Trebek Open Space Bantam Trail Castair Trail hike Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy park donated by Jeopardy host Alex Trebek

What is Trebek Open Space?

Two half-mile long fire roads cross the 62-acre Trebek Open Space, providing short hikes on the south face of the Hollywood Hills. Bantam Trail begins from Nichols Canyon Road and climbs to a ridge running down the east side of the park. Castair Trail begins from a trailhead lower down the ridge and drops into Nichols Canyon, coming to a dead-end above the road. A rugged single track descends the ridge between the two trails, offering a panoramic view over Hollywood spanning from downtown Los Angeles to Century City.

Beginning from Nichols Canyon Road, 1.3 miles north of Hollywood Boulevard, step through the black gate and start up Bantam Trail. The dirt fire road heads southeast gradually ascending out of the canyon. Views over Hollywood expand as the trail crosses the east side of Nichols Canyon, passing through low brush and grasses. After ascending 150 feet in the first 0.45 miles, you will come to a junction with Astral Drive Trail.

Trebek Open Space
A view of Castair Trail in Nichols Canyon from Bantam Trail

If you would like to hike between Trebek Open Space and Runyon Canyon, you should turn up Astral Drive Trail. Astral Drive Trail ascends 125 feet over 0.3 miles to a trailhead on Astral Drive at the top of Trebek Open Space. Turn left and hike 0.15 miles up Astral to Solar Drive. There are two options from here. Turn right on Solar Drive to walk a quarter mile to Runyon Canyon Park at a junction with Western High Way Trail. Alternatively, you may continue another 0.05 miles up Astral Drive and make the next right up a service road that connects to the trailhead at the top of Runyon Canyon Park along Mulholland Drive. After 0.1 miles on this residential road, the pavement ends and you will have a wide dirt road to hike up for the following 0.3 miles. From the Bantam Trail – Astral Drive Trail Junction, it is 0.9 miles to the trailhead at the top of Runyon Canyon Park or 0.7 miles to Western High Way Trail in Runyon Canyon Park via Solar Drive. These routes are shown on the map below.

To continue along Bantam Trail, stay to the right at the junction with Astral Drive Trail. In another 0.05 miles (half a mile from the start with 175 feet of elevation gain), Bantam Trail will reach a ridgeline and comes to an end at an overlook with views to the east across a small canyon toward the ridge on the west side of Runyon Canyon Park. Hikers may be visible making their way along Western High Way Trail on the backbone of the ridge.

Trebek Open Space
Looking east up the small canyon between Runyon Canyon Park and Trebek Open Space

Trebek Open Space
Looking west over Nichols Canyon

Trebek Open Space
The path down the ridge below the overlook at the end of Bantam Trail

A quarter mile (and 175 feet) below is the trailhead for Castair Trail. Before heading back down Bantam Trail, venture a short distance down the ridge to a lower landing. On a clear day, Santa Monica Bay is visible to the west, and Griffith Observatory peaks out behind the ridges to the east. Turn around here for a 1.15-mile hike, or drop down the ridge to Castair Trail.

Trebek Open Space
The trailhead for Castair Trail

The rugged single track descends precipitously to the top of Wattles Drive and the start of Castair Trail. The fire road heads northwest into Nichols Canyon, losing elevation as it charts a parallel course below Bantam Trail.

There are nice views up and down the canyon, similar to the trail above. Half a mile in, Castair Trail comes to a sudden stop at an imposing black gate marked “No Trespassing” and does not connect to Nichols Canyon Road. Turn around, and hike 125 feet back up to the trailhead, and then make the steep climb up the ridge to return to Bantam Trail. Both trails combined (a.k.a. the Daily Double) make a 2.5-mile out-and-back trebek, I mean trek. There is 325 feet of elevation between the high and low points of the hike. The unmaintained single track up the ridge is quite steep, but the fire roads are gradual otherwise.

Dogs are welcome in Trebek Open Space, and this is a popular dog-walking destination. Overall, there is far less foot and paw traffic than nearby Runyon Canyon Park, with similar scenery. No fee or permit is required to visit Trebek Open Space, so get out and enjoy.

To get to Bantam Trailhead: From Hollywood Boulevard, three block east of Fairfax Ave, head north on Nichols Canyon Road. The road ascends the canyon, makes a sweeping turn to the left and arriving at the trailhead after 1.3 miles. The trail starts on the outside of a grand turn to the left behind a black gate. Ample roadside parking is available.

Trailhead address: 2500 Nichols Canyon Road, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Trailhead coordinates: 34.113539, -118.359405 (34° 06′ 48.74″N 118° 21′ 33.85″W)

To get to Castair Trailhead: From Hollywood Boulevard, six blocks west of Fairfax, head north on Curson Ave for 0.6 miles. At road’s end take the sharp left, and continue up Wattles Drive for 0.3 miles to the trailhead. Limited roadside parking is available.

Trailhead address: 1900 Wattles Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90046
Trailhead coordinates: 34.105764, -118.356813 (34° 06′ 20.75″N 118° 21′ 24.52″W)

Use the map below to create your own directions:

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Photos

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These photos were taken in February of 2011 and October of 2013. Click to enlarge.
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3 Comments on Bantam Trail and Castair Trail in Trebek Open Space

  1. It seems like the Castair Trailhead is closed. When you round the sharp left on Curson, there is a big black gate blocking the way. I have no idea why this gate is there, there are no “No Trespassing” signes or anything. I was able to walk down from the Castair Trailhead through the pedestrian gate on Curson, but I’m not sure you can get in that way.

    There is one alternate trailhead, at Astral Dr. It can be reached by continuing up Nichols canyon and turning right onto Astral. The trailhead is behind a chain link gate.

    • Tiffany Easton says:

      Hi Toivo – I’m not sure if you will get this, but I am curious: is there any way to get around the black gate at the very top of Curson (leading onto Wattles Drive, and eventually the Castair Trailhead)? I looked at it on Google Maps and couldn’t tell if there was a pedestrian entrance, and maybe just cars can’t go through. Otherwise, where exactly was the other pedestrian gate on Curson that you mentioned above? Thanks for any info! Wanted to check out this trail this weekend by entering on Curson Ave! Tiffany

      • Tiffany says:

        To answer my own question (in case anyone else has the same one), the gate all the way at the top of Curson, which leads into Castair Trail, is just a pedestrian gate and seems to be open during all daylight hours. After you go through, you walk a bit past some houses on Wattles Drive and then the trail starts. Very pretty!

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