This hike is quickly becoming a popular one in Los Angeles because of its sweat-inducing climb, expansive view of the city and the end result: a tree filled with notes of love and well wishes.
In the age of the Internet and ability for people to post whatever mean comment they so please, the Wisdom Tree is a refreshing way to receive positivity from strangers (and get a quick workout in).
The lone pine tree stands high up on Cahuenga Peak, just west of the Hollywood sign. It’s known to Google Maps as the Tree of Life, the Magic Tree on Foursquare, and perhaps most notably, the Wisdom Tree to Instagram and hikers alike.
Legend has it the Wisdom Tree was the only one left standing after a wildfire in 2007 burned through the Hollywood Hills, including Cahuenga Peak. According to LA Weekly, a man named Mark Rowlands spotted the tree while flying a helicopter and eventually put a journal box beneath the tree several years ago.
“When I first went up there, there was a binder,” Rowlands said. “Then at some point, I put the ammo box up there. I put in some journals and pencils. I would keep it sort of up-to-date. I would take pictures of the pages. So I would try to document some stuff. I would say 95.95 percent of it is really profound and meaningful. It’s certainly a special place for a lot of people.”
There’s even a website where he has posted photos of notes left by hikers at the Wisdom Tree.
Today the tree is like a phoenix from the ashes — and it’s a steep climb to get there.
Here’s how to find the trailhead:
From Barham Boulevard, take Lake Hollywood Drive. Follow the road through the winding hills until you see Wonder View Drive. You can’t park on Wonder View Drive, but there is usually a ton of free parking on Lake Hollywood.
Start your hike heading east on Wonder View Drive.
The road ends and you’ll walk a short distance on a dirt road. If you see this giant power line tower, you’re going the right way.
The dirt road carries on to the right, and the trail begins at this rock. As you can see, it’s a steep and rugged climb from the get-go.
I read that the trail had some steep drops, but I didn’t realize how unpredictable it is. You definitely need to watch your footing.
As you start to ascend, the view gets better and better.
After about 1.5 miles of mostly uphill climbing, you’ll reach the tree.