Mulholland Scenic Corridor
High adventure on April Fool’s Day. In January of 2012 I did my first day of short hikes, five of them, all off of Mulholland Highway. On this day I returned to drive the length of Mulholland from Hollywood to Malibu. Mulholland Drive/Highway has fifteen official overlooks maintained by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservacy. I stopped at all fifteen and five others off of nearby roads. Also along the way I did six short hikes at different locations on or near Mulholland. This took some effort to put this plan together and not everything fell into place but it was well worth the effort. An exhausting trip, a fantastic day.
To help those who wish to stop at all the Mulholland overlooks, here is a guide for the first overlooks. All overlooks are on the right side unless otherwise noted.
# 1 – Hollywood Bowl Overlook (ON LEFT) – 1.8 miles to
#2 – Universal City Overlook – 2 miles to
#3 – Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook – 0.3 miles to
#4 – Dead Man Overlook – 482 feet to
#5 – Autry Overlook – 0.8 miles to
#6 – Barbara Fine Summit Overlook – 1.9 miles to
#7 – Unnamed Overlook at 13201 Mulholland Drive – 0.9 miles to
#8 – Charles and Lottle Melhorn Overlook – 1 mile to
#9 – Stone Canyon Overlook (ON LEFT) – 0.5 miles to
#10 – Johnson Overlook – 2.4 miles to
#11 – The Groves Overlook – 0.9 miles to
#12 – Unnamed Overlook at 17000 Mulholland, at the beginning of the eastern part of Dirt Mulholland
#13 – Unnamed Overlook at 20401 Mulholland. To reach this overlook you must drive or hike on the western section of dirt Mulholland for about two miles
#14 – Alisa B. Katz Overlook (ON LEFT) – a mile or two before you reach Las Virgenes Road
#15 – Seminole Overlook – (ON LEFT) Just before you reach Kanan Dume Road
Off of the 101 in Hollywood and a couple miles of driving brought me to the first overlook. Some of the overlooks have nice signs like this, others have more generic versions which don’t give the specific name.
Hollywood Bowl Overlook
Close-up of the Hollywood Bowl
Universal City Overlook
Close-ups from Universal City Overlook
This antenna is the immediate areas most recognizable landmark.
Sun rising on Dead Man Overlook
There is a pretty large parking area for Autry Overlook. Many of these overlooks have very limited parking, maybe one or two spots right by the side of the road. At this point I was a little worried as the views were not spectacular because of the smoggy conditions. Fortunately things cleared up pretty quickly.
Photo 1 – Unnamed overlook at 13201 Mulholland Drive Photo 2 – Looking across the street from the 13201 Overlook
Charles and Lotte Melhorn Overlook
A beautiful walkway at Stone Canyon Overlook with a view of Stone Canyon Reservoir below.
The Groves Overlook
This was a weird one. The grove is made up of several Eucalyptus trees. This could have been a beautiful spot and ideal place for an overlook but there’s a fence blocking the view, made worse by cape ivy and other plants.
View from the tower at San Vicente Mountain Park.
Griffith Park can be seen.
Photo 1 – Looking up the belly of the tower. Photo 2 – Tribute to Bosco. I hiked back to my car. I now had to backtrack – back down to Skirball Center Drive, to the 405 Fwy North, to the 101 Fwy North and exited on Topanga Blvd. heading to the left toward the ocean. Coming down from the dirt road, I saw what looked like a big stick in the road. It was a rattlesnake making his way across. I did my best to avoid him and succeeded.
From Topanga Canyon Blvd. I reached the intersection for Mulholland Drive. I went left toward the western dirt section of Mulholland Drive. You can drive on this road all the way to the next overlook, but I found it too rough for my car. I parked on the left side on a paved road. To get to the next overlook I was going to have to work. A hike up to the road 1 1/2 to two miles. The overlook is unnamed but located at 20401 Mulholland Drive. After doing some research online and checking my Harrison map, I determined that 20401 Mulholland Drive is where Dirt Mulholland intersects with dirt Santa Maria Road on the right and an unnamed trail on the left. Just after this intersection is the gate that restricts further vehicular travel.
View of the Santa Susana Mountains from the 20401 Overlook
After returning to my car I backtracked to the Mulholland/Topanga Canyon Blvd. intersection. Instead of continuing straight on Mulholland, I went left up Topanga. I wound my way to the top and passed Top of Topanga Overlook on my left. 0.2 miles past the overlook is Viewridge Road. I went left on Viewridge to it’s end, across from a gated community. Next up was a 1.6 mile round trip on Viewridge Trail. Photo 1 – I love this gate and the psychology it employs. While people can easily walk around to the right, I bet many are stopped in their tracks because the gate is closed. The trailhead is to the left. Photo 2 – A lizard defiantly blocks my path.
The first half of the trail heads down. Off to the side was a wonderful shady place which had cool breezes blowing through the trees. It was like being inside an air conditioned tent for a few minutes. While there is some shade on this trail, it’s mostly exposed to the Sun.
Photos 1 and 2 – The bridge on Viewridge Trail
In the distance I could make out the tower near Topanga Lookout. I’d be walking right past it very soon.
The San Fernando Valley today shown from Top of Topanga Overlook.
After returning to Mulholland and driving west, I made a left on to Stunt Road and drove up to Lois Ewan Overlook.
Right next to Lois Ewan Overlook is the road that leads to Topanga Lookout. The road splits, with the paved road continuing up to the tower I saw from Viewridge Trail. I walked up to the tower the first time I came here a few years ago. Looks like they tightened security to keep people out.
The road becomes dirt and heads toward the remains of the old lookout tower. Today it’s just a graffiti covered slab of concrete.
Back on the road again, nearing Las Virgenes Road, I stop at Alisa B. Katz Overlook.
My next short hike started at King Gillette Ranch, now a visitor center for National and State Park systems as well as the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy. The property was once owned by King Gillette of the Gillette Razor company.
The trail runs above the ranch. Photo 2 – Looking back in the direction of Alisa B. Katz Overlook.
I turned left off of Mulholland and drove down Las Virgenes Road/Malibu Canyon Road to Piuma Road. I took Piuma Road way up into the hills. At the fourth, big hairpin turn, on the left, is David M. Brown Overlook, a.k.a. Malibu Canyon Piuma Ridge Park. It’s just a big dirt lot and a picnic table but the views are fantastic.
Photo 2 – Malibu Creek State Park from the David M. Brown Overlook.
I continued up Piuma Road for a quarter mile to two other Piuma overlooks, marked by these concrete and steel fences. There’s not much parking here. I missed the first overlook and parked at the second, upper overlook.
Close-up of Rindge Dam from Piuma Overlook #2
Ocean views from Piuma Overlook #1, with Malibu Lagoon in plain view. Overlook #1 has better ocean views, Overlook #2 has better views up into Malibu Canyon.
Two shots from Seminole Overlook, the 20th overlook I stopped at and last official Mulholland overlook.
My great day of hiking comes to an end.