La Tuna Canyon

Not to be confused with a previous hike (Tuna Canyon Park in Malibu), La Tuna Canyon is in the Verdugo Mountains.  I had hiked here once before, to the top from the Burbank side of the mountain.  This time I started on the other side in Sunland.  The hike was only seven miles and was only that long because I made a major navigational error near the end.  With these hills it’s not so much the length but rather the steepness of the trails.

1   There are two trailheads about 0.3 miles apart on La Tuna Canyon Road, one for La Tuna Canyon Trail and one for La Tuna Canyon Footpath where I began.  They both have identical signs. The easiest way to tell them apart is this: If the trail runs to the right of the sign it’s the Footpath and if it runs to the left it’s the Trail.

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Very close to the trailhead is a seasonal waterfall known as The Grotto. The trail runs sharply uphill to the left from The Grotto. Beyond this point, the trail isn’t on my Tom Harrison map of the Verdugo Mountains, which is usually means something is wrong, like it’s very rough or steep.  Well, the trail is quite steep, similar to Wildwood Canyon Trail, but also solid and well maintained.  Photo 4 shows a good example of how steep some parts of this trail are.


Looking down at La Tuna Canyon Road

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Photo 1 – To the right one can see Verdugo Motorway running down the side of the hill.  This is the connecting trail between La Tuna Canyon Footpath and La Tuna Canyon Trail.  As with Widwood Canyon Trail, the toughest part of La Tuna Canyon Footpath is the final section where you have to climb up and down several “humps”.

9     10   Warden’s Grove comes into view.  This experimental grove was planted in the 1920’s.  Several variety of trees not native to this area still survive.  Photo 2 shows the antennae across from Warden’s Grove which I passed on my last hike in the Verdugos.

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15   The trail meets a dirt road.  Just a few more yards to the top.  Photo 4 shows the Eucalyptus trees at the top.  Photo 5 – I sat and ate lunch under the same large pine I did last time.


Massive mountains to the north…

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…and beyond.

19     21     20   I remember this baby tree in photo 1 from last time I hiked in the area.  I’ll check on it again should I ever get the chance.  I said goodbye to Warden’s Grove and headed down Verdugo Motorway in search of the turn-off for La Tuna Canyon Trail.

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24   Looking down on the other side of the mountain toward Burbank.  Wildwood Canyon Trail runs along the ridge to the right.  Photo 2 shows another shot of Wildwood Canyon Trail taken from a little farther down the road.  Photo 3 – Downtown LA

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Heading down Verdugo Motorway.  Photo 4 – There is no sign for La Tuna Canyon Trail, but there is a lounge chair with the name “Chuck” written on the back.  Turn right here and start going down the hill on the single track trail.


La Tuna Canyon Trail takes a sharp turn to the right and then bends around back to the left.  There is also a shortcut that takes you straight down very steep hills.  I missed the right turn and wound up going down the shortcut.

30     31     32   The problem was that I was still looking for that right turn.  At the bottom of the shortcut there was a right turn and I took it.  My car was parked in that direction and it seemed the logical direction to go.  My mistake.  The right turn at the bottom of the shortcut led me back up La Tuna Canyon Trail toward Verdugo Motorway.  I just kept going and figured it would make sense to me eventually.  I wasn’t frustrated as this part of the trail is beautiful and shaded.


34     35   I knew there was an abandoned truck by the side of the trail.  I passed some rusted car scraps but was this it?  It’s placement didn’t make sense to me.  I began to climb again and looked below.  Ah-ha!  There’s the truck.  I had passed it on the climb up and didn’t notice.  I took photo 2 at the junction between the top of the shortcut and La Tuna Canyon Trail.  I finally was able to figure it all out.  I headed back down the shortcut once again.

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38   Photo 1 – On the shortcut looking down.  The trail ends at that little overlook straight ahead.  Before that is a trail which runs both to the right and to the left.  Photo 2 – From the little overlook, looking back up the steep shortcut trail.  Photo 3 – And now I see the trail running to the left and down to La Tuna Canyon Road.

39   Here is the trailhead for La Tuna Canyon Trail.  From here it was a short but somewhat dangerous walk alongside the road back to my car.


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