Catalina Verudgo Trail to Cerro Negro
Like the nearby Hollywood Hills, the San Rafael Hills on the northern edge of Glendale might be dwarfed by the Verdugo and San Gabriel Mountains, but on clear days, their vantage point provides not-to-be-missed views. Cerro Negro (elevation 1,887) is the second tallest peak in the range. It can be reached via Cherry Canyon Park to the north or by the new (2013) Catalina Verudgo Trail leading from the Glendale Sports Complex, described below.
The Catalina Verdugo Trail, named for the nearby Catalina Verudgo Adobe, is a 2-mile loop in the slopes above the athletic fields of the Glendale Sports Complex. While most of the route is within eyesight and earshot of the 2 Freeway, there are a few spots along the loop that dip into the folds of the hillside and feel pleasantly secluded. A few benches are strategically located to provide views of the Verudgo Mountains and Hollywood Hills while some interpretive plaques describe the history of Glendale and the local botany, geology and wildlife.
The loop can be accessed from either end of the parking lot. At a junction (0.8 mile from the south end of the lot; 1.2 miles from the north end) you’ll reach a spur signed for the Ridge Motorway. Follow the single track a short distance where it meets a service road. Bear left and follow the service road a short distance to Ridge Motorway. By now you will be able to see your destination, a lookout tower and antenna facility on top of Cerro Negro to the northeast.
The Ridge Motorway follows the crest of the San Rafael Hills, soon reaching Camino San Rafael. Almost immediately it branches off again, paved at first, climbing higher along the ridge. After dropping to a junction with Flintridge Drive, it makes one final ascent, passing the backs of some opulent homes before climbing to Cerro Negro. The summit can be reached either by a use trail or the fire road.
While the antenna structure prevents a true 360-degree panorama, the views here are still impressive, dominated by the San Gabriel Mountains to the north and the Verudgos to the west. Also visible is Flint Peak to the south, the highest point in the San Rafael Hills along with Forest Lawn, downtown Los Angeles and a sliver of the Santa Monica Mountains. After enjoying the scenery, retrace your steps back to the Catalina Verdugo Trail and continue following the loop back to the parking lot.
Text and photography copyright 2017 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.