11461 Riverwood Drive: At the Gateway to the Angeles National Forest

8x10_dji008271948, the same year John Wayne’s character, Tom Dunson in Red River rode into the imaginations of would-be ranchers everywhere, ground broke on 11461 Riverwood Drive on a three-plus acres spread of Southern California horse country. Sunland is still an easy drive from Hollywood, but long enough to down the windows and breath in the country air along the way. Offered at $1,100,000 – MLS ID: 16-154304

“The big house will be down by the river and the corrals and the barns behind it. It’ll be a good place to live in.” – Tom Dunson, Red River

The Riverwood Ranch is one of Los Angeles’ oldest private ranch communities with over 30+ private estate compounds. With the Angeles National Forest to the north, the Big Tujunga Wash south and east, and the Santa Monica Conservancy protected land to the west – your privacy at 11461 Riverwood will last in perpetuity.

Image courtesy Map from 1923 explorehistoricalif.com

Image courtesy Map from 1923 explorehistoricalif.com

First to use the mountains that are now part of the Angeles National Forest were the native Shoshone, or Gabrielino. For the most part they lived in the valleys and lowlands, and used the mountains for gathering food and hunting animals.

Sunland and Tujunga were originally home to the Tongva people. In 1840 the area was part of the Rancho Tujunga Mexican land grant, but later developers marked off a plot of land known as the Tejunga Park, or the Tujunga Park, Tract. The name Tujunga is assumed to have meant “old woman’s place” in the extinct Tongva language, where Tuhu “old woman” is a term for Mother Earth in Tongva mythology.

As early as the 1880s, it became obvious to Southern Californians the mountains should be protected from the destruction caused by indiscriminate logging and other ventures. In 1892, the San Gabriel Timberland Reserve was proclaimed by President Harrison. It was the first forest reserve in California, and the second in the U.S. (The first was Yellowstone.) The name was changed to San Gabriel National Forest in 1907, and to the Angeles National Forest a year later.

This ca. 1900s snapshot of a campsite (perhaps a cabin) is from the Homestead Museum collection and is a great example of many images in the collection showing campers in the San Gabriel Mountains. Courtesy homesteadmuseum.wordpress.com


At the dawn of the 20th century, with President Theodore Roosevelt urging Americans to lead “the strenuous life,” Southland hikers headed for the nearby San Gabriels and spawned “The Great Hiking Era.” Soon every major canyon on the south side of the mountains had resorts or trail camps that offered hikers food and lodging.

“The sun valley of San Gabriel is one of the brightest spots to be found in all our bright land, and most of its brightness is wildness — wild south sunshine in a basin rimmed about with mountains and hills.”- Steep Trails, John Muir

Courtesy: wideopenspaces.com

Photograph of John Muir courtesy: wideopenspaces.com

“…in the very heart of this thorny wilderness, down in the dells, you may find gardens filled with the fairest flowers, that any child would love, and unapproachable linns lined with lilies and ferns, where the ousel builds its mossy hut and sings in chorus with the white falling water. Bears, also, and panthers, wolves, wildcats; wood rats, squirrels, foxes, snakes, and innumerable birds, all find grateful homes here, adding wildness to wildness in glorious profusion and variety.” – Steep Trails, John Muir

The Great Hiking Era of the San Gabriel Mountains, lasting from 1180-1938 or so, saw increasing use of the rugged backcountry for recreational purposes by the foothill communities. This coincided with the real estate boom in the lowlands and the great interest in hiking, hunting and fishing by the urban populations.

“six major hiking trails converged at Red Box Saddle. Settlements started inside the Forest boundaries in the forms of homesteads and resorts in the southern section, and, in the less steep northern section, ranches and homesteads. In 1891, the first homestead was filed in the Big Tujunga Canyon area, and others soon followed.” Courtesy: fs.usda.gov/

Early resident of Sunland

Early resident of Tujunga

“Sunland is very much a place that time skipped over. It’s as if they went from Burbank and straight out to Lancaster, Palmdale and Santa Clarita. Sunland never has been developed – as far as fancy shopping malls and we don’t have it. We get to go elsewhere and keeps the traffic down.”- Kimberly Harris

8x10_img_41968x10_img_8096_hdrKimberly Harris, current owner of 11461 Riverwood is an emmy-award winning sound editor with a list of credits many hands high and spanning four decades. She fell in love with 11461 Riverwood at first sight.

“My property line is literally the last house in Los Angeles. The first time I came up here I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.” -Kimberly Harris



The three bedroom one bath main ranch house has an expansive open floor plan flowing through the living room, dining room, and kitchen expanding the 1,282 sq. foot home. Knotty pine wood accents and river stone mosaics warm the rooms with a country ambiance.

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Natural light floods the interior while ensuring views from every room.

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“Basically I’m a country girl who has lived in Paris and London but I’m more comfortable here,” said Kimberly Harris.


“Down at the house you have a canyon view. Looking south I have a fruit trees and a mountain. Turn around and you’re looking at the expanse of the San Gabriel Mountains. If you look east there’s a hillside with a big barn with some homes. Behind me, it’s just mountains.” – Kimberly Harris


The Ranch is very much an equestrian community. Many people have horses and barns. It is possible to literally ride out the back of the ranch to hundreds of miles of horse trails.

Kimberly Harris who said she’d grown up with horses, bought 1146 Riverwood largely for her horse refuge. She and her partner rescued wild Mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management.

“A lot of them are held in holding pens after living in freedom their whole lives. Many will end up going to slaughter…  They will sell the horses to anybody. Unfortunately, many they are kill buyers or don’t have enough experience.”- Kimberly Harris

At one point, Harris and her partner had 25 horses on the property.


“It’s a very comforting place for horses. They love it here. There isn’t a lot of flat land. There are three levels to the property and each level well-suited for horses,” said Harris.


Multiple stalls, turnouts and a sixty foot round pen are perfect for the horse enthusiast.

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11461 Riverwood is  great opportunity for those looking for a more rural living experience or location to develop a unique creative artist’s compound. There’s plenty of room for a pool on this spread.

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“It’s not suburbia. You have to be willing to live with wildlife. Coyotes, rattlesnakes, bobcats and skunks are in my front yard every day. It’s a beautiful thing. It gives you peace,” said Kimberly Harris, “and respect for nature.”


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