Week 265: Verdugo Mountains—Stough Canyon

May 08, 2022

 AllTrails Scout Camp and Stone Canyon Loop, 2.7 miles.

Driven by curiosity, Barbara and I tackled the "other" popular hike at the east end of the Verdugo Mountains overlooking the Castaways and DeBell Golf Club in Burbank. While the more popular Wildwood Canyon trails feature dramatic climbs to the top, the Stough Canyon trail eased us up and coaxed us deeper into the Verdugos—the "urban wildlife island" of parkland surrounded by development at the east end of San Fernando Valley. Eight miles long and about three miles wide, the Verdugos were named for Spanish soldier José Maria Verdugo, holder of the massive Rancho San Rafael granted to him by the Spanish empire in 1784. In addition to Stough and Wildwood Canyons, the Verdugos include LaTuna Canyon in Sun Valley and Brand Park in Glendale. The easy-to-find Stough Canyon trailhead is at the end of Walnut Avenue paralleling the DeBell Golf Club and just past the entrance to the Stough Canyon Nature Center. A large portion of the hike follows dirt fire roads created during and after the 1950s to aid in combating major fires that hit almost every decade (the last was the devastating LaTuna fire in 2017.) Though the hike didn't feel difficult, the trail twisted, turned, and got us up pretty high very fast. Within minutes we caught sight of the Nature Center far below, and soon a stunning view of the Burbank Airport and surroundings to the NW. Bordered by chaparral, we'd take a turn and boom! a breathtaking view of the sprawling valley outside the perimeter, or of deep, deep mountain peaks and canyons within. Another turn led us to the remains of a Boy Scout Camp built in 1942 by a Hollywood Church and vandalized and abandoned in 1961. The Youth Camp Trail behind it, a hard-packed, single track path through a glorious spread of mustard plants in bloom, connected back to the Chandler Fire Road and our halfway point. The last portion of the hike took us deeper into the canyon with a new perspective and occasional glimpses of the major urban area that surrounded us. There were a few hikers and dog walkers, some lizards below and crows above, one snake and a bunny on the trail, and a few mountain bikers to dodge, but Stough Canyon was a great hike, great find, and great escape. 




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