Week 145: San Vicente Mountain Park

September 09, 2018

This Hike from Mulholland Drive has Panoramic Views and a Cold War Missile System. Picnic table included. 3 miles

It's always fun for Barbara and me to explore wilderness-in-the-city spots, known to locals but new for us. This hike from Charles Fleming's August 8, 2018, post in The Los Angeles Times, led us to San Vicente Mountain Park at the far west end of Mulholland Drive. Now owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, our goal was LA96C, the former NIKE Missile Control Site and Cold War outpost of the U.S. Army from 1956-1968. The "why" of the site is best told in the series of signs scattered among the structures (another good reason to take this hike—it's informative.) Bare basics: during the Cold War in 1956, Soviet leader Khrushchev said to the U.S., "We will bury you," and, according to a sign, the U.S. govt. "built this tower to house advanced radar that neutralized the Soviet planes." More on the history here. Barbara and I parked at the far west end of Mulholland where it becomes a dirt road, and hiked up to the LA96C entrance. We were surrounded by early morning hikers and bikers. either going our way or headed for trailheads into Mandeville Canyon, Sullivan Canyon, Caballero Canyon, and surrounding mountains. Around us, breathtaking, 360° views from the city to the valley to the coastline. Once we reached LA96C, we climbed the tower (you bet we did) topping the 1,950-foot high mountaintop overlooking the Encino reservoir+. What a view! To the NW, city and mountains as far as you could see. To the SE, tips of downtown L.A.'s tallest buildings peeked through the low-hanging fog like UFOs (see photo below for my barely visible magnification). Fleming's hike is 2 miles, but we detoured up a connected trail to investigate, and found National Park and EarthScope structures that continually monitor seismic activity in the area. Very cool. This hike was one of the best kind of adventures—exercise, history, and ecology all rolled into one. Just Do It.

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