Text and photography copyright 2010 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
- Location: 2813 Cornell Road, Agoura Hills. From highway 101, take the Kanan Road exit and head south for 0.2 miles. Take a left on Cornell Way, which becomes Cornell Road. Look for the park entrance on your right at 2 miles. From P.C.H., take Kanan Dume road north for 9.2 miles. Turn right on Sierra Creek Road, and in 0.3 miles turn left on Mulholland Highway. After 2.3 miles turn right on Cornell Road. The park is on your left after 0.2 miles.
- Agency: National Park Service
- Distance: 3 miles
- Elevation gain: 200 feet
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Suggested time: 1.5 hours
- Best season: Year-round
- USGS topo map: Point Dume
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
- More information: here; here
- Rating: 6
Paramount Ranch is a place where you can get a little history with your fresh air and exercise. Before being deeded to the National Park Service in 1980, the area was used by Paramount for filming, and in the “Western Town” section of the park, hikers can explore some of the old sets.
There are quite a few trails at Paramount Ranch, and the loop described here takes in a good sampling of the park’s scenery and landscapes. From the parking area, cross a footbridge to get to Western Town. After checking out the old sets, follow the main fire road and pick up the Coyote Canyon Trail in your left. This trail heads uphill in to a pleasantly secluded area, and then turns back around, heading toward the park (stay right at the junction). As you continue on the Coyote Canyon Trail, you can make a detour to take a break at a picnic area.
The Coyote Canyon trail eventually makes it back to Western Town, but the route here extends things along the Hacienda Trail. Take a left at the junction and head through an oak woodland. Stay left at the next few junctions and eventually you meet up with the Medicine Woman trail (in the 90s, a few episodes of “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” were filmed here). Take a left and head through an area known as Witches Wood, and take a quick right onto the Backdrop Trail.
The Backdrop Trail winds around the northern edge of park, giving panoramic views of the nearby mountains. After a mile or so (ignore other trails that branch off) the Backdrop Trail terminates at the Bwana Trail, which is named for the movie “Bwana Devil”, the first 3-D film commercially released in the U.S. (1952).
Take a hard right on the Bawana Trail, and after half a mile, take a left at the next junction. This trail brings you to a fire road. Take a left and follow the fire road back to Western Town.