Monday, April 18, 2011

Franklin Canyon Park

I don't think I did three miles here today (I visited with my wife, who doesn't do the hiking thing), so it's not an official hike. I did feel I got a pretty good taste for the park, however. And it turns out we did see the spot where they shot the opening for the Andy Griffith Show, even though we didn't know it at the time.

Getting here is a little crazy, because these canyon roads are very narrow and winding.

From the 101 Freeway, we exited at Coldwater Canyon and headed south. After a little over a mile of typical LA-type surface street, Coldwater Canyon Drive heads into the hills and becomes a twisting canyon road.

After probably a mile of that, you reach a traffic light. This is Mulholland Drive. Make a right turn here. But do not make a SHARP right turn, as that would put you on Mulholland Drive, heading north. You don't want to do that. Instead, make a 90 degree turn and you'll be on a narrow road that twists past numerous homes before entering into Franklin Canyon Park.

It's more narrow canyon road until you reach a parking lot with an actual entrance that indicates the Sooky Goldman Nature Center. The entrance will be on your left, at a stop sign. You can't actually see the nature center from the parking lot, however. It's a bit east, up a hill.

Meanwhile, today, Extreme Chef was shooting an episode here, which meant many parking spots were taken up by their cars, trucks, "Starwagons," refrigerated trucks, and assorted other vehicles. Of course, watching films being made is sort of like watching paint dry (but slower). Still, we were amused by the loud cry of "QUIET!" that boomed across the lake a number of times.

The park visitor center was closed when we got there, which was kind of annoying. The sign said it would reopen at 3pm, which would be over 90 minutes away, so we didn't stick around for that to happen.

However, they did have some flyers outside the office. One of them is called "On Location At Franklin Canyon," and has a map and key to show areas used in various movies, tv shows and commercials. The map also has numerous trails indicated. However, the map is indicated as "not to scale," and no mileages or altitude gains are given for most of the trails, so if you decide to do some walking, you need to have learned from some source other than these maps the specifics of your route and how long it will be.

I did manage to circum-navigate Franklin Lake (in a clockwise direction). Along the way, I saw these really interesting blue flowers near the amphitheater (misspelled "ampitheater" on their flyer). The second shot is a wider view, while the one here is a close-up.

I also took a portion of Blinderman Trail, up to a decent overview of the lake and vicinity. I spooked a number of quail as I made my way up.

We exited Blinderman trail where it reaches Wild Pond. Although it's not very scenic, a number of mallards were hanging out on the shallow water. I took a picture of the pond, if only because the flyer claims Platoon, Rambo Part II, and a couple of other movies were reported to have been shot there. So let me know if the swamp looks familiar to you!

At the south side of the lake, there's a gravel dam. Against the dam were a couple of inflatable kayaks. I'm not sure since I've never watched the show or heard the premise, but I guess that means they'll be having kayaks in the show to make you think they've traveled some great distance to get to their "camp"? I say "camp" because they also had a number of tents pitched on their set(and a Honda generator running, which isn't exactly pacific, is it?). Or maybe there are competitions between cooking segments? Don't know.

Rounding the dam, we next came to Heavenly Pond, which is a little more scenic, deeper, and less swamp-like than Wild Pond. I saw a number of large turtles in this pond, and at least one good-sized koi.

Next, it was just some walking along the lake access road, which, along with the lake itself, is credited with about thirty different shoots, and I'm sure that's not exhaustive.

As you work your way up the west side of the lake, looking north, you can see the north end of the lake. It's a reedy area with pampas grass, looking a lot like the area Huell Howser was walking in. It also turns out this is where Ron Howard and Andy Griffith did their whistling opening credits to the Andy Griffith Show.

I actually wasn't sure while we were there, but after we got back, my wife found this YouTube video, and it's quite obvious that the redwood tree they shoot at the end of the video is the same one I shot earlier today. They say the area where Ron Howard tossed his rock into the lake has gone eutrophic, and turned from lake to reedy meadow.

After that little stroll around Franklin Lake, we drove south through the rest of the park. Several other trails offered longer opportunities for exercise, and I may return some day to actually walk them. However, for me, it's a long drive to get here, so I'm not sure when that will happen.

After leaving the park, I took Beverly Road south, through Beverly Hills and towards the Santa Monica Freeway. That was also crazy, but in a completely different way.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to make it to Joshua Tree. Should get some serious hiking in, then.


  1. Yep, your picture of the tree and the You Tube video look identical. Who would have thought that the beginning of the Andy Griffith Show was shot in Beverly Hills?!

  2. Good One! You definitely explored more in Franklin than I did. I spent most of the day in Fryman & Tree People by the rainforest, but Franklin has endless possibilities. --How old are you??? You wrote on my blog about the camping thing, being older, etc. I am 36 and I still look forward to an occasional overnight in the tent. Hiking up San Gorgonio will make this a welcomed rest. We are tentatively heading up there on August 13th and will be camping at 9200 feet. After 3000+ feet with a heavy pack, I wonder if any of us will want to push further. At least we will be doing it with only a day pack, so that ought to offer some relief.

    Hey, good luck in Kentucky. Can't wait to see some of your pictures from the Bluegrass State...

  3. I am officially "late-40s." Finally decided to get rid of my external frame backpack and settle for car camping and day hikes.

    Camping at 9,200 feet might even be a little high, but if you can spend the night there, it should help a lot with achieving the summit the next day.

    I looked at my pictures and started writing a post for my Arizona hikes, but it's getting late so I'll have to finish that one tomorrow.

  4. Thank you. It sounds nice. Unfortunately the YouTube video is no longer available.

  5. Yeah, I'm bummed about that, because it was a pretty good video.