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A Park a Day: Brace Canyon Park, Burbank

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July is National Parks & Recreation Month, and all month long LAist will be featuring a hand-selected park a day to showcase just a few of the wonderful recreation spaces--big or small--in the Los Angeles area.

The first time we ever clambered up to Brace Canyon Park in the low Verdugo Moutains, we saw a baseball game going on (it turns out the diamond here is home field for the Guards of nearby Bellarmine-Jefferson High School). The next time, we caught some surprisingly serious playground hoops action. And just last weekend, we witnessed an all-out water gun battle, an evenly balanced tug of war contest, and a series of sack races. All accompanied by the soothing cadence of tennis ball thwocks from the public courts across Crest Ridge Drive.

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Brace Canyon Park is where this elevated Burbank/Glendale neighborhood goes to play. Stough and Wildwood Canyon Parks a mile or two away are great for hiking and biking, and Brand Park--with its sedate teahouse, well-tended gardens, stately library and historical museum--is practically elegant enough to be a college campus. But Brace Canyon is for kids to run around and whoop it up in.

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Even the playground here fosters little feats of daredevilry. Every youngster's glide across the zip line seems to culminate in a sudden stop and fall. A shaky logroll-slash-balance beam contraption has a concrete walkway running alongside it. And we can't imagine Burbank's landscapers intended the adjacent 30ish-foot dirt and rock incline to serve as an at-your-own-risk impromptu climbing course for tots and tykes. It does look fun, though.

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Local families have also adopted Brace Canyon Park as something of a Kids' Birthday Party Central, with clusters of balloons surrounding most of the picnic table areas on weekend afternoons. You can even get a permit to set up a bounce house.

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With panoramic views over the eastern end of the San Fernando Valley and plenty of tree shade, Brace Canyon Park is a convivial gathering spot and recreation area. It's spacious enough, too, for the peace-and-quiet crowd to establish informal zones of relative tranquility.