This lake gets a fair amount of foot traffic but is relaxing to be by the water. The main photo shown for this lake is not in fact lake balboa. It is a nearby lake located st the Japanese Gardens in the Sepulveda dam basin area about a half mile east of lake balboa. The gardens lake walk is superb for relaxation and meditative meandering.
I've lived in PACOIMA for 7 years and wasn't previously impressed with the Hansen Dam. But in the last two years, especially 2016, the Hansen Dam has seriously upped its trail game! I'm officially a fan! No more long drives to get in a nice hike!
Approximately 4.48 miles if you park in the lot with the solar lights by the Ranger station. Turn right onto Dronfield from Osborne, the lot at the top of the dam right off Osborne is often full. Keep in mind this is a city park so be careful of debris, shopping carts and the occasional homeless. Most of the visitors to the park walk across the paved dam and back. Once you are off the dam the paved portion leads off onto Wentworth Street and there's several dirt pathways that are unmarked. Bear left and down the hill into the basin. Likewise for crossing the Little Tujunga Creek in the middle, there's multiple pathways but the one on the All Trails app is the best/easiest. I hiked two loops for a total of 9.51 miles.
Really liked this hike. First part of the hike was all consistent gradation so it's pretty tough the middle of the hike levels out when you get a bit of a rest and then if you want to go behind the Hollywood sign it's about another mile of continuous gradation. Really great views of LA
This was perfect for my family of novice and "less physical" hikers. The views were great (and there were plenty of rest stops with clean benches to rest and soak in the sights if interested). Views are from downtown LA to the coast and the Santa Monica mountains. The grade was gradual but enough to work up a sweat. The path was a fire road so nice and wide and relatively even (so no need to worry about ankle twisting). We went on a Monday late morning and ran into only a few people (including a few runners). Although the trail is used by horses, there was very little horse dung whch required careful navigation. Two miles around the loop. It could be a little better marked (since there are a few side trails/forks). Our family would highly recommend this trail for all types of explorers, especially beginners and those who are "less physical".