It isn’t the biggest mountain I’ve climbed, but it’s probably the most glitzy.
The clue’s in the name. Mount Hollywood sits among the hills in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, overlooking the famous ‘Hollywood’ sign and within squinting distance of film stars’ luxury pads.
It has to-the-horizon views of the metropolis of L.A., including its downtown and, to the southwest, the waters of the Pacific and Catalina Island. Just beneath the summit lies Griffith Observatory, a stunning 1930s landmark, itself perched high above the city.
Even the trailhead itself has a little showbiz sparkle – hikers take their first steps past the George Harrison tree. (The second of its type, after the first died following an onslaught by beetles in 2014 – I kid you not).
It’s not all glamour though. The four mile (with diversions) round trip up and down the Mount Hollywood Summit trail is a dusty outing and, on many days, the views are obscured by the city’s notorious smog. Beware the heat too – hiking it last weekend meant temperatures in the low 80s, even near the summit saddle, and a searing sun, with zero foliage cover.
That said, for someone who’s spent most of his hiking hours in rainy Ireland or soggy Oregon, the hot, blue sky was a welcome relief. The heat was also worth enduring for the scenic payback that followed a 45-minute workout, and 262m ascent, up the trail.
In recent years I’ve hiked a number of the popular routes in L.A. – traversing trails in the San Gabriel Mountains, Debs Park, and Topanga State Park. Each has its own charms, but Mount Hollywood is the best all-rounder for taking in the view and vibe of the city.
It won’t tax a hardened outdoors person, and fitness freaks will prefer to jog rather than walk, but it’s worth braving the hordes who start from the Charlie Turner trailhead, near Griffith Observatory, each Saturday morning. Just bring some water – and a camera for that photo.