If you’re interested in getting some exercise with panoramic views, consider this 5.7-mile loop, which summits three of Griffith Park’s named peaks, Mount Chapel, Mount Bell, and Mount Hollywood. Starting from Hollyridge Trail at 950 feet, there is 675 feet of elevation gain to Mount Hollywood, the tallest of the three peaks at 1,625 feet, with several ups and down in between. This 3-summit trek mixes wide, gradual trails with a couple steep, rugged climbs to reach towering views over Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles, and much of the Southland.
Set out from a trailhead at the top of Beachwood Drive (just before the Sunset Ranch horse stables. Venture a short distance up a wide, dirt trail to a T and turn left up Hollyridge Trail. After a tenth of a mile hiking north up the ridge, you’ll get a good view of the Hollywood Sign. It is an angled perspective of the sign, but all nine letters are visible. Stay straight on Hollyridge Trail past a horse trail coming up from Sunset Ranch and continue another quarter mile up to a junction with Mulholland Fire Road. Turn right at this T (0.45 miles from the start) and proceed east in the direction of Mount Hollywood, whose summit is visible above the Griffith Observatory.
Mulholland Fire Road winds over ridges, offering a gradual climb and open views. One mile from the start of the hike, you will come to a junction with the top of Brush Canyon Trail. This trail can be used as an alternative to Hollyridge Trail for a slightly longer and steeper start to this three-peak loop. To continue toward Mounts Chapel, Bell, and Hollywood, proceed to the left up Mulholland Fire Road.
After another 0.3 miles, Mulholland comes to an end at a junction with the paved (but closed to vehicle traffic) Mount Hollywood Drive. To start with the westernmost of the three peaks, Mount Chapel, turn left and hike 1/6 of a mile to the first bend in the road. On the outside of this curve, you will find a dirt road breaking off to the left up Mount Chapel (just across from a dirt road on the right heading up Mount Bell).
Stride up the dirt road, which wraps around to the north side of Mount Bell to deliver views down the other side of Griffith Park over Forest Lawn Cemetery, Glendale, and the San Fernando Valley. After a 0.3-mile ascent, the road ends alongside a green water tower. Head up the path behind the tower and make the steep and rocky climb to the 1,614-foot summit of Mount Chapel.
Looking down the ridge to the west, you will spot the radio tower-covered summit of Mount Lee followed by Cahuenga Peak, the highest point in Griffith Park at 1,820 feet. In the other direction, the ridge rises through Mount Bell to the east, before bending south toward Mount Hollywood. It is a 1.85-mile hike from Hollyridge Trail to the panoramic summit of Mount Chapel.
After enjoying the views from the hike’s first summit, descend Mount Chapel to Mount Hollywood Drive. Cross it and begin up the dirt road toward Mount Bell. Stay to the right at the next junction and follow the trail around the south side of Mount Bell. When the road reaches a saddle between the summit and a shorter bump on the ridge, turn left and backtrack up the east face of Mont Bell, following another rugged and steep path to the second summit.
At 1,582 feet, Mount Bell rises above Brush Canyon and offers a nice view southwest down this canyon toward Hollywood. The loop’s second summit offers greater views over the northeast side of Griffith Park toward Glendale and the Verdugo Mountains. There is 0.78 miles of hiking between Mount Chapel and Mount Bell, or a total of 2.63 miles from the start.
Descend from the summit to the dirt road and continue east from Mount Bell. On the other side of the mini-summit on the ridge, the dirt road narrows and drops to another dirt road. Turn right and hike up to a four-way junction on the north side of Mount Hollywood. Go straight through the junction, pass a small picnic area, and hike the final 0.2 miles to the top of Mount Hollywood. Unlike the first two summits, which are covered in boulders and brush, the crown of Mount Hollywood is bare except for a large fenced-in overlook.
Look south over the Griffith Observatory toward the skyline of downtown Los Angeles. The views from the loop’s highest summit are truly sweeping. Even the Hollywood Sign on Mount Lee is visible from the 1,625-foot summit of Mount Hollywood. There is 0.67 miles of hiking between Mount Bell and Mount Hollywood, putting the final summit 3.3 miles from the start of the hike and 2.4 miles from the finish.
While there are a few trails down from Mount Hollywood, the simplest way back to the trailhead is to return to the four-way junction just north of the summit and turn left. This trail descends 0.6 miles to Mount Hollywood Drive, offering a good perspective of Mount Bell and Mount Chapel, along with views of Mount Lee and the Hollywood sign farther to the east. Turn right at the bottom of the trail and hike 0.3 miles up the paved road to the top of Mulholland Fire Road. Turn left down Mulholland and begin retracing your steps back to the trailhead. You will hike 0.85 miles down to Hollyridge Trail, turn left, and descend to the starting point on Beachwood Drive.
This three-summit hike offers satisfying views and a vigorous workout. Those who would like to make things a little tougher may bolster the hike by beginning on Brush Canyon Trail, which adds 0.6 miles (round trip) and 350 feet of elevation gain. Those truly looking to outdo themselves can add Mount Lee and Cahuenga Peak to the itinerary for a 9-mile hike (beginning from Hollyridge Trail) that bags five summits. Variations aside, the 5.7-mile loop to Mount Chapel, Mount Bell, and Mount Hollywood is plenty challenging and rewarding. No fee or permit is required to hike in Griffith Park and dogs are welcome, so get out and enjoy! For a shorter hike, set out for Mount Hollywood from Griffith Observatory or Western Canyon.
To get to the trailhead: Take the 101 Freeway to the Gower Street Exit (8C). From the southbound off ramp, turn left on Gower Street, make the first right on Franklin Avenue, and an immediate left on Beachwood Drive. From the northbound off ramp, turn right at the bottom of the ramp onto Beachwood Drive and cross Franklin Avenue. Proceed north on Beachwood Drive for 2 miles to the gate at the top of Beachwood Drive outside Sunset Ranch. The trailhead is on the right up an ascent beyond this gate. However, because of the gate, the limited parking at the trailhead may be unreachable. Instead, hikers are forced to park on the street south of the gate. Parking on Beachwood Drive and the surrounding streets in by permit only from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, making it harder to visit the trail on those days. The parking restrictions start at the intersection of Beachwood Drive and Westshire Drive, over half a mile from the trailhead.
Trailhead address: 3400 N. Beachwood Drive, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA 90068
Trailhead coordinates: 34.12935, -118.31474 (34° 07′ 45.66″N 118° 18′ 53.06″W)
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