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Chelsea and I met at college in Los Angeles, but in our six years at UCLA we never made it to the epic Hollywood Sign hike. The internet wasn't as flush with advice back then. Every time we tried asking around about how to get that epic picture, we were given conflicting instructions. We were told that the Hollywood Sign hike required a journey through private property, or it was closed, or it was painfully difficult. Thirteen years later, we decided to finally decipher this trek – with four kids along for the ride. Just like Indiana Jones and his lesser known tale, The Toddlers of Hollywood Hill.

Hollywood sign

Locals who live around the Hollywood Sign have gone to great lengths to keep access a secret – blocking streets, illegally painting curbs red and erecting confusing signs that misdirect visitors or claim to restrict access to residents. The Hollywood Sign Trust has successfully updated Garmin directions to send Hollywood Sign-seekers to Griffith Park or a mall, and they once managed to have the sign wiped off of Google's maps altogether!

Hollywood sign tips that people weirdly never talk about #familytravel

It's no wonder that an online search pulls up conflicting and completely incorrect information. Most sites lead people to crowded Griffith Park, or to the locked Beachwood Canyon gate, or through strenuous trails like Ferndell, Bronson Canyon or Burbank Peak. I'll save you some time and say it: DON'T DO ANY OF THOSE THINGS WITH YOUNG CHILDREN. There is a better way. And a few more things you should know before tackling the Hollywood sign hike as a family.

Hollywood Sign Hike Tips

Lake Hollywood Park

Go to Lake Hollywood Park

Tucked neatly among the hills surrounding the Hollywood Sign, Lake Hollywood Park has a clear view of the sign. Street parking runs up and down the hill alongside the park and while it can get busy, people are often coming and going and spaces open up quickly. It took us about five minutes to nab a spot during spring break.

Between-the-fingers Hollywood sign photo setup

You'll definitely want to jaunt on up the hill to get the right perspective for the perfect ‘Hollywood sign between your fingers' shot. The hill is fairly steep, but manageable, and there's a nice flat clearing at the top that offers another, more straight-on view.

Kid-friendly Hollywood sign hiking area

If this baby-wearing mama could manage a mini-trek along the Hollywood Sign hike, trust me. You can too.

Bring insect repellant

Lakes around the Hollywood sign

When most people think about the Hollywood Sign hike, they're probably picturing…well…Hollywood. Troubador, the Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theatre, Universal Studios. Concrete. That sort of thing. In reality, the Hollywood Sign itself sits in the hills above that whole situation, surrounded by thick brush and a pair of reservoirs collectively known as Lake Hollywood.

If you've spent much time in the outdoors, you know that water + shrubbery = mosquito heaven. Yup. We picked up some OFF!® DEEP WOODS® Sportsmen insect repellent to keep in the truck for situations just like this, and she sprayed us all down with a protective layer that repels mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, stable flies, black flies, gnats, and no-see-ums. I don't even know what a chigger is but…please, not on me.

Spraying OFF! before hiking through Hollywood hills

Chelsea doesn't mess around.

Hollywood sign with Smokey Bear

While we're on the topic of shrubbery, I should also share that this whole area is a no smoking zone. If you light up, you WILL be slapped with hefty fines. Listen to Smokey, and do your part to prevent wildfires.

Bring water

Spraying OFF! before hiking through Hollywood hills-2

Even if you don't plan on hiking, Hollywood's hills can be blazing hot. Weather's always just a little more extreme in the hills than it is right along the coast. Be prepared.

Have you ever done one of the Hollywood Sign hikes, or scouted it out from another vantage point?