Lookout Loop (O’Melveny Park)
- Location: Granada Hills. From the 118 freeway, take the Balboa Blvd. exit and head north (left if you’re coming from the west or right if from the east) and go 2.3 miles. Take a left on Sesnon Blvd. and drive 0.6 miles to the entrance of O’Melveny Park, on the right. From the north, take the 5 freeway to Sierra Highway. Take a left on Sierra Highway, and a quick right on Foothill Blvd. Take Foothill 1.1 miles and take a right on Balboa. Go 0.9 miles to Sesnon and take a right.
- Agency: Los Angeles County Parks & Recreation
- Distance: 2.2 miles
- Elevation gain: 450 feet
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: October – June
- USGS topo map: “Oat Mountain”
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
- More information: here; Yelp page here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 5
This short, figure-8 shaped hike offers a lot of scenic variety, and makes a great workout that is convenient to the north San Fernando Valley. It samples several of the trails in the lower part of O’Melveny Park, Los Angeles’s second largest. If you have a lot of time, you can use O’Melveny as a starting point for a more ambitious hike, such as the route to Mission Point, but if you only have an hour or so, this one gives you pretty good bang for the buck. (Especially since the price to park here is zero bucks.)
From the lot, head into the park on a wide paved road. The road leads to the beginning of the Lookout Loop, and while it’s not as scenic as the route described here, it might be a good option if you have small kids or are new at hiking.
To follow this route, you’ll turn left on the Nature Trail which leads through an orchard before hooking up with the Equestrian Trail. Take a sharp left to stay on the Nature Trail (the Equestrian Trail will also get you to your destination, but like the paved road, it’s not as interesting or challenging) and begin climbing up a ridge. On the way, you’ll get nice views of the geology in Bee Canyon, and on clear days, you can see the San Gabriel Mountains. Stay right at an unsigned junction and cross a plateau before making a steep drop into a canyon. You’ll have to step over (or duck under) a tree, and soon you emerge at a junction. Head right onto the Grotto Trail, cross a small but sturdy footbridge, and head back into the main area of the park where you reunite with the Equestrian Trail.
Here, about half a mile from the start, you’ll turn left and go 0.2 miles deeper into the canyon, bearing left at the first junction and taking a sharp right at the second one (by the picnic area.) Soon, you reach the beginning of the 3/4 mile long Lookout Loop. It can be hiked in either direction.
If you go counter-clockwise, you’ll make a more gradual ascent, soon arriving at a spur leading to the Lookout. A short but steep climb brings you to the top of a ridge, where you get nice views of the rest of O’Melveny Park, plus the San Gabriels, the Hansen Dam, the Hollywood Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains.
Back at the trail, the climbing continues–over 100 feet in a mere 200 yards–bringing you to the high point of the loop, where you get panoramic views similar to those at the Lookout. The trail drops sharply down to a saddle, where you make a hairpin turn to the left and descend more moderately back down to the bottom of the loop. Turn right and retrace your steps to the picnic area (1.7 miles from the beginning.) Back on the O’Melveny Trail, head left and head back toward the parking area. For variety, consider using the paved road, which heads past a few fields and picnic areas before returning to the lot.
This route may sound a little complicated for a 2.2 mile trip, but it’s pretty easy to navigate. It also doesn’t have to be followed exactly.
Text and photography copyright 2012 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