Hansen Dam is a very popular place for pedestrians, runners, equestrians, and bicyclists--a sort of beach bike path for the families of the north San Fernando Valley. The dam's massive size is an indicator of the power of the broad Tujunga Wash as it descends from the steep San Gabriel Mountains into the San Femando Valley. Most folks walk along the top of the dam, which offers cool breezes and panoramic views of the San Femando Valley. I prefer to start out on the equestrian trail below the front of the dam, and return along the top. Wheelchair users will want to remain on the even surface atop the dam.
Hansen Dam parking lot on Osborne Street near Glenoaks Boulevard. Lake View Terrace, CA.
DIRECTIONS TO THE START
Bike: Follow the convenient bike lanes on Glenoaks Boulevard to Osbone Street
Transit: Take the Metro Bus 92 on Glenoaks Boulevard to Osborne Street. Turn right (uphill) onto Osborne and look to your right for the starting point at the crest of the hill.
Car: Take the 210 Freeway and exit at Foothill Boulevard in Lakeview Terrace. Go west on Foothill and turn left (south) onto Osborne Street. The parking area is accessible only from northbound Osborne, so drive past the dam and make the next U-turn. Park in the lot on your left.
From the parking lot, go through the gate onto the top of the dam. Immediately to the right, at the sign marked BRIDLE TRAIL--NO VEHICLES ALLOWED, descend onto the trail in front of the dam, which is shared by pedestrians and equestrians. It's slightly steep at first but soon levels out as it turns to the left. This area features largely native alluvial scrub vegetation, including plenty of the distinctive yucca known as Our Lord's candle, seen blooming here in the late spring. This brush serves as home to rabbits, lizards, and other critters.
Continue along the trail with the dam above to the left and the golf course below to the right. When you approach the main stem of the Tujunga Wash spilling though the center of Hansen Dam, stay on the trail as it turns right (downstream) and descends. Cross the wash at the unnamed golf course bridge and continue to follow the trail as it curves left (upstream) and ascends. The trail turns right and levels out again. At this point, ascend to the top of Hansen Dam via the footpath on your left. At the top of the dam, turn left.
Check out the impressive views. On clear days, you can see the Santa Monica Mountains ringing the far side of the valley from Universal City to Calabasas.
Walk across the spillway and return to the starting point.
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