Sullivan Canyon Fire Road – Westridge Fire Road

A ten mile loop on the southeastern edge of Topanga State Park.  A few months ago I tackled Rustic Canyon Trail and Sullivan Ridge Fire Road.  The two trails I hiked on this day are the next two trails over.  I started on Sullivan Canyon Fire Road and the difference between this trail and Rustic Canyon is like night and day – much tamer and more hiker friendly.  I also made an interesting stopover at San Vicente Mountain Park, a.k.a. LA96C, a former Nike missle installation which has been converted to a small park.  Rain was forecast but never materialized, but the clouds made for nice cover an some great photo ops.

1     2     3   I started out on a paved road heading down to the canyon bottom.  While this trail is well maintained there are also near constant reminders of civilization, mostly from the Gas Company.  They have laid concrete grid mats over stream beds to stop erosion and also have signs every 30 or 40 yards reminding people that a pipeline runs parallel to and beneath this trail.

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11       10   There are some beautiful oaks and sycamores along the trail.  This might be a good trail to do on a hot and sunny day as there is a lot of shade.

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I walked up on an owl standing in the middle of the trail.  He took flight but dropped something from about 15 feet up.  I guess I interrupted the owl’s breakfast, a rabbit.  I positioned the camera so as not to offend the squeamish.  Poor little guy had his face eaten off.  This is real nature, animals eat other animals.

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I could not get enough of the clouds on this hike – like huge masses swirling and erupting in the sky.

12     13   Photo 1 – Colorful wildflowers  Photo 2 – A big root grows out of the hillside

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About halfway along Sullivan Canyon I started a slow and gradual climb up to the ridgeline.

24   Soon I was near the top, a dirt section of Mulholland Drive.

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27   Now looking north down on Encino and the Encino Reservoir.

28   About a half mile down Mulholland an odd structure came into view.

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I reach the former missile site.  There are a lot of signs around explaining the history of the place.  The signs also try to give a feel for how secure the compound once was, blaring words like “Restricted, High Security”, etc.  There are also a few picnic tables, benches, a restroom and the awesome observation tower.

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Before climbing up the tower I wandered around the property and took in the rest of the sights.  Photo 1 – This looks like something a missile might be launched out of.

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As with so many old structures I figured the tower would be off limits to the public for safety reasons.  I was happy to discover that it was open and beckoned to be climbed and explored.

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Photo 1 – The sign in front of the tower  Photo 4 – The views from a top the tower are amazing, 360 degrees.

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Four shots from the LA96C tower

44   If you are going to hike this loop please take a close look at this photo.  In the far corner of the park is a flat hilltop area for even more scenery.  The road that runs below it is Westridge Fire Road.  There is no sign and I was fortunate to be directed by a helpful trail runner.  To get to Westridge Fire Road you must go through the park.

45     46     47   Here are a few shots from the flat area on the hill across from the tower.

48     49     51   I began down Westridge Fire Road a.k.a. Mandeville Canyon Fire Road.

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Teddy Bear Cloud

52     53     54   Photo 1There are really two trails here, the fire road and a foot trail that runs parallel to it.  The foot trail is more remote and has better scenery but there are also a lot of steep hills to go up and down.  Photo 2Here you can see Sullivan Ridge Fire Road running along the ridge of the mountain across the canyon.  Photo 3 – I came upon this yin/yang rock sculpture.  This looks like it took a while to complete and is much more detailed than the hearts and smiley faces I sometimes see on the trail.

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57   Photo 1 – In the distance, Downtown LA  Photo 2 and 3 – A couple shots of the Santa Monica Bay

58     59   Alongside the trail I found this poignant tribute to a dog who no doubt once hiked these trails with his guardian.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get choked up a bit.  R.I.P. good boy.

60   After nine miles I reached Westridge Road.  Another mile to go and on steep paved roads.  The neighborhood was very nice but my feet were killing me by the time I reached my car.

 

 

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