Veterans Park Trail (Sylmar)
- Location: Sylmar. From the 210 Freeway, take the Polk St. exit (3) and head northeast for 0.6 mile. Turn right onto Eldridge Ave., go 0.3 mile and turn left onto Astoria St. Go 0.5 mile and turn left onto Simshaw Ave. Go 0.2 mile and turn right onto Parkland Circle and follow it a short distance to the bottom of the May Canyon Truck Trail. Park where available, noting posted restrictions and respecting the residents.
- Agency: Angeles National Forest/Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation
- Distance: 1.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 750 feet
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: October – May
- Recommended gear: hiking poles sun hat
- Dogs: Allowed on leash; exercise caution during the summer on the exposed trails and watch out for broken glass
- Cell phone reception: Fair at bottom of the trail, weak farther up
- Water: None
- Restrooms: None
- Camping/backpacking: None
- More information: Veterans Trail facebook page here; All Trails report (loop using the truck trail in one direction) here
- Rating: 5
Several steep ridges behind Sylmar’s Veterans Memorial Community Regional Park provide eastern San Fernando Valley hikers with a convenient workout that offers (at least on clear days) outstanding views. The two trails that comprise this loop are unofficial and unnamed, but both are heavily used and easy to follow (despite their steepness and occasional stretches that may require hands and posteriors as well as feet). Additionally, you are likely to have a lot of company during the cooler months due to the area’s popularity, so even if you’re hiking alone and it’s your first time here, it’s hard to get lost.
The loop described here is one of several possible hikes originating from Parkland Circle and the May Canyon Truck Trail. Indeed, the paved May Canyon Truck Trail is an alternate route either up or down for those who don’t want to deal with the steepness of the ridges. The Truck Trail continues all the way up to Santa Clarita Divide Road and May Canyon Saddle, some 2,000 feet and 5 miles higher (ambitious hikers have been known to make a one-way traverse of this arm of the San Gabriel Mountains, continuing north and descending into Placerita Canyon.)
Begin by following the May Canyon Truck Trail uphill. Just after you pass a white metal gate, note a steep use trail descending on your left; this is the return route. Continue for about 1/3 of a mile with the park on the right. Shortly after passing two service roads, look for a steep break on the left. This path climbs more than 500 feet in 0.4 mile, where it rejoins the truck trail. Here, your efforts are rewarded with views of the Verdugo Mountains, the Hollywood Hills and the San Fernando Valley.
At this point, if you’ve had enough of steep ridges, you can follow the truck trail downhill for 1.5 miles back to the starting point. You can also retrace your steps. To make the hike a loop, look for a second use trail descending from the same spot. Follow it as it drops sharply to a saddle, losing about 350 feet in 0.2 mile before climbing to a ridge (about one mile from the beginning.) Here, your most interesting option is to head right. The trail descends along the ridge (southwest) before marking a hard left and dropping to an intimidating-looking knife edge. In fact, with multiple handholds and several “steps” in the rocks, this part is actually pretty easy, although those with a fear of heights will find themselves tested. After carefully negotiating the knife edge, keep an eye out for the second of two use trails on the left that drop down to the water tank. (The first, which requires some scrambling at the end, might be an option for those comfortable with this sort of thing and who aren’t hiking with dogs or kids.) Sadly (but not surprisingly) there is a lot of graffiti and broken glass here.
From this point, look for another use trail heading south from this clearing. It descends 0.2 miles, steeply at the end, and drops you off back on the May Canyon Truck Trail. Retrace your steps a few dozen yards back to Parkland Circle.
Photo Gallery (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)
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.