elevation profile of Verdugo Mountains

google earth profile of rocky peak

A just-under-six mile loop on fire roads in the mountains between Glendale and Burbank. A moderate hike that can be easily overlooked, this loop is a great last-minute hiking getaway that has outstanding views of the city when the air is clear, and decent wildflower shows during the spring months. This trail should be avoided on hot summer days, as there’s very little shade … but if you hike later in the afternoon, the mountain will cast its own shadow on large portions of the route.

The Verdugos are a small off-shoot range that run roughly between the San Gabriels and the east end of the Hollywood Hills, between Glendale and Burbank. They’re not wild or secluded by any stretch of the means, but their prominence in the valley make up for their lack of elevation, and they’ve got amazing views on clear days.

The trailhead for this loop begins at the end of Beaudry Blvd. in Glendale, near a flood control dam and spillway.

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There is a very short paved road that follows the north side of the flood control area. This pavement ends about 370 feet later at a locked gate. Pass by the lock and continue on the dirt road, knowing the scenery does in fact get nicer than barbed wire fences and residential backyards.

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There is almost no elevation gain for the first half mile, while the fire road gently winds its way around the drainage basin and up to a well-marked junction between the Beaudry North and South Motorways. It’s very tough to miss:

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While it doesn’t necessarily matter which direction you do this loop hike in, I took the north road first. As I was hiking in the mid-late afternoon, the north road generally had more shade than the southern, so if it’s a hot day out you’ll want to take the north route first. But really, it’s up to you.

The fire road meanders along ridges as it makes its way west and then northwest, gradually opening some nice views of the San Gabriels to the northeast. This perspective really puts the urban civilization in contrast with its rugged surroundings, as well as gives you a whole new appreciation for the earthquake geology that shaped it all.

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On this north-facing side of the mountains, I came upon a small but vibrant patch of gazanias, blooming wildly. No, they’re not native and yes, they probably tracked themselves up here on someone’s shoe, but that doesn’t mean they’re not nice to look at.

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At about 2.6 miles, the fire road intersects with the South branch of the Beaudry Motorway. Hang a sharp left here onto the South Road, where you’ll get your first glimpses of Burbank and – if you’re lucky – the cityscape all the way to Palos Verdes and Catalina Island.

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Continue on the South Road, and at the 2.9 mile mark, pass by a locked, fenced and gated radio tower complex. This is the highest point on this loop, at about 2600 feet. Sadly, there’s not a whole lot to see from this vantage point, so continue along the road to the 3.6 mile mark. Here, the Beaudry Motorway intersects with the Rimcrest-Las Flores Motorway, another system of fire roads that winds along the mountains’ south face. Stay left at the intersection to stay on the South Beaudry road.

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Stay on this road for another 1.8 miles, as it occasionally offers some very nice views of the downtown core and some lupines if you’re hiking in the spring.

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From there, it’s another 0.4 miles back down to the trailhead.

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Casey Schreiner

Founder and Editor at Modern Hiker
In addition to writing about the outdoors since 2006, Casey has also been producing and writing television since 2003.He was the Head Writer on G4's "Attack of the Show," co-writer and host of "The MMO Report," and the Series Producer / Head Writer of pivot's "TakePart Live."His work has received several honors, including Webby, Telly, and CableFAX awards.
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26 Comments

  • Frank says:

    Typed this post near 1250 Beaudry Blvd. radio towers. Thanks for the directions. I can see the CA2, I210 and CA134 on this hazy nearly autumnal equinox.

  • susie walsh says:

    Like your posts, I love it when I am researching a hike and you have done it!
    Today I did a variation of this hike – I went up the north side, and near the top veered right onto the Verdugo motorway (love that they are called motorways) and virtually crossed the entire range East to West (maybe 8 miles) and came down in Sunland on the Mt LaTuna trail. Was a total of 14 miles so I had someone pick me up and take me back to my car but it was really great!

