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Upper Franklin Canyon Series

Important Update - Boxes 4 and 5 have been reported missing, however that report has been confirmed. They will be checked by the club and replaced if necessary in early October, after the county fair is over.

Geographical Information

State - California
Region - Southern
County - Los Angeles
Nearest City - Beverly Hills

Box Information

Placed by - Gnosis 4-H Club 
Placed On - July 7th, 2003
Number of Boxes - 5
Contact the Placer

Other Boxes Placed by the Gnosis 4-H Club

If doing with the Lower Franklin Canyon Series, follow the Upper Series instructions until directed to switch over to the lower series.

Accessibility Information

General Rating - Moderate
Open to strong walkers or babies in carriers. Distance can be covered at a walking pace of 1 to 1.5 miles per hour with no inclines of greater than 400 feet. Trail may not be suitable for wheeled transportation or the visually impaired. Box is accessible to children. Boxes located less than two miles from parking area.

Specific Details
This series takes you on a loop of just over one mile. The "moderate" rating is because there are several steep stairways (fully built out with railings) and in one section, you will have to do some navigation around small to medium rocks. The rock area is not safe for wheeled transportation and would present difficulty for the visually impaired. There are also several areas where you will need to traverse up and down primitive stairs, though all have hand railings.

Directions and Location Information

Franklin Canyon Park is part of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, charged with saving what is left of the only mountain range inside of a major city. The park is open seven days a week, 365 days a year, from sunrise to sunset. As it is a natural area, be aware that there may be snakes, deer, coyotes, foxes, and very pushy waterfowl and squirrels. 

"This park has a history steeped in the forces which created the bustling metropolis of Los Angeles, oil and water. The Department of Water and Power created a reservoir and power system in Franklin Canyon during the turn of the century and the system is still in use today. The Doheny Family, of oil fame, used the canyon as a summer retreat and a place to graze and water their cattle. During the 1970's the canyon was set for development when Sooky Goldman and Congressman Howard Berman encouraged the Department of Water and Power and the National Park Service to make Franklin Canyon a Park for posterity."
From the Santa Monica Mountains Franklin Canyon Park Website

From the West Side, head north on Beverly Drive following signs to Coldwater Canyon. Turn left on Coldwater/Beverly Drive and turn left again on Beverly Drive , at Fire Station No. 2. The third right is Franklin Canyon Dr. continue through residential area to park entrance. At the intersection of Franklin Canyon and Lake Drive turn left to continue towards Franklin Canyon Lake. As you round the lake, you'll be on a one-way road. Ignore the various turn-offs and side roads until you come to a "T" in the road. At the T, you can either turn right to continue on to the Sooky Goldman Nature Center or turn left to remain on the one-way road and follow the lake around the other side. You want to turn left then park in the first parking area you come to on the left side of the road, just a hundred or so yards from the "T" in the road.

From the San Fernando Valley, From the Ventura Freeway (101) or Ventura Blvd. take Coldwater Canyon Boulevard south to the intersection of Coldwater Canyon and Mulholland Drive. Make a 90 degree right turn onto Franklin Canyon Dr. There is no street sign "Franklin Canyon." Road signs read "Road Closed 800 Feet" "Sunset to Sunrise"; this is the park entrance. Do NOT make a "U-Turn" for this will bring you onto Mulholland Drive instead of Franklin Canyon. Stay on paved surface and go past the Sooky Goldman Nature Center parking area. Just past the parking area, you'll come to a "Y" in the road where you can go left to proceed the wrong way down a one-way road (bad idea) or bear right to stay going the correct way (good idea). Just after you bear right, park in the first parking area on the left - make sure it is an approved parking area. Unapproved areas have clearly posted signs and the first "area" on the left is not for parking.


After you've parked your car, look towards the north for the wood railed path and stairs heading down towards the lake. Take those stairs down to begin your hunt!

#1 - Rock Garden Box

As you reach the bottom of the stair path, you'll come to a clearing. To the right and left, you'll see well-traveled paths leading off into the trees. Just in front and slightly to the right of center, there is a third, not so well traveled path with wood-reinforced steps leading down to the lake. Take the center path and follow it as it winds to the left. After a brief walk, you'll come to an area at the base of the dam we dubbed the "Rock Garden" though it is mainly concrete, not rocks. Yes, you can walk around there and the dam wall is fun to climb on!

In almost the exact center of the rock garden there stands a palm, rather like an oasis in this odd man-made desert. If you walk to the palm and around behind it, you'll see the "wire rocks" - take care of young ones around these, some pieces of the metal are sharp and rusted. Stand between the wire rocks and the palm and use your compass to find a bearing of 230-degrees - otherwise known as southwest. 

