When I was living in Los Angeles it was easy to get caught up in the commotion of city life and I often went hiking in the Hollywood hills in search of tranquility. These hiking trails offer not only a sense of liberation, but also fantastic views overlooking the city – none better than the vistas behind the iconic Hollywood sign.
The “HOLLYWOOD” sign is spelled out in 45-foot-tall white letters and is about 350 feet long. It was originally built in 1923 as a way to let people know about the local real estate development. Formerly reading “HOLLYWOODLAND,” but in 1949 the City of Los Angeles Parks Department took over repair and rebuilt the sign, choosing to leave off the “LAND” portion.
The Hollywood hills offer some of the best hiking in Los Angeles, many that offer amazing views of downtown Los Angeles. You can head to the highest point at an elevation of over 1,320 feet or check out the easier trails along the foothills while meeting some interesting people along the way.
I always wanted to capture the Hollywood sign in a different way, but was never able to in the years I lived in LA. It wasn’t until I was re-inspired to try again after visiting the LA Art Show and spending time again in Hollywood.
Hiking up to the sign before dawn reminded me how rural these hills were. I caught a glimpse of an owl-flying overhead and heard the howls of the coyotes echoing in the early morning silence. It wasn’t until then I remembered the recent cougar attacks in the area, and after that I didn’t need my morning coffee that to get me going. With so many trail options and only my headlamp pointing the way, I had to refer to my GPS and follow my previous ventures. The quiet of the pre-dawn and constant uphill grind has the feeling of an Eastern Sierras trail, but when I took a deep breath and smelled the coastal sage, there is no doubt you are in southern California.
Reaching the peak, I set up my camera for a long exposure and waited for the sun to glance over the hill. With a light rain tapping on the brim of my hat, I watched nervously and hoped the approaching clouds would not impede the sunrise. As my camera documented the incredible scene unfolding in front of me, past memories came flooding back of all the great times spent in this amazing this city.
Cheyne Walls has launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdsource funding for his first photo book, Miles from Los Angeles. The book will feature Cheyne’s signature panoramic landscape images and be available in softcover, hardcover and a limited collector’s edition. The book will feature over 150 photographs from Cheyne’s favorite locations in Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and his home state of California. Rewards for this project include copies of the books, framed prints and more. For more information and to contribute, visit www.cheynewalls.com/photobook.