San Vicente Mountain

As seen in the Nobody Hikes in L.A. Guidebook!

Friendly warning from San Vicente's days as a military installation
Friendly warning from San Vicente’s days as a military installation
Approaching the lookout on San Vicente Mountain

San Vicente Mountain

  • Location:  Northeastern Santa Monica Mountains, near the Getty Center.  From I-405, take Mulholland Drive west for 2.1 miles.  Arrive at an intersection where Mulholland continues to the left as a dirt road and Encino Hills Drive descends to the south.  Park on the street, or on the dirt road by the gate.
  • Agency: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 400 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 1 hours
  • Best season: All year (hot in summer)
  • USGS topo map:  “Canoga Park”
  • More information: here
  • Rating: 4

The short trip to San Vicente Mountain–once the site of a nuclear facility–is, depending on how much time you have, either a gateway to other trails in the Santa Monica Mountains, such as Sullivan Canyon, or a quick little escape from traffic on I-405 (a la the Getty View Trail).   This short hike won’t give any kind of wilderness experience, being fairly close to the sights and sounds of the San Fernando Valley, but it’s still quite enjoyable.

From the parking area, head south up a fire road, and after a couple of minutes, make a sharp right and continue the climb.  To the right, you will have nice views of the San Fernando Valley, including the Encino Reservoir; to your left, Mandeville Canyon drops beneath you.   After about 3/4 of a mile, take a left and walk up to the summit of San Vicente Mountain.  Now an observatory, the site bears reminders of its past as a nuclear missile facility.   Hikers can climb the tower and get nice views of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Valley, downtown L.A. and on clear days, the San Gabriels and beyond.  If your hiking jones hasn’t been mollified, you can continue along the fire road into the “Big Wild”, or Mulholland Gateway Park.   However much of this area you hike, it’s bound to beat sitting in I-405 traffic.

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