ratpag’s Public Transit Guide to Hiking the Hollywood Hills


From Runyon Canyon Park.

Didn’t you just do a public transit hiking guide?  Yes, just two days ago.  But, aside from the bus-riding, heroin-snorting grandmother or the Amtrak secretary handing over “confidential passenger information” to the DEA for 19 years, there’s just not much in the way of transit news.  It’s August.  That’s why even the industrious ratpag has taken to four day weeks throughout the month.

So how about another picture-filled guide to another place much more enjoyable than your desk?

Our first hike takes us to Runyon Canyon Park.  Good Yelp reviews – that’s important for a park!  Also note the many complaints of “horrible parking!!!”  Part of ratpag spent some time in L.A. last year in what’s often misconstrued as a “finding yourself” type trip as opposed to a “I really don’t enjoy work” type trip and, as this part of ratpag had quit its little rat race job, well…I didn’t have a car anyway.

L.A. has a bit of a reputation for having horrible public transit and to that ratpag says not true!*  Though we’re sure there’s a bus that’ll get you just a little closer, you’re doing this hike to walk.  Might as well walk that 1.1 miles from the Hollywood/Highland red line subway station to North Vista Street and into the park’s south entrance.  The good people at runyoncanyon-losangeles.com have compiled a great list of hiking routes, details, photo spots, snake warnings, etc. to lead you on whatever hike your heart desires.

Some of the big houses in the hills.  And you can see part of the next hike!

Some of the big houses in the hills. And you can see part of the next hike!

ratpag recommends just looping around and returning to the south entrance at North Vista Street and finding your way to the Hollywood/Highland station or your next destination.  ratpag also recommends that that next destination be Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles so that you can add back some dearly departed calories.  The trek from Runyon Canyon is a bit far – 2.2 miles – but, if you’re like ratpag, you’ll be in that sort-of transient state of mind and wander along, stopping at the occasional bar, before pleasantly appearing at your destination sooner than you expected.  You could also take a bus but you’d better time that right.

Oddly, this is a perfectly clear picture.

Oddly, this is a perfectly clear picture.

Our next hike takes us to Griffith Park and up Mt. Lee to the Hollywood sign.  Yeah, we guess it’s somewhat overly-touristy to involve the Hollywood sign but it’s a solid hike and it’ll get your blood flowing.  Our friends at Modern Hiker have put together a great guide detailing the hike.

Now, we assume that you’re just as stubborn as ratpag and insistent on hiking no matter the difficulty in getting to the trail head.  Good.  Because the walk to this one from the Hollywood/Western red line subway station is a solid 2.1 miles.  Don’t let that deter you!  Also be sure to bring lots of water.

The walk isn’t bad as you meander through some nice, quiet neighborhoods en route to the start of the hike off Canyon Drive.  Once you hit the dirt paths the trail is quite exposed, so be sure to lather up on the sunscreen.

Look out for the horse shit.

Look out for the horse shit.

It’s a pretty straight-forward hike as you wind along the hillside and make your way up over 1,000 feet of climbing to the top.  You’ll arrive at the backside of the Hollywood sign which, we admit, is disappointingly but not surprisingly fenced off.  You can still enjoy a nice view.


At this point ratpag started wandering down but got it in his mind that it’d be worthwhile to head over to the Griffith Observatory – another car-socked attraction that’s best, but not always so easily, reached by foot.  So it’s a little tricky getting from the sign to the observatory by foot, especially since there’s a bit of a canyon in between and because there doesn’t seem to be any clear, direct path.  Even Google isn’t quite sure how to go about it.

ratpag confirms that there is a way to do it – just head back in the same direction that got you to the sign before studying your phone carefully and with great indecision and we’re sure you’ll make your way there.  We recall following Mulholland Highway for a bit of the way, perhaps Mt. Hollywood Drive for a while, too – the important part is that you keep walking towards the observatory.  There are coyotes and bobcats out there so you wouldn’t want to get lost after dark!

So once you arrive at the observatory you’ll be greeted with ice cold air conditioning, free admission, great views of the city and quite a few interesting exhibits to check out.

From the outside of Griffith Observatory.

From the outside of Griffith Observatory.

As always, you’re on your own to find you way home.  ratpag just wandered down a trail that began alongside the observatory.

*It’s particularly great if you have a bit of time on your hands and don’t mind walking.

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