A few years ago, before I even considered moving to LA from the East Coast, I met a guy in New York who was visiting from LA. When he asked me what I thought of his hometown, I told him I didn’t really like it that much. And then he said to me, “Los Angeles is a hidden city. You have to know where to look. And you probably need a local to show you.”
Every time I visited LA before moving here, I set out to discover and uncover some new hidden corner of the city, a placemark on a map no tour guide would ever show his visitors – like Lake Hollywood.
Yes, Hollywood has a lake. It’s actually a reservoir, one of several in the area (some actual municipal sources of drinking water, others more like giant reflecting pools).
Like many Los Angeles parks, especially the urban ones, its entrance isn’t so easy to find. While searching for it, you might drive round and round, past runners, walkers and bikers ambling down the side of the road, looking for some opening amidst all the locked gates.
The Hidden Secrets of the Hollywood Dell
The East Gate is one of three entrances to the walkway/bike path that gives you a good view of the surprisingly lush lake.
But still, the lake is surrounded nearly entirely by rust-colored chainlink.
In fact, the entire path feels pretty industrial and urban. But I like that sort of thing. It’s a secluded patch of infrastructure hidden in seclusion in a not-so-remote area of Griffith Park.
The east side pathway leads you to the south of the reservoir, Hollywood sign hovering behind you, and the Mulholland Dam looming in the distance.
The dam is actually a real highlight, where the walkway continues past the Weidlake Gate and 933 feet all the way across the concrete structure that crosses Weid Canyon. It’s one of two dams `built by William Mulholland (yes, the same man behind Mulholland Drive) when he was chief engineer for the LA Bureau of Water and Power, and the only one still standing.
Just past the gate, until recently the entire west side of the reservoir to the North Gate was closed due to landslides, but now the entire perimeter around the reservoir is open for recreation, and you can go around and around it as many times as you like, on bike or on foot.
Or you can retrace your steps back to the East Gate and to your parked car, so you can now face the Hollywood Sign, which winks at you from behind trees and power lines. Enter the Hollywood Reservoir path from either Weidlake Drive or Tahoe Drive.
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