Stough Canyon Loop

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Looking down at the LA Basin from Stough Canyon
Looking down at the LA Basin from Stough Canyon
Ascending the fire road, Stough Canyon

Stough Canyon Loop

  • Location: Verdugo Mountains near Burbank, at the Stough Canyon Nature Center, 2300 Walnut Ave.  From the I-5 freeway, take the Burbank Blvd. exit.  Turn right on Burbank Blvd. and take an immediate left on San Fernando.  Go right on Delaware and in 0.2 miles go right on Glenoaks.  Take a quick left on Walnut and follow it to its end at the nature center (1.8 miles.)  From the north, take the Scott Road exit on I-5, bear right on San Fernando and take a left onto Delaware.
  • Agency: City of Burbank
  • Distance: 2.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 700 feet
  • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Best season: October – June
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles sun hat
  • Dogs: Allowed on leash
  • Cell phone reception: Weak to fair at the nature center; fair to good higher up
  • Restrooms: Full restrooms at the nature center
  • Water: Fountain at the trail head; restrooms
  • Camping: None
  • More information: Trip descriptions here, here and here; Map My Hike report here
  • Rating: 6

The Verdugo Mountains might lack the height of the San Gabriels, the ocean views of the Santa Monicas or the celebrity sighting opportunities of the Hollywood Hills, but they still provide convenient, often vigorous workouts and on clear days, the vistas can be tremendous. The Stough Canyon loop is a fun trip that provides a good workout without being too intense.  It can also easily be linked with several other trails in the area for a longer hike.

From the parking area at the nature center, head up the fire road. A sharp S-curve and 0.4 mile of steady climbing brings you to the start of the loop. Hiking counter-clockwise as described below allows hikers to ascend on a more moderate grade on east-facing slopes, good for those starting later in the day.

The fire road ascends steadily, taking in wider and wider views on the way up to the Verdugo Motorway. To continue with the loop, turn left and head uphill, enjoying unobstructed views of the San Gabriel Mountains to the north. (You can extend the hike by heading right on the Verdugo Motorway or by exploring either of two fire breaks that leave from this saddle.)

In one quarter of a mile, you reach a saddle where the Old Youth Camp Trail makes a hard left. Almost immediately, it doubles back alongside the scrub oak-dotted slope, but hikers can continue up a fire break to the top of a knoll for some more views. The Old Youth Camp Trail crosses another fire break leading up to the knoll (and down to the saddle you passed earlier) before beginning a steep descent. The views of the L.A. basin are excellent; if visibility is good they extend as far as Catalina Island and Orange County’s Santa Ana Mountains.

After passing the youth camp ruins, the trail descends to a saddle where a short spur leads to another vista point. The views to the west include the Santa Monica Mountains and possibly the Topa Topa Ridge north of Ojai. Soon after the trail returns to the junction, completing the loop. Retrace your steps back down the hill to the nature center.

Text and photography copyright 2017 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.


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