Coldwater Canyon Park / Fryman / Tree People
A hike will take you on a loop consisting of both dirt and asphalt (mostly dirt) from a parking lot south of Ventura Blvd. It’s off of Laurel Canyon at Fryman Avenue… or from the juncture where Mulholland meets Coldwater Cyn. I like starting at the bottom, not only because it’s closer to my home but because I’d rather hike up and then down rather than down and up. The parking lot at Laurel and Fryman does charge a few dollars. Bring cash or change. The Tree People parking lot at the top is free of charge. Depending on what you drive it could cost a dollar in gas to get up Coldwater, so you make the choice.
For the littlest ones, you may want a jog stroller for this hike or be comfortable wearing them in a backpack or on your shoulders. The hills do get steep and there is a bit of elevation gain, about 500 feet over the course of the loop. Keep your eyes open for critters, birds of all shapes and sizes and reptiles on the three mile trail. My bigger kid could do it without whining at 4 years old, your results may vary.
This place is dog friendly but keep it on a leash and bring bags. Personal Rant: Not everyone knows your dog is safe and I’ve seen otherwise friendly dogs go after mountain bikers (me). Some dogs are friendly and wouldn’t think of biting, some do (me). An apology from the owner doesn’t make up for getting bitten. Additional Rant: Social Trails, which is what trail builders call those bits of trail created by users finding their own path are not sustainable and tend to erode quickly and can ruin the trail. Stay on designated trails. Rant Off.
Mountain Bikers use this area. Some are good and some aren’t. Just like dogs. I’ve never been bitten by a Mt. Biker but there is a first time for everything. As a cyclist I’m offering a bit of advice, when one is riding up from behind you or approaching from the front, your best bet is just to keep your line and hold your kids hand so they don’t do anything erratic.
From the parking lot at Fryman Canyon you’ll climb a steep hill on what’s called the Betty B. Dearing Trail. One of the nice things about this trail as a whole is that there is quite a bit of shade while you are climbing and benches to stop at if little legs need a rest. Always bring water, even though there’s shade this can be a hot trail. Remind your kids to drink often. Mine likes to carry her own water, it gives her a feeling of accomplishment and teaches her responsibility.
People are friendly on the trail so if you feel like you need directions ask someone who looks like they know where they’re going. It is a busy trail and you won’t go more than a minute without seeing another hiker. As long as you stick to the wide and widely used trail you shouldn’t have a problem. Eventually you’ll head downhill and the dirt ends at Iridell Road. You can either turn around and go back the way you came or follow the paved road passed George Clooney’s house all the way down to where it T’s with Fryman. There you’ll make a left and head back to your car at the lot.
Along with the main trail there are off-shoots that you can explore if you have some extra time.
Along with hiking there is also an area where Tree People does clinics and shares information with the public on a variety of environmental topics. They have educational displays my kids enjoyed. After wildfires clear the land of scrub and brush, the folks at Tree People will help to restore what was lost. There are opportunities to volunteer at their facility, to work with Tree People in your own community to plant trees and learn about forestry.
A couple of years ago in my little chunk of Studio City we had a tree planting with the help of Tree People. They have a program called Citizen Forester where you can help them to bring trees to your own neck of the woods. That’s what my neighbor did. She worked with them and got it done, with the help of many volunteers including myself and my older one. She named the tree near our house Rosie.
Just the other day they were back doing maintenance, clearing out grass and weeds from around the base of the trees we had planted, laying down fresh mulch and gave them a good watering.
Coldwater Canyon Park and Tree People is a great resource, it’s an island of wilderness so close to everything Studio City has to offer. Go get it.