Chloe Dirt Mulholland
The Los Angeles River: Part 4 – Tarzana (Update)
June 16, 2018
Chloe Universal
The Los Angeles River: Part 9 – Toluca Lake / Universal City
August 5, 2018
Show all

The Los Angeles River: Part 8 – Studio City

Chloe Fryman Trailhead
Welcome to my second journey of discovery along the Los Angeles River.
Over 4 years ago, my pack set out to explore every accessible mile of our river from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach. It was amazing. The walking was easy, the scenery was one of a kind, and we found some great parks too. There were some rough spots, but they were outnumbered by signs of progress in the county’s efforts to revitalize the river.
A lot has changed since we completed that journey. New projects have started, old landscapes have been transformed, and more people are enjoying the river than ever before. It’s time for an update. Join us as we explore the river again in search of fun things to do. We’re also going to check out every park in every riverside neighborhood we visit on the way. Let’s do this.

 

PART 8: Studio City

 

– Neighborhood Pedigree

 

  • In 1919, when the San Fernando Valley was a major dairy center, D.J. Maxwell sub-divided 300 acres of his cattle ranch near Ventura Bl. and Laurel Canyon Bl. for development.

  • In 1927, developers announced a planned “studio city” within those original 300 acres to lure Hollywood’s business into The Valley. Legendary Mark Sennett Studios was the first company to relocate, on the site of today’s CBS Studio Center. The Valley’s first traffic light was installed at Ventura Bl. and Lankershim Bl. soon after.

  • Studio City has the longest stretch of developed riverside recreation in The Valley. You can take a semi-loop walk from Fulton Ave. to Radford Ave. and back. The neighborhood has welcomed the return of the Los Angeles River with open arms.

 

– The River

Riverside trails go through much of Studio City. However, there is no easy way to get past most of the major bridges that cross them. This leaves you with (3) options:
  1. Breaking your walk into sections where you explore both the north and south side of the river, then drive to the next section. This is the safest way and it’s how I’ll describe the journey.
  2. Crossing the street at Coldwater Canyon Bl., Whitsett Ave. and/or Laurel Canyon Bl. to get from one section to the next. This is dangerous and I can’t recommend it. It would be nice if the City of L.A. painted crosswalks at river access points.
  3. Avoid crossing those busy streets by walking to Ventura Bl., crossing there, then returning to the river. This will easily double your walking distance.

 

Fulton to Coldwater Canyon

The .6 mile section of river between Fulton Ave. and Coldwater Canyon Ave. is known as The Village Gardens. It’s a fantastic example of what could be in many places along this journey to the Pacific.

Start at the southeast corner of the Fulton Ave. bridge. Descend the stairs to a graded dirt path and walk downstream. The south riverbank was revitalized by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy in 2003. It has an outdoor classroom/amphitheater, stone benches, and a surprising number of shady trees separating you from the street. There are multiple poop bag dispensers, but no water is available.

Chloe Lillard Classroom

When you approach Coldwater Canyon Ave., take the ramp up to street level and cross the bridge over to the north side of the river. A long ramp leads you down to the path. The north riverbank was a passion project for local residents who built the North Valleyheart Riverwalk. Gorgeous landscaping and art adorn a well-graded dirt path. There are multiple poop bag dispensers, but no water.

Chloe Fish Mural

– Coldwater Canyon to Whitsett

At the southeast corner of the Coldwater Canyon Ave. bridge, a fence meant to keep us from the river behind the Sportsmen’s Lodge has been unlocked for months; providing access to a new segment of the bike path. It’s not officially opened yet and the finishing touches are still being worked out as of July 2018. What’s there now is beautiful landscaping, new info signage, and poop bag dispensers all along the .6 mile route to Whitsett Ave..

Unfinished Trail Studio City

Cross the Whitsett Ave. bridge to the north side of the river and walk upstream toward an ornate gateway – the entrance to the Zev Yaroslavsky Trail. Opened in 2017, this outstanding trail leads you past the Weddington Golf & Tennis facility, countless native plants, and unique metal art panels. Just past the golf course you’ll find a shady oasis with benches and access to Valleyheart Dr.. Nearby, the Hirsh Family Native Habitat is short trail with plants, a gazebo and a sweet dog-friendly water fountain. The trail ends just short of Coldwater Canyon – take the ramp up to the intersection of Alcove Ave. and Valleyheart Dr.. Go north on Alcove, left on Woodbridge, then left again onto Coldwater Canyon to return to your starting point.

