Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Take children on day hike of Andy Griffith's fishing hole

We’ve all seen the opening credits of “The Andy Griffith Show,” where Andy takes Opie to his favorite fishing hole – Myers Lake, located in Stokes County, N.C. The truth is Myers Lake really is Franklin Canyon Lake, located in Upper Franklin Canyon Park – located in no less than Beverly Hills (Beverly. Hills, that is. Swimmin' pools, movie stars ... But that's a different TV show).

To reach the park, you’ll wind along some narrow residential streets. Then from Mulholland Drive, take Franklin Canyon Drive. Inside the park, turn left into Sooky Goldman Nature Center and park vehicle in the gravel lot. Walk back down to Franklin Canyon Drive, heading past lake’s east side. You can get onto the footpath (officially named “Chernoff Trail”) that skirts the lake (officially named “Upper Franklin Reservoir”) by accessing one of the entry points. See picture of the hike.

Franklin Canyon Lake has a surface area of about three acres and sits on nine acres of parkland, consisting mainly of evergreens and oaks. A number of television shows, movies and television commercials have been filmed here, though the “Andy Griffith” opening credits probably is the most famous (or at least memorable) of its uses over the years. Fans of “NCIS,” especially of the 2005-6 and 2008-9 seasons, may find many of the sights familiar, as a few episodes from that series were filmed here.

Upon accessing the trail on the park’s east side, you’ll pass a small wetlands area. Here, kids can play toss the stick into the lake a la Opie. They then can clamber over boulders at the spillway on the lake’s northern end.

Looping to the lake’s west side, you’ll hike to the trail’s highest point and to a paved pathway. This is the area where the “Andy Griffith” opening was filmed. There also are picnic tables here. Gazing across the serene lake, as red-tailed hawks fly overhead and gray squirrels scamper about the shoreline, it’s difficult to believe this is the geographic center of Los Angeles.

Continuing on, you can take a side trip on the short Woodoc Nature Trail around Heavenly Pond. Big-bellied frogs and ring-necked ducks abound. While the plants all are clearly native to Southern California, at a distance the landscape has a feel that doesn’t look all that different from most other American wooded rural areas ... so long as you frame the picture right lest a palm tree appear across the way.

Looping around the lake’s south side, you’ll cross over the dam to the eastern shore, where you head through a grove of sycamores, oaks and conifers, and then back to your starting point. Returning to your vehicle, stop at the nature center for its kid-friendly displays. Beware: There is a small gift shop at the center.

The trail is mostly hard packed dirt, with some muddy spots near water. Unfortunately for Andy, fishing actually is not allowed at the lake.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.