What to go for a hike but don’t have time to leave Los Angeles? If you live near the Hollywood Hills or Studio City, Fryman Canyon may be the perfect place to get an hour of outdoor exercise. The 3-mile loop on Betty B. Dearing Trail passes through Wilacre Park in Lower Fryman Canyon and Coldwater Canyon Park, dishing out just 450 feet of elevation gain. The loop covers a variety of surfaces, like dirt roads and residential streets, to create an easy urban hike away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Start from a large parking area at the intersection of Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Fryman Road, 3/4 of a mile south of Ventura Boulevard. Pay $3 to park your vehicle and begin hiking up Betty B. Dearing Mountain Trail. Chaparral and California black walnut trees arch over the wide trail, providing early shade. As you head west up the canyon ridge, you will have views through the trees over the Valley cities to the north. The trail reaches a landing just over a mile from the start that offers broad clear views over Sherman Oaks to the west. Before reaching the cushy dirt trail, you’ll have to make your way up almost half a mile of pavement at the start of Betty B. Dearing Trail. This stretch also accounts for about half of the hike’s elevation gain, before the trail tapers off.
Like other trails in the Hollywood Hills (such as Runyon Canyon), Fryman Canyon Loop is quite popular with trail runners and hikers. Even if you did not know the way, you could probably just go with the flow of the foot traffic to get around the loop. Despite this easy situation, there are a couple options to consider along the way.
The first variable is U-Vanu Trail, which breaks off from Betty B. Dearing Trail at an unmarked junction on the left, 1/3 of a mile from the trailhead. This dirt single track rolls over the ridge, paralleling Betty B. Dearing Trail for a mile, with marginally higher views over Fryman Canyon (and some escape from the crowds). The trails reunited as Betty B. Dearing Trail turns downhill across a saddle, 0.15 miles from the next decision point on the loop.
The simple loop route is to stick with Betty B. Dearing Trail, passing straight below the park headquarters for Tree People. The trail heads downhill for another half mile to Iredell Lane, where hikers walk 0.7 miles down residential streets to return to the trailhead. Note: If you wish to avoid walking through the neighborhood, you can switch things up by hiking out and back on Betty B. Dearing Trail and U-Vanu Trail. The expanded loop option is to take a brief trip off Betty B. Dearing Trail and hike up to the Tree People headquarters in Coldwater Canyon Park along Mulholland Drive. In addition to some loftier views, Tree People offers information on water conservation and forestation in urban environments. There are picnic tables and a drinking fountain if you need a break.
To get to and from the Tree People headquarters, turn up Oak Trail, a wide dirt trail on the right, 1.4 miles from the start and not long after the junction with U-Vanu Trail (on the left). Head west up Oak Trail until you see a stone staircase on the left. Here you may take the steps up to the headquarters. After walking through the gardens and learning about water usage practices, walk to the southeast side of Tree People’s facilities where another dirt trail heads back down the hillside. After just a few hundred feet, this connector trail ends at Betty B. Dearing Trail. Turn right to rejoin the loop, not far from where you strayed up Oak Trail. This venture adds about a third of a mile to the hike (and about fifty feet of elevation gain), bringing the total distance up to three miles.
From the junction beneath the Tree People headquarters, Betty B. Dearing Trail heads eastward and downhill through Coldwater Canyon Park, coming to an end after half a mile at a cul-de-sac at the top of Iredell Lane. Walk down the lane past homes tucked away in the wooded hillside that may be occupied by Hollywood celebrities.
After 0.2 miles, turn right on Iredell Road to continue downhill. The road levels out and comes to a T at Fryman Road. Turn left and walk 0.2 miles back to the trailhead parking area to complete Fryman Canyon Loop.
Dogs are permitted on a leash, but mountain bikes are prohibited on the trail. To find hiking that’s close to home for many Angelenos, get on over to Fryman Canyon Loop. There is a $3 fee to park in the lot (as of July, 2012), but no permit is required to hike this trail, so get out and enjoy!
To get to the trailhead: Make your way to the intersection with Fryman Road on Laurel Canyon Boulevard, 1.3 miles north of Mulholland Boulevard, and 0.7 miles south of Ventura Boulevard and 1.5 miles south of the 101 Freeway (exit 14). Turn west on Fryman Road and make an immediate right into the parking are at the start to Betty B. Dearing Trail.
Trailhead address: 3453 Fryman Road, Studio City, CA 91604
Trailhead coordinates: 34.133298, -118.391726 (34° 07′ 59.87″N 118° 23′ 30.21″W)
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