L.A. Walks: Paramount Ranch offers a real hike in the faux Old West
A working movie ranch in Agoura Hills that since 1927 has been home to the Cisco Kid, Hopalong Cassidy and Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains National Park Area is now a playground for hikers, bikers, equestrians and sightseers.
1. From U.S. 101 in Agoura Hills, turn south on Kanan Road and left on Cornell Road. In about a mile, enter Paramount Ranch on the right. Leave the parking area and cross a wooden bridge into Western Town, where dusty streets are lined with period-correct Hotel Mud Bug, Farmer’s Exchange and Sheriff’s Office.
2. Exit Western Town headed toward the old train depot, and find the beginning of Coyote Canyon Trail. Take this up a slight rise and to the left as it becomes a narrow dirt path through small oaks and fields of wild wheat and mustard.
3. At a Y intersection, bear right, following the signs for Coyote Canyon Trail and Overlook Trail. Jog left for a shady break where you see the sign for a picnic table. There are good views here of the movie ranch, which was the set for the films “Gunfight at the OK Corral” and “Son of Paleface” and the TV shows “Gunsmoke,” “Have Gun Will Travel” and “The Rifleman.”
4. Continue along the hillside-hugging trail, which you may find yourself sharing with folks on horseback, taking the left turn at each intersection. In time the trail will descend into an oaky glade known as Witches’ Wood, a remnant of the 1970s, when the Renaissance Pleasure Faire was held here.
5. Follow the trail through the woods as it bends downhill and right and then becomes a wide dirt road leading into a broad meadow. This is Medicine Woman Trail, named in honor of the long-running series starring Jane Seymour that was filmed here in the 1990s.
6. Parallel a (usually dry) creek bed as the dirt road passes a wooden bridge and climbs a final rise before coming downhill toward the town again.
7. At this intersection, turn right to wind back around to Western Town. Or turn left and, after 50 feet, find a narrow dirt path that leads to the shady green banks of Medea Creek.
Distance: 2 miles
Difficulty: 2, on a scale of 1 to 5
Duration: 1 hour
Details: Dogs on a leash are OK. Free parking. Western Town is wheelchair accessible.
Fleming is the author of “Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles” and “Secret Stairs East Bay: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Berkeley and Oakland.”