- Nestled in the heart of Los Angeles is a refuge for wildlife and people known as Franklin Canyon. It is an island of open space surrounded by the city. Picnic under sycamore trees or hike along chaparral covered slopes. Watch for ground squirrels scurrying around their holes or red-tail hawks soaring overhead. The animals who stay in this refuge are little affected by the great events that transformed a small pueblo into a major metropolis.
The history of the canyon is separate but inseparable from the city that surrounds it. Edward L. Doheny discovered oil in Los Angeles in 1892. The wealthy Doheny family later owned 6 ranches, including a 400 acre parcel in Beverly Hills purchased in 1912. The Spanish style home in lower Franklin Canyon was built on the northern end of their property around 1935 to serve as a family retreat.
Oil provided the fuel for prosperity, but water was scarce in this semi-arid environment. In 1914, William Mulholland and the Department of Water & Power (DWP) began construction of a reservoir in upper Franklin Canyon to distribute water newly brought from the Owens Valley. Water and oil transformed Los Angeles from a small town into a major metropolis. Ironically, DWP ownership of the reservoir and adjoining properties helped discourage further development in this canyon.
The National Park Service purchased the Franklin Canyon Ranch in 1981. That year, the William O. Douglas Outdoor Classroom began the continuing service of providing free educational programs to the public and local schools. Today, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy manages daily park operations in Franklin Canyon. As a part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, this special refuge is available for everyone to enjoy.
There are several trails ranging from an easy 0.3-mile woodland walk to a 2.3-mile strenuous stretch through chaparrals. Included in the trail system is a pathway for seniors and a Braille and handicapped path. See links for trail details. Dogs must be on leash at all times and are not allowed to swim in any bodies of water. For the consideration of others, please clean up after your pet. Trail closures may be in effect during and following significant rainfall to protect park resources. Trails will be re-opened when dry enough to sustain public use. Bicycles are allowed on fire roads, but not on trails.