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

1 HBO   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.

2 HBO

Hollywood Bowl Overlook

3 HBO     4 HBO   Stairs lead up to a small pavilion and a nice view of the HOLLYWOOD Sign.

5. HBO

6 HBO

Close-up of the Hollywood Bowl

7 HBO   Poster showing Mulholland Scenic Corridor, the route I would follow on this day.

8 UCO

Universal City Overlook

9 UCO               10 UCO

Close-ups from Universal City Overlook

11 NPO     12 NPO   Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook
I hiked to this spot on my Fryman/Franklin Canyon hike, coming up on Dearing Trail.

13 NPO               14 NPO

This antenna is the immediate areas most recognizable landmark.

15 NPO   There was haze/smog in the early morning that detracted from the view.

16 DMO               17 DMO

Sun rising on Dead Man Overlook

18 AO     19 AO     20 AO   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.

21 BFO     22 BFO 2   Some overlooks are just dirt lots with a wood fence.  Others, Like the Barbara Fine Summit Overlook, are a little more elaborate with walkways, plants and benches to sit on.

23   Mulholland was a little crowded.  It can be stressful looking for the next overlook with an impatient person tailgating you.

24 unnamed               25 unnamed 2

Photo 1 – Unnamed overlook at 13201 Mulholland Drive  Photo 2 – Looking across the street from the 13201 Overlook

26 CLMO

Charles and Lotte Melhorn Overlook

27 SO               28 SO

A beautiful walkway at Stone Canyon Overlook with a view of Stone Canyon Reservoir below.

29 JO

Johnson Overlook

30 GO     31 GO   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.

32 SVO   Unnnamed Overlook at 17000 Mulholland Drive
This overlook is located where paved Mulholland Drive meets the eastern border of Dirt Mulholland.

33     34     35   From the 17000 Overlook, I finally got started on my first hike, a mile long trek to the former Nike missile base now known as San Vicente Mountain Park.

36

Encino Reservoir

37               38

39   I reach San Vicente Mountain Park with its landmark tower.

40       41      42       43

44   I climbed the stairs to the platform atop the tower.  This thing is built like a rock.  When you put your foot down there is absolutely no give, it’s completely solid.

45

View from the tower at San Vicente Mountain Park.

46               47

Griffith Park can be seen.

48     49   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.

50       51      52       53

53A 20401 Overlook    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.

54 20401 Overlook

View of the Santa Susana Mountains from the 20401 Overlook

55     56   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.

57               58

59   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.

60       61      62       63

Photos 1 and 2 – The bridge on Viewridge Trail

64               65

In the distance I could make out the tower near Topanga Lookout.  I’d be walking right past it very soon.

66     67     68   Photo 1 – Below the trail – a spiral maze.  Photo 3 – Viewiridge Trail ends here at this road.

69 TOTO   I drove back toward Mulholland Drive on Topanga Canyon Blvd., stopping at Top of Topanga Overlook.  I love this picture of the vacant San Fernando Valley circa 1937.

70 TOTO               71 TOTO

The San Fernando Valley today shown from Top of Topanga Overlook.

72 LEO

After returning to Mulholland and driving west, I made a left on to Stunt Road and drove up to Lois Ewan Overlook.

73 LEO               74 LEO

75 LEO   From Lois Ewan Overlook, close-ups on Ladyface Mountain and Calabasas Peak.  Photo 3 looks toward the ocean from across the road.

76     77   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.

78   I pass by the tower.  This thing was covered in graffiti the last time I was here, but not anymore.

79       80      81       82

The road becomes dirt and heads toward the remains of the old lookout tower.  Today it’s just a graffiti covered slab of concrete.

86               85

83   The views from Topanga Lookout were some of the most expansive I saw on this day.

84

Topanga Lookout

87 ABKO

Back on the road again, nearing Las Virgenes Road, I stop at Alisa B. Katz Overlook.

88               89

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.

90               91

The trail runs above the ranch.  Photo 2 – Looking back in the direction of Alisa B. Katz Overlook.

92     93     94   Photo 1 – Down on the other side of the hill stands a beautiful Hindu temple. There is actually a little network of trails above King Gillette Ranch.  I reached a high point and headed back.

95 DMBO

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.

96 DMBO               97 DMBO

Photo 2 – Malibu Creek State Park from the David M. Brown Overlook.

98 PIUMA2   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.

99 PIUMA2     Looking down at Malibu Canyon Road from the Piuma Overlook #2.

100 PIUMA2

Close-up of Rindge Dam from Piuma Overlook #2

101 PIUMA1     102 PIUMA1   I carefully walked over to the Piuma Overlook #1, just a few yards down the road.

103 PIUMA1

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.

104 SemO               105 SemO

Two shots from Seminole Overlook, the 20th overlook I stopped at and last official Mulholland overlook.

106  Crossing Kanan Dume Road, right before Rocky Oaks Park.

107    Mulholland Highway ends at Pacific Coast Highway.  My last stop, just across the street from the Mulholland/PCH junction, was Leo Carrillo State Beach.

108               109

110   What a a gorgeous spot.

111

112               113

My great day of hiking comes to an end.

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