Sunset Hikes in Southern California

05.10.12


The Magic Hour

Sunset is often called the magic hour. Not even David Copperfield can outperform the show you'll get from any of these prime perches.


Saddle Peak

Saddle Up

Catching a sunset from a summit can be spectacular—especially when the hike back down doesn't leave you in the dark. Luckily, Saddle Peak—one of the tallest in the Santa Monica Mountains—can be reached via a 1-mile (one-way) trail that offers massive views across mountains and sea. Start at the Lois Ewen Overlook, where you'll rise above the road on a very short section of the Backbone Trail. The high end of the saddle sits at 2,800 feet, with clear southward views down the Malibu coast toward Los Angeles. Its opposite perch is only slightly lower and easily accessed by dipping across the "saddle." Radio towers inhabit the area, along with clusters of sandstone boulders. Scramble to a rocky perch and watch the sun sink over the west end of the range, draping the Boney Mountains in navy and pink hues. Afterward, it's just a 1-mile hike back to your car. Magic.

Take the US-101 to Agoura Hills. Exit at Las Virgenes Rd. and continue south for 3.2 miles. Turn left at the light onto Mulholland Hwy. Go 4 miles and turn right on Stunt Rd. Drive 4 miles up the mountain to Lois Ewen Overlook at the intersection with Schueren Rd. Park on the left and walk a tenth of a mile back down the road. Cross the road and start up the trail to Saddle Peak. After 0.7-mile, turn left, leaving the Backbone Trail. Hike a tenth of a mile to the next junction. Turn left up a short spur to the summit or turn right to cross the mountain's saddle to the lower peak with a better sunset view. The curfew for parking at the trailhead is 9:00 p.m. No dogs.

Thousand Sunsets

The Sunset Hills neighborhood in Thousand Oaks has plenty of rolling foothills and acres of open space. So, where do you go for a good sunset? Sunset Hills Trail, of course. The 1.5-mile (one-way) singletrack in its namesake open space travels along a ridge overlooking the calm, and very blue, Bard Reservoir. Waist-high sage scents the air, and yellow wild mustard brightens the path. The best views come two-thirds of a mile from the trailhead where you can pick a spot to watch the last rays of the day descend over the reservoir, coloring the green hills beyond in shades of lilac and orange. To the south, the Santa Monica Mountains look like a fiery wall as the sun sinks over foothills beyond its western summits.

TIP: Hikers seeking a longer journey can connect the route to Woodridge Loop Trail, for a 5.5-mile round-trip adventure.

Take the US-101 to Thousand Oaks and head north on SR-23. Drive 4 miles and exit at Sunset Hills Blvd. Drive east one block and turn left on Erbes Rd. Go another 0.7-mile and turn right into a dirt parking area for Sunset Hills Trail. Hike 2/3 of a mile up the trail to the top of the first rise with a great perspective of Bard Reservoir. To hike farther, continue up the narrow Sunset Hills Trail, which is nearly overtaken by tall stalks of mustard. Follow a chain-link fence down to Woodridge Loop Trail. Turn left, hiking along the north side of a gated community. When you reach a paved road at the end of the development, turn right. Hike a short distance up to the end of the road and go straight down a dirt trail into a meadow. Wrap around the south and west sides of the estate to complete the loop. Return via Sunset Hills Trail. There isn't a curfew for parking at the trailhead. Dog-friendly!

Verdugo

The Verdugo Mountains north of Glendale are a small collection of peaks, but don't let that fool you. This micro-range is a great place to find a big sunset. It's going to require a little work; a 7.5-mile out-and-back moderate hike, to be specific—and you'll need to bring a flashlight! After an unassuming start next to I-210, the wide, dirt Hostetter Trail enters a verdant canyon brimming with yellow sticky monkeyflower and purple nightshade. The trail tops out just below the summit of 3,126-foot Verdugo Mountain, the highest point in the range, which you can reach via a short stretch of the Verdugo Trail. Bag the summit and settle in for a panoramic sunset. The San Fernando Valley unfurls below (though it's sometimes blanketed by smog), downtown LA can be seen to the southeast, glowing orange in the late-day sun, and a pink glow casts across the cityscapes of Burbank and Glendale. On the return trip, you'll be facing the San Gabriel Mountains, which turn a deep blue as the light fades. Verdugo's a classic.

TIP: Save a little time by mountain biking this trail instead of hiking it. Just remember to bring a headlamp!

Take I-210 to exit 14 for La Tuna Canyon Rd. The trailhead parking area is on the southeast side of the road next to the on-ramp for 210 East. The first 2/3 of a mile of this hike is on a paved fire road. After 0.4-mile, turn right, away from I-210, up Hostetter Trail. At just under a mile, stay to the right past a steep track heading up the ridge, sticking with the trail as it enters La Tuna Canyon. Wind up the canyon and around a ridge to a T-junction at the divide. Turn left to reach Verdugo Peak after another quarter-mile. Return the same way. Bring a flashlight or headlamp. There isn't a curfew for parking at the trailhead. Dog-friendly!

Vegas, Baby!

The Tour de France, The Tour of California, Viva Bike Vegas…?! Start practicing your Elvis impersonation, you're about to roll big! Team In Training's (TNT) newest cycling event is in full gear for September: the RTC 2012 Viva Bike Vegas Gran Fondo is the only ride that takes you through Sin City and Las Vegas Valley—from the famed Strip to the edge of Hoover Dam and the vistas of Red Rock Canyon. It doesn't matter if you're new to biking or a cycling veteran, Viva Bike Vegas—in partnership with Interbike—is for anyone who likes meeting other enthusiasts, mixing the great outdoors with famous city attractions, and helping an amazing cause. Join TNT and your ride will be part of a dedicated effort to keep blood cancers on a losing streak. TNT's certified coaches provide personalized programs to fit your goals. Benefit from group workouts, forums on nutrition and fitness, detailed training calendars, and the camaraderie of friends. It's time to put a new spin on Sin City. Register now: Training begins May 19! Viva Bike Vegas, baby!

Gran Fun-do! Find out more about Viva Bike Vegas or any of the TNT events by clicking on the link or calling 310-342-5842!

The Viva Bike Vegas Gran Fondo has three distances: 17 miles, 72 miles, and 118 miles. See all of TNT's upcoming events.

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