Dixie Canyon Park
in the Santa Monica Mountains
Dixie Canyon Park preserves twenty tucked-away acres in the Santa Monica Mountains on the north side of the range west of Coldwater Canyon. The park can be accessed from Sherman Oaks for a micro hike that is 0.55 miles round trip with 175 feet of elevation change. This partial loop follows a dirt single track that is narrow and sometime overgrown, finding shade from walnut trees and coast live oaks as it passes through Dixie Canyon Park. The trail provides one small view looking out across the San Fernando Valley.
Dixie Canyon Park has one trailhead with parking spaces for a couple cars. The trailhead is less than a mile south of Ventura Boulevard at the top of Dixie Canyon Place. A sign at the trailhead explains that Dixie Canyon Park is:
A gift to the people of California by Warren Beatty.
Take a flight of steps up from the end of the road and enter a wooded canyon. Stroll up the trail for 250 feet, bordering a perennial stream. Cross a wooden plank bridge to the right side of the creek and come to a junction by a slightly larger footbridge. This is the start of the loop, 0.08 miles from the trailhead. The trail leaves the canyon floor in two directions. The more gradual route (with switchbacks) up the side of the canyon ascends to the left. To take this route, cross the bridge and turn left, not heading any further up the bottom of the canyon. The other end of the loop is on the right. Make a sharp turn to head this way, climbing up the side of the canyon. The directions below assume that you turn right to tackle the loop in this counter clockwise direction.
After ascending from the bottom of the canyon, the trail crosses a slope through grasses and brush that sometimes encroach on the trail. Make your way around the back of the canyon after 1/3 of a mile of hiking. Slip into an area of larger oak trees, being mindful that poison oak may be present along the trail (long pants recommended). As the trail tips downhill, you will find a view looking out between the oaks across the San Fernando Valley. While this isn’t an enormous vista, it is the only long view on the hike.
The side of the canyon is steep below. Luckily, switchbacks allow for a more gradual descent. After the view across the valley, turn left down a switchback. Pass between oaks as the trail curves back to the right. You will come to another left bend, passing a path that breaks off to the right and offers an alternate route down the canyon. Stick with the trail as it drops to the canyon floor. Cross the footbridge, close the loop, and turn right to return to the trailhead.
All in, this hike is just 0.55 miles long with 175 feet of elevation change. While that length might make this hike seem appealing for small children, be advised that the trail has loose soil, steep banks, poison oak, and overgrown brush that make it less suitable for little ones. Dogs are allowed but bikes are not. No fee or permit is required for this hike, so get out and enjoy. For a short hike on the ridge to the east, check out Longridge Park.
To get to the trailhead: From Los Angeles, take the 101 Freeway north to exit 16 for Woodman Avenue. Drive south on Woodman Avenue to Ventura Boulevard. Turn left and go five blocks east to Dixie Canyon Avenue. Turn right and follow Dixie Canyon Avenue south for 0.7 miles. When Dixie Canyon Avenue makes a horseshoe bend to the right, turn left to proceed south up Dixie Canyon Place. You will reach the end of the road after less than a quarter mile, finding parking in front of the trailhead.
Trailhead address: 3500 Dixie Canyon Place, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Trailhead coordinates: 34.13388, -118.42345 (34° 08′ 01.96″N 118° 25′ 24.42″W)
You may also view a regional map of surrounding Los Angeles trails and campgrounds.
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