High in the hills, perched between Hollywood and Vine and the Hollywood sign, sits scenic Lake Hollywood, a reservoir held back by a dam designed by the great water wrangler William Mulholland. Flanked by a classic California mix of oak, pine, eucalyptus, agave, and sage and circled by a pedestrian trail, this is one of the city’s great walking spots with wonderful scenic views.
The Reservoir is circled by a paved service road that walkers, joggers, and bikers can use to get lakeside exercise with Hollywood views. The reservoir is located in the hills west of Griffith Park below Cahuenga Peak and Mount Lee (the summit of the Hollywood Sign). Unlike other nearby urban reservoirs, Lake Hollywood has several inlets and bends that give it a natural, elegant form.
There are numerous views of the Hollywood Sign on the 3.5-mile loop around Hollywood Reservoir (with 100 feet of easy elevation gain). Most views of the reservoir come through chain-link fences that separate the trail from the water everywhere except Mulholland Dam, which offers clear, classic views across the lake toward the Hollywood Sign.
There are a few places to start hiking around the Hollywood Reservoir. The northwest entrance is easily accessible from both the 101 freeway and Burbank. Just follow Barham Blvd. to Lake Hollywood Drive where at the end there is available roadside parking on Lake Hollywood Drive.
Park and pass through the entry fence on the left side labeled Gate 2, on the opposite side of the fence is a water fountain and a map of the lake with its public access hours and rules. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) uses Hollywood Reservoir as an emergency water source, and you may see their vehicles along Lake Hollywood Reservoir Walking Trail.
Begin hiking south along the wide paved road. The Upper Reservoir comes into view through pine trees and an imposing 10-foot tall chain-link fence. Through the fence, you can catch a glimpse of the Hollywood Sign on Mount Lee and just below, lush shores and inlets that ducks seem to be enjoying in the absence of public access.
Proceed down the road along the Upper Reservoir, which is just north of the larger Lower Reservoir. Pass the dam between the two reservoirs, 0.4 miles from the start, and continue down the walking trail on Lake Hollywood Drive.
After 1.1 miles of hiking the road will turn left and cross the thousand foot long dam at the south end of the reservoir. This is a great place to take a break and snap some pictures.
The reservoir is held by the Mulholland Dam which was designed by William Mulholland as part of the Los Angeles Aqueduct storage system. The lake currently holds 2.5 billion US gallons of water and once provided Los Angeles with most of its water. It can be up to 183 feet deep in some places.
The beautifully constructed Mulholland Dam was built in 1924 with 172,000 cubic yards of concrete.
There will be fewer views of the Hollywood Reservoir going forward, so linger on Mulholland Dam and enjoy an unchained perspective across the blue water.
The broad view from Mulholand Dam includes the Hollywood Sign that was originally created as an advertisement for local real estate development in 1923.
In the opposite direction, you can look south from the dam over pines toward the tall buildings along Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard.
Cross Mulholland Dam and come to an alternate trailhead at the Weidlake Gate, which provides access to Hollywood Reservoir from the top of Weidlake Drive. Turn left onto Montlake Drive before reaching the gate and take the paved road heading up the east side of the lake.
Hiking the loop in this counterclockwise direction, you will be in a position for great views of the Hollywood Sign, which lines up just above the trail one mile north of the dam.
The trail then circles around a canyon above one of the reservoir’s major inlets and proceeds to the Tahoe Gate near the northeast side of Hollywood Reservoir.
After 2.75 miles on Lake Hollywood Reservoir Walking Trail, pass through the Hollywood gate, cross Lake Hollywood Drive, and turn left to continue the hike.
Follow Lake Hollywood Drive west back to the trailhead at the north end of the Upper Reservoir, finishing the loop where you started after 3.5 miles of walking.
Access to Hollywood Reservoir is closed at night. The gates around Hollywood Reservoir open daily at 6:30 am and are locked around sunset. Check the posted signs at the trailheads for specific seasonal closure times and don’t get locked in!
The LADWP may also periodically deny access for maintenance and other operations. Dogs are not permitted on Lake Hollywood Reservoir Walking Trail, but bikes are. No fee or permit is required to hike the reservoir, so get out and enjoy!
WHAT: Lake Hollywood Reservoir
WHEN: Sun up to sun down
WHERE: Trailhead address: Lake Hollywood Drive | Los Angeles, CA 90068
- Hours: The gates shut at 5:00 pm November to February, at 6:00 pm in March, at 6:30 pm in April, at 7:30 pm from May to August, at 6:30 pm again in September, and 6:00 pm again in October. The gates open year round at 6:30 am.
- Bikes welcome, but dogs are not allowed. Ample street parking on Lake Hollywood Drive. Conveniently, the lakeside walk features several portable toilets and at least one drinking fountain.
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