West Mandeville Ridge Trail, Los Angeles, CA

Sullivan Canyon/Mandeville Ridge Loop

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    • Location: Westridge Trail Head, Santa Monica Mountains. From the 405 Freeway, take the Sunset Blvd. exit and head west for 2.4 miles. Turn right on Mandeville Canyon Road and go 0.3 mile. Turn left on Westridge Road and follow it 2.3 miles to its ending, where there is a large dirt parking lot at the trail head. On busy weekends, the lot is likely to be full so park lower on Westridge Road where available.
    • Agency: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area/Westridge Canyonback Wilderness Park (Not all trails used in this route are official)
    • Distance: 4.5 miles
    • Elevation gain: 1,650 feet
    • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Steepness, elevation gain, terrain)
    • Suggested time: 2.5 hours
    • Best season: October – May
    • Dogs: Allowed on leash but not recommended due to the steep, rough and exposed terrain
    • Cell phone reception: Good at the trail head; none in the canyons; weak to fair along the ridges
    • Water: None
    • Restrooms: None
    • Camping/backpacking: None
    • Recommended gear: Hiking poles; sun hat; sunblock
    • More information: Map my Hike report here
    • Rating: 7

Updated July 2018

Thanks mainly to a pair of very steep use trails, this double loop is one of the more adventurous and exciting hikes in the Westridge/Sullivan Canyon area of the Santa Monica Mountains. If you are short on time or energy, or if it’s exceptionally warm out, either of the loops by themselves makes for a good workout. Together, they’re quite a challenge – packing a lot of action into 4.5 miles.

Begin by following the West Mandeville Fire Road uphill for 0.2 mile. The unsigned Westridge Spur Trail descends from this spot. You drop sharply down the eastern wall of Sullivan Canyon, losing over 600 feet in half a mile. Though the trail receives regular use and is never too difficult to follow, it is rutted out and loose in spots, requiring care to safely negotiate. Near the bottom, it is overgrown but not too difficult to follow.

At 0.7 mile from the start, you reach Sullivan Canyon, where you can enjoy a peaceful 0.3 mile stroll along the oaks and sycamores. Turn right and head up the canyon to another unsigned junction by a large oak tree. This is the Claire Spur Trail, where you will regain the elevation you just lost. The grade is comparable to the Westridge Spur, but there is a bit more shade – helpful not just for keeping cool but also for grabbing onto branches during the steep ascent. Watch out for poison oak as well.

Much huffing and puffing brings you to the top of the Claire Spur Trail. Head back down the fire road for 0.1 mile to a saddle where several other trails branch off. If you are ready to call it a day at this point, you can simply follow the fire road back to the trail head, 0.6 mile downhill. However, for more leg burning, take a hard left on the unsigned West Mandeville Ridge Trail. This fire break climbs and descends a series of bumps, picking up another 400 feet of elevation gain in just under a mile.

At 2.6 mile from the start, you reach a junction. This is the highest elevation on the hike, just under 1,800 feet above sea level. Views include the San Gabriel Mountains, downtown L.A., the Santa Monica Bay and the Temescal Ridge to the west. Look for an obscure single-track heading downhill to the east. The trail drops along a ridge with chaparral and scrub oak providing shade. The descent becomes sharper as the trail drops down to a flood basin, briefly passing under the welcome shade of a cluster of live oaks.

At the bottom, cross the flood basin before making a stiff ascent (250 feet in 0.3 mile – not as steep as the previous climbs, but still a workout on tired legs) back to the fire road. From here, you can follow the fire road back downhill to the trail head or, if you have enough gas in the tank for one more ascent, you can climb a fire break up to a bench with nice views of the area. A use trail descends from this spot to the top of the wall above the parking lot. Descend via a short use trail leaving from the left corner of the wall.

Westridge Spur Trail, Sullivan Canyon, Los Angeles, CA
Descending the Westridge Spur Trail
Claire's Spur Trail, Sullivan Canyon, Los Angeles
Start of the Claire’s Spur Trail
Claire's Spur Trail, Los Angeles, CA
Ascending the Claire’s Spur Trail
West Mandeville Ridge Trail, Los Angeles, CA
Start of the West Mandeville Ridge Trail
West Mandeville Ridge Trail, Los Angeles, CA
View of the San Gabriel Mountains from the junction on the West Mandeville Ridge Trail
Start of the single-track portion of the West Mandeville Ridge Trail
West Mandeville Ridge Trail, Los Angeles, CA
Ascending back to the fire road on the West Mandeville Ridge Trail
West Mandeville Ridge Trail, Los Angeles, CA
View from the bench above the trail head

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.

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