19 October 2014

Franklin Canyon

Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy

Locate the trailhead.


The Los Angeles group of HIKE the GEEK are trying to get regular hikes together again and decided to hike in Franklin Canyon from a low point to a high point. The canyon is a narrow strip of green with sides sufficient to block out cell signals. At the bottom, the only indication of the vast city nearby are, well, the hoards of people wandering around, generally walking their dogs and a wall or two high on the edge. Oh, and photo enforced stop signs. There really are quite a lot of people. Our initial low point is the parking lot closest to the lower reservoir and we wander across the lawn of a former residence to find the trail heading up. The Conservancy rangers are putting together something to celebrate some sort of graduation for one of their volunteers as we go by. The trail starts in some trees at the edge of the grass and quickly climbs out of them and up the side of the canyon.

far side of the canyon
The houses at the edge of the canyon. Someone has their own trail down into the next canyon.

lower reservoir in Franklin Canyon is quite dry
Looking down on the Franklin Canyon lower reservoir to find it a dry bowl of concrete.


We hit a fire road and JZ insists we have to have a group shot, so we do before continuing up the fire road past random bits of fencing to the top.

the geeks
A hearty group of ten geeks that becomes eleven by the end of the day.

folks headed uphill on the fire road
Making a way up the fire road along the top.

We leave the road again for the last few feet to the top of the hill to take in the sights. Santa Monica is shrouded in haze and the ocean beyond seems possibly imaginary. Around us, there are open spaces and neighborhoods, depending on which way we look.

canyon and mansions
Open space with a neighborhood of castles at the far side. Welcome to Beverly Hills.

swimming pools and tennis courts, but only a few among the smaller houses
Much less elaborate houses below us.

Coldwater No. 1
Van Nuys L11 Coldwater No. 1 benchmark set by Los Angeles City in 1952.

Once finished, we make our way down the fire road to the main road below and follow it back to our start. Some then head off to lunch, but I stick around to poke around a little more.


Locate the trailhead.

Unlike the lower reservoir, the upper reservoir is full of water and surrounded on most sides with vegetation. Tables and benches are provided near it in a number of locations so it makes a good spot for a picnic followed by a circuit stroll around the edge to help with digestion. Swimming is not allowed, however. There is a convenient parking area on the east side of reservoir.

upper reservoir in Franklin Canyon
The lake and dam and single private residence on the edge.

palm trees by the side of the reservoir
The vegetation around the lake does tend to be non-natives.

Crossing to the other side along the dam at the south, I find a small pond on the far side of the road from the reservoir. The pond is full of ducks, turtles, and at least one large koi. I feel out of place here as I do not have a toddler in tow. There are at least a half dozen parents pointing at ducks to entertain and educate their small children.

grandma and pointing child by the duck pond
A small child pointing out the ducks for his grandmother.

two mallards in the pond
A couple of the numerous mallards ready for a handout.

tutle on a tree and koi at the edge of the water
A turtle gets warm on a tree above a koi exploring the edge of the pond.

Back across the road, there is a large lot and a path down to picnic tables beside the lake. They are under large, unfamiliar pines, so a cool spot on a warm day. Past them, the trail takes many paths through reeds and past palms, then across the inlet to a single path that completes the journey around the reservoir.

bridge over drainage to the path to the picnic tables
Cross the bridge and follow the path down to tables under the pine trees.

dam on the far side of the lake
Looking over the top of the reeds to the dam on the far side of the reservoir.

Another trail starts up the hill from my parking spot, so I head up it. It wanders under trees and climbs, taking a while to leave the trees. Paths head steeply down into the canyon to return a couple times before my path runs into a private property sign. It looks like someone else has made their own personal trail into the canyon.

no longer public
The private property sign seems to have no effect in reducing the size of the trail.

oaks and eucalyptus
Looking out over the canyon full of oaks and eucalyptus trees, more trails climb over the hills on the far side.

small segment of the trail
Looking back over the trail I came up to the castles on the far side of the canyon.

I drop down one of the trails into the canyon past an enthusiastic grapevine to one of the trails climbing up the other side.

down in the canyon
An unneeded railing keeps me from falling down the last few feet of canyon when at the bottom.

wooden steps in the hillside
Wooden steps and railings for climbing steeply up the hillside.

The trail climbs steeply up the hillside only to get over a random bit of dirt and drop right back down half the distance. It crosses a bridge that inspires careful foot placement after noticing how much the slats bend when stepping in the middle.

sagging wooden bridge
And right back down again. It looks solid enough, but the wood sags when stepped on.

The trail climbs again to a well used unofficial path heading up, then drops into the canyon below. Wooden steps lead directly to a dry stream that has cut off the last few. On the other side, an overgrown trail with trunks slumped across it head upstream. This is where the maps show the trail going, but few have done it recently. Most just turn and go back under a few more trunks of slumped over trees. This puts me right back where I started, so I head up the roller coaster trail again and this time climb up the use trail at the top.

track beside channel
A track is easily discernible along the far side of the channel, but it would be an obstacle course to follow.

The top offers a view of the reservoir and a bench. More tracks climb all over the hills further along to the north. Trails lead east through a gate which is not intended to stop hikers and down to the road further north than I started.

looking down over the little bit of water
Upper reservoir in Franklin Canyon.

just before the sign
Looking back at the hillside I was climbing just before hitting the sign.

dirt tracks all over the hills
Trails to the north.

I drop down finding myself near the visitor center. The trails that climb the hills start on the far side of the lot, passing by a small oddity on their way up.

another trail starting
Howard Berman Trail starts in some trees.

point of balance
If you ever want to cut out the city of Los Angeles and balance it on a big spindle, this would be the place to put the spindle.

I decide to head back after finding the exact center of Los Angeles.




©2014 Valerie Norton
Posted 29 October 2014

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