Whiting Woods Motorway

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Golden Poppy on the Whiting Woods Fire Road
View from the top of the Whiting Woods Fire Road

Text and photography copyright 2011 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. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Whiting Woods Motorway

  • Location: North Glendale.  From I-210, take the Pennsylvania Ave. exit and head south for 0.5 miles.  Just after the road bares right and becomes Honolulu Ave, take a right on Whiting Woods Road.  Drive 0.3 miles and park at the end of the road.
  • Agency:  Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
  • Distance: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,600 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Steepness, elevation gain)
  • Suggested time: 2.5 hours
  • Best season: November-  April
  • USGS topo map:  Burbank
  • Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock
  • More information: here; trail map here
  • Rating: 6

Climbing up the eastern side of the Verdugo Mountains, the Whiting Woods Motorway offers a good workout with nice views of L.A., the San Gabriels and more.  The route is steep in places, and virtually shadeless, but with an early enough start, plus a good supply of water, it can be a very enjoyable trip.

The oaks at the beginning of the trail amount to, sad to say, some false advertising.  Immediately the fire road climbs out of the canyon and onto the exposed eastern slopes of the Verdugos.  However, recent spring rains have brought out nice bunches of California golden poppies and other flowers.

After making a few hairpin turns, the trail follows the north side of the ridge, giving up-close views of the San Gabriels.  You also get a look at your destination, the Verdugo Fire Road, cutting across the ridge in front of you, although it’s farther than it seems at this point.  There are a couple of steep stretches, although the grade is never too severe as you climb.

Finally, at 2.4 miles, the trail reaches the Verdugo Fire Road.  You can extend your trip in either direction, or take a short climb up the road in front of you (below the television antennas) and look out over Los Angeles and the ocean.  The view to the east, which includes the San Jacinto and Santa Ana Mountains on clear days, is also worth taking a few minutes to enjoy before heading back down the hill.

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