This is a short, steep hike that begins on a trail amid the mansions of La Cañada-Flintridge, with massive mountain and city views — a real workout with a real payoff.
Drive into the area by taking the 2 or the 210 Freeway, exiting Verdugo or Foothill Boulevard, then take Chevy Chase Drive to Hampstead Road. Park on Hampstead Road, off Chevy Chase Drive. Follow the signs to the trailhead.
Take the dirt path marked as Owl Trail. Note the warning: "Check your saddle." There are some steep, unsteady sections ahead. Follow the trail along a shady ravine, covered in oak and sycamore trees. Bear left at the first signpost.
At the four-way trail intersection, walk straight ahead and stay on Owl Trail until you come to the fire road. (If this looks too steep, take the trail to the right until it meets the fire road.) Then turn left, and continue climbing.
As the road flattens, head for the radio tower. When you get there, enjoy the views. High behind you is the city of La Cañada-Flintridge, with towering Mt. Wilson beyond. Below and to the left are Hahamonga Watershed Park and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Climb to the radio tower for a final series of great views. Stretched out before you are the city of Glendale, Forest Lawn Memorial Park and the Los Angeles River. When you've admired the scenery enough, take the fire road back down the hill, continuing past the turn-off for Owl Trail.
When you reach a fire road intersection, bear right and walk along Cherry Canyon Motorway. Take any of the trails up and to the left — Liz's Loop among them — to extend your walk. Or watch for a signpost directing you back to Owl Trail to return via the oaky ravine.
Charles Fleming is the author of "Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times