Sherman Oaks Village Gardens
The Village Gardens, located in Sherman Oaks, is a short stretch of the LA River where one bank has been reclaimed by the neighbors and where the state has created a mini-park on the other bank, complete with an outdoor classroom. Despite the concrete channel, this is an enjoyable green and flowering stretch. A neighborhood group, the Village Gardeners of the Los Angeles River, led the grassroots effort to reclaim a stretch of river, picking up trash and planting “whatever would grow” according to co-founder Annette Fuller. The site has a great feel; it’s not the institutional uniformity found in many municipal projects.
View Walk - Sherman Oaks Village Gardens in a larger map
LA River at Fulton Avenue
Directions to the start
Bike: There is no river bikeway in this area at the present time. From the Metro Red Line, disembark at the North Hollywood station. Bike west on Chandler Blvd and turn left onto Fulton Avenue. The walk begins on the near side of the Fulton Bridge over the LA River.
Transit: Take the Metro Red Line and get off at Universal City. Board the Ventura Boulevard Rapid Bus (#750) and get off at Coldwater Canyon Avenue. Walk one block north to the LA River at Coldwater and Valleyheart Drive. Turn left, and walk upstream (west) along the LA River to Fulton Ave.
Car: Exit the 101 Freeway at Coldwater Canyon Avenue in Sherman Oaks/Studio City. Go south on Coldwater Canyon Ave and turn right onto Moorpark Street. Turn left on Fulton Avenue and turn left again on Valleyheart Drive. Street parking is available on Valleyheart or Bloomfield Street.
Enter the LA River right-of-way at the gate on the north side of the river, just east of Fulton (at the intersection of Bloomfield and Valleyheart). Turn downstream/left and walk along the river. The Village Gardeners have placed railroad ties to form a planter, and behind the ties are myriad flowering plants. On your right, creeping vines grow up the chain-link fence cascading down into the vertical channel.
The project thins out around Ethel Ave., but the Gardeners still keep this area neat. They pick up trash, and provide trash cans and bags for dog walkers to clean up after their pets.
Continue walking until you approach the Coldwater Canyon Avenue Bridge (the first bridge you will encounter). You can walk up the ramp on your left to Valleyheart Drive, or take a steep footpath just past a large agave. Turn right and walk along the sidewalk on Valleyheart (north). At the corner, turn right on Coldwater and cross the bridge.
At the next corner, turn right Turn at Valleyheart (south). Enter the river right-of-way along the gate. Continue walking upstream. There is a gate with a sign stating that trespassing and loitering is forbidden. People walk, jog, and garden here every day, so just enter easily to the right of the gate. Like many sites on the river, the signage hasn't caught up with the current usage.
Walk down the ramp and continue walking upstream. On your left, check out the mural, by artist Laurie Troja, that adorns a surface drain conveying runoff from the street into the river. On your right is a good view of the cascading plants growing on the railing.
Past the mural is a small park known as the Richard Lillard Outdoor Classroom. Continue upstream, viewing the river rock amphitheater followed by native plant landscaping. Contrast the state's approach on this bank with the community approach on the far side. They are both very good projects. The Village Gardens has a folksy feel, with a wide variety of plants that are beautiful, but some are not particularly well-suited to the Southern California climate. The Richard Lillard Outdoor Classroom Park has a more institutional feel and a palette of only native plants.
Ascend the river rock stairs and check out the interpretive panel on river history, including historic photographs of flooding in the San Fernando Valley.
Turn right (north) onto Fulton and cross the bridge. At the end of the bridge, descend the steps on your right to take in the last little piece of the Village Gardens. Ascend the ramp to return to the start.
The Village Gardens, located in Sherman Oaks, is a short stretch of the LA River where one bank has been reclaimed by the neighbors and where the state has created a mini-park on the other bank, complete with an outdoor classroom. Despite the concrete channel, this is an enjoyable green and flowering stretch. A neighborhood group, the Village Gardeners of the Los Angeles River, led the grassroots effort to reclaim a stretch of river, picking up trash and planting "whatever would grow"according to co-founder Annette Fuller. The site has a great feel; it's not the institutional uniformity found in many municipal projects.
Nearby DiningFatburger 14402 Ventura Boulevard Sherman Oaks, CA 91423-2607 (818) 905-3137 Le Pain Quotidien 13045 Ventura Boulevard Studio City, CA 91604 (818) 986-1929 Pinot Bistro 12969 Ventura Boulevard San Fernando Valley, CA 91604 (818) 990-0500
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