Week 147: Ascot Hills Park

September 23, 2018

Just outside DTLA, there's a scenic, dog-friendly hike where race cars once roared, 1.5 miles

The Repetto hills dot the eastern urban landscape of El Sereno, south on the 5 past Dodger Stadium and downtown LA. Homes pepper some of the hills, others are painted with trees and champaign-colored brush offering getaways from the city while still in the city. Today's hike from Charles Fleming's April 9, 2016 post in the Los Angeles Times took Barbara and me to the section of the Repettos called Ascot Hills Park, a serene, 93-acre getaway with a past knitted into the history of Los Angeles. Tongva Indians named it the "Place of Roses" after the wood roses lining a nearby stream. In 1771, the land became part of nearby Mission San Gabriel. In 1831, a Mexican land grant included the hills in the 3,283-acre Rancho Rosa de Castilla. After annexation to LA, the city built a 1910 dam and reservoir (still there but covered behind DWP gates) at the east end. From 1924-1936, the hills overlooked Legion Ascot Speedway. Famous—the best drivers of the day raced there and the speedway was featured in 1930s films "Burn 'em Up Barnes" and "Red Hot Tires"—but deadly. (A speedway employee, sick of the two dozen deaths, burned down the stands in 1936 and that was the end of that.) Today the hills are a natural habitat lined with trails from simple and flat to steep and challenging. Barbara and I counted ten trails we could see, each dotted with hikers and dog-walkers. The trail we followed offered everything from wildlife to awe: A bunny, lots of lizards, birds, and one huge hawk kept an eye on us. Whispering oaks and cattails framed the shady path we took before winding up dusty trails to the payoff at the top—a 360 view of the city. Ascot Hills Park was the perfect hike for the first, full, no-sweat, blue-sky day of Autumn. Lovely!

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