Sylmar is located in the San Fernando Valley of the Los Angeles area and is known for its prolific olive orchards. This large community has many residential areas, retail areas, and commercial industrial areas located throughout the neighborhood. There are many shopping areas and restaurants, including both strip malls and an indoor shopping mall, providing services, eateries, and shops to locals. Businesses tend to be centered around major arteries such as San Fernando Road and Glen Oaks Boulevard. Because commercial areas are distributed in the area, many residents can access them on foot.
There is seldom reason to be concerned about rain when traveling on foot in Sylmar, as the valley experiences dry sunny weather, with only 17 inches of rain annually. Snow in winter is extremely rare, although the neighboring hills and mountains do receive some snow in winter. Although Sylmar is only 20 minutes from the Pacific Ocean and the Los Angeles Basin, the weather tends to be more extreme in the San Fernando Valley than the rest of the Los Angeles area. Average high temperatures in the valley in summer are 95 degrees Fahrenheit, with average lows of 40 degrees in winter. If you are walking through Sylmar with your canine companion, you will experience more temperature extremes than in the rest of Los Angeles, so dress appropriately and plan ahead.
Sylmar enjoys a mixture of residential and commercial areas. The area is generally flat with steep hills in the northeast, where the San Gabriel Mountains begin, and residential neighborhoods in this area have more elevations changes and twisting, turning, roads. There are more other urban areas to the south of Sylmar, however to the north and east, there are natural areas with elevated and rough terrain including the Tujunga Canyon and Lopez and Kagel Canyons.
The Foothills Freeway runs through the community and can be an obstacle to traveling on foot with your dog in the area, as navigating across it requires locating a designated crossing point. There are several dedicated pedestrian crossways and vehicle overpasses with sidewalks that allow you to safely cross this busy freeway.
Several natural areas exist around freeways, utility right of ways, and spillways in the Sylmar neighborhood with rougher, unkempt terrain. If you venture into some of these areas with your dog, watch out for local wildlife that make their homes in these natural pockets in the urban landscape that you may wish to avoid, such as rattlesnakes and ticks.
Several greenways exist along utility right of ways and freeways in the area. Along the freeway, pedestrian crossings connect to greenways in some locations. There are lots of parks in and around the Sylmar community, especially to the north and east. The Stetson Ranch Park, which connects via a 5-mile trail to the Wilson Canon Park in the north of the community is a popular trail for hikers and their dogs. Stetson Ranch Park trail area is also shared with equestrians, so watch out for horses and keep your dog leashed on this greenway. The Veterans Memorial Park is located just to the north of Sylmar and features barbecue sites, picnic and camping sites, a disc golf course, and many other facilities. If you take your dog here and he likes chasing frisbees, make sure he doesn’t steal the discs from players on the course! The El Cariso Community Regional Park located in the east end of the community is an 80-acre park with recreational facilities and natural areas with interwoven trails that are great to wander around and explore with your pooch. The Saddletree Open Space to the north of Sylmar features miles of undeveloped terrain with plenty of trails. Elevations can be steep along Elm Shore Canyon Mountainway, and the Wilson Canyon Trail, as well as other natural greenways in the area. Wear appropriate footwear for hiking in rough terrain.