- Location: Las Virgenes Road, south of Highway 101 in Calabasas. Head south (left if you are coming from L.A.; right if you are coming from the west) turn immediately left into the dirt lot next to the gas station. If you reach Agoura Road, you’ve come too far.
- Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
- Distance: 4.3 miles
- Elevation gain: 650 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2.5 hours
- Best season: September – May
- Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock
- Recommended guidebook: Day Hikes In the Santa Monica Mountains
- Dogs: Allowed on leash (exercise caution on warm days; be careful of broken glass and other trash)
- Cell phone reception: Good for most of the route; weak to fair in some areas
- Water: None (gas station next to the trail head for last minute supplies)
- Restrooms: None
- Camping/backpacking: None
- More information: Map My Hike report here; area trail map here; trip description here
- Rating: 6
The Anza Loop Trail is named after Juan Bautista de Anza, whose 1776 expedition traveled along the current-day 101 Freeway. This loop hike never gets too far from the sights and sounds of the freeway and suburbia, but it still offers an enjoyable variety of scenery and a location convenient to the San Fernando Valley and all of western L.A. County.
From the parking area on Las Virgenes Road, head uphill on a short but steep path that runs between two hills. Although there is no shade, the sharp walls of the mini-canyon help block out the sun. After 0.3 miles and almost 200 feet of elevation gain – you reach a junction. A bench beneath a big oak tree makes a nice place to stop and catch your breath. The loop can be hiked in either direction but by going clockwise, as described below, you can get the least interesting part of the hike – the portion closest to the freeway – out of the way quicker while saving the most panoramic views for last.
The trail drops sharply, giving back all of the elevation it has gained up to this point and heads east, roughly paralleling the freeway. At about 0.6 mile from the start, it briefly bends south, leaving the freeway and meandering along some oak-dotted slopes. After heading back toward the freeway, the trail passes by a marker commemorating the de Anza expedition before reaching the end of Calabasas Road (1.4 miles; an alternate trail head).
Continue east on Calabasas Road for a short distance before turning right and heading back into the park land. You head uphill on a paved (but closed to vehicles) road which soon gives way to the next segment of the trail. You climb steadily, passing a junction with the Water Tank Trail (part of the much longer New Millennium Loop) and continue uphill, making switchbacks and taking in increasingly impressive views. If visibility is good, you may see as far as the San Gabriels to the east, the Santa Susanas to the north and the Santa Monicas to the west.
At 2.7 miles, you reach Prada De Los Gansos, a private residential street. Turn right and continue a short distance to the next segment of the trail, known both as the Gunn Stage Trail and the Anza Calabash Canyon Loop Trail. The trail skirts the upper rim of the bowl, gradually descending to another junction (3.5 miles) where the New Millennium Trail turns left and heads south toward the Bark Park Trail. After crossing through a peaceful, oak-lined and (in late afternoon) shaded hill side, you return to the first junction. Retrace your steps downhill to the trail head.
Text and photography copyright 2018 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.