Week 268: Verdugo Mountains Brand Park

June 12, 2022

 AllTrails Brand Lateral Trail Loop, 2.4 miles.

Today was Barbara's and my third hike in Brand Park, and the trails get better with each new trek. The Lateral Trail Loop looked innocent enough on paper and got tons of great reviews in AllTrails. We were wary because of the heat, but confident because of the hike's 2.1 mile length (we always manage to add a few tenths out of curiosity).  How hard could it be? As recommended, we followed the AllTrails map counterclockwise to get the tough, steep ascent out of the way as early in the day as possible so we could enjoy the hike down. The trail starts behind the Brand Library and a few yards east of the 1928 "Miss American Green Cross" monument, one of the original Glendale landmarks. After a brief, lovely tree-lined walk, the next 0.8 of a mile was an unshaded and grinding effort straight up 700+ feet to our goal: the plateau at the top of this gasper. Frequent stops for water helped a lot. Several hikers bolted past us up the trail with confidence, hinting that we merely had first-timer struggles. And a kindly hiker on her way down tipped us off to a side trail to avoid the last grueling tenth of a mile up. Thanks to her, reaching the summit was a breeze. Brand Park is on the south-facing slope of the Verdugo Mountains above Glendale. A rugged and wild protected open space with @40 miles of trails and fire roads, with some imagination you can look down from the trail and picture the fruit orchards, dairy ranches, barley fields, and vineyards of the "ag town" Leslie C. Brand (1859–1925), the "Father of Glendale," saw at the turn of the 20th century when he brought the Pacific Electric streetcar line, telephones, water, and electricity to the agricultural community. Brand believed in the area so deeply that he took out full-page newspaper ads with one line: "Have you been to Glendale?" Glendale became a city in 1906, and by 1920, its agri-economy gave way to the makings of the industrial and commercial economy we looked down on today. Tall buildings had replaced orchards and sheep herds, and subdivisions had replaced farmland. But what a view! "Pasadena's first and only rival" spread out south from Brand Park across the basin to Griffith Park. Barbara and I took a snack break and drank up the view from one of the four benches on the plateau, then continued on for the second leg of the hike. The trail back took us deeper into the mountains with occasional pops of urban views. The trail eventually became a switchback series of fire roads and portions of the old motorways, and we continued down past the dam and ended up at the "Doctor's House" Museum in Brand Park. Awesome hike! Definitely do the hike counterclockwise, and take lots of water, but do it!






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