*The land on and around the golf course has been a local development issue for many years. Our favorite idea is the creation of Los Angeles River Natural Park, which would protect the last remaining open space along the river in The Valley.

Chloe Zev Yaroslavsky

 

– Whitsett to Laurel Canyon

At the southeast corner of the Whitsett Ave. bridge, take the ramp down to an asphalt path that stretches .6 miles to Laurel Canyon Bl.. This section is known as the Los Angeles River Greenway. A short stone wall and thick ivy separates you from the commotion of nearby Ventura Bl.. At the halfway point is the Laurelgrove Ave. footbridge, which provides access to Ventura Bl. and Valleyheart Dr.. Before you reach Laurel Canyon, stone benches and ‘poetic’ signage can be found near a ramp that leads to a public parking lot.

Chloe Whitsett Ramp

At Laurel Canyon Bl., take the ramp up to street level and cross the bridge to the north side of the river. Heading west takes you on another ‘no official access’ section but, as usual, it’s easy to get to from Valleyheart Dr.. There are no amenities on this side but it’s already a nice, wide trail with tall pine trees that provide some shade all the way to Whitsett Ave..

Chloe Hay Near Laurel

– Laurel Canyon to Radford

The Great Toad Gate welcomes you to the Valleyheart Greenway from the corner of Laurel Canyon Bl. and Valleyheart Dr. South. The gate, and many of the art pieces you’ll pass on your short walk downstream, were designed by local elementary students. There are tiny gardens, trees, benches and a couple of poop bag dispensers; but no water.

Chloe Rattlesnake

Before looping back on the north side of the river (another “unofficial access” section), walk north on Radford Ave. and you’ll discover the Radford Art Walk. This unique outdoor art project was opened in 2012 and it’s a short diversion well worth the visit.

Chloe Radford Art Walk

 

– Radford to Colfax

There’s no public access past the Radford Ave. bridge; where the river enters the CBS Studio Center lot. You can watch it take a sharp turn to the southeast as it flows beneath the Gilligan’s Island bridge.

LA River CBS

The river’s strangled confluence with the Tujunga Wash is hiding in plain sight on the lot. You can get a close up view from a trail that runs parallel to the Tujunga Wash; between Moorpark St. and Colfax Ave.. Access to the trail is at the intersection of Moorpark St. and Radford Ave. or from the Colfax Ave. bridge.

Tujunga Wash Confluence

– Colfax to Tujunga

Winding stairs at the southeast corner of the Colfax Ave. bridge take you to an undeveloped, but accessible south riverbank. You can walk upstream to Tujunga Ave. but there’s no street access; you’ll have to return to your starting point when done.

Chloe Colfax Bridges

You can reach the north riverbank by crossing the Colfax Ave. footbridge. There’s also access from Dilling St. or the trail that runs alongside the Tujunga Wash and CBS Studio Center. The north side has a smoother trail that’s easier on the paws, but there are no amenities other than a poop bag dispenser. Stairs at the east end of the trail provide access to Tujunga Ave..

 

– Tujunga to Lankershim/Cahuenga

There’s no access to the river between Tujunga Ave. and the Studio City border at Lankershim Bl.. However, the riverbank is wide enough to accommodate future projects most of the way. Just after the river flows beneath the 101 Freeway, it’s joined by the Central Branch of the Tujunga Wash. You can get a good view of the confluence from North and/or South Weddington park.

Chloe 101 LA River

 

 

-The Parks

 

*The Betty B. Dearing Trail takes you on a 6.75 mile journey through the first three parks listed below. Those parks, along with Franklin Canyon Park in Beverly Hills, are collectively known as Cross Mountain Park.

 

Wilacre Park

This busy 128-acre park provides access to the Betty B. Dearing trailhead. It’s not ‘Runyon Canyon busy’ on nice weekend days…but it’s close. A steady climb on the asphalt and dirt trail pays off with great views of the San Fernando Valley and access to the Cross Mountain Park trail system.

Chloe Wilacre Park

What’s there:

  • Hiking trails

  • Drinking fountain

  • Picnic area

  • Restroom

  • Poop bags

What’s missing:

  • Nothing. The basics are at the trailhead.

