January 29, 2005
Across the Verdugo Mountains:
Hiking The Wilderness Next Door
It's a little after 7 on a Saturday morning. There was a lot of rain in Southern California during the weeks before this hike. Many trails in the nearby San Gabriel Mountains were closed. Even Griffith Park had bulldozers clearing its trails.

In looking for a reasonably long hike on trails that were passable, I came upon the Verdugo Mountains Mountainway. It is a fire road, really, that stretches a little over 13 miles from the hills above the Burbank Airport to the hills above Verdugo Park, and Glendale College. As it would turn out, I had to take a detour that upped the day's total milage to about 15. 

Despite its length, this is a rather gentle hike that provides some fine views of Burbank, Los Angeles, Tujunga, La Crescenta, La Canada, Glendale, and the San Gabriel Mountains. This hike is best done in cooler weather since there is very little shade along the route.

Come along.

The trailhead was pretty easy to find. I parked at Glenoaks Boulevard at Lanark Avenue, walked up Lanark to Edmore Place, and found the trailhead. Soon I was winding my way up into the hills. It seemed that every time I turned a corner I would find yet another view of the airport. Eventually, this became a bit frustrating. This airport view was a bit better than most since someone carted up a couple of picnic tables and benches to this hilltop.
Parts of the trail were appealingly rustic, without seeming totally remote. There were a few hikers, mountain bikers and joggers on the trail. There was even a guy dragging two car tires from his backpack as he walked the trail. That's a form of resistance training that I had never considered. 
The trail was very nicely graded most of the way.
However, there were some places where the recent heavy rains had caused considerable erosion.
As I headed toward Verdugo Peak, the highest point on the trail, I began to see glimmers of an old highway system. It was strange to see it here is this largely undeveloped area.
It was definitely weird to run into what looked like bus benches and street signs.

And it was just plain unnerving to see signs (fairly new ones, too) referring to the various trails and fire roads as motorways.

As Verdugo Peak loomed closer, I went through Fire Warden Grove, a welcome shady spot where trees were planted many years ago.

The presence of the fire department is not surprising, given that the Verdugos were the site of one of the most spectacular foothill brush fires in Los Angeles area history. Here's an account from the Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Archive.

There are actually enough trees here that there is a little woodpile alongside the trail.

 

[PART 2: On to Verdugo Peak and Glendale]