Elyria Canyon Park is a lovely refuge in NE Los Angeles. This undeveloped patch of the southwestern side of Mt. Washington is surrounded by city. But it preserves a fairly intact parcel of native walnut woodland.
California walnuts (Juglans californica) are important nesting trees for birds and a food source for ground squirrels and Western gray squirrels. They frequently mingle with coast live oaks in shaded canyons. Sometimes, like here, they are the dominant tree species.
We recently enjoyed a peaceful Sunday morning stroll in Elyria Canyon. At 9:00 a.m., we were the only people on the trail. We encountered plenty of fall color--in the form of poison oak.
I thought my two-year-old would be bored here. There's no stream, no nature center. But he was enchanted by the simple act of hiking with a walking stick--fashioned from the dried stalk of an invasive mustard plant. (No native species were harmed in the making of walking sticks.) He also liked the views of the city, the Verdugo Mountains, Griffith Park, the LA River and--boy that he is--the 5 Freeway.
We listened to scrub jays squawking, and watched yellow-rumped warblers and white-crowned sparrows dart through the elderberry bushes.
I was charmed by a small patch of California fuchsia (below).
I hear there are remnant patches of native purple needle grass (Nassella pulchra), but, with toddler in tow, didn't try to identify them. In the 19th century, sheep and cattle grazed Mt. Washington, so the persistence of anything herbaceous is a pleasant surprise.
After our hike, we took the boy for a train ride at nearby Griffith Park. Even closer is the playground at Rio Los Angeles Park.