Unlike the rest of the country, best time to hike is just starting in southern California. This hike starts from Mandeville Canyon Park in Pacific Palisades then leads you to Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park. Dogs are allowed off-leash as long as they are under your control. Love it! Nearby Topanga Canyon doesn’t allow dogs so it makes this hike popular among dog owners even more. The trailhead is at the end of Westridge Road. The parking lot is tiny and most likely you won’t find a spot. But no worries, free street parking is always available.
I recommend hiking this trail by tackling the hills to the Nike missile site. It’s not crowded and it is definitely more fun. Most people stay on the fire road. Everyone we met (including the dogs) was friendly. One of the reasons I love hiking: I meet some of the nicest people on the trails. However, some owners did not clean up after their dogs. Dog ownership comes with responsibilities.
It’s about 3.5 miles to the old Nike missile site from the trailhead. From 1956-1968, San Vicente Mountain was one of sixteen Los Angeles area Nike-Ajax supersonic anti-aircraft missile launch sites. If you find this interesting, click on the “old Nike missile site” link for more details. Bathroom facility and picnic tables are available at the site so don’t forget to pack your snacks! Make sure to bring plenty of water for you and your dog(s). Happy Hiking!
Tackle the hills
View of Downtown LA
Old Nike Missile site
Details on this hike:
- Distance: 7.2 miles
- Elevation change: 839 feet
- A historic site
- Recommendation: early morning or late afternoon (almost no shade on the trail)
My sister, Hazel, and I try to get together at least once a month. We only live 27 miles from each other but our lives get in the way and it’s not always easy to meet up. So we make a point to put a sisterly ‘date’ on the calendar every month. When we get together, it usually involves an outdoor activity like running or hiking (so happy we have similar hobbies!) …and food. Eating together/sharing food is an important part of Korean culture. Koreans believe that sharing food brings people closer.
I prefer running on a road but every runner knows that the hard surface is bad for your joints. My first visit to Sullivan Canyon Trail in Pacific Palisades was to hike. It’s an out and back trail with a gradual incline. I finished the whole thing, 4 miles in and 4 miles out through the woods. It has a lot of greenery and wildflowers. With so many tall trees surrounding the trail, you get plenty of shade even during summer. Even so, I found the trail not interesting enough for me to hike again but I thought it would be a good trail to run on. Since then, this trail became a go-to trail running place for Hazel and I. I love running with my sister. She is like the Energizer bunny! She motivates me to push myself to go a little farther and gives me a high five with a cheer when we arrive at the finish line. To be honest, she usually waits for me. 😉 A girl can’t ask for a better running partner!
Supposedly, mountain lions were spotted here. I ran in to a carcass of a deer (maybe) on the side of the trail last year. Eek! I recommend you don’t hike by yourself during non busy hours unless mountain lions don’t scare you. As for me, I choose to use the trail when other hikers and mountain bikers are around. I found that most of the bikers were friendly and shared the trail politely with the hikers but sometimes I did run in to inconsiderate bikers who zoomed by without a warning. So be mindful.
Some people had their dogs leashed and some people didn’t. All dogs we ran into behaved well whether they were on a leash or not. For everyone’s safety including your pooch, your dog should be always under your control. See how mine waits for me on the right? 🙂
Do you have a running/walking/hiking partner? How does your partner motivate you? Where do you go for trail running? Please do share!