Rustic Canyon Murphy Ranch Stairway

Rustic Canyon Murphy Ranch Stairway


From the issue Field Trip!

Step to It

The phrase "step outside" takes on a whole new meaning as you drop into L.A.’s "Big Wild", a vast urban wilderness that harbors a hidden stairway. Seek it out on a 3-mile (round-trip) hike that utilizes Topanga State Park’s Rustic Canyon entry point. Start the hike on Sullivan Fire Road for a gradual climb overlooking homes that cling to the cliff sides. Just under half of a mile up the road, you'll reach the Rustic Canyon entrance sign for Topanga State Park. Continue on the oak-dotted paved road for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye out for a break in the chain-link fence, cueing you to follow the dirt path to the top of the stairs that leads to Murphy Ranch, a 50-acre compound supported by Nazi sympathizers in the 1930s. The ranch has since become ruins. Even the most advanced stair climber (or runner) will need to use caution on the descent. The 500+ steps have a shorter rise than standard stairs, which can be a real trip-up on the trip down to Rustic Canyon (a twisted ankle in the Big Wild can be a big pain). Rustic Creek runs year round along the bottom of the canyon and an old, partially paved road leads to the ruins about a quarter-mile in.

Take I-405 to Sunset Blvd. and drive west for 3 miles to Capri Dr. Turn right and drive 2/3 of a mile through a traffic circle to the top of Capri Dr. at Casale Rd. There is street parking to the right and Sullivan Ridge fire road begins to the left. After entering Topanga State Park, continue walking for about 15 minutes until you come to a break in the chain-link fence toyour left. Walk through the fence to the top of the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, turn left and follow Rustic Creek up to the ruins. Return the way you came. No dogs. Photo courtesy of Scott Schmitz.

Other Activities You Might Enjoy