Westridge Canyon Wilderness Dog Park

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Westridge Canyon Wilderness Dog Park

Even in Los Angeles there are still dirt roads, trails, and wilderness areas that exist to give everyone a feel of the outdoors. I'm a huge fan of finding new places to go hiking so last Sunday Finnegan and I went to take a hike at this off leash wilderness area (although Finn would be staying on leash because there were birds and cars, bad mix).

We parked up off Mullholland Drive at a power station (yeah I know it sounds like the island on Lost!. I'm not too sure where but supposedly there is an off-leash area in the area. I didn't see any signs that said off-leash, but we did see a dog off leash. The park is offically located at:

Wilderness Canyon Dog Park
17500 Mulholland Drive
Encino Ca. 90049

but unfortunately we didn't get that far. " From the 405 freeway, take Mulholland Drive west 2.7 miles."
were the directions we were following, no mention of the fact that the last .2mils of this was down a dirt road (I'd suggest not heading up here after a rain for this reason). What's more you can drive all the way to the top if you'd like to access more trails and avoid hiking on fire roads. Next time we'll do that and hike along the ridge but this time we got to hike the fire road leading up to the old Nike Missle Site. Along the way we stopped to take a picture overlooking the San Fernando Valley.Finnegan Overlooking the San Fernando ValleyThis radio tower they have up top is some relic from the Cold war, it is one of 300 original sites scattered around the country. On the walk up we got a nice view of the San Fernando Valley and Finnegan posed for a photo op over looking the valley.

When we arrived at the station and took a quick water break for Finn at the bowls that were lying out. Each bowl seemed to have a name on it of a dog and a date they passed away. They were left there, I suppose, as a tribute to a great pet. We sure think they are great for leaving a bowl at exactly the place Finn wanted to see one. After the drink we headed up to the top of the tower to have a look around.

Golden Retriever atop the NIKE missile station
Finnegan loved bouding up the stairs of the tower, his reward was a decent view that would have been better without the smog; and a nice cool breeze that made it all worth it. I took some photos up top that I'm hoping to stitch together for a full 360 view but I also snapped Finnegan before we began the return hike down to the car.

There are loads more trails, and you can find a trail map on the web, but we decided to head on back to the car. All in all the trip was good. If we do it again we'll probably drive all the way up to the station where you can park a car without much fear, then the real adventures will begin.

The wikipedia article on Nike Missles is a great entry that sheds some light on the function of the station and the California Enviornmental Information Catalog has a great hsitroy of the surrounding area that explains how this wonderful park has stayed just that:

The acquisition of Westridge-Canyon Back Wilderness Park, formerly know as the Eastport property,Cold War warning sign at Westridge Canyon Park culminates over a decade of preservation efforts by Yaroslavsky, the Conservancy and many surrounding community groups. Eastport was the single largest privately owned open space remaining in the City of Los Angeles. The property had at one time been permitted for the development of over 500 homes. It had also been slated to be used as access for potential Rustic and Sullivan Canyon landfills until Yaroslavsky successfully removed the property from the Sanitation District's map. The park is contiguous with the 20,000 acre urban wilderness park system known as the """"""""Big Wild"""""""". The property is bordered by upper Mandeville Canyon, Sullivan Canyon, Mission Canyon and the Conservancy's San Vicente Mountain Park. The dominant feature of the site is a north-south ridgeline, known as the Westridge fire road. This fire road has long been used by hikers and mountain bikers, and is accessible from both theSan Fernando Valley and the West Side. "
Thanks public records.

So Finnegan might not have gotten the same history lesson out of this that others would, but at least he got to feel important, as if he were in charge of protecting a whole missile station.
A Golden Sentry at the Cold War missile site

Overall it was a great Sunday hike, not crowded, nice views, plenty of trails. The bathrooms being closed was annoying but understandable. If anyone happens to know the story of the dogs whose bowls are up at the station please let me know. That water made the whole trip.

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Brian said...

You should also try starting from Westridge Road and hiking up the Westridge trail toward Mulholland. Beautiful hike and dogs can be off-leash. It's my new favorite dog hike. Not nearly as crowded as Runyon, but keep an eye out for mountain bikers and possibly a coyote now and then. Take Sunset Blvd. west to Mandeville Canyon Road in Brentwood. Turn right on Mandeville and then left on Westridge. Take Westridge all the way to the top where you'll see a small parking lot. Plenty of street parking too.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Brian, the hike up Westridge is awesome, I go a few times a week, but be sure to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes too if you're up there in warm weather.