Sunset Hike in the Verdugo Mountains


From the issue The Magic Hour


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!

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