Before baby, all it took to connect with nature was a decent parking spot and a stroll up Runyon Canyon.
But everyone’s favorite hike loses its appeal when you’re toting a twenty-pound toddler up that vertical slope. To wit: three local trails perfect for traipsing with tots.
Franklin Canyon Lake
Grandpa might recognize this little lagoon as Andy and Opie’s fishing hole from the opening credits of The Andy Griffith Show. Kids can skip along the clean pathway or scramble over boulders as they play among the ducks, bullfrogs, and crayfish that populate this little oasis in the hills. Park in the gravel lot by Sooky Goldman Nature Center and enter Chernoff Trail for an easy one-mile hike around the reservoir. Franklin Canyon Park, 2600 Franklin Canyon Drive, Beverly Hills.
Rock Pool Trails
Channel Swiss Family Robinson as you beat the heat with a roundabout through shaded oaks. While the 3.5-mile route might seem a tad ambitious, the flat elevation makes it perfect for little feet. The reward at the end is certainly worth the wait: a sparkling swimming hole surrounded by volcanic rock walls. Follow the fire road from the parking area, turn right at the fork in the road, turn left on the bridge over Malibu Creek, then follow the Gorge Trail, passing through 400-foot volcanic rock cliffs to end at Rock Pool. Malibu Creek State Park, 1925 Las Virgenes Road, at Mulholland Highway, Calabasas.
Journey to the Wild West on this hike past abandoned gold mines that ends with a 50-foot waterfall in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. While the 1.75-mile route begins with a sharp descent, the shaded trail along the stream is ideal for little adventurers. Keep an eye out for donkeys hauling supplies; the 100-year-old cabins that dot the trail are still inhabited, electricity free, and serviced solely by pack station. Park in the lot and descend by foot along the road to the Gabrielino Trail, turn left and continue upstream to the cascading falls for a refreshing dip. Chantry Flats Recreation Area, Chantry Flats Road, at Santa Anita Canyon Avenue, Arcadia.
Photo: Cavan Images / Getty Images
Leprechaun’s Lucky Gold Hunt
What: Kids scour the park for hidden coins, then turn their pot o’ gold in for fun prizes.
Why: Feel the luck o’ the Irish.
When: Sat., 10 a.m.
Where: Thousand Oaks Community Center, 2525 N. Moorpark Rd. b/t E. Avenida De Los Arboles & E. Avenida De Las Flores (805-381-2793). Registration (required) at crpd.org. Children, $5; under 2, free.
Volatile Volcanoes Science Workshop
What: Discover the secrets of the earth’s crust, volcanic rock, and what happened in Pompeii 2,000 years ago.
Why: Build your own volcano and watch it explode.
When: Sat., 2 p.m.
Where: Kidspace Children’s Museum, 480 N. Arroyo Blvd., at Seco St., Pasadena (626-449-9144). Museum admission, adults and children, $10; workshop, $7.
What: Get the dirt on worm composting, ways to conserve water and energy, and other sustainable techniques for planting a family garden.
Why: You can dig it.
When: Sun., 3-4 p.m.
Where: Zimmer Children’s Museum, 6505 Wilshire Blvd., b/t S. Sweetzer & S. La Jolla Aves., ste. 100, Mid-Wilshire (323-761-8984). Adults, $8; children, $5; under 2, free.