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.
Dixie Canyon Park
- Location: Sherman Oaks. From the 101 freeway, take the Woodman Ave. exit and head south for 0.5 miles. Go left on Ventura Blvd. and in 0.4 miles, turn right on Dixie Canyon Drive. Go 0.7 miles on Dixie Canyon Drive and where the road takes a hairpin turn to the right, stay straight and go onto Dixie Canyon Place. The park entrance is at the end of Dixie Canyon Place, just past Newcomb Drive. There is a limited amount of parking at the trail head; you can also park on the right side of Dixie Canyon Place.
- Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
- Distance: 0.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 200 feet
- Suggested time: 30 minutes
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Best season: Year round
- USGS topo map: “Van Nuys”
- Recommended gear: hiking poles
- Recommended guidebook: Day Hikes In the Santa Monica Mountains
- More information: here; trip reports here
- Rating: 5
This is a quick and enjoyable little hike just on the edge of the San Fernando Valley. Although you can hear a little noise from traffic and from planes coming in and out of Burbank and Van Nuys Airports, for the most part, Dixie Canyon is a pleasantly quiet place. It would be hard for San Fernando Valley residents, especially in Sherman Oaks and Studio City, to find an easier and more convenient way to get out into nature.
From the end of Dixie Canyon Place, head up a staircase and into the canyon, alongside a stream. Soon, you come to a split. Take a hairpin turn to the right and begin an ascent (the left fork, across the footbridge, is your return route; heading straight up the canyon is not advisable.)
The climbing isn’t too tough, although the terrain can be prone to erosion and the trail is rough in some spots. A little bit of bushwhacking may be required in some places. In a few spots, the vegetation opens up and you get nice views of the San Fernando Valley.
After a little ways, the trail levels out, and you get glimpses of some of the houses higher up on the hill. Soon, you begin your descent, making some switchbacks to complete the loop at the footbridge.
Like many of the other small Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy holdings, Dixie Canyon Park is a reminder that even near one of the biggest cities in the world, there’s quiet natural areas to explore. We can thank Warren Beatty for this one in particular, so if you enjoyed the hike, put “Dick Tracy” on your Netflix queue.