 

Coldwater Canyon Park

These 45-acres of prime real estate, owned by the City of Los Angeles, provide great views for hikers and a home for TreePeople. Since 1973, TreePeople has been “inspiring Angelenos to care for our urban forest, local mountains and to adopt sustainable solutions at home.”

Chloe TreePeople Water

What’s there:

  • TreePeople. Get a Pet Membership while you’re there.

  • Hiking trails

  • Excellent doggie drinking fountain.

  • Poop bag dispensers

What’s missing:

  • Nothing. They do things with doggos in mind here.

 

Fryman Canyon Park

122-acre Fryman Canyon Park has spectacular views mixed with chaparral and tall trees that make you forget you’re the city. Year round springs offer the occasional spot to muddy up the paws too. There’s access to the Betty B. Dearing’s southern trailhead and a scenic lookout on Mulholland Dr..

Chloe Fryman Trailhead

What’s there:

  • Nancy Hoover Pohl Scenic Overlook

  • Hiking trails

What’s missing:

  • Drinking fountain

  • Poop bags

 

Studio City Recreation Center

Many maps refer to this 9.3 acre spot as Beeman Park. It’s your standard L.A. City recreation center with sports fields and a community center. This is a popular spot for local Canine Angelenos who come here in the morning to chase balls and roll in the plush grass.

Chloe Studio City Rec Ctr

What’s there:

  • Walking path

  • Baseball fields

  • Basketball courts

  • Tennis courts

  • Picnic tables

  • Playground

  • Exercise stations

  • Drinking fountains

What’s missing:

  • Poop bags

 

North Weddington Recreation Center

Once part of the Wedding Family farm, this park is just over 10 acres of nice grass and shady trees alongside the Central Branch of the Tujunga Wash. The “Rocket’s Universe” playground is a must see but beware of the Secret Garden…it’s full of kitty cats.

Chloe North Weddington

What’s there:

  • Walking path

  • Baseball fields

  • Handball court

  • Playground

  • Picnic benches

  • Community Center

  • Restrooms

  • Drinking fountains

What’s missing:

  • Poop bags

 

South Weddington Park

Just across the river, on land donated by Weddington family, this park’s 14 acres are full of perfect-to-roll-in grass. And the place is gopher infested if you’re into that sort of thing. You can see The 101 and a giant Minion hovering over Universal City from here…very L.A.

Chloe Weddington Dig

What’s there:

  • Walking trail

  • Baseball fields

  • Restrooms

  • Drinking fountains

What’s missing:

  • Poop bags

 

Moorpark Park

You don’t come to this 2.4 acre park for peace and quiet – it’s near the Laurel Canyon exit off The 101 – but there’s grass to roll on and nice trees to relax under. You get a great view of the concrete encased Tujunga Wash too. A staircase to a secretish trail is nearby at Moorpark St. and Radford Ave..

Chloe Moorpark Park

What’s there:

  • Playground

  • Picnic benches

  • Drinking fountain

What’s missing:

  • Poop bags

 

Woodbridge Park

This popular 4.3 acre park near Tujunga Village has all the basics. L.A. Magazine named it L.A.’s Best Pocket Park in 2012. There are dog-friendly restaurants around the corner on Tujunga Ave..

Chloe Woodbridge Park

What’s there:

  • Walking trail

  • Exercise equipment

  • Playground

  • Picnic benches

  • Drinking fountains

What’s missing:

  • Poop bags

 

Campo de Cahuenga

The birthplace of California. It was acquired by City of L.A. in 1923 for preservation. A replica building opened in 1950 and dogs can visit just about anywhere on the “outside”.

Chloe Campo de Cahuenga

What’s there:

  • History museum/archeological dig.

What’s missing:

  • Drinking fountain

  • Poop bags

 

 

Misc. Stuff

 

As we make our way downstream, we’re going to catalog every bridge that crosses the river. Not really sure why, but we’re doing it anyway. Check out the growing list here

 

Our favorite sources of Studio City information:

Studio City Chamber of Commerce

Los Angeles Recreation and Parks

Down By The Los Angeles River

The San Fernando Valley by Jackson Mayers, Ph.D.

The Museum of The San Fernando Valley

Los Angeles Times

KCET

 

All photographs taken by Jim Gross.

 

See you on the river!

Chloe

 

X
%d bloggers like this: