A walk along a serene lake, surrounded by pine trees and hills is probably not what springs to mind when you think of a “hike” in Hollywood. Surprise! The Lake Hollywood Reservoir trail is exactly that. Quiet. Serene. And a world apart from the scene on Hollywood Boulevard.
I like to walk in the evenings, and I’ve logged many miles in my neighborhood. But since this trail was just recently reopened, and it’s only six miles away, Joan and I decided to check it out. We weren’t disappointed.
Parking in LA is quite often an ordeal, usually involving daredevil maneuvering and some sort of payment–valet, meter or attendant. Often the neighborhood streets require permits to park, or are really crowded, especially around trailheads. Refreshingly, that was not the case here. There is ample, free street parking outside Gate 2.
The trail itself is really a paved path that winds around the reservoir. The lake itself is used as a water supply for the city of Los Angeles, and so no swimming or fishing is allowed. In fact, a tall fence surrounds the entire lake. But it didn’t really spoil the views, as you can see. You’ll get spectacular, rare views of the Hollywood Sign with the lake in the foreground.
What you notice first is that it’s really quiet. When you look at a map, you’ll see that the lake is pretty close to the 101 freeway. But it’s located in a valley, and the hills that separate it from the rest of the area provide a great sound barrier. It felt worlds away from what we drove through to get here.
You will have company. This trail is popular with walkers, hikers, joggers and bicyclists. It wasn’t so busy that it felt crowded, and everyone was friendly.
The next surprise was the wild life. We saw a baby rattlesnake on the trail (watch your step) and three deer grazing on the hill. They didn’t seem to mind sharing the peaceful scenery with us at all.
The Mulholland Dam is an elegant structure that was built in 1924. Named after William Mulholland, the engineer responsible for design and construction of the California Aquaduct to Los Angeles. You walk directly across the top of the dam, then follow the paved road around the lake.
The east side of the Hollywood Reservoir is partially a closed road, but then joins up with a public street. The final half mile you hike on a dirt trail adjacent to a public street with light residential traffic. This winds around the lake, following the contours until you return to the trailhead.
Lake Hollywood Loop Trail Map
Note that the elevation profile indicates lots of hills. This is incorrect. This trail is mostly flat, with negligible elevation gain or loss.
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Hollywood Reservoir Loop Tips
- Dogs are not allowed, even on leash
- Watch for rattlesnakes, especially in warmer weather
- Pay attention to the closing hours. They vary by month, so make sure you allow enough time to get out before they lock the gates.
- Hike, walk, jog, run or bike. Rinse and repeat.
More Lake Hollywood Trail Resources
- Trailhead parking and driving directions via Google Maps
- Hiking the Hollywood Reservoir – ModernHiker