Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hike 2012.060 -- Hollywood Reservoir

I had been meaning to get to this reservoir for months, but never managed. Finally decided to make the drive here after work. It's significantly cooler near Griffith Park than near my home in the San Gabriel Valley, and it's been hot recently. So the idea of heading west, to a more ocean-influenced area, seemed attractive.

Printed out a trail description and directions to the trail head, but then forgot to bring them with me. Still, I partially had the directions remembered, so I was able to make my way there without too much difficulty.

Had I taken the most direct route, I would have taken the Hollywood Freeway (U.S. 101) north, to the Barnham Blvd exit. After getting off the freeway, my route paralleled the freeway for about 1/2 mile before actually reaching Barnham Blvd, where I made a sharp turn to the right. After about 1/4 mile, there's a traffic light signed as Lake Hollywood Drive. Turn right.

Almost immediately after turning on to Lake Hollywood Drive, make a left at Primera Ave., then an immediate right on Suvida Drive (didn't remember their actual names at the time--just the general idea). Suvida Drive "turns into" (actually, a slight left turn gets you on) Lake Hollywood Drive. (You could have stayed on Lake Hollywood Drive in the first place, but this way knocks off several hundred narrow yards of driving).

From there, the third right keeps you on Lake Hollywood Drive. It'll make a rather steep descent here. There's a gate and on-street parking at the bottom of this hill, but parking there would leave you with a 6/10ths of a mile walk adjacent to a paved road with car traffic. At one time, you could have begun a loop around Lake Hollywood here, but the road along the west side of the lake is no longer passable.

Instead, I continued along Lake Hollywood Drive those 6/10ths of a mile. There, a gate closes the road forward. Tahoe Drive is on your left. I drove up Tahoe Drive a bit, U-turned, then parked along the steep hill here.

I'm moderately confident that there is at least foot access from somewhere up above this section of Tahoe Drive towards the trail that runs near the base of the Hollywood Sign, but I did not have the motivation to seek it out today.

Instead, I laced up my boots and headed clockwise around the half of the lake that was to my south and west.

This entire path is paved, meaning boots were hardly necessary. Oh, well.

There's a sign at on the gate indicating the gate is locked at 7:30pm from May through August, at 6:30pm in September, at 6pm in October, at 5pm from November through February, 6pm in March, and 6:30pm in April. The gate is unlocked at 6am year 'round. There's also a map of the lake and a large sign saying, "NO DOGS." However, as I was leaving, a woman walked a VERY large dog though the gate, so obviously that regulation is ignored by some.

Once on the "path," your hike takes you on a winding road that stays above and adjacent to Lake Hollywood. A chain link fence keeps you from the lake. It also requires you to shoot through the little chain links to get pictures of the reservoir. It's a shame, because this is a very picturesque reservoir. You can also see some houses with undoubtedly spectacular views, and the Hollywood sign. Also, on the hill to your south, there's a water tank. Next to the water tank is a cell phone tower, "disguised" as a pine tree.

After 1.5 miles to 2 miles, you reach Mulholland Dam. Not quite sure on the distance. Books and posts I have read say there used to be a four-mile long loop around the lake, and the portion from Tahoe Drive to the other side of Mulholland Dam is more than half the distance around the lake. Took me about 90 minutes to walk, though I stopped for a lot of picture-taking.

The dam was built in the early 1900s, overseen by Mulholland. It looks to be several hundred yards long, with an arc facing into the water. As you walk across the dam, this is the only place where you don't have to look through or over chain link to see the water.

South of the dam are large pines that mostly shield the view of the dam from the residents below. Hollywood stretches out beyond those trees. You can see the Capitol Records building, nestled near the hill to the left.

The map I saw at the start of the trail said there were portapotties, a drinking fountain, and an emergency phone on the west side of the dam. I didn't see any of those things there, though I didn't look that hard. Portapotties were definitely set up near the east side of the dam, however.

Along your path, it is surprisingly peaceful. I did not hear any cars during my walk, and came across no more than four people during my 90 minutes or so on the path. There were a few helicopters that flew over me, however. Helicopters visiting the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory are a frequent annoyance for the locals.

The locals apparently aren't too keen on outsiders visiting their path, either. The majority of the people I greeted on my walk ignored me completely as they walked past me.

I saw three deer during my little jaunt. Two of them were on the lake side of the fence, and I walked to within about five feet of them before they startled. They still stayed about ten yards away as I snapped a few blurry pictures.

A second, large, 8-point buck, scrambled up a hillside as a jogger approached him from behind.

Large houses with great views overlook the reservoir. Looks like a condo or apartment building is also coming up just on the other side of the Weidlake Drive gate, which is adjacent to the Mulholland Dam that impounds the reservoir.

Probably not worth a long drive just to see the lake, but I'm convinced there's a way to link the lake with a hike to the top or base of the Hollywood sign. I'll post that part once I managed to walk it.

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