  • JOHN SPANO says:

    Have hiked this loop 3 times in the lasdt week. Today (2/26) lupines are actually out in sunny patches along the road, with small cress of some sort and a Blue Dick. A moderate Santa Ana kept the sky crystal clear with great views of downtown, the Reservoir, the passes out of the San Fernando Valley (can you name them all?) plus the San Gabriel massif looming to the East. I’d be interested in maps/tips on other hikes in the Verdugos.

  • rogueandpeasant says:

    I’ve done this hike many times with my husband and 8 year-old son. It takes us about two and a half hours, going slowly, without stopping. I STRONGLY recommend taking the north (counter-clockwise) route, as this has the better-graded climb. But even on the north route, this is not an amble, by any stretch of the imagination — the uphill climb is challenging (“a beast,” my son says). For all that, though, we love it. The views are amazing, but even on cloudy days the mountain itself is lovely. A fantastic escape from the city.

  • Phillip says:

    Hiked this trail today but June gloom completely hid all the views on both sides of the hills. I lingered awhile at Tongva Peak hoping to catch a view of the valley below but the marine layer decided it was not going away until later. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the hike immensely. An oh, the flowers are still blooming so beautifully and may soon be gone.

  • Went up half way up the trail last Thursday.

    It was a clear and fairly cool day – in the low 70′s. I love the gorgeous view and the fire trail is maintained well.

    I love this hike. Be prepared to be in the sun and bring enough water. I prefer to hike with a buddy. I’d say this is geared for the beginner to intermediate. Depending on your pace going up, you can make this a physically strenuous hike or not. I would like to try this next time with walking poles.

  • Aaron says:

    Did this hike this morning. It has amazing views of the SF valley, and you can clearly see the ocean if it’s not too hazy. Los Angeles is the only area I have hiked that has views of the city, mountains, and ocean at the same time! I recommend taking the Beaudry North route up, as you get great views on your way down the other side. It’s also a more gradual climb up than the south side. Watch out for cops on Canada Bl though, I spotted two of them with speed guns on the drive back to the freeway.

  • ScottHawaii says:

    Thanks Modern for the clear and concise info.

    I’ve been itching to try this trail eyeing it from the other side of the freeway from Griffith Park.

    I did the hike this morning via the South route and came down the North side.
    I ran into two guys coming down one going up near the top and a mountain biker.
    Pretty much had the whole trail to myself which was nice.

    It’s a longer version of some of the Griffith Park trails with the last half of the South route having a more consistent uphill gradient. The fire road is well maintained like at Griffith.

    I tried to push the pace throughout the hike (out of curiosity) and was able to the entire loop car to car in a hour and twenty five minutes.

  • maryrocks33 says:

    My bootie feels this hike today!! Took the northroute, and it is a steady uphill climb for an hour and fifteen minutes…met up with two swarms of bees but they did not attack…just be aware, don’t freak out and move on past. You will hear the loud buzz before you actually see them. It was pretty smoggy> Make sure to bring sunscreen and water, plus a power bar. At the top there is a small bench and a good place for a break. There were two small benches but one is pretty destroyed:(
    This hike is equivalent to at least three runyon canyons!! Great workout but not a stroll.

  • Adam Heartmother says:

    Mountain lions are confirmed to live in the Verdugos.

    • Modern Hiker says:

      And also in the Santa Monicas, San Gabriels, San Bernardinos, and just about everywhere in California! Statistically, you’re very, very unlikely to ever come across one – and you’re more likely to get injured on your daily commute to work. It’s helpful to know the safety tips about our native wildlife, but don’t let fear keep you inside!

  • Rocky Mountain Nomads says:

    My wife and I just came from this trail. We took our 10 year old dog so we only went as far as the fork to the north or south trails. It was great. We did encounter a surprise though. Two large vehicles came around a corner just above us and that gave us a scare. One had markings for satellite/internet connections, the other wasn’t marked. They weren’t at the gate when we got back to the trailhead. Hike this trail and keep it pristine. Enjoy!

