Holy Smokes Batman: Hiking to the Batcave & Hollywood Sign

Living in Los Angeles, movies are part of everyday life. You’ll see base camps, outdoor sets, and iconic buildings closed for the day, due to filming. This makes it interesting when watching movies. My favorite Chipotle ended up being a Saks Fifth Avenue in the Dark Knight Rises, not to mention the many scenes of the TV show Castle was filmed in the same, exact building I live in, just a floor below. Let’s just say that many exotic places in movies look eerily like my neighborhood haha! One of the most iconic and recognizable landmarks of Hollywood is the Hollywood Sign itself! Appearing in many movies throughout the years, the Hollywood Sign is easily accessible by a hiking through Griffith Park and is a go to destination when visiting Southern California. Once you make it to the Hollywood Sign you will see a unique view of LA that is unlike most other views. Anyone that does this hike will be able to point at the Hollywood sign and say “I was there!” every time it appears on television or in the movies. Add in a pit stop to Bronson Cave, the Bat Cave from 60’s Television and Bronson Canyon, the backdrop to the climactic scene of The Searchers with John Wayne, all five Star Trek TV series, and over 100 other movies and shows, you will have made a full day of experiencing the essence of Hollywood nostalgia.

Hollywood Sign

History of the Hollywood Sign

The sign was first erected in 1923 and originally read “HOLLYWOODLAND.” Its purpose was to advertise the name of a new housing development in the hills above the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. Crescent Sign Company was contracted to erect 13 letters on the hillside, each facing south. The sign company owner, Thomas Fisk Goff, designed the sign. Each letter was 30 feet (9.1 m) wide and 50 feet (15 m) high, and the whole sign was studded with over 4,000 light bulbs. The sign would flash in segments; “HOLLY,” “WOOD”, and “LAND” would light up individually, before lighting up entirely. Below the Hollywoodland sign was a searchlight to attract more attention. The sign was officially dedicated in 1923. It was intended only to last a year and a half, but after the rise of American cinema in Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the sign became an internationally recognized symbol and was left there. In 1949 the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce began a contract with the City of Los Angeles Parks Department to repair and rebuild the sign. The contract stipulated that “LAND” be removed to spell “Hollywood” and reflect the district, not the “Hollywoodland” housing development. The sign was later restored in 1978 by nine individual donors, after a public campaign raised awareness to the sign’s condition.

Hollywood Land Sign

Photo Courtesy of Hollywood Sign Trust

Bronson Cave

Bronson Cave was created by the Union Rock Company, which established Brush Canyon Quarry to extract rock for street construction during the early 1900’s. Bronson Cave‘s most famous role came in the 1960s, playing the entrance of the Batcave in the Batman TV series. While this may be the most famous use, the tunnel and the area around it has been used in more than one hundred movies and television shows. John Wayne’s previously mentioned movie The Searchers, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Lone Ranger, Dukes of Hazzard, Little House on the Prairie, and the Star Trek TV series are just a few to be named.

Bronson Cave Bronson Cave

To the Bat Cave! Starting from the parking lot at the top of Canyon Drive, make your way north, up the dirt road until you get to a junction, approximately 1000 feet from the trailhead. Turn to the right and head back southward.  After another 1,000 feet or so, you will see Bronson Cave, a drive-through tunnel carved into a 100-foot tall rock wall. There are three exits at the far end of the tunnel. One is big enough for a Batmobile and the others are crawl-through size. Walk right in and start exploring!

Bronson Cave Bronson Cave Bronson Canyon Qarry Bronson Canyon veiw of the Hollywood Sign

The Hollywood sign

This is when the real hike begins. After exploring Bronson Cave, head back to the main path towards Mount Lee. Shortly after continuing down the main path, it starts to steepen, giving you a nice bit of cardio for the next 2 miles. This is also where the shade starts to get scarce, so make sure you where sunscreen or a hat. Take time and enjoy the views, they are incredible. Roughly a mile from the trailhead, and two miles from the start if you went to the bat cave, you will come to a junction with another major trail. In fact, this trail is the dirt road section of Mulholland Drive! Hang a left and be careful for the four legged creatures joining you. The trail levels out here, as it wraps around the hill, providing some very nice views of the LA.

View from Hollywood Hike View from Hollywood Hike View from Hollywood Hike

A little after a half mile on Mulholland, you’ll see the Hollyridge trail on the left that goes down towards the stables at Sunset Ranch. Another half mile, you’ll come to a paved trail junction. While you can see the Hollywood Sign off to the left from here, you’ll want to actually keep right and continue down Mount Lee Road. Follow the paved road to the summit and the top of the Hollywood sign! There’s a heavy grade chain link fence that makes pictures from the trail less than optimal, but if you keep going just a bit further, you can scramble up the little hill at the top of the trail and get a great 360 degree view of Southern California, from Downtown LA, to Hollywood, to West LA, Palos Verdes, Burbank’s studios and the San Gabriel Valley and even Catalina Island, on a clear day. You can even check in on Facebook or Instagram.

