Gates reopen for Lake Hollywood strolls

High in the hills, perched between Hollywood and Vine and the Hollywood sign, sits scenic Lake Hollywood, a reservoir held back by a dam designed by the great water wrangler William Mulholland. Flanked by a classic California mix of oak, pine, eucalyptus, agave and sage, and circled by a pedestrian trail reopened in April after being off-limits for seven years, this is one of the city's great mountain walking spots, and it's less than 10 minutes from the 101 Freeway.

1. You may begin your walk at any one of three gates. I started on Lake Hollywood Drive, down the hill from Wonder View Drive, at Gate 2. Note the eccentric closing schedule. The gates shut at 5 p.m. November to February, at 6 in March, 6:30 in April, 7:30 from May to August, 6:30 again in September, and 6 again in October. The gates open year round at 6:30 a.m.

2. As you enjoy the silence of this walk and begin the turn around the lake, you will see the Hollywood sign, a terroir of vineyards belonging to the Hollywood Classic winery and the signature campanile rising over a home once owned by gangster Bugsy Siegel and occupied more recently by Madonna.

3. You may see a fashion shoot or a plein-air painter as you stride onto the dam, with its fine reflecting views of the Hollywood Hills above and the Capitol Records Building below. Be sure to look over the downhill side to appreciate the California grizzly heads carved into the side of the dam. (Yes, from above, they do look like golden retrievers.)

4. The middle gate is known as Weidlake Gate, named after the original arroyo, now flooded by the reservoir, which was called Weid Canyon. Arriving here involves driving up to Weidlake Drive through a complex series of turns starting at Franklin Avenue and Holly Drive. There is limited street parking.

5. The wildlife is abundant, especially along this quieter section of the walk. On a recent Sunday stroll, I encountered a few joggers, a few skaters and a few cyclists, along with two deer and a large, hooting owl. Fishing and swimming are not allowed.

6. The last of the three gates is known as Tahoe Gate and is accessed from Lake Hollywood Drive, or Tahoe Drive, as it descends from Mulholland Highway, from the top of Beachwood Canyon. There is ample street parking here. Beyond this gate, the trail runs on the eastern side of the road and will take you full circle to your starting point.

Fleming is the author of "Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles."

The Stats

Distance: 3.4 miles
1.5 hours
1 on scale of 1-5
Bikes welcome, but dogs are not allowed. Ample street parking on Lake Hollywood Drive. Conveniently, the lakeside walk features several portable toilets and at least one drinking fountain.

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