Mandeville Canyon to San Vicente Mountain Loop Hollyhock Fire Road Westridge Canyonback Ridge hike Mandeville Canyon Hike

Mandeville Canyon is a north-south running trench in Brentwood area of the Santa Monica Mountains. Above Mandeville Canyon is San Vicente Mountain, a 1,960-foot summit that was used at the start of the cold war as a defense site to protect Los Angeles from Soviet attacks. Mandeville Canyon is enclosed by two long finger-like ridges, Westridge and Canyonback Ridge. Trails run down each ridge, which can be reached via fire roads from Mandeville Canyon Road, which runs down the center of the residential canyon. These trails can be used to explore the upper stretches of Mandeville Canyon and San Vicente Mountain Park, creating a 5-mile loop with 770 feet of elevation gain.

Beginning from the bottom of the loop, in Mandeville Canyon, you might head east up Hollyhock Fire Road to Canyonback Ridge, but then you would end up looking over your shoulder the entire time to appreciate the scenery. It is preferable to complete the loop in a clockwise direction, ascending first to Westridge, then continuing up to San Vicente Mountain, across Mulholland Fire Road, and down Canyonback Ridge to Hollyhock Fire Road. At the end, there is a short distance to walk on Mandeville Canyon Road to return to the first trailhead.

The dirt hiking road up to Westridge starts from Garden Lane Road, a few hundred feet off Mandeville Canyon Road, 4.8 miles north of Sunset Boulevard. The service road is used by DWP to access an electric line running up the west side of the canyon. The road is closed to other vehicle traffic, but is a welcoming route for hikers and mountain bikers.

Half a mile up, stay to the right through a junction with a dead-end road that heads south to more electric poles. Continue out of the canyon, enjoying views to the east toward Canyonback Ridge and the San Gabriel Mountains beyond.

Mandeville Canyon Westridge Trail
The DWP road leaving Mandeville Canyon

After 1.45 miles and 500 feet of elevation gain, the road reaches the top of the ridge and joins Westridge Fire Road. Turn right and hike half a mile to the summit of San Vicente Mountain, gaining another 175 feet.

San Vicente Mountain was one of several summits around Los Angeles used as a Nike missile defense site in the 1950s to detect and intersect Russian missiles and aircraft directed at the city. After a decade, Nike missiles were made obsolete by long-range technology, but the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy has done an excellent job preserving this old site, adding informative panels to keep this history alive. Several benches and tables are spread out around the old buildings, along with restrooms and a water fountain, making San Vicente Mountain perfect for a picnic.

San Vicente Mountain Trail
Towers atop San Vicente Mountain

Climb the steps up to the old lookout tower and take in the panorama below. Look south over the canyons and ridges explored by this hike. To the west are the higher peaks of the Santa Monica Mountains in Topanga State Park and beyond. Looking north is Encino Reservoir and the belly of the San Fernando Valley.

To continue the loop, head north down to dirt Mulholland Drive. Turn right taking this unpaved road for 0.8 miles down to the yellow gate that typically marks the end of the drivable portion of Mulholland Drive (the road is sometimes open all the way to San Vicente Mountain). Pass through one yellow gate and go straight through the next, picking up the trail to the right, heading south down Canyonback Ridge. Like Westridge and Sullivan Ridge, both a gradual fire road and a more adventurous single-track head down Canyonback Ridge. Hike either track, but pay attention for the unmarked Hollyhock Trail junction, about a mile down the ridge.

Canyonback Ridge Trail
Canyonback Ridge

From Mulholland Drive, Canyonback Trail heads uphill to a split. A single-track climbs straight ahead to the high point of the ridge, while the fire road curves around to the right, bypassing some of the elevation. The two tracks reunite on the other side of the rise, and cross each other periodically on their way down the ridge. At the third such crossing, at a point where the road comes in from the east to meet the ridge-top trail, another single-track heads west toward Mandeville Canyon. Hollyhock Trail looks overgrown at the top, and those not looking for it could easily walk right past. Upper Canyonback Trail continues for half a mile down to the Mountain Gate Country Club Estates, a housing development built into the ridge. Beyond the homes Lower Canyonback Trail continues down the ridge for 2.1 miles to the top of Kenter Avenue.

Turn right down Hollyhock Trail, which swings northwest into the canyon. After a short distance, the trail passes through a metal gate, and widens to about five feet. Enjoy nice views up and down the lush canyon as you descend 500 feet over 0.77 miles. A small sycamore grove at the bottom of this once-paved trail segues into the houses along Mandeville Canyon Road. Turn right and walk 0.3 miles up the road to return to the first trailhead, where you may drive home or hike the loop all over again.

