One of the things I really wanted to do in LA, as cliché as it sounds, was hike up to the Hollywood sign. I didn’t realize that you don’t hike up to the sign so much as you hike up the hill that the sign is on, but no matter. This is a great little hike that manages to be perfectly California.*
To start out, there’s no parking lot, really. You park on the street. There are no signs, except for a handmade one that says “Hollywood sign” with an arrow pointing upwards and to the right. I imagine it was created by one of the locals who got tired of tourists knocking on their door, asking for directions. There are tons of people, dogs, horses, and horse poop. (Why must dog poop be cleaned up, but not horse?) The trail is incredibly steep, but we were passed by multiple people, some decades older than us, jogging uphill. So it’s a madhouse, but it also feels strangely peaceful, because you’re coming onto the trail from the melee that is driving in LA. A little mammal traffic is nothing in comparison.
At first, the top seems sort of anti-climactic, as you can’t get anywhere near the sign and the view is barred by a chain-link fence. Also, the bathroom I was hoping would be on the summit is not actually there (just imagine driving a port-a-potty-emptying truck up there!). But you can unofficially climb to the very top of the hill to get above the chain link fences for a view of the massive LA sprawl and Pacific Ocean beyond. On clear days you can see the Channel Islands and the larger mountains inland.
The whole experience made me massively hungry for a wheatgrass shake and a salad of tiny sprouts (hold the dressing), followed by a few shots of botox and a romp with the pool boy. That is, it made me want to go all-in on the California clichés.
*Paul picked up a book in an Arizona libraries called How to California. It’s basically a satire from the ’80s on what it means to be Californian (whether or not you actually live in said state). The Hollywood sign hike is totally How to California.