This Santa

Hike at Santa Susana Pass State Park in Los Angeles County

In 1861 the Old Santa Susana Stagecoach Road was used by Wells Fargo & Company as a stagecoach route. These days the stagecoaches are long gone, leaving behind a historic hiking trail. Santa Susana Pass State Park is a fairly small park and most of the trails intersect, offering up lots of opportunities for exploration.

Almost every trail in the park is completely exposed, dry, and dusty in the summer with temps frequently climbing over 100 degrees. But the rest of the year is usually quite pleasant, with winter rains bringing seasonal waterfalls and cooler temperatures, followed by wildflowers in the spring.

The 3-mile (round-trip) out-and-back historic trail climbs 708 feet in elevation as it weaves through the park’s distinct sandstone crags of the Santa Susana Pass. The trail is so steep in sections that it’s tough to picture stagecoaches passing this way; it’s tempting to just chalk it up to years of erosion and assume it must’ve looked much different back in its heyday. But according to the park brochure, this pass was nicknamed “the Devil’s Slide” due to its treacherous grade, so it might not have looked so different after all. The route was used to deliver mail between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles—a segment of the famous Butterfield Overland Stage Route. Though the city views in the distance have changed quite a bit over the years, it’s easy to imagine the park’s flora has stayed much the same, with buckwheat and sagebrush lining the trail and California walnut and sycamore trees down in the canyons.

Grab a map at the trailhead so you can plan your route. We recommend starting at the park entrance on Larwin Avenue and following Powerhouse Road fire road into the park. From there hop onto the Bannon Quarry Trail (a singletrack spur on the left) until you see the turnoff for the Old Santa Susana Stagecoach Road. Follow that until it ends at the park entrance on the other side of the park and then go back the way you came.

Park entrance is on the 10200 block of Larwin Ave in Chatsworth. Street parking only; be sure to obey all posted parking signage as it’s in a residential neighborhood. Dog-friendly!

Story and photos by Natalie Bates, @wanderwithnatalie

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Bike the Monterey Coastal Recreation Trail

    To the Lighthouse

    The Monterey Recreation Trail is one of America's most beautiful coastal experiences, accessible to bikers, strollers, rollers, and walkers. This 8-mile (round-trip) bike ride follows premier parts of the trail before detouring to Pacific Grove's storied Point Pinos Lighthouse.

  2. Sponsored

    The Unexpected Wonders of Monterey

    One of the world’s best teachers? Mother Nature. And one of the best destinations to learn from her? The Monterey Bay Aquarium. Spend a few hours at the Aquarium, then take your pick of self-guided walks...

  3. Tombstones and Tarantulas

    Forget black cats; a randy tarantula crossing your path can really get your heart racing. So can spirits in a cemetery! Visit Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve and learn about these misunderstood spiders, plus pay a visit to the Rose Hill Cemetery, where ghosts are said to exist.  

  4. London Calling

    The writer Jack London was known for his adventure stories, and an autumn hike at his namesake state park in Sonoma Valley illuminates more than his career. Eucalyptus, oaks, sprawling vineyards, and brilliant redwoods are part of the autumn magic amid the rich history of the park.


Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. woman hiking Elkhorn Slough Reserve in Monterey

    Hike Elkhorn Slough Reserve

    Elkhorn Slough Reserve is one of California’s few remaining coastal wetlands. Go on a hike and marvel at one of the state's largest coastal salt marshes, a valued habitat for birds, plant life, sea otters, and marine mammals.

  2. Red Rocks in California

    Colorful badlands, towering buttes, and scenic desert cliffs form a hikers paradise. Red Rock Canyon State Park is a lightly visited desert wonderland where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converges with the El Paso range.

  3. Woman hiking up to views from Desolation Canyon in Death Valley National Park

    Canyons Calling

    Canyon hikes come in all shapes and sizes in Death Valley, and we’ve got two gems. One requires more rigorous scrambling and navigation, and leads to a dryfall; the other takes you up to a brilliant vista.

  4. Hiking Cobb Estate Haunted Forest

    Welcome to Mr. Cobb's Haunted Forest

    The ruins can be explored on an easy 1.5-mile (round-trip) loop trail. Hike it close to dusk for maximum creepiness (just make sure you're out by dusk, when the park closes).