Hollyhock Fire Road Trail
Hollyhock Fire Road

Westridge-Canyonback Park and San Vicente Mountain Park are part of the Big Wild region of the Santa Monica Mountains, which houses a large network of trails. This 5-mile loop with 770 feet of elevation gain is an excellent way to view two ridges, one canyon, and a summit with a well-preserved piece of local history.

Dogs and mountain bikes are welcome. Hollyhock Road is about half as wide as DWP road, so it may be easier for bikers do the loop backwards, ascending the narrower trail, and descending the wider road coming down from Westridge. No fee or permit is required, so get out and enjoy!

To get to the trailhead: From Sunset Boulevard, 2.3 miles west of the 405 freeway, head north on Mandeville Canyon Road. Drive 4.8 miles, and turn left onto Garden Lane Road. Park on the right and begin hiking up the fire road to the left.

Trailhead address: 13137 Garden Land Road, Los Angeles, CA 90049
Trailhead coordinates: 34.121207, -118.50665 (34° 07′ 16.34″N 118° 30′ 23.93″W)

Elevation Profile
Click or hover over any spot on this elevation profile to see the distance from the start and elevation above sea level at that location, which will be highlighted on the map.
Trail Map

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Most of these photos were taken in February of 2011. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Westridge Trail Westridge Trail to San Vicente Mountain
This 7.4-mile hike travels a scenic ridge between a Brentwood neighborhood and a summit that was once used as a Nike Missile site.
San Vicente Mountain Trail Mulholland Drive to San Vicente Mountain
This 2-mile hike approaches the peak from the east and offers views to the north and south en route to the old Nike Missile site.
Canyonback Ridge Trail Upper Canyonback Trail
This 3 mile hike descends Canyonback Ridge from Mulholland Drive to the Mountain Gate Country Club Estates.
Angeles Santa Monica Hike Lower Canyonback Trail
This 4.2 mile hike ascends Canyonback Ridge from Kenter Ave. in Brentwood to the Mountain Gate Country Club Estates.
East Sepulveda Fire Road Getty View Park Getty View Park
This 3-mile out and back hike crosses East Sepulveda Fire Road (Casiano Fire Road) on a ridge east of the 405 Freeway that offers light traffic and plentiful views of the Getty Museum and Santa Monica Bay.
Sullivan Canyon Trail Sullivan Canyon
This 8.5-mile round trip hike follows a wide trail up the center of a sycamore-filled canyon.
Sullivan RidgeTrail Sullivan Ridge
A prominent lone-standing Live Oak along Sullivan Ridge makes a natural turnaround point and a 7.5 to 8.3 mile round trip hike.
Murphy Ranch Rustic Canyon Trail Murphy Ranch
This 3.85-mile loop descending from Sullivan Ridge Fire Road into Rustic Canyon to abandoned buildings that had unusual occupants.
Caballero Canyon Trail Caballero Canyon Trail
This 3.4-mile round trip hike ascends a canyon on the north side of the Santa Monica Mountains with views over the San Fernando Valley.
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7 Comments on Mandeville Canyon to San Vicente Mountain Loop in the Santa Monica Mountains

  1. AMShikes wrote:

    This is an enjoyable way to visit the Nike missile site without having to double back on any particular trail. The scenery isn’t amazing, but walking down Canyonback Ridge was enjoyable. Be advised, parking is limited on Garden Lane Road. There are no parking restrictions, but be sure to be quiet and respectful of neighbors so it can stay that way!

    AMShikes's ratings for this hike: AMShikes gives a rating of 3AMShikes gives a rating of 3AMShikes gives a rating of 3AMShikes gives a rating of 3AMShikes gives a rating of 3
  2. […] Road. After about half a mile, we came to the first intersection, where we stopped to check our directions. We turned right, continuing up the Water and Pole Power Road and quickly gained the majority of […]

  3. gary washington wrote:

    I’d like to get a link or map of the mandeville bike trail loop

  4. Michelle Mindlin wrote:

    Does anyone have any information about what happened to the hiker/runner who was found injured somewhere off this trail on 8/23/15? He was badly hurt and had to be taken by helicopter to UCLA. I am his emergency contact and good friend. He doesn’t remember anything about what happened to him and we’re trying to figure it out. Thank you!

  5. […] for our next hike, we decided on Mandeville Canyon in the hills of Brentwood.  I always forget that there’s more to Brentwood than the […]

  6. Jessica wrote:

    Are dogs allowed off leash on this trail ??