Roads. Where we're going we don't need roads.

(3/29/08) Written by David G.

Photo Credits: Glen O.

Minutes away from beautiful downtown Burbank, the Verdugos are an innocuous 4,000 foot range at the eastern end of the San Fernando Valley. With vegetation of chaparral and radio towers, the range is crisscross with fire roads - a great place to take the kiddies for a nice afternoon hike. While lacking in traditional alpine scenery, it does have awesome views of the Los Angeles Basin and the San Gabriels. Our February postcard perfect day boasted panorama vistas all the way to Long Beach, Catalina and Mt. Baldy.

Although co-trip leader Mike had done a variety of hikes in the Verdugos, it was Jeff, the other co-leader, who had scouted the full trail and added a diabolical twist - ignore all roads. It would be surprising if he (and maybe Mike too) didn't get some perverse fun from everyone's casual expectation of a quick day hike in suburbia. Starting at the Stough Canyon trailhead, this became a true Perfect Pace hike when Jeff said, "Ok, this first part is going to be hard". With that we went straight up the first ridgeline.

Climbing fast we quickly left the golfers, kiddies, swimming pools and fire road below. We soon had great views of the jets landing at Burbank Airport, Griffith Park and all of the San Fernando Valley. I could even see my house from there. No, really I could see my house from there.

After this first section, it was easy to see how to tweak an urban hike and do it the Perfect Pace way. Sticking to the motto "Everything that goes up must come down", we followed the ridge down the other side and then back up another. Although we did meet up with the fire road several times, we stayed on it just long enough to cross. This of course begs the question, why did the Perfect Pace guys cross the road? To get to the next ridge.

Traversing the Verdugos in this manner we headed east to Glendale. After passing in the shadow of four radio towers we came to....yes, you guessed it...a meandering fire road. Since we ran out of ridge line, there was no choice but to follow it down for 2.5 miles to a residential area where we stopped for lunch and a parade. Ok, not a real parade with clowns and bands but it was a parade nonetheless - casual hikers, dogs and firemen. Ummmmm firemen.

Rehydrating from a strategically placed water cache (thank you Jeff for hauling five gallons on Friday night) we started back on the fire road. Keeping with the up and down theme, this part of the road was steep and took us 3 miles to the top. Once again at the radio towers we started back across the ridges to Wildwood Canyon trail. This was a 1.5 mile trail run that took us from the top right down to the parking lot where we had a picnic and frosty beverages.

All sarcasm aside, this was a fun hike and it proved that great hikes can be found in your own backyard.