Los Angeles’s decision last week to block hikers from viewing the famous Hollywood Sign at Beachwood Canyon is “heartbreaking,” says parks superintendent Joe Salaices.
“It’s heartbreaking for homeowners, and it’s disappointing to the department,” he told the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council on Tuesday night. “Open access to the park is what we do. We want everyone to enjoy parks.”
Beachwood Canyon is one of the most popular jumping off points to view the Hollywood Sign. It connects to the Hollyridge Trail, which offers a mild hike and impressive views of the landmark.
City officials decided last week to redirect pedestrians to other trailheads farther east, including ones on Canyon Drive and Vermont Avenue. That doesn’t just affect visitors. Homeowners in Beachwood Canyon will also be blocked from the trailhead, and they’re urging the city to reverse its decision or come up with a new solution.
Catherine Landers, a field deputy for Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu, who reps the neighborhood, said Ryu “doesn’t like” the decision either.
But, she said, “We lost, and now our hands are tied.”
Here are five things to know about the impending closure.
Why is Beachwood Canyon closing?
A handful of homeowners in Beachwood Canyon have tried to keep hikers and other visitors out of the neighborhood for some time now. But the decision stems from a lawsuit brought against the city by Sunset Ranch Hollywood Stables, which is located inside the park at the end of Beachwood Drive.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge last month found that hikers were blocking access in and out of the stables, which sells guided horseback tours through the park (it website advertises “incredible views of the famous Hollywood sign.”) To get to the Hollyridge Trail, hikers must pass through a gate and walk on the stable’s driveway.
The judge issued a preliminary injunction ordering the city to refrain from “precluding ingress or egress of vehicles relating to Sunset Ranch.” But she also said the city had to provide public access to the Hollyridge Trail.
So that led the city attorney’s office to reach an agreement last week with the stables to prevent pedestrian access through the Beachwood gate and to redirect hikers to other trails. Salaices says building a new trailhead at Beachwood isn’t an option, because all of the land there is privately owned.
Without Beachwood, getting to the Hollyridge Trail will not be easy.
You can get to the Hollyridge Trail via the Brush Canyon Trail in Bronson Canyon. It’s a steep hike, and it’s more strenuous than accessing it from Beachwood Canyon.
If your only goal is to get a peek of the Hollywood Sign, you don’t have to hike all the way up to the Hollyridge Trail. The landmark is visible fairly early on in the hike up the Brush Canyon Trail (you can also view it from Bronson Caves). But you don’t get as close to it as you do via Hollyridge Trail.
What about Vermont?
Salaices says the city will primarily funnel traffic farther east to Vermont Avenue. But accessing the Hollyridge Trail that way is a lot more complicated.
That’s probably why the agreement reached between the city and the stables mentions just Canyon Drive: “The city ... will continue to provide access to Hollyridge trail and other trails through an official and published entrance to Griffith Park at the terminus of Canyon Drive.”
Parks officials say the solution is the bus.
Salaices says the goal is to have visitors use the DASH bus to get into the park. That would curtail traffic on streets such as Beachwood and Canyon drives that aren’t equipped to handle a flood of cars. “I can’t emphasize enough the shuttle bus. That’s the foundation for being able to tackle these issues,” he said.
Eventually, Salaices said, the plan is to provide “hop on, hop off” shuttle service throughout the entire park.
Right now, the DASH bus picks up daily from just the Metro Red Line’s Vermont/Sunset station, and it only offers stops at Griffith Observatory, the Greek Theatre, and Mount Hollywood Drive.
The trailhead is still open—for now.
City officials have not announced a date, but the Hollyridge trailhead at Beachwood Canyon—for now—is still open.
The agreement reached between the city and the stables on March 13 says the city will have guards posted at the gate for four to six weeks to “inform the public that the gate is now closed and to redirect the public to other entrances to Griffith Park.”
It continues: “Inasmuch as pedestrians will no longer have access through the gate, a guard’s presence is not needed after this short transitional period.”
We’ve heard the guard has started turning away hikers, but Salaices says he should only be directing cars. LAPD Hollywood division Capt. Ron Sanchez said on Tuesday that he’d talk to the guard “personally ... to see what’s going on.”