Located near Benedict Canyon at the geographical center of Los Angeles, the Franklin Canyon Park and Lake span 605 acres and feature over five miles of hiking trails. The park’s history dates to 1914, when water tycoon William Mulholland built the Upper Franklin Canyon Reservoir. In the 1930s, the family of oil baron Edward Doheny used the canyon as a summer retreat.
Within the park boundaries are chaparral, grasslands and oak woodlands, a three-acre lake, an ADA-accessible duck pond, and expansive picnic grounds. The lake and pond serve as permanent and seasonal homes for birds in the Pacific flyway.
The park offers an easy stroll around the reservoir with plentiful views of birds and wildlife, as well as access to other, more difficult trails which offer views from West Los Angeles to the Pacific.
If you are looking for a nice loop hike in the Santa Monica Mountains above Beverly Hills, give Hastain Trail a try. The trail can actually be used for two loops, one easy 1.8-mile loop with 350 feet of elevation gain and one moderate 2.2-mile option with 550 feet of elevation gain. Each trek is a satisfying way to explore the park.
Both loops begin the same way, heading up Hastain Trail from Lake Drive within the park. There is an information panel at the trailhead with a rough map of the Hastain Trail. The wide dirt trail climbs up the east side of Franklin Canyon. At 0.4 miles, you will pass a single track shooting up the ridge to the left. This is the steepest section of the tougher upper loop (and you could easily walk right past it). The steep single track has slippery footing, so you may want to hike up this way instead of down. To hike down the steep single track, or to hike the easier lower loop, continue up Hastain Trail, which makes its way southeast around a crease in the wall of the canyon.
At 0.7 miles from the start, you will pass through a gate in a chain-link fence and turn into a draw in the ridge that turns the trail south toward a landing that looks out over Lower Franklin Reservoir.
This great viewpoint, 0.95 miles from the start, is also the point where the two loops split. To the right, a single track descends into Franklin Canyon for the easier 1.8-mile loop. To the left, alongside an outcropping of rocks, Hastain Trail continues up the ridge for the tougher 2.2-mile loop. Take in the view and proceed in either direction.
The easier loop: If you are ready to descend, turn right onto the single track (no bikes) and take a string of switchbacks down the spine of a ridge into Franklin Canyon.
After 0.4 miles, you will reach the canyon bottom where there is a large grass lawn lined by sycamore and jacaranda trees. Begin hiking up the canyon and take one of several routes back to the trailhead.
Walk across the lawn to a driveway heading up to a staff residence. To the right, next to a trail kiosk, there is one path heading up the canyon. Straight ahead there are bathrooms and a parking area along Lake Drive, which you can follow back to the trailhead. To the left, across the road is a branch of the Discovery Trail, which also leads back to the trailhead. There are picnic tables beneath the live oaks along Discovery Trail where you can take a snack break. All routes up the canyon are about 0.3 miles long and make gradual finishes for the easy loop.
The tougher loop: From the viewpoint at the junction 0.95 miles from the trailhead, turn left, following a bend in Hastain Trail that leads higher up the ridge east of Franklin Canyon. You will pass through two more open fences over the next third of a mile as you progress northeast up the ridge. Just beyond the fences, step out to a landing on the right for a view east and south over Coldwater Canyon and Beverly Hills.
Continue up the trail until you come to a junction with a single track breaking off to the left. This is the high point of the loop, 1.35 miles from the start. Turn left and begin down the steep ridge trail, leaving the fire road, which continues up the ridge toward houses.
Heading west down the single track on the ridge, you will pass one more section of fence, the fourth of the loop. There are loose stones on top of firm ground, so be attentive on the slippery descent. Enjoy nice views down the ridge and south across Hastain Trail toward Beverly Hills. After descending 425 feet in 0.45 on the ridge track, you will meet back up with Hastain Trail. Turn right and hike 0.4 miles down to the bottom of the trail, completing the 2.2-mile loop.
To get to the trailhead: Take Santa Monica Boulevard to Beverly Hills and turn north on Beverly Drive. Go 1.3 miles and turn left to continue up Beverly Drive. After another 0.3 miles, make a second left (at a split with Coldwater Canyon Drive) to proceed up Beverly Drive. Go 0.9 miles and turn right up Franklin Canyon Drive. Go 1.1 miles up the ridge, entering Franklin Canyon Park. Turn right down Lake Drive and go 1/3 of a mile to the start of Hastain Trail (on the left) where roadside parking is available.
Pop culture fans will likely recognize Franklin Canyon Park, which is frequently used as a TV and film location, including the famous hitchhiking scene from It Happened One Night with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.
The 3-acre Franklin Lake was the “fishing hole” in the opening credits of The Andy Griffith Show. Watch a video of the Andy Griffith Show.
Universal Studios shot their horror classic Creature from the Black Lagoon here. The park was also the background for the cover photo of Simon & Garfunkel’s album Sounds of Silence.
Huell Howser visited this park and made a video, watch it here.
Franklin Canyon Park preserves 605 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains including a former ranch acquired by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy in 1981. Dogs are allowed on leashes in Franklin Canyon Park. Bikes are allowed on the wide section of Hastain Trail but not on the single tracks down into Franklin Canyon. No fee or permit is required to hike Hastain Trail in Franklin Canyon Park, so get out and enjoy!
WHAT: Franklin Canyon Park And Lake
WHEN: Sun up to sun down
WHERE: 2600 Franklin Canyon Drive | Beverly Hills, CA 90210
CONTACT INFO: (310) 858-7272
SOCIAL MEDIA: Yelp
I appreciate your support and feedback. Please respond to this article now by leaving a comment and/or “liking” it. For exciting, up to date events in Los Angeles, subscribe to this blog via email. You can also share this article with friends and family and visit my Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages.
Thank you for visiting!