- Location: Western San Fernando Valley. From the 118 Freeway, take the Highway 27/Topanga Canyon Blvd. exit and head south for a mile. Turn right on Andora Avenue, which becomes Valley Circle. After 1.2 miles, turn right on Lassen and make an immediate left to continue onto Andora. The signed trailhead is on the right side of the road just past the cemetery. From the south, take Topanga Canyon Blvd. 5.8 miles north from Highway 101 to Lassen. Turn left and follow Lassen 0.8 miles to Andora. Turn left and park at the signed trailhead, almost immediately on the right.
- Agency: Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park
- Distance: 5 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,150 feet
- Suggested time: 2.5 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain, terrain)
- Best season: October – May
- Dogs: Allowed on leash (exercise caution on warm days; watch out for broken glass and rough terrain)
- Cell phone reception: Good for most of the route; weak to fair in some spots
- Water: None
- Restrooms: None
- Camping/backpacking: None
- Recommended gear: hiking poles sun hat; sunblock; insect repellent
- More information: Foundation for the Preservation of the Santa Susana Mountains (FPSSM) home page here; trip descriptions here and here; Yelp page here
- Rating: 6
Updated October 2018
More than a century ago, the Old Stagecoach Road was the main route between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park commemorates this legacy while offering a network of trails with nice views of the San Fernando Valley, the Simi Hills and more. Clear day vistas include the San Gabriel Mountains, the Verdugos and Hollywood Hills. The route described below tours the majority of the park, offering a good workout. Hikers short on time can still have an enjoyable visit by climbing to the plaque or picnic area, while several shorter trails that branch off from the main route invite additional exploration. Signage may vary (the names on signs don’t always reflect the same names on park maps or on Google Maps) but overall, route finding is fairly straightforward. Sadly, the hike loses points due to litter and graffiti, but it still feels surprisingly remote considering its proximity to the Valley.
From the trailhead on Andora, follow the fire road into the park. You pass under some oaks and reach a junction with the Miranda Loop Trail (0.3 mile from the start). Bear right and stay on the main route, signed both as the Andora trail and as the Old Stagecoach Trail. Stay straight at a four way junction and continue gradually uphill. At the next junction (0.8 mile from the start), turn left to stay on the Old Stagecoach Trail. This section of the trail is also known as the Devil’s Slide. The trail immediately becomes steeper and rockier, although the grade and terrain never get too severe. Bear left at a fork (the right route, which at first appears to be the main route, is the Hill Palmer Trail, which heads downhill.)
At about 1.2 miles from the start, you reach a tile plaque commemorating the area’s history. This spot, with impressive views, is a popular turnaround point for those wanting a shorter hike. To explore more of the park, continue uphill to a picnic area near an alternate trail head on Lilac Lane. Head right on the unsigned Mattingly Trail and almost immediately make another right at a T-junction. (You can take a detour on the left fork, which climbs to a vista point).
The trail skirts the hillside, dropping into a meadow where you reach another split, 1.9 miles from the start. This is the beginning of the 1.2 mile loop which drops down along the northeast face of the ridge before climbing back up. On the way, look for a car wreck and keep an eye out for poison oak. After returning to the start of the loop in the meadow, retrace your steps back uphill to the picnic area and then down the Old Stagecoach and Andora Trails, back to your starting point.
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.