“A terrific, short-and-steep option to get to the Wisdom Tree and then Hollywood Sign from the west.
— Zander Göpfert
This out-and-back run is a bit of a two-faced beast. Hundreds of thousands of visitors can attest to the popular route up to the Wisdom Tree and the iconic view out over the city. However, the second half of this route past Cahuenga Peak is tough. The singletrack has sections of scrambling and can be loose. That said, for those who are willing to make the climb and take their time with the more difficult sections, this can be a great two-for-one option, adding on the Hollywood Sign
at the end.
Need to Know
Parking is strictly enforced on Wonder View Drive. There is no potable water on this route. Trespassing at the Hollywood Sign
is also strictly enforced with guards and cameras, though it's possible to find a way around the fences, it is illegal.
Steep and loose, this one would make a tough route to run.
To access this route, head to Wonder View Drive via Barham Boulevard to Lake Hollywood Drive. There isn't any public parking on this street, but Lake Hollywood Drive should have ample areas to park for free. Head east up Wonder View Drive past the gate to the trailhead.
Continue up the dirt road, looking toward a powerline tower. Around this time, look for the singletrack Tree of Life Trail
to branch off to the right side of the road. Though this trail is rated as extremely difficult, the section up to the Wisdom Tree is very manageable, just a short, uphill grind.
Head up this singletrack into the hills. This stretch of trail is hot and dry, like much of the running in this area, but it's worth preparing with sufficient water, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. From the turn onto the singletrack, this climb is ~0.5 miles to the Wisdom Tree, which marks the end of the steepest climb and provides a great spot to take a break, eat a snack, and snap some shots of the gorgeous view.
From the Wisdom Tree, continue northeast/east along the Aileen Getty Ridge Trail
toward Cahuenga Peak and the Hollywood Sign
. This is a beautiful, remote-seeming stretch of trail that feels out of place so close to downtown. After a few hundred yards, you'll come to the high point of this run at Cahuenga Peak. Other than the USGS marker that denotes the top, there isn't anything special about this summit.
After the summit, the trail begins to dive down toward Mt. Lee. Some sections can be loose, so take your time and be sure of your footing. Along this final stretch, there is a clearing with a couple plaques commemorating the private donors who helped conserve this land as part of Griffith Park.
Push on for the last couple hundred yards connecting to Mt. Lee Drive
and the view from behind the Hollywood Sign
to take in the well-earned views. From here, return the way you came knowing everything you climbed up to get here is all downhill heading back.