It's January in Southern California, when the stars shine their brightest and the eyes of the world look to Hollywood. Awards season.
If, like me, you were passed over for nomination (again), consider a different approach for climbing your way to the top: A hike to the legendary Hollywood sign itself.
Unlike the road to Oscar, this one is relatively well paved and rather easy. No agent required.
Thanks to helpful information and reviews from online Yelpers, we plugged the address: 3350 Deronda Drive, Los Angeles into our navigation device, gassed up the car and hit the road.
Before you do the same, be aware that this address is a private residence and should only be used as a general point of direction. If you park along one of the narrow, winding streets in this hilltop neighborhood you will be close to the entrance of the trail.
Signs posted in the area warn of "no access" to the Hollywood sign, and in a way, it is true -you cannot touch or get near the sign itself, but you can hike up close to it.
I am willing to bet the residents of this area absolutely despise all the cars parking around their tiny neighborhood streets, so I would advise demonstrating the utmost courtesy and respect when visiting. Also, be sure to take note of parking signs & don't ruin a fun experience by finding your car hitched to the back of a tow truck at the end of the day.
Once you have secured a legal parking spot, walk to the top of Deronda Drive and look for the white, arched doorway pictured above. It is next to a large driveway with a locked, gated entrance.
Shortly after going through the arch, you will come to a fork in the path. On the left is a sharp incline with signs warning against entry. Do not go that way. Instead, veer slightly right, to the lesser incline.
Next, another fork. Our Yelp reviewer posted the following: Keep going straight if you want to see the back of the Hollywood sign. Go to the right if you want to see the Hollywood sign from a distance.
We decided to hike straight and see the back of the sign.
Basically, you hike up a service road that provides access for work trucks servicing the large electrical equipment situated on the top of the hill. The big old anteannas, etc., are not in the least bit charming or photo worthy, so ignore it all and focus instead on the amazing vistas.
We were lucky to visit on a relatively clear, cool day and had amazing views from downtown to the coast.
(*Be warned: not all days, unfortunately, are as clear!)
Continuing on our short hike up the hill, we discovered we could see Burbank, Glendale and San Fernando Valley on the other side.
Stopping frequently for photos, the hike took about an hour round trip. Although it is not a strenuous walk, it is still an uphill grade (on a road with loose gravel). Our Yelper friend wrote: "Very easy hike. If a pretentious guy wearing an Argyle sweater vest and walking two chihuahuas that are also dressed up can go on a walk so can you." Okay, then.
Still, the activity does require mild exertion, there is no shade, spotty cell service and no benches for resting. It may not be suitable (or fun) for everyone.
Once you get to the top, you can view the sign from behind a cyclone fence (my tall husband got back-of-the-sign photos by holding the camera over the fence!) -which was cool, but might be disappointing if you were expecting more.
However, like so many things in life -it's the journey that makes this adventure worthwhile. Bring a friend or two, or several, a camera, and possibly a bottle of water and choose your path to the top.
Dark sunglasses and acceptance speech optional.