Mount Tom via Las Flores Motorway
- Location: Glendale, on the corner of Sunshine Drive and Balmoral Drive. From the San Fernando Valley, take the 134 Freeway east to Glendale Blvd. (exit 8). Turn left and follow Glendale for a total of 0.6 miles and merge onto Verdugo Road. Go 0.5 more miles and bear left onto Canada Blvd. In 0.5 miles, turn left onto Colina Drive, which becomes Sunshine Drive. In 0.6 miles, park where available near the corner of Sunshine Drive and Polaris or Balmoral, noting posted restrictions. Alternately, from the 2 Freeway, take the Mountain Street exit (18) and head west for 0.5 miles. Turn right onto Verdugo Road, go 0.2 miles, bear left on Canada Blvd and follow the directions above.
- Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (Verdugo Mountains Park)
- Distance: 5.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain)
- Suggested time: 2.5 hours
- Best season: November – May
- USGS topo maps: “Burbank”
- Recommended gear: sun block; sun hat
- More information: Area trail map here; Las Flores Motorway Yelp page here; trip description here; Map My Hike report here
- Rating: 6
Mount Tom is the unofficial name of a 2,440-foot peak located in the southeastern corner of the Verdugo Mountains. Although the summit is dominated by an antenna installation, the views on the way up are excellent, at least if visibility is good. The smooth and steadily graded Las Flores Motorway is the most straightforward approach to Mt. Tom, although it can also be visited as a side-trip from the Beaudry Loop or from the Brand Library, using a steep, rugged fire break.
Begin on the corner of Sunshine Drive and Balmoral Drive, the closest spot where parking is allowed. Follow Sunshine Drive 0.1 miles to its ending where you will climb over a yellow fence, continuing your hike on a closed section of the paved road. In 0.2 more miles, you reach the start of the dirt Las Flores Motorway, which will ascend at a grade of just under 500 feet per mile for the next two miles. The antennas on Mount Tom are visible in the distance.
At 3/4 of a mile, a gap in the ridge opens up and you can see the San Gabriel Mountains and San Rafael Hills on the right. The trail then navigates a few folds in the hillside, winding in and out of shallow canyons, briefly isolated from the noise of the city below. Although there are no shade trees, the hill blocks out the sun here for most of the day, allowing more vegetation to grow.
At 1.5 miles, you emerge back into the open with views even more wide-ranging than before; if visibility is exceptionally good you may get a glimpse of San Gorgonio and San Jacinto, almost one hundred miles away. The trail meets up with the fire break 2.4 miles from the start. Continue your ascent, reaching the Beaudry Motorway at 2.6 miles. Take a hard right and walk toward the antennas on Mount Tom, where a use trail circles the facility. A wide dirt area on the south side of the antennas is a good spot to sit and enjoy the panorama: the Santa Ana Mountains, the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Catalina Island, downtown Los Angeles and Burbank, the Hollywood Hills, the Santa Monica Mountains, a slim wedge of the ocean and if you’re lucky the Topa Topa range of Ventura County.
Text and photography copyright 2016 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.