- Location: Hollywood Hills. From the San Fernando Valley, take the 101 freeway to Coldwater Canyon. Head south on Coldwater for 2.5 miles and take a right on Franklin Canyon Drive. Go one mile, turn right to stay on Franklin Canyon Drive and turn left on Lake Drive. Go 0.3 miles to the parking area, and pick up the trail on the left side of the street. From Sunset Blvd., head north on Beverly Drive for 0.4 miles. Take a left to stay on Beverly, and then another left 0.2 miles later. In 0.9 miles, take a right on Franklin Canyon Drive. Go 1.1 miles and take a right on Lake Drive, and go 0.3 miles to the parking area.
- Agency: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
- Distance: 2.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 600 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 1.5 hours
- Best season: Year round
- USGS topo map: Beverly Hills
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
- More information: here
- Rating: 6
There are many trails that I drove by for years without knowing of their existence, but in the case of Franklin Canyon, I literally walked right by the trail – perhaps even along part of it – when I was hired to play music at a private event in the park. My first time back as a hiker, I was disappointed to find that the trail was closed to due many bees in the area. When I made it back, I got to hike this loop, which is one of several possible trips in the park. Franklin Canyon is a little tricky to find, but it’s for that reason that it attracts less traffic than nearby Griffith Park, and makes for a pleasantly quiet place to escape and “get away from it all.”
From the parking area, head uphill on the Hastain fire road. You climb at a moderate grade, getting nice views of the canyon and the city to the south as you ascend. There’s a little bit of shade en route, and the walls of the canyon help to block out the sun during most of the day.
After almost a mile, you reach a T-junction. The views here are nice, but to get an even better view, head left and go uphill for a quarter mile. This brings you to a high point on the east wall of the canyon, where on clear days you can see the San Gabriels, the ocean, Catalina Island and more.
Returning to the junction, you head back down into the canyon on a narrow single-track trail. This deposits you in a grassy field with an amphitheater (the site of my musical performance!) From here, you can return to the trail head by heading north, slightly uphill, on the fire road. To make it more interesting, however, look for the Discovery Trail, which runs parallel to the road and takes you through a pleasant grove of sycamores. In about a quarter mile, the trail meets a junction. Head right and rejoin the road shortly before the parking area.
If you enjoyed this tour of Franklin Canyon, check out some of the other sites to see in the park, such as the Sooky Goldman nature center and Hidden Pond.
Text and photography copyright 2012 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. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.