Encino Skating Path Is Right In-Line


For in-line skating, every venue falls in line behind Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area in Encino.

It is never overcrowded, even on weekends, and there's plenty of scenery along the sprawling five-mile circuit of wide, reasonably smooth cement sidewalks.

Unlike many beach paths, there's never a need to create elbow room here, so skaters can easily glide past an array of sights.

Three golf courses--Woodley Lakes, Balboa and Encino--are within the diameter of the path, which also encircles a model-airplane field and an assortment of unique all-terrain vehicles at an army installation.

Also within the confines of the path is Lake Balboa, which does not allow in-line skating, but does offer fishing for those who might need a change.

The path is mostly straightaways--especially on the north side, which is nicely shaded by trees--but there are a couple minor hills on the south side, which runs parallel to Burbank Boulevard.

One downer is the damage wrought by El Nino, which created a few muddy spots on the path, particularly on the flood-prone south side.

Recreation area officials, however, said that the muddy patches will be cleared within a month. Some advice: Use caution in the southeast area and turn around if a trouble spot lies ahead. (Dirt is the worst substance for in-line wheel bearings, with water a close second.)

Parking is available in a lot on Burbank Boulevard between Balboa Boulevard and Hayvenhurst Avenue. A skate shop is at Woodley Avenue and Victory Boulevard in the northeast corner of the path. Skaters looking for a smaller path should look no farther than Warner Ranch Park at Warner Center.

This square path a mile south of Topanga Plaza is almost three-quarters of a mile in total area, with limited foot traffic.

It is a well-kept secret for most of the year, despite that it's adjacent to busy Topanga Boulevard. But the park becomes crowded at times throughout the summer with weekly outdoor concerts.

Another quick skate can be found at the Lazy J Ranch Park in West Hills.

This winding path about three miles north of the Ventura Freeway is slightly less than a mile in diameter. Thumbs up: The park has a sand box and play area for children. Thumbs down: The path is not very wide, which can cause congestion on weekends.

For those who prefer air conditioning, Northridge Skateland features a maplewood surface and Saturday morning classes for children under 14.

The Ice Chalet in Panorama City opened in September and offers a unique plastic "sport-court" floor.

The Skate Lab in Simi Valley, though not for recreational in-line skaters, offers ramps, jumps and a "street course" for aggressive skaters.

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