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Los Angeles County: A Day Hiker's Guide
by John McKinney (The Trailmaster)
Sullivan Canyon is one of the gems of the eastern portion of the Santa Monica Mountains. Stately oaks and sycamores shade a seasonal creek and a fine trail travels the length of the canyon. The canyon was very attractive to its former owner—the Los Angeles County Sanitation District—and was long near the top of the list as a potential landfill site. Protests by environmentalists derailed the dump and these days Sullivan Canyon is a beautiful place to roam. Sullivan’s high and narrow canyon walls display handsome sandstone outcroppings, as well as a blue-gray bedrock known as Santa Monica slate. During winter and spring, the canyon walls are colored with clusters of ceanothus. Casual hikers will enjoy a nearly flat stroll for a mile or three along the canyon floor. More energetic hikers will make a loop trip by climbing out of the canyon and traveling Sullivan’s west ridge. Views from the ridge are quite good.
50 Trail Runs in Southern California
by Stan Swartz, Jim Wolff & Samir Shahin (The Mountaineers Books)
This course through scenic Sullivan Canyon has many exciting stream crossings beneath heavy foliage. The stream crossings are straightforward during the summer. After a rain, however, water levels rise, providing opportunities to get your feet wet. Run under a delightful, rich green canopy of tall trees and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.
Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
by Jerry Schad (Wilderness Press)
In serene Sullivan Canyon you can hike for at least an hour without catching sight of any manmade improvements, save for a gravelly service road and some markers indicating a buried pipeline. For a long time it appeared as though Sullivan and neighboring upper Rustic Canyon would become a huge dump site for solid waste.
Mountain Biking Southern California
by Mark Ross & Brad Fine (Falcon Guides)
Located in the Santa Monica Mountains, west of Interstate 405 off of Sunset Boulevard, and accessed through Brentwood. Highlights: The ride is not known for its views, but once you get into the canyon would not guess that you are in the middle of Los Angeles. The trail has high canyon walls with lush foliage. Hazards: Water that crosses the trail.
Day Hikes around Los Angeles
by Robert Stone (Day Hike Books)
The hike up Sullivan Canyon parallels a seasonal creek through a shady canyon. Alive with the singing of birds, this hike sounds and feels like an aviary housed within huge stands of sycamore, oak, and willow trees. This near-level canyon is ideal for picnics.
This loop hike follows the forested canyon floor of Sullivan Canyon and climbs the chaparral covered slopes to Sullivan Ridge. The trail follows “Dirt” Mulholland, an unimproved road along the ridge overlooking the west end of Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, and the Encino Reservoir. Return from San Vicente Mountain Park, formerly the NIKE Missile Control Site, an old military outpost active from 1956 through 1968. (The 10-acre park is now a self-guided interpretive center that describes its former life.) The trail descends on the Westridge Fire Road, a hiking and biking route straddling the ridgeline between Sullivan and Mandeville Canyons.
Mountain Bike! Los Angeles County
by Charles Patterson (Menasha Ridge Press)
The drawing of this route may make it look like an out-and- back; however, it is anything but. It involves a very tough fire-road ascent, followed by a bomb down the singletrack that parallels the fire road. This is the bread-and- butter proving ground of Westside XC riders, affording plenty of aerobic and technical challenges. The ride’s centralized location and modest length make it an ideal alternative to visiting a sweaty, crowded gym after work.
Despite being so close to West Los Angeles, this route provides some of the best scenery and singletrack action that the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area has to offer. The technical and aerobic difficulty is moderate, but novice riders may find themselves winded early—a simple out-and-back up Sullivan Canyon or to the Nike Missile Base via the West Mandeville Fire Road (known locally as Westridge) may be more desirable than riding the full length of the described route.
Mountain Bike! Southern California
by David Story, Laurie & Chris Leman (Menasha Ridge Press)
Starting just off of Sunset Boulevard on Monaco Drive, you'll spin through a celebrity-heavy neighborhood. Turn onto Sullivan Ridge fire road which immediately grants views of aptly named Rustic Canyon on the left and Sullivan Canyon on the right. There's some great singletrack detours on the way up to unpaved Mulholland Drive. Now you'll experience some more ridge views of the San Fernando Valley on the right and the Los Angeles Basin on the right. After some roller-coastering, you'll reach the Hub, the nexus of several different rides in the area. A short spin down a third ridge, Temescal, delivers you to the Backbone Trail. You'll only be sampling six of the 70 rolling miles of the Backbone. This is a beautiful route along three different ridges, topped with an exquisite singletrack.
Always a great ride. The winter rains have carved out some nice features and the city has provided some new concrete to mats to control runoff. Still a great ride up and down. Have done this many times over the years and its still one of my favorites. Watch out for the down hillers!
My all time favorite ride! Watch for hikers and other riders!
The 4 star ride is a bit more involved, but trust me, you will love it. Start at the bottom of Sullivan, go all the way to the top, and head up Sullivan fire road(right). From here, you head up to dirt Mulholland, and go west (left). Head over the hump to the trailhead for "cliffside", a sweet little singletrack that earned it's name. This will drop you off right across the fire road from Caballero Canyon. You will see a metal gate before it drops too far down on the Valley side. Hit this descent with all the spin in your legs, and tear down that trail througgh the rocks, streams, and snakes until you reach Reseda Blvd. Then, turn around and do it all in reverse. It only takes about an hour and a half, but if you stop a lot, give a couple of hours. You won't regret it!! The ride is equally groovy from either side, as they both end with a long and fast descent.
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