Visit North Atwater Creek Pocket Park (if you can find it …)


Bird’s eye view: Inside a storm drain, safe for kids, one of the many improvements made at the North Atwater Creek Pocket Park. (Jim Burns)

When I first began exploring the L.A. River, problem No. 1 was finding it. My son and I encountered lots of barbed wire fences, dead-end big box parking lots, and industrial parks, all situated basically on the river, and all with no access granted. That was two years ago, and even though I now have my favs that get us to the carp, the river is basically an insider’s secret.

So, too, are the pocket parks scattered around its concrete banks. The first time I heard about the Yoga Pocket Park in Atwater Village, I thought someone was pulling my downward dog-facing legs … not so. The originators of this tiny green space — I believe the lead was Northwest Trees, but can’t swear to it — were afraid that a more traditional exercise park, based on stations for strenuous physical exercise, would bring gangs.

Today, walking north from the golf course in Atwater Village, through Steelhead Park (another hard-to-find spot, but from the golf course parking lot, head toward the freeway and you’ll see it), you’ll see North Atwater Creek Pocket Park after about 10 minutes of hoofing. Check out the waters here as well …

Open for about eight weeks, the park shows what the river will eventually become: neighborhoods connected instead of rejected; green grass instead of broken asphalt; good vibes instead of creepy. Take a look at the pics below to get a feeling for the place. And, fishermen, there’s a working water fountain, in case you’re thirsty.

This beautiful natural wall and brick work pull your eye toward Griffith Park. (Jim Burns)

Was it worth the $4 million that came primarily, according to city info, from the settlement of two Clean Water Act enforcement actions? Yes, yes, it was. Bring your rod and check it out. And if you have kids, bring them as well.

See you on the river, Jim Burns

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2 thoughts on “Visit North Atwater Creek Pocket Park (if you can find it …)

  1. Grew up just up the street (on Chevy Chase Dr.). Spent countless hours down at the adjoining park and in and along the nearby river but also spent a lot of time on that exact spot riding and jumping my bicycle up and down the old, minimally managed drainage ditch walls and creating an obstacle course among the piles of mulch and wood chips that the City used to store there. Yeah, it was all probably technically illegal and definitely “dangerous” by today’s candy-a– standards (had to make a couple of trips to the ER) but the benefits of being outside and of getting dirty and of discovering lizards and snakes and birds and of interacting with the environment so outweighed the negatives that I couldn’t even put a price on it. I will say, if I may be so bold, all that time exploring and being at the river ultimately helped me become a much better citizen because it helped me to forge a true love for my city and a deep desire to see her assets protected and promoted. So glad to see the banks of the river becoming recognized as a place of recreation and community. Would love to see the Glendale Narrows become an internationally recognized and desirable outdoor space for Los Angeles.

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