I enjoy taking family and friends to Franklin Canyon Park. It’s an idyllic refuge in our hectic city. Little hikes, picnic areas, small lake and pond with ducks and other wild birds always add up to a fun day with lots of discovery for everyone.
Franklin Canyon Park sits in the canyon just north of Beverly Hills and stretches high up into the Santa Monica Mountains. The park can be accessed from the north and the south that is, San Fernando Valley as well as Beverly Hills.
In spite of how the park is nestled inside the city, during the week it really isn’t very busy. The first thing you will notice is how the quiet of this lush canyon settles on you. The small lake gleams just beyond the reeds. You might expect Sheriff Andy Taylor and little Opie to come whistling by with fishing poles.
And why not? This lake has already captured our imaginations in one of the most famous opening scenes of all sitcoms: The Andy Griffith Show. Right here by the lake Sheriff Andy, with fishing pole on his shoulder and little Opie tossing rocks into the water, strolled right into our homes every week from 1960 to 1968 and for many years afterward in syndication. It was the perfect image of small town living that we all yearned for.
Hikers and bikers love this park for more than the idyll setting. They come for the challenges that some of the longer trails offer. However, we want to stay close to the lake because the paved road and the short paths are more family friendly. The lake, known as Upper Franklin Canyon Reservoir, has a thick growth of reeds on the shores. A well-traveled trail loops through the reeds and around the lake to the dam. The paved road, Franklin Canyon Dr, also circles the lake in a 1.5-mile loop. You’ll find this an easy walk and stroller friendly. Just off the road on the path around the lake there are picnic tables and, of course, Port-a-potties.
In addition to casual hiking and biking, you and the kids can wander along the discovery trails and rest by the Heavenly Pond filled with turtles and a variety of fish. Because of the water the area attracts many migratory birds such as ducks, egrets, and coots.
Like I said, there are a number of more challenging hiking trails. They lead off in several directions. Parks map are available you so might get one to plan your hike or bike ride.
There are a few reminders you should keep in mind about the Santa Monica Mountains including the established parks, including Franklin Canyon Park: Keep the little kids close and under supervision. Watch out for rattlesnakes and other wild animals. Poison oak is very common in all the parks. (Finally a number of people complained that Franklin Canyon Park has a hidden camera by the stop signs waiting to catch drivers not making full stops as they drive through the park. The traffic tickets are whopping $175.)
To get to the north entrance take Coldwater Canyon Ave. south from the 101 Freeway, to the Mulholland Drive and Coldwater Canyon Avenue intersection. Make a 90-degree right hand turn toward a road that leads to a residential neighborhood. (Do not turn on Mulholland Dr. as it will require a much sharper turn-and lead you way from the actual road you want.) The unassuming road you seek is Franklin Canyon Drive. Follow it about a half-mile or so, through the canyon neighborhood to the park entrance. About a mile pass the entrance gate look for the main parking lot on the left.
For more specific information about Franklin Canyon Park and what events and hikes they have scheduled on their calendar take a few minutes and go to LAMountains.com. If you have any questions or need additional information, contact the Franklin Canyon Park Event Coordinator at (310) 858-7272 x.180.
Once you’ve explored this quiet canyon, you’ll agree this wonderful park is an idyllic spot in our busy city.
Take the kids and enjoy your visit.