Secret and Surprising

Secret Sherman Oaks canyon hike in Los Angeles

{MARCH 29, 2023 UPDATE: Due to the most recent storm, please be aware that there may be sudden trail closures and poor and hazardous conditions; check official websites before visiting, and exercise good judgement and caution.}

Short and sweet, this secret Sherman Oaks canyon hike is LA’s best. Deervale–Stone Canyon Park has a 2-mile out-and-back that’s a good workout and rewards with incredible views, and a one-of-a-kind surprise!

Park along Crisp Canyon Road and find the trailhead on the west side, just past the intersection with Lacota Place. Be respectful of the residents as you find a narrow trail (marked by a sign) that starts ascending through a quaint open meadow. The views are spectacular right away: an array of hills, canyons, and the expansive San Fernando Valley. Before the trail turns sharply to head south, find a bench—perched along a ridge facing north—to enjoy those fantastic vistas.

The trail continues ascending north through the 80-acre green space of chaparral classics, from oaks to laurel sumac to toyon. But the real highlight is the man-made spectacle after passing a large oak at a clearing facing east. You’ll find a wood sign naming “Cairn City.” It’s what it sounds like, loads of rock cairns fashioned by hikers alongside a large number of interesting figurines.

The trail rolls up and down through hills for a great workout (400 feet of gain) as you head south. Enjoy views on both the east and west sides of the ridge into the canyons below and look for a spur trail heading east at the half-mile mark for some extra mileage. Otherwise, at the 1-mile mark, you reach Deervale Place and the turnaround point. This hike is beautiful later in the day before sunset, when the panoramas are golden. 

BONUS TREAT: Post-hike, head to Creme Caramel LA, a quaint cafe specializing in Filipino custards, upside-down pies, and pandesal (we love the savory sweet buko pandan creme caramel, but everything is good!). This is also the spot where the legendary Starry Kitchen sells its garlic noodles (and sometimes crispy tofu balls) on weekends—place a pickup order for hot “noods” to eat on-site or frozen to take home. Either way, they’re truly the superstar noodles of LA!

To get to the Deervale–Stone Canyon Park and trailhead, take the US-101 to the Van Nuys Blvd. exit and head south. After 0.7 mile, turn right onto Valley Vista Blvd., and after 0.4 mile, turn left onto Crisp Canyon Rd. The trailhead will be on your right after about a block, just past the Lacota Pl. intersection. Dog-friendly!

Story and photos by Matt Pawlik, @mattitudehikes

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