Rustic Canyon Trail – Sullivan Ridge Fire Road
A tough and strange hike in the eastern part of Topanga State Park. There was no energy to celebrate after this one, just exhaustion and pain. At least the weather was cool.
My first stop – the ruins of Murphy Ranch. After walking the road for about 2/3 of a mile, I walked through the hole in the fence shown in photo 2 to access a set of long, concrete stairs. Ano
The handrail-less first set of stairs steeply descend about 200 feet in .1 miles and are one solid, steep piece of concrete, if memory serves me.
Looking back up at a section of the Murphy Ranch stairs.
I arrive at the graffiti covered buildings of Murphy Ranch. The lore surrounding this property is quite interesting. Some must just be legend, but stories of this now abandoned property have run in many reputable news sources. Weird as it may sound, this property may have been used as a commune for Nazi sympathizers in the 1930’s and 40’s. A fascist paramilitary group borne in the USA known as the Silver Legion of America, a.k.a. the Silver Shirts (named in tribute to Nazi Germany’s Brown Shirts and fascist Italy’s Black Shirts), held up in this hidden canyon with hopes that someday a fascist regime would take control of our government. After WWII started, the compound was raided by law enforcement and left abandoned until the 1960’s when it was turned into an artist colony. The city of LA bought the property in 1973 and it was destroyed by a wildfire in 1978. It’s been left to decay ever since. I read the dilapidated buildings are scheduled to be torn down sometime this year.
Graffiti at Murphy Ranch
Photo 1 – Taken inside the first structure I came up to. This place is dangerous. There are built in holes in the floor, dark crawlspaces filled with garbage and who knows what. I don’t think this building was meant to be lived in. Photo 2 – The rusted and collapsed garage and work shed. Notice the monster bougainvillea growing up through that pile of scrap.
Oak Kisses Sycamore
The next stop I came to was Camp Josepho, a Boy Scout camp with a rifle range and horses, among other things. The last sign of civilization was a flat, grassy area marked Wilderness Outpost, apparently a scout project.
Then things began to get rough. Rustic Creek trail is an unmaintained trail and often there is no trail at all. The trail runs parallel to the creek, or sometimes simply is the creek. Fallen trees lying across the creek was a frequent sight. I must have gone around, crawled under, hopped over or bulled my way through at least 20 fallen trees.
Photo 4 shows a rare break in the canopy.
What a mess! All of these photos of heavy brush and fallen trees weren’t on the side of the trail, they were obstacles I had to somehow find my way past. The fallen sycamore in photo 4 was the worst. I went to the left where the smaller branches are, tip-toed my way past the poison oak and then powered my way through.
The last photo shows a bobcat track, I think.
I was about to hop over this waist high tree but then banged on it with one of my hiking poles. Angry ants swarmed out, determined to protect their home. I crawled under the big log instead, getting my pant legs wet.
The poison oak was thick down by the creek, and sometimes I had no choice but to trudge right through the water. I started to seeing yellow markers along the trail when there was about a mile or so left. They showed ways around difficult crossings and were a welcome reminder that I was on the right path.
Photo 1 – Thick brush to push through. Photo 2 – Finally, the creek ended and the trail began to steeply climb up this hill of loose dirt.
I was spit out on an unpaved section of Mulholland Highway, overlooking the San Fernando Valley. It took me seven hours to hike just over five miles, and I still had another seven and a half miles to go.
I believe that’s the city of Encino below.
Photo 1 – View toward the ocean. After hiking on Dirt Mulholland for a couple of miles I came to Sullivan Ridge Fire Road, the same road I started the hike on before exiting down to Murphy Ranch. The top two thirds of the road is dirt, the bottom third is paved.
The long, gentle descent was welcome as was the view of Santa Monica Bay.
That river of trees in-between the two mountains is what I had hiked through earlier, Rustic Canyon Trail. I was glad to be above it here.