Hollywood Sign Hollywood Sign Hollywood Sign Hollywood Sign Hollywood Sign

To get back to the trail head, it’s as simple as retracing your way back from the way you came. Except this time its downhill!

 

Here are some tips for exploring Bronson Cave and the Hollywood Sign:

  1. There is little to no shade along the trail. Bring plenty of water and dress in layers. Sunscreen and a hat are advisable as well.
  2. While the trail can get busy at times, make sure you leave a note in your car with where you’re going, as well as checking in with a friend or family member.
  3. The Hollywood Sign is guarded by a chain link fence and many security cameras. While there are cases of trespassing, the fines and penalties are pretty severe for doing so.
  4. There are warning signs for Rattlesnakes, but they are scarce. Just be careful as the like to sun themselves. Avoid them if you encounter them and they will leave you be as well.

Have you hiked to the Hollywood Sign? Tell me about it below! If you have any questions comment below as well! You can also follow along on our adventures by subscribing to our newsletter! You don’t want to miss it!

 

Hollywood Sign at sunset

28 thoughts on “Holy Smokes Batman: Hiking to the Batcave & Hollywood Sign

  1. Haven’t been to LA in years, you must have some pretty interesting tales about living there full time. I knew there was a hike up to the Hollywood sign but this is the first time I have heard about the bat cave, I think it would be cool to see as I have seen quite a few productions with that cave. I grew up in Calgary and for a while we had a lot of Hollywood productions up here and I always would watch the TV show or movies to see If I could recognize any places filmed here.

  2. This sounds like a great hike! I didn’t know all the history of the Hollywood sign. My kiddos would think it was cool to see the entrance to the Batcave too 🙂

  3. I must do this next time I go to LA! The views look fantastic! I had no idea the history behind the Hollywood sign, very interesting. And that is awesome that Castle was filmed in your building, I love that show 🙂

  4. Oh my gosh I never knew you could hike to the Hollywood sign! Um… bucket list item added. Plus your photos of it are absolutely unreal. Yup, doing this next time I find myself in LA!

  5. I must say this is a Los Angeles must-do activity! Really good info on how to visit, plus I had no idea about the cave from the Batman movie. The view from up there is pretty good! I need to visit southern California next time I’m in the USA.

  6. I have seen the Hollywood Sign from the air but I haven’t hiked to it. It is definitely on the list the next time I visit LA – thanks for the helpful tips and history lesson.

  7. I never knew you could hike around the Hollywood sign. One more thing to tick off the bucket list. I’m not sure I like the idea of meeting a rattlesnake on the trail though.

  8. I didn’t know the history behind the Hollywood sign, thanks for sharing…
    Although I would love to visit the hills and the Hollywood sign on the top of it, I would pass the cave… I can do hikings, heights, but caving is not my things!
    Happy Travels,
    Nat

  9. Oh Oh I’ve been there!! Saying that never gets old – even though it was back in 2008! Great tips for those wanting to climb – next time I’m there I’ll definitely visit the BatCave too – how cool?!

  10. I love seeing movies/tv shows being filmed! It would be cool to have it all in your backyard like that! And, I’ve always thought it would be fun to hike to the Hollywood sign, too–looks like a great adventure! Interesting history behind the sign. Thanks for sharing I had no idea about any of that!

  11. Great hike and the views from up there INCREDIBLE. Definitely a thing I would love to do. Living in LA seems very exciting!

  12. What a great post. I love learning more about things like this. Hollywoodland definitely doesn’t have the same ring to it. All this and the batcave – there’s a lot going on in them thar hills. PS You must live in a pretty cool building!

  13. I’ve always wondered about hiking up to the Hollywood sign. That seems like something many people would want to do. I hadn’t ever heard of the batcave though! I really can’t imagine what it’s like having a TV show being filmed one floor down in your building! Crazy.

  14. My best friend just moved to Los Angeles and I’ve been wanting to return to the city to visit her. This sounds like a fun hike and a great way to spend some time outdoors. The views from the Hollywood sign are incredible and the bat cave sounds like a fun pit-stop too!

  15. I really regret that I did not hike up the mountain, what a view. I personally like the sign now more than with the extra “land” on it and I can imagine that it s “normal” for you to see film sets since you live there but I did not see anything when I visited for a few days 🙂

  16. I never really thought about what it is to live in the LA! Probably at some point you stop paying attention to all those movies and actors. Really cool that they were filming in the same building as you. The Hollywood sign is so famous that you can’t just not go there if you are close by. In fact, I’ve heard of too many people driving to LA exactly for this. It was interesting to read its history, I had no idea that it was Hollywoodland first. The views are spectacular so I guess it is well worth the hike 🙂

  17. I knew some of the history of the sign, but not that it hand the word ‘land’ after hollywood. That is quite interesting. It also looks like a great hike!

  18. It seems you walked a lot to take beautiful photos. Your photos are amazing! I haven’t been in LA, but thanks for the tips. I will keep them in mind for when I am there

  19. That looks fantastic, I am definitely going to do it next time I am in LA. I was under the mistaken belief that it was not allowed to visit the sign. From your post I gather it just the immediate area of the sign itself and fine to be near it? Thanks for clearing this up for me!

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