Or at least how Hollywood imagined it to be. What on Earth am I talking about? Why that would be the Western Town at Paramount Ranch.
Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, Paramount Ranch is part park part filming location. In 1927 Paramount Pictures purchased the land to use for filming. Over the years it has been used for many features, particularly Westerns. In recent years it was the primary set for Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. (I’d like to say otherwise, but I have to admit that I used to LOVE that show.) Now, the ranch is part of the National Park Service and offers several hiking trails for exploration. Luckily, the location hasn’t abandoned its past and the Western Town remains to this day.
A few days ago my friend and I had the pleasure of visiting the ole ranch. It was easy enough to find; it’s just a short distance from the 101 freeway. When we pulled into the parking area there were tons of trailers – a clear indication there was filming going on. Sure enough, it turned out they were filming The Mentalist somewhere onsite. Unfortunately, we never ran across them; sorry Simon Baker fans.
A short distance from the parking lot is this little bridge.
Really, it’s a bridge. Amidst all that greenery is a small creek. Take a few steps and voila, you’re back in the old west.
Pretty cool, huh? You can walk all through the Western Town and explore. Unfortunately all the buildings are boarded up so it’s exteriors only. It’s still pretty cool. I half expected the Cartwright boys to show up.
There is one small building you can go inside – a small shack on the edge of town.
And lest you think for a minute that it’s authentic, check it out –
Fiberglass. Oh, Hollywood. You are so clever.
After wandering around town for a bit, we decided to explore one of the hiking trails. We set out on the Coyote Canyon Trail – the shortest one on the map. Now don’t think we were being lazy. It was mighty hot out and you wouldn’t want me to get heat stroke now would you?
Our sojourn led us to a vista point where we saw this view –
Why, it’s the western town nestled among the trees! Standing there looking at those (seemingly) old building made me really feel like I had stepped back in time – a lonely wanderer looking for some respite, hoping the quaint town was hospitable and its kind folk would offer me some vittles and maybe a bed for the night. For life takes its toll here in the Wild West.
2903 Cornell Road
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
open daily 9am-5pm