Week 176: Franklin Canyon

June 02, 2019

Day Hiking in Los Angeles #32: Franklin Canyon Reservoir, 1.9 miles

The best treats are sometimes right in your backyard. Barbara and I stuck close to home for our 4th hike in 605-acre Franklin Canyon this morning—and got a new perspective on the 3-acre lake, duck pond, and a portion of the 5-miles of trails. Following Paul Haddad's upper Franklin hike (#32), we began at a small, almost hidden, wooden foot-bridge off Lake Drive near the abandoned house. From a rugged flight of steps up then around a hairpin left, we picked up the Ranch Trail heading north. Here's what's glorious about Franklin Canyon: you're in the geographical center of the second largest city in the US, but the only sounds you hear are birds (and later, bullfrogs); the only sights for miles are wildflowers, chaparral, and the dense oak woodland with towering sycamores and redwoods. Ranch Trail led to us to the lower end of the Franklin Canyon Reservoir created in 1914. We hiked the perimeter of the Reservoir counterclockwise, stopping to enjoy the peace and visit with a pair of Mallards and a bale of turtles near the shoreline. The water is so clear that when the little turtle heads pop up, you can see their shells and paddling feet. The turtles were as curious about us (got food?) as we were about them, while a local bullfrog burped in the background. After circling the Reservoir, we crossed to Heavenly Pond—the small duck pond used in ON GOLDEN POND and currently guarded by a big, fat, Muscovey Duck (who posed for a picture.) Franklin Canyon is on the Pacific Flyway, a R&R stop for migrating birds, and the pond hosted yet another colorful breed, a plump of wood ducks. Our last sighting, and my last photo, was of a Western Pond turtle who swam close to the surface for an eerie, full-body photo. This is not just an everyday walk around a lake. Owned by the National Park Service since 1981, Franklin Canyon was once the summer playground for the uber-wealthy Doheny family in the 1930s, and has the credit roll of a Hollywood star, from the hitchhiking scene in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT to GOLDEN POND, to the opening of The Andy Griffith Show. So wet your best Andy and Opie whistle, and explore Franklin!

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