Hollywood Reservoir (Lake Hollywood) 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 (whose summit is world famous for the large white letters that spell HOLLYWOOD). There are numerous views of the Hollywood Sign on the 3.5-mile loop around Hollywood Reservoir (with 100 feet of easy elevation gain). Unfortunately, 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 Hollywood Reservoir. This trail report begins from the northwest side of the lake where there is available roadside parking on Lake Hollywood Drive (just down the road from where you would park to hike to Cahuenga Peak). Pass through an imposing looking entry fence labeled Gate 2. On the other side, there 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. Proceed down the road along the Upper Reservoir, which is just north of the larger Lower Reservoir. Through the fence, you can catch a glimpse of lush shores and inlets that ducks seem to be enjoying in the absence of public access. Across the lake, the Hollywood Sign is visible in the mountains of Griffith Park.
Looking through the fence toward the Upper Reservoir
Pass the dam between the two reservoirs, 0.4 miles from the start, and continue down the walking trail. After 1.1 miles of hiking, when the frustration of only being able to see the lake through the fence becomes almost unbearable, the road will turn left and cross the thousand foot long dam at the south end of the reservoir. 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, impossible to miss in the mountains above the large elegantly shaped lake. Unlike other nearby urban reservoirs, Lake Hollywood has several inlets and bends that give it a natural looking form. In the opposite direction, you can look south from the dam over pines toward the tall buildings along Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard.
Hollywood Reservoir from Mulholland Dam
The Hollywood Sign above Hollywood Reservoir
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 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.
The Hollywood Sign above Lake Hollywood Reservoir Walking Trail
The best view of the Hollywood Sign comes about a mile from the Mulholland Dam. After that, the trail 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 gate, cross Lake Hollywood Drive, and turn left. The good news is that you will get to walk along a dirt trail for about half a mile. The bad news is that the trail hugs Lake Hollywood Drive and turns into a sidewalk. 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.
Note: In 2005, a huge storm dropped 35 inches of rain over Los Angeles, causing a major landslide on the west side of Hollywood Reservoir. The massive clean up and repair effort that followed closed the trail on that side of the lake until April of 2013. The trail around Hollywood Reservoir has fully reopened, making it possible to hike the entire loop!
Access to Hollywood Reservoir is closed at night. The gates around Hollywood Reservoir open daily at 6:30 a.m. and are locked around sunset. Check the photo below 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 stroll around Hollywood Reservoir, so get out and enjoy!
Public access information for Hollywood Reservoir
An alternate route: A variation or addition to the loop around Hollywood Reservoir is a 1-mile long dirt trail up the ridge east of the lake, an unpaved stretch of Mulholland Highway also called Hollywood Reservoir Single-track. This dirt trail starts from the southeast corner of the loop by the Weidlake Gate Trailhead. The trail ascends to the top of Canyon Lake Drive at an area where tourists gather to view the Hollywood Sign. The trail begins across from the east end of Mulholland Dam, to the right of the main trail that goes up the east side of the lake. If you arrive from Weidlake Gate, Hollywood Reservoir Single-track is the first trail on the right. There’s a gate in front of the trail, with an opening on the left side. Go up this wide dirt trail, gaining views through a fence over Lake Hollywood. Pass through a yellow gate after a quarter mile and continue to a bench at a scenic junction with a trail down from Durand Drive. This is a great place to take a break and appreciate views of Hollywood Reservoir and the Hollywood Sign.
Beyond the bench, about half a mile up the trail, your path narrows. It continues to ascend along the side of the ridge, slipping through brush that hugs close to the trail. There are a few patches of concrete along the trail, but mostly it’s dirt (there can also be areas of loose sand to challenge bikers). Enjoy fence-free views down the ridge toward the reservoir as you climb closer to the Hollywood Sign. At the top of this peaceful, lightly used trail, turn left up a driveway with big flat stones laid out like lily pads. In 250 feet, you will reach the top of Canyon Lake Drive at Mulholland Highway (paved) where spectators congregate to take selfies in front of the Hollywood Sign. There’s a good view of the sign from here, so have your camera ready. If you’re on foot, it’s probably best to backtrack down the trail. If you’re on a bike, turn left down Canyon Lake Drive and enjoy a speedy descent past Lake Hollywood Park (a popular place for people with dogs). Turn left down Tahoe Drive, bike to Lake Hollywood Drive, and turn right to finish the last 0.75 miles of the Lake Hollywood Loop to reach the trailhead at North Gate.
Lake Hollywood Single-track
To get to the North Gate trailhead on Lake Hollywood Drive: From the 101 Freeway exit on Barham Boulevard and drive north for 1/3 of a mile. Turn right at the light onto Lake Hollywood Drive. Take this winding road for half a mile up to the intersection with Wonder View Drive and continue down Lake Hollywood Drive for a quarter mile to the trailhead gate. There is free roadside parking on the right side of the road.
Trailhead address: Lake Hollywood Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068
Trailhead coordinates: 34.128716, -118.336355 (34° 07′ 43.37″N 118° 20′ 10.87″W)
To get to the Weidlake Gate trailhead: Take Cahuenga Boulevard to Dix Street, located one block north of Franklin Avenue. Drive west on Dix Street for one short block and turn left up Holly Drive. Go 0.7 miles to the end of the road and make the big turn to the right up Deep Dell Place. In another 0.4 miles, turn left up Weidlake Drve and take this street for 1/3 of a mile to the parking area at the top of the road outside the Weidlake Gate.
Trailhead address: 6398 Weidlake Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90068
Trailhead coordinates: 34.11718,-118.330083 (34° 07′ 01.84″N 118° 19′ 48.29″W)
Use the map below to create your own directions:
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|Mount Lee and the Hollywood Sign via Brush Canyon Trail|
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