Doc Larsen Loop
- Location: Lake View Terrace at the corner of Dominica Ave. and Jimenez St. From I-210, take the Wheatland Ave. exit. Follow it north (turn right if you’re coming from the south/east, left if from the north/west) a short distance to Foothill Blvd. Turn right and go 0.3 miles to Esko Ave. Turn left onto Esko and take the second left on to Jimenez St. Park where available near the corner of Jimenez and Dominica.
- Agency: Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles River Ranger District
- Distance: 8.3 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,400 feet
- Suggested time: 4 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG-13 (distance, elevation gain)
- Best season: October – May
- USGS topo map: Sunland
- Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock; hiking poles
- More information: Everytrail guide here; Meet Up description here; Doc Larsen obituary here
- Rating: 7
Louis “Doc” Larsen may sound like a bank robber from the Wild West but in fact he was an upstanding citizen: a popular veterinarian known for his work in the horse community around Lake View Terrace and his trail advocacy. The Doc Larsen Trail was damaged in the Station Fire but is now accessible to hikers again, thanks to the efforts of volunteers. There are several ways to incorporate the 1.6-mile trail into a hike or trail ride, including the “P”-shaped loop described here. Although much of the hike is dominated by power lines and noise from nearby roads, it offers (at least on clear days) excellent views of the eastern San Fernando Valley, Little Tujunga Canyon, the Verdugo Mountains and the westernmost peaks of the San Gabriels. Add that to its convenience to the San Gabriel foothill and San Fernando Valley communities and you have a significant L.A. hiking destination.
From the end of Jimenez St., walk uphill on Dominica, past Courtship Ranch (private property; access is granted by the grace of the owners). At a quarter mile, turn left on a fire road and pass a metal gate into Angeles National Forest land. Listed on Google Maps as the BP&L (Burbank Power & Light) Road, the fire road ascends steadily. Widening views make the shadeless climb more tolerable, as does an attractive grove of oaks about a mile from the start; a nice spot to take a breather.
More climbing brings you to a saddle with views down into Little Tujunga Canyon (1.8 miles). This is the start of the loop, which can be done in either direction. If you are hiking earlier in the day, consider going clockwise, meaning that you will be ascending the Doc Larsen Trail and will likely have more shade; later in the day, counter-clockwise as described here is better; that way you will be descending the Larsen trail, avoiding having to make the ascent with the sun at your back.
Head right on road signed 2N94 (also signed as Oliver Canyon, Doty Road and BP&L Road on various maps) which follows a ridge, providing good views on both sides as it climbs and descends a series of bumps. Stay left at a junction (3 miles) and make one more climb before descending to a plateau where the Doc Larsen Trail begins (3.6 miles).
Overgrown in some spots but overall easy to follow, the Doc Larsen Trail follows a tributary of Little Tujunga Canyon. After about half a mile, you reach the bathtub, a horse trough sitting in the shade. Another trail heads toward Fascination Spring. Continue following the Doc Larsen Trail as it winds its way to the bottom of the canyon (watch out for pockets of poison oak). You enter an attractive oak woodland more reminiscent of the Santa Monica Mountains or Ojai foothills than the Angeles Forest. During the lower stretch of the Doc Larsen Trail, it crosses the canyon wash several times, occasionally following it; while it might look confusing, whether you head down canyon on the trail itself or the stream bed, your route should be pretty clear.
At 5.2 miles, the Doc Larsen Trail ends at another fire road. Turn left and begin the last leg of the loop. A few oaks provide shade on the lower portion of the trail before it makes its exposed ascent back to the saddle. Although you are likely to hear noise from Little Tujunga Canyon Road and the nearby shooting range, the mountain views make the effort of ascent more enjoyable.
At 6.5 miles, you return to the saddle. From here, retrace your steps almost entirely downhill back to Courtship Ranch and your car.
Text and photography copyright 2015 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.