Here’s a short, simple hilltop walk off one of L.A.’s most famous streets — Mulholland Drive. The destination offers unimpeded 360-degree views of the city, the valley and the coastline. It also features some West Coast Cold War history.
1. Drive west from the San Diego Freeway on Mulholland Drive until, at a hairpin left turn, you run out of pavement. Park near the intersection with Encino Hills Drive, and start walking uphill on Mulholland Drive.
2. You’ll soon come to a wide yellow gate — the reason you’re walking instead of driving this stretch of the road. Continue straight ahead.
3. Just before you come to a second wide yellow gate, bear left and uphill on a paved driveway into San Vicente Mountain Park, a military outpost known during the Cold War as LA96C.
4. Operated by the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1968, this was the principal control base for Project Nike, a series of surface-to-air missiles, hidden in silos across the city, designed to protect Southern California from attacks by enemy bombers. Now part of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, it boasts public restrooms, drinking fountains, picnic tables and informational plaques telling the story of the now-defunct L.A. missile defense system.
5. From the far western end of the site, beyond the bathrooms, you can access trails into Mandeville Canyon, Sullivan Canyon, Caballero Canyon and more. Or you can just admire the limitless views, reverse your tracks and head on back to your car.
Distance: 2 miles round trip
Difficulty: 1 on a scale of 1 to 5
Duration: 45 minutes
Details: Free parking. OK for pets on leashes and bicycles. Wheelchair accessible.
Fleming is the author of “Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles” and “Secret Walks: A Walking Guide to the Hidden Trails of Los Angeles.” Each month, he leads a free walk at one of his favorite spots in Southern California. Find out more at his Facebook page, Secret Stairs. He is on Twitter @misterfleming
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