Saturday, May 30, 2009

Family Nature Walk

Explore LA's Franklin Canyon Park

Franklin Canyon is a great spot for a family outing. Our visit here began a stop at the nature center to pick up a park map. Then we strolled around "Heavenly Pond." It's brimming with turtles! Most of them aren't native. (I'm not sure any are, but a docent here has recorded a sighting of one Western Pond Turtle.) All the more reason not to worry that my son got this close to the turtles. (I'd never let him approach Western Pond Turtles as I'm especially concerned not to disturb native species.) Even so, your child should not touch any turtles. For one, we want to respect all wildlife. Two, turtles carry salmonella.  

The pond was also full of ducks: mallards, wood ducks and mandrins. This very short trail is paved and accessible to people with disabilities (also good for strollers). For best wildlife viewing, arrive early before the weekend crowds. Also, check out the native plants along the trail, including this monkey flower.

Franklin Canyon is home to smorgasbord of local and exotic plants from oaks to palms and redwoods (which don't occur naturally in So Cal). Next, we meandered the trails that rim the upper reservoir. We listened to the bird chatter coming from the cattails rimming the lake, and watched a red tailed hawk circling overhead. 

Finally, we returned to the Sooky Goldman Nature Center. Never pass up a nature center.  At this one, our son enjoyed an exhibit where he pressed a button to make a stuffed mountain lion roar. I peeked at the log where docents and visitors record the critters they've seen. Quite a few folks had seen bobcats. I surprised to find "mountain lion" on the list. I scoffed at the idea to a park ranger, only to find out he was the one who saw it. (Mountain lions are extremely rare in the Santa Monica Mountains.)

The Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority offers a variety of nature walks and activities for kids at Franklin Canyon Park.  

Other notable trails:  The short Discovery Trail and 2.3 mile Hastain trail. You can also hike (or drive) from this park--crossing Coldwater Canyon Blvd--to Coldwater Canyon Park and the Tree People Center for Community Forestry.

2600 Franklin Canyon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA  90210
You can also enter the park near intersection of Coldwater Canyon and Mulholland Drive, i.e. from the San Fernando Valley.

From Studio City, drive up Coldwater Canyon to its intersection with Mulholland. You'll see Coldwater Canyon Park on your left; that's not what you want. Instead make a gentle right onto Franklin Canyon Drive (the sign is hard to see). A sharp right would shunt you onto Mulholland. Drive down the road and turn left into the parking lot by the nature center. "Heavenly Pond" and Upper Franklin Reservoir are a short walk down the road you drove in on.

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