Canyon Way

A cold war relic guides you to a secluded valley

Photograph by Dustin Snipes

Mandeville Canyon
7.4 Miles – Intermediate

A short distance west of the 405 feels like hundreds of miles away

Map by Peter Hoey

High up in the Santa Monica Mountains, the West Mandeville (aka Westridge) Fire Road  has it all: breathtaking views of mountains, sea, and city, plus a smidgen of history. Beginning at Mandeville Canyon Park, the wide fire road climbs gradually for about two miles and then descends for a spell before ascending to San Vicente Mountain Park, the site of a radar tower from 1956. Head back here for a breezy return trip (go slow on the curves, and give hikers a wide berth), or ride west on Mulholland Drive (also known as Dirt Mulholland), which offers an eyeful of the San Fernando Valley and an extra 3.8 miles to your trip. A yellow gate marks the Sullivan Fire Road; hang a left here, pedaling an easy mile to Sullivan Canyon Trail. After a few sharp descents, the trail transforms into a spectacular 4.5-mile downhill ride through a narrow valley shaded by grand sycamores, ferns, and oaks. The canyon alternately tapers and widens as the single track veers in and out of a creekbed, which usually dries out by summer. The trail ends at Queensferry Road, a residential street that connects to Bayliss Road, which leads back to Westridge Road.

The Basics: From the 405, exit Sunset Boulevard and go west. Turn right on Mandeville Canyon Road, then make a left on Westridge Road. Mandeville Canyon Park is at the end of Westridge. Another starting point is San Vicente Mountain Park, where water and restrooms are available. Park your car at the intersection of Mulholland and Encino Hills drives for quick access.

Missile Command: Check out the old radar tower in San Vicente Mountain Park. It guided Nike anti-aircraft missiles during the Cold War.