The Splendor of the Hollywood Lake Reservoir

The Splendor of the Hollywood Lake Reservoir

The Hollywood Lake Reservoir, also known as Lake Hollywood, is a reservoir located in the Hollywood Hills in the Santa Monica Mountains north of the Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. It is maintained by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). The reservoir and surrounding neighborhood are overlooked by the Hollywood Sign. The location was used in a number of movies and TV series.

The reservoir was created by the Mulholland Dam, built in 1924, designed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power as part of the city’s water storage and supply system. The surrounding recreational area is known as Lake Hollywood Park, and is open for walking, hiking, and jogging. The reservoir is encircled by a flat, paved road about 3.3 miles long that is perfect for walking, jogging, and bicycling. It is a beautiful location where people may enjoy a majestic scenery of water, nature, and the beautiful and iconic Hollywood Sign. You would often encounter wildlife, including deer.

A similar dam, St. Francis Dam, which began construction in 1924 about 40 miles North of the Mulholland Dam, and completed in 1926, was also built by the LADWP headed by pioneering Los Angeles civil engineer William Mulholland. At 11:57 p.m. on March 12, 1928, the St. Francis dam catastrophically failed, with the resulting flood killing about 431 people.

The collapse of the St. Francis Dam is considered to be one of the worst American civil engineering disasters of the 20th century and remains the second-greatest loss of life in California’s history, after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. The disaster ended  William Mulholland’s career. However, you will find that a well-known and traveled street named Mulholland Drive located in the eastern Santa Monica Mountains of Southern California, is named after Mulholland.

Shortly after the disaster, many living by the Mulholland Dam, which creates the Hollywood Lake Reservoir, worried that a similar disaster could happen and began to protest. After a number of studies by various entities, the decision was made to permanently keep the Hollywood Reservoir drawn down. It was also decided to keep the amount stored in the reservoir and to place support on the dam’s downstream face to increase its resistance against hydraulic uplift and earthquake forces, and to screen it from public view. This work was done around 1933–34.

The Hollywood Lake Reservoir is truly a magnificent location in the Hollywood Hills area, especially on a beautiful sunny Southern California day that is suitable to all ages. You will often find a fair amount of people out and about at this location, walking, running, or biking around the lake. If you begin your trip from the main bridge, you will notice a beautiful, awesome lake feel with a view towards the Hollywood Sign. The soothing  peacefulness of the moment would leave you spellbound. You should expect the leisure and enjoyable walk to last about 60-70 minutes in this majestic and beautiful settings.

The following are additional resources to find out more about Hollywood Lake Reservoir as well as the disaster at St. Francis Dam, a site some 40 miles North of Hollywood Lake Reservoir:

Also, I encourage you to consider going to the following nearby locations (within 30 minutes by car) if you are in Los Angeles, California:

Enjoy the video of the full walk (partly sped up) around the lake as part of our #WalkWithMe Series we created for you.