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Best Places to Cycle in Los Angeles Episode 1 features the popular sites of the Hollywood Sign, Mulholland Dam, and Griffith Observatory all in one 25 mile ride!

CYCLING LEVEL: INTERMEDIATE (Some Steep Climbs / Descents)

BEST TIME OF YEAR: Year-round

STRAVA ROUTE: https://www.strava.com/activities/2668539800 

Did you know, just a year ago, I was oblivious about public access to the Hollywood Sign?

🤷🏻‍♀️ I’ve never even heard about Mulholland Dam, but a few months ago!  

I’ve cycled across all 48 US states in 5 years and the thought didn’t even occur to me ‘til recently – I haven’t explored much of my home town of Los Angeles. What is wrong with me? 😳😂😅🤣

Lately, I have been focusing on improving my climbing ability.  I can’t believe how much I was missing! Los Angeles has a ton of mountains, steep hills, and hidden high-grade roads! ⛰🚵🏼‍♀️🚵🏻‍♂️⛰

With amazing weather, almost year-round, cycle-friendly roads, and cycling social clubs, you have no excuse to leave your bike in the garage or to not book a trip to ride out here. LA has it all!!!

Planning a cycling trip to Los Angeles? Don’t miss riding thru these 3 historical and famous landmarks in Hollywood, CA!

Mulholland Dam

Because both entrances to the Dam is blocked from cars driving through, it’s 2.5 miles of paved playground for cyclists and runners. As you enter, you will loop around the Hollywood Reservoir with views of the top of the Dam.  On a clear day, you will have a picture-perfect view of the Hollywood Sign from the bridge of the Dam, great for a group selfie! 📸

Hollywood’s Mulholland Dam 1929, before it blended into the Hollywood Hills. Courtesy of the Herald-Examiner Collection – Los Angeles Public Library.

DID YOU KNOW?

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Original name was Weid Canyon Dam

Then Hollywood Dam, and finally, Mulholland Dam in honor of William Mulholland, a civil engineer responsible for building the infrastructure to provide a water supply that allowed Los Angeles to grow into the largest city in CA.
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Concrete-arched gravity dam constructed in 1924

Sole purpose was creating a new water reservoir for the City of LA.
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The Dam can theoretically hold back Lake Hollywood

Up to 7,500 acre-feet of water, or nearly 2 ½ billion gallons.
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The Fear of the Movie Capital being swept away

Due to the St. Francis Dam Collapse in 1928, which killed 400-600 residents – the 2nd-greatest loss of life in CA’s history, 300,000 yards of dirt and fast-growing trees were planted to cover the Dam’s downstream face to screen it from public view in 1934.

Photo by Rich McCor @paperboyo

Hollywood Sign

After the Dam, you will ride a steep climb through Lake Hollywood Park, a tourist rest stop.  Give your heart a breather, as you take in more picturesque views between the Hollywood Sign and Downtown Los Angeles. 

As you head into narrower residential streets, watch out for potholes and cracks as you descend, then climb the infamous 17% grade Rockcliff Road.  You may encounter annoyed residents, who live in high-traffic areas, so be kind and courteous. Always be conscious of oncoming cars as you climb, as there are many blind spots.  

As Deronda Dr ends, there’s an unlocked metal door for you to squeeze into that leads you to a small set of stairs you will carry your bike up.  The peak of the climb behind the Hollywood Sign is a doozy, but certainly well worth it!

Note that it’s best to hit the Hollywood Sign BEFORE 10am. Tourists and hikers will be flocking there in no time..

A 1929 publicity photo for the Hollywoodland groundbreaking shows a plow, mules and surveyors. (Bruce Torrence Collection / Hollywood Sign Trust)

DID YOU KNOW?

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4,000 Lights Bulbs and a Searchlight

Created in 1923 for the reason that Real Estate developers, Woodruff and Shoults, can advertise for local upscale real estate development. Each letter was 30 feet (9.1 m) wide and 50 feet (15.2 m) high, and the whole sign was studded with around 4,000 light bulbs. The sign flashed in segments: “HOLLY,” “WOOD,” and “LAND” lit up individually, and then the whole. Below the Hollywoodland sign was a searchlight to attract more attention.
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Farewell my precious "Land"

“Land” from the original “Hollywoodland” was removed in 1949 to save money on restoration
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Restoration in 1978 required 9 Donors to pledge $27,777.77 each ($250k total)

H: Terrence Donnelly (publisher of the Hollywood Independent Newspaper

O: Giovanni Mazza (Italian movie producer)

L: Les Kelley (Founder, Kelly Blue Book)

L: Gene Autry (actor)

Y: Hugh Hefner (Founder, Playboy

W: Andy Williams (singer)

O: Alice Cooper(singer), who donated in memory of comedian Groucho Marx

O: Warner Bros. Records

D: Dennis Lidtke (Businessman) donated in the name of Matthew Williams

Griffith Observatory

First of all, I’m an Astronomer-at-heart, so this most iconic building in LA never gets old.  As you enter from Ferndale Road, you can stop half a mile up at Cafe Trails for some much-needed replenishments before another 2.5 mile climb up the Observatory. 

Also, be mindful that by this time during your ride, you will brush against more cars, tour buses, and tourists.  The Observatory itself does offer free public telescope viewings every night when it’s open (closed on Mondays) as long as the sky is clear.

(1933) Aerial view looking down at a nearly completed Griffith Observatory.  Note the channel terraces on the hillside. Photo by WaterandPower.org

DID YOU KNOW?

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A Philanthropist's Vision to Broaden the Human Perspective

In 1896, 3,015 acres of land surrounding Observatory was donated to the City of LA by Griffith J. Griffith, an Industrialist from mining and Philanthropist.  He bequeathed the money to build the Greek Theatre and Griffith Observatory. He believed in making astronomy accessible to the public.
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World Leader in Public Astronomy

The Observatory has been a leader in public astronomy in S. CA and around the world since it opened in 1935.
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A Very Special Telescope Indeed!

Most noteworthy, more people have looked through Griffith Observatory’s telescope than any other telescope on Earth.

More to see in Los Angeles!

There’s so much more to explore on a bike here in Los Angeles, we’ve only scratched the surface.

We will be filming and documenting more epic rides in and around the Los Angeles area.  I can’t wait to share more cycling adventures!

In the meantime, here are some pretty cool cycling resources to get your fingers twirling with excitement! Fill up your calendar with some bucketlist cycling trips!

Any questions about cycling in Los Angeles? You got other suggestions? Drop me a message in the comments below!

THANKS FOR READING 🤟

Hey there, I’m Monica Busby — I started cycling seriously 5 years ago across 48 US States and Cebu, Philippines after being fed up of the rat race.  “There has to be more to life than this”, I said to myself.  So I picked up a bicycle and have been on a pilgrimage to cycle the world ever since.  Adventure Travel and Entrepreneurship are my passions. Let me inspire you to cycle travel more with wild stories, scenic views, and business tips to live a lifestyle you have always wanted.

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