Difficulty PG Distance 0 to 2 miles General information: Dogs allowed General information: Hikes with free parking Rating: 4-6 San Fernando Valley Season: Fall/Early Winter Season: Late Winter/Spring

Heartbreak Hill (Agoura Hills)


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Looking up toward Heartbreak Ridge
Looking up toward Heartbreak Ridge
Steep descent from Heartbreak Ridge
Steep descent from Heartbreak Ridge

Heartbreak Hill (Agoura Hills)

  • Location: Agoura Hills.  From Highway 101, take the Liberty Canyon exit.  Head south (left if you’re coming from the east, right if from the west) on Liberty Canyon Road and make a quick right onto Agoura Road.  Go 0.3 miles and park in a dirt turnout on the left side of the road.  Look for the brown Santa Monica Mountains parklands sign.
  • Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
  • Distance: 1.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 750 feet
  • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty rating: PG
  • Best season: October – June
  • USGS topo map: Calabasas
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
  • More information:  here; article here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 6
0:00 - Beginning of the Heartbreak Hill trail (click thumbnails to see the full-sized version)
0:00 – Beginning of the Heartbreak Hill trail (click thumbnails to see the full-sized version)

From the “short but steep” category, we present Heartbreak Hill, which happens to share its name with an infamous stretch of the Boston Marathon route. The advantages of this hike are its convenient location and the variety of scenery, which includes great views of Ladyface Mountain, the Agoura Hills area, the western San Fernando Valley and more. The disadvantage is the pain you will feel in your gastrocnemius muscles (back of the leg, below the knee.) Short as it may be, this hike shouldn’t be underestimated – especially the descent, for which you’d best be sure your legs are fresh.

0:08 - Beginning the climb (times are approximate)
0:08 – Beginning the climb (times are approximate)

From the parking area on Agoura Road, the trail climbs through a meadow and then begins an ascent that is, in a word, brutal. You gain 350 feet in only 0.3 miles before reaching a small clearing where you can stop and catch your breath and enjoy the view. After an all-too-brief short flat stretch, the ascent continues, rising another 200 feet over the next 0.2 miles. Here, you finally get a breather as the trail bends south, descending slightly as it follows a ridge. The views on both sides are great, but unfortunately your work isn’t quite done yet.

0:23 - Following the ridge after the first major ascent
0:23 – Following the ridge after the first major ascent

At 0.2 miles, the trail dips down into a wooded area and then it makes its final steep approach to Heartbreak Ridge. The extreme grade resembles some of the more difficult sections of the Trans-Catalina Trail.

0:37 - Ladyface from Heartbreak Ridge
0:37 – Ladyface from Heartbreak Ridge

Finally you arrive at Heartbreak Ridge. If you want, you can extend the hike by turning left and following the ridge south, eventually reaching the Phantom Trail in Malibu Creek State Park. For this hike, however, turn right and climb to a knoll where you get a nearly 360-degree view; a nice reward for your efforts. I’ll say it again: make sure your legs are rested for the descent.

0:38 - Looking north from the top of the knoll (turnaround point)
0:38 – Looking north from the top of the knoll (turnaround point)

Text and photography copyright 2013 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.

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2 comments

  1. This is one of my favorite trails. I searched many times to find the name of it. Heartbreak hill fixed my heart from breaking ;-). My all-time record on this was to hike every single day for 30 days straight.

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