A short, 3 mile loop in the Hollywood Hills. Centrally located with easy access from Hollywood and Studio City, this is a slightly easier but nicer alternative to other popular Hollywood hikes like Runyon Canyon. Fryman Canyon has fire road or trail paths, plenty of spur trails to vista points and benches, and access to the Tree Peoples’ Coldwater Canyon pavilion. While it is an urban trail, it doesn’t seem crowded on the trail. And while it’s dog friendly, it doesn’t have the pile-of-poop problem that Runyon has. Definitely worth checking out.
My friend Blair had been trying to get me out to Fryman Canyon for a while, singing its praises as being “Just Like Runyon, Without The Runyon.” So, on a long weekend, I finally took her up on the offer and trekked all the way out to the strange and distant land known as Studio City.
Yes, just a quick drive over the Hollywood Hills and we were at the trailhead just off Laurel Canyon Blvd. – a small and packed-to-the-brim parking lot, full of hikers, joggers, and dogs.
While this is not a difficult stretch of trail by any means, there is a gradual but noticeable elevation gain. In the first half mile, you’ll gain about 270 feet — after that, the trail hits a sort of straightaway, slowly trudging up an easy gain. You will also begin to notice a few side-trails climbing sharply to the south, away from the fire road. While these trails are not marked on any maps of the park, they lead to a rough system of use-trails that generally parallel the fire road. So if the crowds are getting to you, you can take a quick escape along one of these many optional routes.
At 0.6 miles, you’ll pass the first of several memorial benches, placed in scenic areas and shady spots along the trail. If you keep moving, the trail continues to the southwest, then loops around a ridge and turns toward Coldwater Canyon Park. At the 1.3 mile mark, you’ll get a nice view of the the end of the canyon, and the side trails up into Coldwater.
Once you hit the dirt road again, continue heading east. Here, the trail begins to press up against the private landowners in the hills, and the north side of the trail gets fenced off. It’s not the most pleasant thing to look at, but the overall trail condition is still fairly nice.
At 2.1 miles, the trail spills out onto a cul-de-sac at the end of Iredell Lane. A few hundred feet down the road, on the south side of the street, there is a fire road that climbs back up the ridge from the street. This is the entrance to the “Rainforest Trail,” a winding single-track trail that meanders through some of the non-developed areas in the Hollywood Hills. I didn’t know much about it when we were there, otherwise I would have explored more — but the LAist checked out some of the scenery a few years back.
Unless you choose to explore the Rainforest Trail, continue on the road for another 0.2 miles, taking a right at Iredell Street and then a left onto Fryman Road to return to the parking area. Even though this is a residential area, it’s still a pleasant downhill stroll. And most likely, you’ll still be surrounded by hikers from the canyon. Even the Google Street View Van couldn’t escape ’em.
He has also been featured on Good Morning America, NPR, and the Associated Press, as well as in documentaries for Columbia Sportswear and the OTIS College of Art and Design.
Casey was one of eight people chosen by the National Parks Foundation to participate in the 2015 Find Your Park Expedition. His first book "Day Hiking Los Angeles," will be published by Mountaineers Books in 2016.
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This post was written by Casey Schreiner on February 9, 2009