Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hike 11- The Icy East Vedrugos

Snowball fight!

Color me surprised but on the North Trail of the Eastern Verdugo Mountains, my hiking partner and I encountered snow. Not just snow but ice, frost and black ice. That was one of many surprises waiting for us on the Eastern spur of the Verdugo Mountains.

Located near "beautiful downtown Burbank" (as J. Carson used to say), this little rugged mountain range rises up to smack you in the face and yells at you to climb them. At least, that's what this range did to me when I went shopping in Ikea the other weekend. "Put down that moderately priced end table and climb my summits!"

So obey I did and I am sure glad I did. An easy drive from anywhere in LA, the Verdugo's are most easily accessed via CA-2 and offer a hiker an immediate question.

North Trail or South Trail?

Previous hikers suggested North to South but we decided on the Southern route first. It really is just one big loop, its not like by choosing this route you are going to Mexico or Canada but the Southern loop has a steeper incline and during mid-day the North Trail offers more shade (and ice) on the way down.

There are almost no bushwhack/kayak routes in the Verdugo's just miles and miles of fire trails.

That being said these trails will test you the same way Parker Mesa's can and I have great admiration for my hiking partner's determination and we made it to the summit.

There were some rewards for doing this hike, in fact, I dare say it was the prettiest hike I have been on yet. Being high in Burbank not only allows you to see Charlie Sheen going crazy in some studio lot but it allows you great views of downtown

snow capped mountain ranges

the "backside of LA"
and even the Pacific Ocean (picture not included due to the crappiness of my camera although you can kinda make it out in that last pic).

How was all of this possible? Well, the well known secret in LA is that you MUST go hiking after the rain. It is so clear and the air is so pure, I really thought I was in the Alps.

Or their SoCal equivalent since about 1/2 way up and/or down either trail is a great pine layer which gives an enticing smell to the area. That, plus snow capped mountains and I am wishing I brought SwissMiss with me for the trail.

Once you reach the summit, there is a nice little "achievement rock" and some further views.

That coupled with the chilly air (yes I called low 50s chilly North-easterners, get over it!) really can invigorate you after a long week of work.

2 more things about the Verdugos, 1) there is a peak which I think is accessible from either the trails that intersect with Beaudry or further on the North side of the range from Whiting trail that I am eager to get to and 2) there was a LOT of man-made runoffs and sculpting of the land up there. Of course, a trail was made by someone but the terraforming up there was something else.
Maybe it has something to do with the fire department's involvement in the range.

In any event, the trip down on the North Trail was fraught with snow and ice which made the descent treacherous (not so much treacherous but it was definitely baby steps down and rather cold).

Overall, you cannot, cannot beat the views on this trail. The alpine air will have you reaching for the lederhosen and it is not a highly traveled trail so you will have most of it to yourself. A must recommend for any SoCal hiking enthusiasts out there.

For more on Verdugo Mountains, THE site is Modern Hiker, already linked hereto once but shall again:


  1. Great post! Looking forward to doing this hike

  2. Chris, it is definitely worth it. The cold and the snow capped mountains put me in a great frame of mind (obviously) but when its clear, I don't think you can really beat this trail for its 360 views of SoCal.

  3. Burbank is my hometown; "alpine" is not a word I would associate with the Verdugos, but then I've never hiked them in the snow/ice. (I think the last time there was this much snow & ice in Burbank was 60 years ago.) I do agree that the Verdugos are beautiful in winter and spring.

  4. Danny, I debated using the word "alpine" but there is a distinct pine layer at the mid-point of the Beaudry trail and while the mountain may just be a mountain at other points of the year, last weekend had me thinking about cheese and trains that run on time. Cold weather and that mountain can work some magic.

  5. I used to live in Glendale for a couple of years, and also found the Verdugos to be one of my favorite hiking destinations. Your excitement for the area reminds me of how I felt as well. I think they are WAY under-rated. The wildflowers in the spring are mind blowing!

  6. Great Post I used to work in Burbank and always loved hiking around those mountains. Such a treat to see those trails with an icy fringing.

  7. @Mark, way, way underrated. I actually want to forego other hikes and do my next hike there. Hopefully I can do the other peaks I mentioned in the post.

    @Chris, I have been laughing all Winter at my NYC friends who have been snowed it so shocked was an understatement about when I saw the snow on the trails last weekend.


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