Sunday, September 1, 2013

Hike 2013.043 -- Lake Hollywood (Hollywood Reservoir), Southwest of Griffith Park

Hiked Saturday, August 31. Unbelievably, it's been over three months since I saw a story in the L.A. Times that the closed section of trail around "Lake" Hollywood was now open. When I hiked this area last year, the trail along the west side of the lake was closed, due to a landslide.

I began my hike near Gate 2, which is at the base of the hill, along Lake Hollywood Drive. From the Hollywood Freeway (U.S. 101), head north from Los Angeles, and take the Barham Blvd exit. The exit will deposit you on Cahuenga Blvd, which you'll take north about 1 mile. When you reach a light, that'll be Barham. Turn right. The second light will be Lake Hollywood Drive. A big blue sign will be hanging from that light, so it's almost impossible to miss.

The most direct way to the lake from there is to take the first left, which is La Suvida Drive. After about 1000 feet, La Suvida re-intersects with Lake Hollywood Drive. Make a slight left there to get back on to Lake Hollywood Drive (If you had just stayed straight on Lake Hollywood Drive, this would also have gotten you here, but that way's a little narrower and somewhat longer).

Once back on Lake Hollywood Drive, the third right (just *after* Wonder View Drive) is, again, Lake Hollywood Drive. This'll take you down a rather steep road. When the descent ends, you'll be near Gate 2.

Two porta-potties were here, and two more were immediately east of Lower Lake Hollywood Reservoir Dam, not quite halfway through this hike. (There's also access from the east side of the dam, at the end of Weidlake Drive. However, getting there would require a lot of turns on small streets).

Access through Gate 2 and the other gated access points is only during the hours listed in the picture at the end of this post.

As you pass through Gate 2, a chain link fence is on your left. It will be there for pretty much your entire walk, except for the part that crosses Lower Hollywood Reservoir Dam.

Despite the fence, this "hike" is generally very relaxing. It's all on asphalt, and you'll have lots of company, but actually less company than you'd find if you were heading up Mt. Lee or Mt. Hollywood, for example. Also, the curving, wood-lined path keeps visibility short, so even with people nearby, you can still get a feeling of privacy during much of your walk.

Upper Hollywood Reservoir is the first thing you see. There's a rather classic-looking intake structure across the reservoir.

Very expensive homes are on your right. The homes become more obvious further down this western end of the reservoir, where you see what must have been extremely expensive retaining structures built as the road was cleared of a mudslide.

Next up is Lower Hollywood Reservoir. Nice views through the trees of the reservoir, which make an unusual foreground for the many pictures of the Hollywood Sign you will undoubtedly take.

The lower dam is a concrete arch dam. On the back side of the dam are what are supposed to be grizzly bear heads. They don't look very ursine to me, though.

Lots of turtles and a few waterfowl are in or on the water. For the size of the lake, the number of waterfowl may be surprisingly low. I assume that's because there aren't any fish. At least, I don't think there are any fish.

Although I saw no deer here today, I have seen many in the past. For much of the hike, I kept my longer telephoto lens on my camera, just in case I did see any deer. It was an unnecessary precaution.

Once on the east side of the dam, you're again winding your way between a fence and some trees, and expensive homes are again on your right. You're also approaching the Hollywood Sign. You can get even closer if you drive up Tahoe Drive, which is where this trail next reaches a public access point.

Before you get there, there's an extended area where the local gutters must drain down towards the reservoir. There's about a 200 yard segment with seeping water and pretty much permanent flowing water. That area's become stream-like, with stream-like plants and dragon flies buzzing around and claiming territory. I don't know if the water is there year-round, and if the next generation of dragon flies will be able to rise out of the mud, though.

Once at the corner of Tahoe Drive and Lake Hollywood Drive, the rest of the walk is along a roadside. It's relatively busy, with lots of out of state plates and cars loaded with tourists looking for a close approach to the Hollywood Sign.

I don't begrudge that, but I do get annoyed when people who don't know where they're going don't just pull over for a while and get their bearings. Driving slowly and unpredictably is annoying and dangerous.

The gates to this trail open at 6:30am. They close at different times, depending on the month. Check the previous picture for the hours. There's also a map near the Tahoe Drive entrance, which says it's 3.3 miles to walk the perimeter of the lake. However, if you add the distance for the three segments it displays, it would actually be 3.4 miles. Also, I had to walk up and down an additional 1/8th of a mile each way, since I was parked a bit away from Gate 2. Thus, I'm sure I made at least 3.4 miles for the day. Very little altitude change, so it was a pretty easy 3.4 miles. No dogs are permitted on this trail. Other rules are on the sign in this picture, as well.


  1. Nice photos and hike report. Those dog head scultures seem an odd thing to put there, don't you think? I wonder what (if any)significance they hold?

  2. Well, apparently they're supposed to be grizzly bears, so I'm assuming it's just a California thing. They definitely look more canine than ursine to me, though.