Week 139: Paramount Ranch

July 22, 2018

 Even if you've never been to Paramount Ranch, you've seen it on screen. This working motion picture set has 483 credits in IMDb spanning every decade from Clara Bow's 1927 film, Get Your Man, to a string of TV series including Cisco Kid, Zane Grey Theatre, Gunsmoke, Perry Mason, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, CSI: Las Vegas, Weeds, Castle, Carnivále, and tons more. In its career, Paramount Ranch posed as Tombstone, AZ; Dodge City, KS.; Tom Sawyer's Missouri; 13th-century China; colonial Massachusetts; and Paris. Tucked within 2,700 acres on Medea Creek in the Santa Monica Mountains between Malibu and the Conejo Valley, the property is more than just a star of the silver screen, it sits at the base of a web of hiking trails guaranteed to erase whatever horse crap is bogging you down (just don't step in any on the trail.) Barbara and I followed Charles Fleming's April 24, 2015 L.A. Times hike through the town, stopping, of course, to peek in windows, and then headed for the hills. Under a jewel-blue sky, we hiked up the rocky, narrow Coyote Trail through the woods to the Hacienda Trail then across Witches Wood Trail to Medicine Woman Trail. Our only company—a few bold rabbits; our only human contact—occasional equestrians on horseback. So quiet, we could hear echoes of conversations in the town below. In addition to its movie fame, Paramount Ranch was the 1966-1989 location of the Renaissance Faire, and from 1956-57, home to the 2-mile, 11-turn Paramount Ranch Raceway whose dangerous and fatal reputation brought its short (7-race) history to an end. Barbara and I may have been too early in the day (or the location simply too remote) to meet other hikers, but if you're searching for a unique, utterly serene location to add to your hiking/biking/riding repertoire, the trails above Paramount Ranch range from easy to challenging with lots of spots for picnicking. And you can't beat the view: thousands of acres of hills and wild wheat as far as you can see. Yippee-yi-yo-ki-yay!

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