Walk 20 paces at 230-degrees, being careful of the concrete boulders in your path. This should put you two paces up a slight rise and facing an impassable mass of brush and dead growth. Look down at this dusty hill, about 3/4 of the way from the top. The box is hidden under the dead tree roots and branches, lightly covered with some ground debris. 

#2 - Hungry Duck Box

Head back to the palm in the center of the rock garden then continue across the area to the opposite side from which you started. You'll see a clear path heading off to your right, into the trees and bushes. It starts near the really good climbing rocks which are worth a stop to play on. 

Take care on this trail as it does get narrow in parts (less than 3 feet wide) and is prone to weather erosion in spots. You'll continue along some gently rolling bumps as the trees and plants cause the trail to rise and fall slightly. On your right, through the reeds, lies Franklin Canyon Lake Upper Reservoir, now home to an amazing abundance of wildlife.

After a brief walk in the shade, you'll come to a clearing down at lake level with a lone, rather ugly, bench set to face a busy, noisy bird nesting area. If you have food with you, watch out - they go through bags and duffels so tame are these birds. On the day we planted the boxes, we counted ten species of waterfowl alone in this one spot. Also to be seen here are quails darting across the path and the equally tame squirrels. 

As you stand in the clearing, enjoying the birds, turn around and look behind you to spot the squat three trunk tree just opposite the lake. The box is on the left side, under a fourth trunk that never grew out fully, buried lightly under some seed pods.

#3 - First Step Box

Continue along the path once more as it goes up a slight, very slight, rise. At the top, you'll see a path to the left which leads to the street - you don't want that path. Take the path that leads to the right and back down to the lake. You'll be going right past a picnic area but, if you aren't starving, there is a nicer one ahead so wait on lunch.

A short distance past the large picnic area, you'll come to wooden steps that lead up to the road. The next box is located under the bottom most step, the "First Step", behind some broken pieces of wood. Take special care here when reaching in to make sure no critters are there first.

#4 - Spider Box

Go up the stairs. If you are doing both the Upper Series and the Lower Franklin Canyon Series, now is the time to switch to the clues for the Lower Series. Otherwise, turn right, taking the road along the southern most edge of the lake. The view in all directions here is superb. 

After about 300 yards on the road, you'll see a second, smaller lake-type body of water on the left. A few feet further reveals a sign indicating the start of the "Wodoc Nature Trail" on the left. Head that way and take the paved pathway around the small pond. The waterfowl and squirrels here are even more pushy.

As the path winds around to the backside of the pond, you'll come to another picnic area (this still isn't the nicest one, unless you want to be bugged by ducks and squirrels). While standing in this area, look to your right, away from the lake. You'll see the mountain is rather optimistically held up by a short wood retaining wall. Just beyond the wall in this spot, you'll see a clearing and the hint of a trail heading back further into the canyon.

You want to take this small trail - yes, it is a trail people can use though it is very overgrown beyond the box. About 10 paces down this trail, still within sight of the pond and picnic tables, you'll see a tree has crashed down across the path. Step over the tree and go two more paces to where a trail cuts off up the mountain to the left. 

There is a small, squat shrub at the intersection of the two trails, just below where your right hand should be. The box is hidden amongst the heavy roots and plant debris at the base of this shrub. During the summer months, you may have to lift the old, brown growth to find the box.

#5 - Gnosis Box

Return to the main road and turn left so you are heading the wrong way (on foot) down the one-way road. You will soon pass a wood-looking shed on the left then a very large, generally sunny, parking area on the right. Head into the parking area and find the wood railed path on the right - there are two here, one on the left, one on the right. Directions are given from standing on the road, facing the parking area.

Take the wooden steps down, ignoring the side-paths that shoot off and remaining with the wood until you reach the bottom. Bear left and follow the path to the promised picnic area, which is actually located just below where you parked. 

After lunch, continue along the path until you find yourself once more in that large clearing you visited at the start of box #1. In the general middle area, there stands a very proud and beautiful redwood tree with few branches below 10-feet above the ground. Around it's base, you'll find some small, new growth as the seeds result in baby trees flourishing, at least temporarily. Around the back of the tree, under some of this new growth, hides the final box in this series, right at the roots of the parent tree.

Note: In this clearing, there are two redwoods. Only one has growth that hits the ground fully, the other is rather like a natural umbrella over the path. You want the umbrella tree.

After you finish enjoying the scenery, the path to your left, up the hill, returns you to your car.


2003, Gnosis 4-H Club
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