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, passing a viewpoint by the Wisdom Tree. After taking the summit, cross a saddle on Aileen Getty Ridge Trail to find 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 875 feet. The hike crosses a rugged single-track, visiting two peaks while providing a good workout on a less-traveled trail.
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 a 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 550 feet higher), the steep rocky trail reaches a ridge running west from the peak.
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, nicknamed the Wisdom 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 wisdom tree.
Follow the track east along the ridge toward Cahuenga Peak. The trail is more gradual now, climbing 145 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.
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.
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! Check out this breakdown of the trails to the Hollywood Sign to compare the routes to Mount Lee and find other hikes in Griffith Park.
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: 34.1331, -118.3364 (34° 07′ 59.15″N 118° 20′ 11.03″W)
|Lake Hollywood Reservoir Walking Trail|
This 3.5-mile loop circles a peaceful fence-enclosed reservoir in the hills below the Hollywood Sign.
|Mount 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.
|Mount 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.
|Mount Chapel, Mount Bell, and Mount Hollywood|
This 5.7-mile loop tops three prominent summits on a panoramic tour of Griffith Park.
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.
This relaxing half-mile hike goes through a tropical garden in the lushest little canyon in Griffith Park. Explore farther on a 1.75-mile hike in Western Canyon or venture up to the Griffith Observatory to see more of the park.
|Griffith Observatory via West Observatory Trail|
This 2.1-mile hike ascends from Western Canyon up ridges to Griffith Observatory, getting sweeping views over Los Angeles and Griffith Park along the way.
|Griffith Observatory via East Observatory Trail|
This 1.5-mile hike from Vermont Canyon Avenue up to Griffith Park’s great observatory delivers excellent views over Los Angeles along the way.
|Griffith Observatory to the Hollywood Sign|
This 8.8-mile hike travels from one Griffith Park landmark to another, crossing Mount Hollywood along the way.
This 1,625-foot peak is a star of Griffith Park with panoramic views that can be reached from Griffith Observatory on a steep 1.4-mile hike or a scenic 2.65-mile trek and from lower in the park in Western Canyon for a hike of around 4.2 miles.
This hike is around three miles long and visits a less known summit on the southeast side of Griffith Park with views that deserve more attention.
|Glendale Peak – Mount Hollywood Loop|
This 4.15-mile hike tops two summits in Griffith Park that both have awesome views.
|Cedar Grove & Vista View Point Loop|
This 2.3-mile loop on the southeast side of Griffith Park follows paved and unpaved trails to two park attractions, a quiet grove with a picnic area and a helipad with panoramic views.
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 Picnic Area|
This half-mile hike explores the abandoned exhibits and animal cages in the ruins of the old LA Zoo in Griffith Park.
This 2.75 to 3.9-mile hike in Griffith Park climbs 500 feet to the easternmost summit in the Santa Monica Mountains.
This one-mile hike reaches a relaxing garden on the east side of Griffith Park that is a pleasant retreat for hikers.
|More trails in the Santa Monica Mountains|
Explore other destinations in the range.