West Shadow Hills Loop
- Location: North of Burbank, between La Tuna Canyon Road and Sunland Blvd. From I-5, take the Sunland Blvd. exit. Head north for 0.8 miles and turn right on La Tuna Canyon. Go 0.6 miles and turn left on Ledge Ave. Park on the corner of Ledge and Horse Haven. From I-210, take the La Tuna Canyon exit and head west for 4 miles. Turn right on Ledge Ave.
- Agency: County of Los Angeles
- Distance: 4.5 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Steepness, elevation gain)
- Suggested time: 2.5 hours
- Best season: November- April
- USGS topo map: Burbank
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
- More information: Shadow Hills Wikipedia page here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 6
Poking up between the Verudgo Mountains and the Angeles National Forest, the Shadow Hills aren’t exactly a household name for L.A. hikers, but they do sport a nice variety of trails and are well worth a visit if you’re in the area, especially if the air is clear. On ideal days, you can see the Santa Monica Mountains, the Verugos, the Santa Susana and the Hollywood Hills. The area also has some of the best up-close views of the San Gabriels in all of L.A., especially of Mount Lukens.
Although there does not seem to be any formal system of trails here, navigation is pretty easy, and there a variety of routes that hikers can take. The figure-8 loop described here is a good workout with nice views. Some hikers may be turned off by the fact that there is over a mile of walking on streets, but this route doesn’t have to be followed exactly.
From the corner of Horse Haven and Ledge, look for a bridle trail heading steeply uphill. You climb almost 500 feet in half a mile before the trail levels out somewhat. Stay straight as two other trails branch off (you will use both of these paths later) and follow the ridge, passing the north side of two knolls. Here, you get great views of the north San Fernando Valley.
A mile and a half from the start, you come to an attractive meadow. Look for an obscure trail making a hairpin turn to the left, and take it. (You can continue on the ridge route if you want to extend the hike.) Now, you head downhill, with some great views of the western end of the San Gabriels, and 1.9 miles from the start, you reach Shadow Way, a residential street and alternative trailhead. Follow Shadow Way downhill to Shadow Island. Take a left and continue your descent to Sunland Blvd. Here, you have to cross the street (there’s a stoplight) and head left on a bridle path.
After half a mile on Sunland (2.8 miles from the start), you reach Rotto Avenue. There is no stoplight here, but traffic is usually pretty light (you can continue 0.4 miles down Sunland to cross at the light at Wheatland, if you prefer.) On the south side of Sunland, Rotto wastes no time ascending, soon terminating at a fire road. The climb continues, providing nice views of the eastern end of the San Fernando Valley. The trail rejoins your previous route, 3.7 miles from the start. Head left and almost immediately take a right on one of the other trails you saw earlier. (You can continue straight and retrace your steps to Ledge Avenue if you prefer). You descend through a canyon, with nice views of Mt. Lukens on the left. The trail splits (both routes end up at Horse Haven, but the right one is shorter). At Horse Haven, follow the bridle path on the north side of the street 0.3 miles back to your car.
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. 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.