Las Flores Motorway weaves its way up ridges on the southeast end of the Verdugo Mountains in Glendale. The wide dirt trail blooms when it reaches Mount Thom, a 2,460-foot summit with panoramic views over surrounding city-flanked mountain ranges and the skyline of downtown Los Angeles. Las Flores Motorway gains 1,220 feet in 2.5 miles to join Beaudry Motorway just below the summit. Strut around the fenced-in mountaintop of Mount Thom for a 5.3-mile round trip hike or venture farther on Beaudry Motorway.
This hike actually begins before the trail does. Roadside parking isn’t allowed at the trailhead. Unless you are dropped off, you’ll need to park about 0.15 miles from the gate at the bottom of Las Flores Motorway, effectively extending the hike to Mount Thom to 5.6 miles round trip with 1,310 feet of elevation change. Park at the intersection of Balmoral Drive and Sunshine Drive in a neighborhood that drapes the lower slopes of the Verdugo Mountains. Walk up the sidewalk along Sunrise Drive, which curves to the right and meets the start of Las Flores Motorway. Cross the gate and begin up the trail, which is paved for the first 320 yards. Straight ahead, communication towers stand out above a high point in the Verdugo Mountains. This is Mount Thom, your destination.
When the pavement ends, continue west up the wide paved trail, gradually ascending into this small, mostly chaparral-covered mountain range. At the half mile mark, a spur breaks off to the left and heads out along the spine of a side ridge. Continue straight up the main trail. Las Flores Motorway curves to the right and crosses a saddle in the ridgeline. Just past that, stick with the trail as it curves sharply to the left, passing a steep spur that ascends to a holding tank. The trail progresses west toward a viewpoint on the left side of the trail with views over the cities to the south. Dead Horse Canyon drops below this part of the trail as you look back over the bottom of Las Flores Motorway toward the San Rafael Hills and the neighborhoods surrounding Glendale Community College.
After 0.9 miles on Las Flores Motorway, step out to a landing on the left and enjoy a sweeping vista. Downtown Glendale is just beyond the foot of the mountain. Farther south, the skyline of downtown Los Angeles rises above the surrounding communities. The east end of the Santa Monica Mountains preserved by Griffith Park is to the southwest. On clear days, the ocean will be visible beyond that.
Continue up Las Flores Motorway, which takes a winding course across the south side of the rippled ridges on the eastern flank of Mount Thom. Each bend offers slightly different views looking out from the mountain. The end of the trail wraps all the way around the top of Mount Thom, finally approaching the summit from the northwest.
At 0.2 miles below the top of the trail, pass a firebreak plunging down a ridgeline to the left with a rough trail that descends to Brand Canyon. As you complete Las Flores Motorway, enjoy new views over the heart of the small mountain range. Across Pomeroy Canyon in front of you, Tongva Peak rises to 2,656 feet. Beyond that, Verdugo Mountain rises to 3,126 feet at the highest point in the range.
Las Flores Motorway comes to an end after 2.5 miles, hitting a T-junction with another wide dirt trail, Beaudry Motorway. This trail can be used on another hike, Beaudry Motorway Loop, and you could turn left to hike 0.6 miles along this trail to the top of Tongva Peak. For Mount Thom, turn right and make an immediate right off Beaudry Motorway toward the summit. A short dirt road rises to the fenced-in area on the flattened mountaintop. Communication towers rise from inside the fence. Take a path along either the east or west side of the fenced-in area to reach a viewpoint on the south side of the summit.
Gaze southwest over Griffith Park and the Santa Monica Mountains toward the Pacific Ocean. Downtown Glendale is below the mountains to the south, backed by the skyline of downtown Los Angeles. The San Rafael Hills pop up the east. Highest of all, the San Gabriel Mountains rise to the northeast. The views from Mount Thom are sweeping and the summit supplies a satisfying destination.
When you are ready to leave, walk around the summit and back to Las Flores Motorway. Turn left to return the way you came. Dogs and mountain bikes are welcome on Las Flores Motorway and other trails in the Verdugo Mountains. Excluding the warm-up on Sunshine Drive, Las Flores Motorway provides a 5.3-mile round trip hike with 1,260 feet of elevation change. No permit is required for this hike and there is no cost to park near the trailhead, so get out and enjoy!
To get to the trailhead: Take CA 134 to the Glendale Avenue Exit (exit 8), which is one mile west of CA 2 and four miles east of Intestate 5. Drive northeast on Glendale Avenue. After half a mile, it becomes Vedugo Road. Go another half mile and bear left at a split onto Cañada Boulevard. In another quarter mile, turn left up Sunshine Drive. Come to the nearest roadside parking after 0.4 miles, which will be on the right across from an intersection with Balmoral Drive. The trailhead is 0.15 miles ahead.
Trailhead address: Sunshine Drive, Glendale, CA 91208
Trailhead coordinates: 34.1766, -118.2385 (34° 10′ 35.76″N 118° 14′ 18.60″W)
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