Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hansen Dam Recreational Center

Wednesday, August 8, 2012
My Cost: FREE!

11770 Foothill Blvd

Today was another scorcher! The weathermen are saying this is the hottest week of the summer so far, so we pretty much hunkered down indoors most of the day. However, my little tornado (aka Viviana) needs her "outside" time away from the house, (and mommy needs her "break time" when the kids are in their car seats, ha ha,) so I tried to think of an easy indoor option. I decided on the library because we had some books that were due this Saturday.

Now, because the city of Los Angeles has such a large public library system, (I think there are 72 locations,) I like to visit different ones so we find out which are our favorites. Our closest branch is Sun Valley and the kids have been there, but we have also been to the North Hollywood Regional. Today I decided we would take a 15 minute drive north and go to the Lake View Terrace branch near the Hansen Dam.

LVT branch is somewhat nostalgic for me. When I first moved to LA after college I rented a room from some nice ladies (hi Leslie & Trish!) in Sylmar. I would go to the LVT library fairly often to use the computer and browse around. That was just under seven years ago, and the library hasn't changed, but there is a lot more around it that I don't remember. So I decided to take a drive around the Hansen Dam Recreational Center before we hit the library just to see what is new.

Ranger Station

The first thing you notice at the Dronfield Ave entrance to the recreation center is the construction on a new Ranger Station. The old station is still operating off to the east and it does look like the new one will be much larger.

Picnic Area

Drive past the construction and head down the hill and you will be entering the basin of the dam area. (Hansen Dam, by the way, is a flood control dam, not a reservoir dam, so there is only water behind it when there are heavy rains. Sepulveda Dam is the same type of dam.) There is a large parking lot and picnic areas. I loved the grassy slopes covered in trees. It would be a great place for a family picnic!

Lake Loop

If I would have looked more closely, at the end of the parking lot it appears there is access to some trails around a lake (or, depending on the amount of water, perhaps a couple little lakes.) This will require further investigation, but a good place to start is this awesome website of the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation: You can learn about all the recreational possibilities there are along the entire LA River, including here at Hansen Dam.

Aquatic Center

Back up above the dam basin there is the super popular Hansen Dam Aquatic Center! On a hot day like today I would guess the amount of people there was in the hundreds, but couldn't say for sure. There is a large pool with water slides at one end, and a sandy swath of "beach" all the way around it. Surrounding the sand is grass, so families put down blankets and set up chairs and claim a "spot" for the day.

I noticed that the local news van was there, probably doing a story on things people are doing to beat the heat:

I also tried to get decent pictures of the pool without getting out of the van, ha ha!

 I did a pretty crummy job, I know.

The Aquatic Center also includes a man-made, stocked fishing lake. I know that I went there once when I lived in Sylmar all those years ago and watched a friend fish at a fishing derby, but I didn't remember about that until I saw the fishing lake today. Not too many fishermen. I guess the last stocking of the year was in July. And the city parks website said all fishing derbies have been canceled due to budget.


Just behind the library building is a playground that looks as good as any I've seen in the city. But we didn't try it out because of the heat.

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