By Lisa PAREDES
For those who can stand the heat, the summer months can provide plenty of opportunity to engage in outdoor activities. One of the favorite activities of Crescenta Valley residents is hiking the local mountains.
For those willing to start on the Burbank side of the Verdugo Mountains, steep elevation gains and an expansive view of the San Fernando Valley are some of the payoffs. Hikes ranging from short and fast to long and intense are also easily managed with a Stough Canyon start.
The Stough Canyon Mountainway trail is a steep dirt path starting out directly west of the Nature Center in Burbank. With about 550 feet in elevation gain, the trail is just about a mile long, until it connects up with the Verdugo Mountainway that runs along the crests of the mountains between La Crescenta and Tujunga and the cities of Burbank and Glendale.
The steep trek up gets the blood pumping, and caution should be used on the descent, as eroded paths can be slippery. It’s always mind-boggling watching bicyclists slowly pump up the path; in the steepest parts, most bicyclists have to get off and walk.
While the short Stough Canyon trail may only be around two miles roundtrip and take about 30-45 minutes for the fast walker, it’s a great introductory trail for kids and also good for Fido’s workout.
The versatility of heading out from Stough Canyon means that a hike can be as short or as long as desired. For the particularly adventurous, the Verdugo Mountainway connects to many points from La Tuna Canyon, Brand Park in Glendale, La Crescenta, Sunland-Tujunga and Sun Valley.
Case in point: Heading out from Stough Canyon using the Verdugo Mountainway, one can hike to Sun Valley and back. That trek is about eight miles long and is so rugged that it takes even active hikers close to four hours to complete.
Summer or winter, make sure to wear sunscreen and pack plenty of water. The trails are basically exposed to the sun in most places, during most times of the day.
But that exposure also shows off sweeping views of the San Fernando Valley and downtown Los Angeles, bordered by the Hollywood Hills, the Angeles National Forest and the San Gabriel Mountains.
Early in the morning, when the marine layer lies thick over the basin and valley, the cities below are hidden by layered puffs of white cloud. It is an unusual sensation of walking above the clouds for those motivated to get started hiking before 7 a.m.
The cities surrounding the Verdugo Mountains hold special events throughout the year, including the Verdugo Mountains 10K in May and Burbank’s Annual Verdugo Hills Community Hike in November.
More information on the Verdugo Hills Community Hike, which will be held Nov. 2, can be found on the City of Burbank’s website at http://www.burbankca.gov/departments/park-recreation-and-community-services/nature-programs/nature-hikes-programs-and-activities or by calling (818) 238-5540.
More information on the Verdugo Mountains 10K race/walk can be found on their website at http://www.runtheverdugos.com/.
Montrose Search and Rescue recommends all people headed to the outdoors write a hiking plan in order to help search and rescue teams know better where to start looking when hikers don’t return at expected times.
The L.A. Sheriffs Department has a printable hiking plan available online at http://file.lacounty.gov/lasd/cms1_163961.pdf.
In addition to writing a hiking plan, Montrose Search and Rescue recommends hikers pack the following 10 essential items for even a basic day hike:
2. Compass (optionally supplemented with a GPS receiver)
3. Sunglasses and sunscreen
4. Extra food
5. Extra water
6. Extra clothes
7. Headlamp / flashlight
8. First aid kit
9. Fire starter (matches, chemical heat tabs, canned heat, or a magnesium stick)
Additional recommendations to the 10 Essentials are:
• Portable water purification and water bottles
• Repair kit, including duct tape and basic sewing materials
• Insect repellent (or clothing designed for this purpose)
• Signaling devices, such as a whistle, cellphone, two-way radio, satellite phone, unbreakable signal mirror or flare
• Plastic tarp and rope for expedient field shelter
Getting Started: Park in the small lot just below the Stough Canyon Nature Center, drive north on Walnut Avenue from Glenoaks Boulevard towards the hills. There’s usually enough parking, but extra parking is available down the hill below the gates along the side of the road near DeBell Golf Club. Bathrooms are available at Stough Canyon, if the gates are unlocked, even when the Nature Center isn’t open.