Monday, February 27, 2012

#227: Lake Hollywood

Whether it's from behind, inside a cave, or on horseback, the sight of the Hollywood Sign always makes visitors and locals stop in their tracks. If you're looking for a lesser known spot to admire the sign, Lake Hollywood is the perfect place. When we went on a Saturday afternoon there were hardly any people there and parking was plentiful, making it a great place to escape the traffic of the city.

Lake Hollywood is a man made reservoir holding 2.5 billion gallons of water. The dam was completed in 1924. Check out the awesome bear heads decorating it:

There are three gates to the lake: the North Gate, Tahoe Gate and Weidlake Gate. We took the narrow sinuous roads up to the Weidlake Gate and parked on the side of the road (there's also a dirt parking lot that was empty when we went). Since the bridge/dam is at the South end of the lake, we didn't have to walk very far. If you park at the other gates, it's about a 3-4 mile walk down to the dam and back. 

Note that the West side of the lake is closed to the public so you can't do a full loop around the lake. The best view of the lake is on the dam. On the rest of the path, you can only see the lake through fence and trees. So if you don't feel like walking much for your million dollar view, definitely park at the Weidlake Gate.

Have you been to Lake Hollywood? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

Monday, February 13, 2012

#226: Placerita Canyon Nature Area

One lazy afternoon I was watching How the Lottery Changed My Life, daydreaming about what I would do if I won the lotto (even though I never play!). There was a SoCal guy on who said he dreamt the winning lottery numbers the night before. He never played the lottery in his life, but decided to try the numbers and ended up winning millions of dollars. Talk about a sweet dream! 

The original California lotto winner was a man named Francisco Lopez y Arbello. Like the guy on t.v., Francisco also had a prophetic dream before his big "win." Back in 1842, Francisco fell asleep under a big Oak tree on his brother-in-law's property and had a dream that he was surrounded by gold and was very rich. When he woke, he picked some wild onions near the tree and was astounded to find that attached to the roots were flakes of gold! Francisco's dream led to the first discovery of gold in California

Mural depicting Francisco Lopez y Arbello's discovery of gold

You can take a short stroll to the site where it all happened, dubbed The Oak of the Golden Dream:

The Oak's home is in Placerita Canyon, a well kept nature area in Newhall with lots of trails for all ability levels

We started our hike to the Oak at the Nature Center which is filled with live and taxidermy animals. 


There was one cage holding about four feisty rattle snakes: 

Initially we wanted to do the Waterfall Hike (1.5 miles roundtrip) but the woman at the Center told us that the waterfall didn't have water running this time of year. Instead, we went on the Heritage Trail and the Ecology Trail

Plenty of trails to choose from!

The Heritage Trail is a short leisurely stroll past the old Walker Cabin, ending at the Oak of the Golden Dream. Along the way, there's a mural that depicts the history of Placerita Canyon.  The Heritage Trail is good for families with strollers because the trail is concrete and level.

Walker Cabin

Plaque at the Oak of the Golden Dream

The Ecology Trail was a pleasant .65 mile dirt loop that start and ends at the Nature Center.

View from the top of the Ecology Trail

I can't wait to go back to Placerita Canyon once the rain starts and the waterfall is flowing. It was hardly crowded, and the trails were clearly marked. Be sure to pick up a map and trail guide at the Nature Center before you head out!

Have you been to Placerita Canyon? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!