- Location: West Hills. From the 101 freeway, take the Valley Circle exit. Take a right and go 2.1 miles to Victory Blvd. Take a left on Victory and drive 0.6 miles to its end, and park either on the street for free or in the lot for $3.
- Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
- Distance: 4 miles
- Elevation gain: 400 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Best season: October – May
- USGS topo map: Calabasas
- More information: Information about the site’s history in the movies here; trip descriptions here and here (slightly longer route)
- Rating: 6
Located on the western edge of the San Fernando Valley, just over the Ventura County line, the enormous Las Virgenes Open Space provides a huge network of trails that are popular with hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. The wide, prairie-like scenery here seems more like Kansas than California, and the area has been featured in several movies – including parts of “Gone With the Wind.” Note that there is virtually no shade on the trail, so plan accordingly.
The 4-mile loop here visits both the open plains and the quiet canyons of the preserve. On clear days, you get great views of the Santa Monica Mountains and the San Gabriels. From the end of Victory Blvd., head uphill to the Victory Trailhead (you can park in the lot for $3 or on the street for free). Take the main trail into the canyon (two trails branch off to the right). After 0.1 miles, take a hard left and head uphill in the direction you came (the right route is your return). You climb to Lasky Mesa, named for movie pioneer Jesse Lasky.
After a mile, stay straight at a four-way intersection to access the Mary Weisbrock Loop Trail. At 1.3 miles, you’ll reach a lot where a few abandoned buildings, once parts of movie sets, still stand. After taking a few minutes to explore them, turn right at the next junction and begin heading northwest.
You pass by another leg of the Weisbrock Trail, staying straight. Soon you arrive at a knoll where two tall oaks stand. The road continues straight ahead, eventually hooking up with the Las Virgenes trail. However, by heading right, you can take a different route that I discovered by [accident] studying the topographic maps and determining that the descent through the canyons would be more interesting.
You head along a fire road and soon come to a four-way intersection. Take a hard left and descend into wooded Las Virgenes Canyon. When you reach the canyon’s bottom, enjoy a quiet, peaceful stretch along the stream bread before rejoining the Las Virgenes Trail. Head right and walk a mile, crossing the canyon once more before returning to the intersection. Head left and climb back to the parking lot.
Text and photography copyright 2015 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.