Fryman Canyon / Franklin Canyon
On this day I combined two approximately five mile hikes in the Beverly Hills/Studio City area. It was difficult to plan this hike as there are numerous trailheads from which to choose and my guidebooks all gave different directions. The cool weather made for an easy day with lots of things to see.
I parked at Coldwater Canyon Park in the Tree People parking lot. Tree People is an organization that plants trees around Los Angeles. Tree People has their own little park within a park, with a couple of short trails and a few interesting displays.
To get to the first trail, the Dearing Trail Loop, I walked all the way through Tree People Park – ignore the “trail” signs to the left of the parking lot until later as these lead to Tree People’s own little trails.
Photo 1 – Fryman Canyon is close to Griffith Park. You can see Mount Lee, home to the HOLLYWOOD sign. Photo 2 – There are some street crossings on this route. Here the trail picks up on the right after a few yards. Photos 3 and 4 – . The trail runs beneath some interesting cliff side houses.
This antenna on a nearby hill really stands out.
I passed a half buried Volkswagen Thing – a good omen if there ever was one.
It really pisses me off when people paint trees and rocks, however I did find this interesting. Someone put red paint on these rocks, trees, grass etc. The paint is at different depths, like the rock is a couple of feet in front of the tree which is several feet in front of painted grass and branches. When it is seen in 3D it doesn’t seem to make much sense, but when you take picture and it comes out in 2D a red circle appears. This is also the turn-off to the short hike up to the Pohl Overlook.
After the Overlook I rejoined the main trail. I soon came to a split in the trail. I lost my map about a mile back and, while I had a general idea of which direction to go, I guessed on the exact trail. I went to the left. Today I know this is not the main trail but rather a shortcut down the hill. I figured I was off the main path because the end of the shortcut was a really steep drop down the side of a hill. That trail ended at a paved alley behind some houses. From here I turned left and walked down to Fryman Road. From Fryman I walked straight down to the next trailhead. Fryman Road took me through a pretty residential neighborhood. Sometimes I walked on the road, other times I took the trail that runs down the middle of the island that sits between traffic lanes. Photo 5 – I thought this was a great idea – this tree on the right hand side has long branches extending way out, so far that they can no longer support their own weight. But notice the two metal poles on which the long branches are now resting. Photo 6 – Here is the intersection of Fryman and Laurel Canyon Blvd. The next trailhead is to the left just before Laurel Canyon.
The second half of the Dearing Loop was the worst part of the day – just too crowded. People came in waves, two or three every 20 yards or so. I figured there would be some point where most people turned around and headed back down to the parking lot by Laurel Canyon Blvd., but before I knew it I was already back at Tree People Park. In this photo, the mountainous silhouette is the Verdugo Mountains.
Now back at Tree People Park – there was a group of school kids on a field trip. The rain began to fall and sent them scrambling for cover. Before I rested and ate lunch in my car, I checked out the short trails and other attractions. Photo 3 – Amphitheater at Tree People Park Photo 4 – This woodpecker looks different than the ones I see in my backyard. My woodpeckers have all black wings and backs.
After lunch I drove across the street to Upper Franklin Canyon Park. The intersection between the two parks can be confusing because there are four different options when pulling out of Tree People Park. You can go left or right on to Coldwater Canyon Dr., you can cross over the street and make a hard right on to Mulholland Dr. or, the simplest option and the one that you want, drive straight ahead, cross over all the lanes of traffic and on to Franklin Canyon Dr. This is made more confusing as there is no sign for Franklin Canyon Dr., only signs that read “Road Closed 800 Feet” and “Sunrise to Sunset”. Just remember – drive straight across the street from Tree People Park. Parking is free. I started by checking out a few side trails and park buildings, including a mock up of a Native American dwelling made with rebar and an amphitheater. Photo 5 – I head up steeply to an overlook off of Blinderman Trail.
From the overlook, a nice view of little Franklin Lake below.
. There is supposed to be a pond and a notable rock on these spurs, but what I found instead was a lot of dense vegetation. I was beginning to feel a little lost. Photo 5 – This part of the trail looked like it was really overgrown until someone came along with a chainsaw and cut a hole right through the middle of all this brush. Photo 7 – Finally the trail brought me back to the road, just a few yards from where I started. I climbed over these stairs and continued down to the lake.
Franklin Lake – up close. The lake is small but beautiful.
Photo 4 – Right next to the lake is a smaller body of water known as Heavenly Pond. If the sight looks familiar it’s probably because Heavenly Pond was used to film the opening credits of the Andy Griffith Show. The trees are a little different, and a wishing well was erected, but this is the angle of the pond shown on the show.
Heavenly Pond is quite small and the water is kind of murky-looking compared to the clean, green Franklin Lake, but the ducks in the area love this pond.
. As I circled around the pond the ducks would slowly move out of the way.
VIDEO: The Ducks
I continued on past the lake and made my way down to Lower Franklin Canyon Park (I had been in Upper Franklin Canyon Park). The two parks are separated by a short hike down Franklin Canyon Road. You can drive from one park to the other on the road if you want, the speed limit is 15 mph and several cars passed me along the way. You can’t really get lost here if you keep in mind that if you follow this road it will take you right back up to your car. After walking partially on pavement, partially on dirt, I arrived at a junction between Franklin Canyon Dr. and Lake Dr. where a boarded up house stands. I took Lake Dr. to the beginning of the next trail.
To the left of the paved road is the trailhead for Hastain Trail. The trail climbs in elevation. Hastain Trail is pictured running along the side of the mountain in photo 1. It’s well marked and easy to find. From Hastain Trail you can see four different routes across the canyon. The lowest paved road is Lake Ave. The trail slightly above Lake Ave. is the one I would be connecting to next, Discovery Trail. The trail above Discovery Trail leads to the road above it and also to an overlook, and finally the tree lined road at the top is Franklin Canyon Dr., which rises out of the canyon soon after the junction with Lake Ave.
Photo 1 – From Hastain Trail, Lower Franklin Reservoir and, I think, those small skyscrapers are the Wilshire District. Photo 2 – Looking down into Lower Franklin Park at yet another amphitheater. This area is definitely not lacking in amphitheaters. Just one note, the trail splits at the top. I took the right fork marked by a wooden pole. There are two little signs on the pole – one a drawing that indicates bikes are not allowed and the other drawing that indicates people with dogs are allowed. I turned right and headed down the hill toward this green grass.
Once I reached the bottom and hiked across the grassy area, I crossed the street and started up Discovery Trail. Discovery Trail runs right next to the road. It’s flat, shady and fun to hike. The Sun came out for just a few minutes and really elevated my mood. Discovery Trail ends back on Lake Ave. Now all I had to do was hike back up Lake Ave. and Franklin Canyon Dr. and back to the parking area. Thanks for a great day, Fryman and Franklin Canyons.