By John McKinney
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Lake Hollywood Trail
4-mile loop around the lake.
Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, this lovely lake is one of the quietest and most secluded bodies of water in the city. The pathway around the lake is a favorite exercise circuit for stressed out film industry folks.
If you experience a deja vu while walking 'round the reservoir, don't be surprised. Scenes in Chinatown, the 1974 movie that showed the slimy side of Los Angeles water and power struggles, were shot around the lake. In another 1974 film, Earthquake, the reservoir dam collapsed and flooded the city below.
Hollywood Reservoir was built in 1925 by city water commissioner William Mulholland as part of the city's gigantic waterworks program designed to secure, ship, and store water for the rapidly expanding population of Los Angeles. Compared to some of the city's other, more utilitarian-looking reservoirs, Hollywood gets an "A" for Aesthetics.
Less concerned with aesthetics than with evaporation, pollution and possible sabotage, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power periodically makes noises about covering the top of L.A.'s reservoirs, and invariably is confronted by outraged citizens who prefer their lakes remain topless.
Directions to trailhead: From the Hollywood Freeway (101) in Los Angeles (Universal City area) exit on Barham Boulevard and head north a short ways to Lake Hollywood Drive. Turn right and do your best to stay on the Drive as it winds east through a residential area, then turns south toward the reservoir. Park along the Drive near the gate to the reservoir.
The path is open from 6:30-10 a.m. and 2-7:30 p.m. daily, and 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. weekends. During winter, the reservoir sometimes opens later and closes earlier.
The hike: The pine-shaded service road soon isolates you from the noise of the city; unfortunately a chain link fence and high vegetation precludes more than an occasional glimpse of the lake. The effect is rather like that of moving through a green tunnel.
Lake views are dramatic, however, when you cross over to the other side of the reservoir via the top of Mulholland Dam. The view includes the Hollywood sign, reflections on the lake above and the metropolis below.
The reservoir service road doesn't completely make a circle, so you'll have to follow Lake Hollywood Drive back around to your starting point.
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