  • T and S says:

    We have done this hike a couple times and it is so cool to be in the city and in just a couple Min’s of hiking later you feel like your way far from it all, and then you get a awesome reward at the top , there’s a bench next to the radio towers , sit and enjoy the gorgeous view! Thanks to whoever put it there.

  • George Kapoyan says:

    Alane, I’ve seen people bring dogs in the past. I don’t see why you can’t do the same. Go for it!

  • Alane Barnes says:

    Are dogs allowed on this hike?

  • hoodrat says:

    just did this hike today. started a 3:30 pm and finished at 6:30pm, last hour was downhill in the dark. it was great!! took the south road up. lots of great views even of a somewhat hazy afternoon. took my time and rested often as being out of shape and a bad knee hamper me a bit. hope to do this hike again with my gf.

  • Trista says:

    oh my god I love this blog. Thank you for posting this invaluable information and photos for us hikers. Can’t wait for tomorrow, it’s going to be gorgeous, clear, snowy peaks and fresh air.

  • Shhhh.
    ; D
    I mean it!
    Shhhhh!!!
    Stop telling people about this place.
    Golly, if y’all tell anyone else about it, I wont have the peace and quiet that I crave.
    Hey, don’t even think about hiking on a beautiful and clear full moon evening when I’m there or I may have to…
    Please, if you do decide to hike here, be clean, be quiet, be considerate, and keep it the sweet little gem that it is.
    LEAVE NO TRACE: http://www.lnt.org
    Have a happy day!
    : )
    Nothing makes me happier than scampering up this trail during a full moon! It makes me feel as if I am far away and detached from the zooming cars along the 2 and 134.

  • Mauimattipus says:

    Did this trail yesterday, since my usual starting place (Deukmejian Wilderness Park in La Crescenta) is closed until further notice due to that little Station Fire. Done the north road many times, first time doing the whole loop. Great views of Downtown, Burbank Airport, etc. on the South portion of the loop, but yes, quite steep for a “suburban” mountain hike. Great vegetation on the North loop in the elbows of the fire road. And steamrolling up the south side is going to be my trainer for further adventure for a long while.

  • George Kapoyan says:

    I did this hike a couple of days ago with my girlfriend. With a few short stops along the way, it took us approximately 3.5 hours to complete the following hike. Definitely take the Beaudry North Motorway unless you prefer a very steep hike up towards the top. Besides La CaƱada Flintridge, there isn’t much scenery of the surrounding cities until you start going down the Beaudry South Motorway. Coming down Beaudry South Motorway can be quite dangerous because it is rather steep at times so use caution. Since this is a fire road, the hike can be quite ‘dry’ at times. If it wasn’t for the views of the nearby cities, there really isn’t much to see along the way. Unfortunately, on the day of our hike, it was very smoggy and foggy and therefore we didn’t have the opportunity to see Downtown L.A. and further out.

  • Robert Lamb says:

    I’ve done this hike a couple times throughout the year. There is some great hiking on the opposite end of the Verdugos, at the terminus of Hollywood Way. Worth checking out.

  • Hiker Dude says:

    While this hike is surrounded by civilization, I really enjoy it. You get a great 360 view at the top, on a clear day you can see from San Jacinto to the front range of the San Gabriels to the Santa Monica range, ocean, Catalina, Downtown LA… In season, some nice flowers along the trail. I’ve seen deer and there are reports of a mountain lion roaming the area, so there is a bit of wildlife. It’s a steady climb the entire way, with the south road a bit steeper then the north road. I live in Pasadena, so it’s just a quick shot up and off the 210. Close enough and short enough to tackle after work, great sunsets from the top. I also like it as a training hike for big ones later in the season. Fill up the backpack and head up.

    Ok, I think I’ve said enough!

  • Will aka "walka walka" says:

    Even fire roads look appealing to my sorry land locked ass. And yes I am drunk reading modern hiker to make me feel better.

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