Monica Mountains at 1,820 feet, and offers excellent views over the east side of the range. The peak is linked to Hollywood history, having been purchased in the 1930s by Howard Hughes who desired to build a home here for Ginger Rogers. She refused, and decades later a group of investors set out to build a housing development on the peak. This time it was the citizens of Los Angeles who refused. In April of 2010, Cahuenga Peak was rescued from impending development by the Save the Sign Campaign, which purchased the peak and donated it to Los Angeles to become part of Griffith Park.

Cahuenga Peak Hike
Looking east toward Mount Lee from the top of Cahuenga Peak

Continuing east from the summit, Aileen Getty Ridge Trail drops across a saddle that connects Cahuenga Peak to Mount Lee. There is a nice view of Lake Hollywood to the south, and the main attraction is just ahead. Cross a shorter undulation in the ridge for a clear view of the backside of the Hollywood Sign (at the newly named Hugh Hefner Overlook). For a closer look, follow the single-track to the end and step out on Mount Lee Road. Hang a right and take the paved road up to the top of Mount Lee for a view of the back of the tall famous letters through the chain-link fence. Mount Lee is 120 feet shorter and less than 0.4 mile from Cahuenga Peak, making it easy to visit both summits.

Cahuenga Peak Hike
The Hollywood Sign from Wonder View Trail near Mount Lee

After taking in the view from above this LA landmark, simple return the way you came for a three-mile round trip hike. Wonder View Trail provides a great outing for those who want to see the Hollywood Sign, but prefer to hike a rugged single-track instead of refined paved and dirt fire roads. Wonder View Trail climbs a fair amount of elevation over a relatively short distance, making it a fulfilling hike that is great for entertaining out-of-town visitors. There is no fee or permit required to hike Cahuenga Peak, so get out and enjoy!

Cahuenga Peak Hike
The trail leading up Cahuenga Peak from Mount Lee

To get to the trailhead: From the 101 Freeway exit on Barham Boulevard and drive north for 1/3 of a mile. Turn right at the light onto Lake Hollywood Drive. Take this winding road for half a mile to the intersection with Wonder View Drive. Park along the street and begin hiking up Wonder View Drive. (If you drive another quarter mile down Lake Hollywood Drive, you will reach the trailhead for Lake Hollywood Reservoir Walking Trail.)

Trailhead address: Wonder View Drive & Lake Hollywood Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068
Trailhead coordinates: 34.133131, -118.336451

Use the map below to create your own directions:


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Photos

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These photos were taken in May and October of 2010, October of 2011, and August of 2012. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Hollywood Reservoir TrailLake Hollywood Reservoir Walking Trail
This 3.5-mile loop circles a peaceful fence-enclosed reservoir in the hills below the Hollywood Sign.
Hollywood Sign Hollyridge TrailMount Lee and the Hollywood Sign via Hollyridge Trail
This 3.5-mile hike ascends 750 feet to reach the summit of Mount Lee behind the Hollywood Sign.
Hollywood Sign TrailMount Lee and the Hollywood Sign via Brush Canyon Trail
This 6.4-mile hike crosses Griffith Park from Canyon Drive to the top of Mount Lee directly behind the landmark Hollywood Sign.
Griffith Park Mount Hollywood HikeMount Chapel, Mount Bell, and Mount Hollywood
This 5.7-mile loop tops three prominent summits on a panoramic tour of Griffith Park.
Bronson Cave hikeBronson Cave
This short easy hike visits a man-made cave recognizable as the Batcave from the 1960s Batman TV series and hundreds of other locations on TV and film.
Bee Rock hikeBee Rock
This hive-shaped point on the east side of Griffith Park is reached via a 1.7 to 4-mile round trip hike.
Old Zoo hikeOld Zoo Picnic Area
This half-mile hike explores the abandoned exhibits and animal cages in the ruins of the old LA Zoo in Griffith Park.
Beacon Hill hikeBeacon Hill
This 2.75 to 3.9-mile hike in Griffith Park climbs 500 feet to the easternmost summit in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Amirs GardenAmir’s Garden
This one-mile hike reaches a relaxing garden on the east side of Griffith Park that is a pleasant retreat for hikers.
Hollywood hikesMore trails in the Santa Monica Mountains
Explore other destinations in the range.

7 Comments on Wonder View Trail and Aileen Getty Ridge Trail to Cahuenga Peak and Mount Lee in Griffith Park

  1. Ken says:

    Wow, this hike has been ruined by the publicity. There used to be a cool ammo box with notebooks you could write in, and things hung from the tree. That’s all gone now, and people have been setting fires up there at night. Eventually one will get out of control. And eventually someone will damage the tree. People were climbing it today. Too bad the people can’t respect what was cool about this place before.

    • Dear Ken says:

      The ammo box is still there. Sincerely, someone who went up to the tree today. The stuff is still inside. You can still write in it.

      • ye says:

        The box, notebooks and pens is still there, it might have been nailed to the top of the tree but looks like it was taken down and now on the ground. This place is a hidden treasure. I was thinking to bring a hammock up there. Someone brought a lawn chair to the 9-11 memorial on the left of the tree and it’s really awesome. People should hide notes and other treats on the tree that would so great!

  2. Tommy Joseph says:

    I am a lazy bum who prefers talking about what he used to do instead of getting out and doing it. I have been to Cahuenga Peak many times as I lived in Hollywood for 23 years. I am not one who likes scary drop-offs, but I do like good elevation gain, at least back when I was doing this in the 80s. I left LA in ’91.

    I was there many times and never saw another person, certainly never a swarm of them – but things change and I would not be shocked to see more traffic, which could be said for anyplace on earth other than brutally hot or cold areas, and even those will be taken it time.

    Anyway, funny thing about me not liking steep drop-offs was the first time I was up in the hills near Cahuenga Peak (without knowing it’s name or even caring) was with a buddy who got ahead of me on the saddle connecting Mt Lee with Cahuenga Peak. I stood back and watched. It looked like he was climbing a steep cliff. I told him I don’t like risky business, I wanted no part of the cliff. “It’s not a cliff”, he yelled out, “come on man, this is nothing.”

    But like a cat that goes into a panic and nothing you can say will change it, I was too scared to move on. Where I stood was good enough. But later I bought a cheap pair of hiking boots, really cheap ones but great as far as I was concerned. They made me feel more confident about grip. Then one day I read about Cahuenga Peak in a book called “50 Day Hikes in L.A.” and thought it sounded like a good workout, and not dangerous either. So I went up the trail myself and loved it. When I got to the top I took a right and went to the edge of the ridge where it bumped into a steep decline down some rocks, nothing dangerous though. It was then that I realized I was standing on the very rocks that had scared me weeks before when I saw my friend ascending them. After realizing how stupid I had been weeks before I began to take the peak from all angles, Burbank, Griffith Park, The Hollywood Resevoir, about 6 different ways. I really enjoyed it up there. It would be a place I’d take a visitor if I lived there today. The only difference is they might have to lead the way as I haven’t taken a good non stop elevation in some time. Thanks for reading.

    TJ

  3. [...] Here is a list of trails in Los Angeles, my personal favorite has been one we did off Barham Blvd. You can do the infamous Runyon Canyon but to me, it’s overrated. It’s over crowded [...]

  4. [...] morning, the boy and I took off to hike the Aileen Getty Trail over to the Cahuenga Peak.  We took snacks and water and set off at a leisurely [...]

  5. […] one of my recent outings I turned up a road which led me to discover Cahuenga Park, which has the most wonderful hiking trails and spectacular panoramic views. This is all a walk from my front door, […]

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