- Location: North Tigertail Road, west Los Angeles. From the 405 Freeway, take the Sunset Blvd. exit and head west for 1.3 miles to Kenter Ave. Turn right and make an immediate right onto Tigertail Road. Follow it a total of 2 miles to the end, exercising caution on the winding, narrow road and following signs at the junctions to remain on Tigertail. The unsigned trail head is located a short distance past the intersection with Canna Road. No parking is allowed next to the trail head but you should be able to find parking across the street or on Canna Road, noting posted restrictions. The actual (unsigned) trail head is right next to the “no parking” sign.
- Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
- Distance: 2.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 900 feet
- Suggested time: 1.5 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: Year round but hot during the summer
- Dogs: Allowed on leash but not recommended due to the exposed terrain and overgrown trail
- Cell phone reception: Fair at the trail head and at the Prajna Tree; weak to none in between
- Water: None
- Restrooms: None
- Camping/backpacking: None
- Recommended gear: Hiking poles; sun hat; sunblock; long sleeves and pants
- More information: Map My Hike report here
- Rating: 6
Updated July 2018
This short and little-known but surprisingly challenging trail follows a ridge that parallels the more popular Canyonback Trail to the west. Like the Canyonback Trail, it offers impressive ocean, mountain and city views and, with several short but steep climbs and descents, arguably a more vigorous workout.
From the unsigned trail head next to the No Parking sign, the trail climbs the ridge, gaining about 250 feet in 0.3 mile. The trail is a little obscure in spots and overgrown in others but navigation is never too difficult (when in doubt, go up). Soon you find yourself weaving among vegetation including laurel sumac, California buckwheat, chaparral and a few scrub oaks. Across the canyon to the left is the Canyonback Trail; to the right is the 405 Freeway and beyond it the San Gabriel Mountains.
At about 1.1 miles from the start, after negotiating a few small bumps, the trail sharply drops 100 feet on loose terrain to a saddle with a view of your destination, the so-called Prajna Tree, a large live oak atop another taller bump. A final steep ascent up the ridge – 200 feet in 0.2 mile – awaits you before you find yourself in the welcome shade of the tree. The trail continues downhill, dropping 100 feet in 0.1 mile to join the Lower Canyonback Trail, but unless you just want the extra exercise, the Prajna Tree is a logical turnaround point. Rest up for the steep and loose descents and climbs on the return.
Text and photography copyright 2018 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
Thank you for your very helpful description of this nice hike.
A small followup: if at the northern end you go continue a bit past the “Prajna tree” you reach Canyonback Road, which can be then be followed southward back to its own trailhead. Then a 30 minute descent + climb on city streets will return you to the Tigertail trailhead, making a nice loop. Along this loop, there are restrooms and drinking fountains at Crestwood Hills Park.
P.S. Tiny correction: Canyonback is west of Tigertail, not east.
Hi Bruce, glad you found the writeup helpful. Thanks too for the correction – I fixed it. As for the loop idea that’s a good option too. For the purposes of this site I decided to write up the two hikes separately but you’re correct that they can be combined into a loop if one doesn’t mind walking on the city streets.