A relatively easy fire road climb up to La Tuna towers, with fun, technical singletrack on the way back.
The gate to the Nature Center parking lot closes at 10 p.m. daily. If you are planning to be on the mountain past that time, park on the street near the golf course. When the Nature Center itself is open, there are bathrooms available. There's also a drinking fountain at the fire road gate that is accessible at all times. This route shows up frequently on the Tuesday/Thursday OTB ride calendar.
Starting from the Stough Canyon Nature Center, the Stough Canyon Fire Road
is steep and loose for the first quarter mile before mellowing to a gradual 8-9% grade. Benches have been installed at several nice viewpoints, the first of which is also the bottom of the Old Youth Camp Trail (Scout Trail)
where you'll re-join the fire road at the end of the ride. This section is popular with hikers so please observe courteous trail etiquette.
After a mile, the Stough Canyon Fire Road
ends at a T-intersection with Verdugo Motorway
. Take a right and continue to climb the road for ~three miles. Verdugo Motorway
traverses the main ridge of the Verdugo Mountains and offers spectacular alternating views of Los Angeles, Burbank, and the San Gabriel Mountains. It connects to all the other fire roads on the range if you're ever interested in larger loops.
At 0.5 miles from the Stough intersection, you'll pass the top of the La Tuna Canyon Trail
and after another mile, start to see where the ridgeline singletrack sections intersect the road.
Once you pass the Plantation Lateral (3.4 miles from start), the fire road levels off and it's a fun half mile to the intersection with Hostetter Fire Road
on the left. Past that another quarter mile and up a short, punchy, paved climb, you'll find La Tuna towers, the highest point in the Verdugos and traditional meeting spot for riders coming from all directions. Rest, snack, chat, and get ready for a rippin' ride back down.
The Verdugo Crest singletrack sections start almost immediately. As you descend the paved driveway, the first singletrack section is on the right at the yellow post. It crosses the Motorway in about 50 yards and continues for another 30 yards or so before rejoining again at the Hostetter Fire Road
intersection. Continue back the way you came along the flat part of the Verdugo Motorway
and look for the next singletrack entrance on the left, just before you get to the Plantation Lateral. A short, punchy climb leads to a fun, flowy section and another short, steep climb before rejoining the Motorway via a steep, loose, and rutted firebreak.
The next section of Verdugo Crest is accessed where the Vital Link hiking trail tops out near some radio towers and the "Willie Mann Memorial Chair." There are a few built lines on this section, stay to the left to avoid the jumps and expect plenty of ruts and height exposure near the end to keep you on your toes. The next several criss-crossings of Verdugo Motorway
are obvious and direct. And fun! It ends at a flat section of the Motorway, near a chair that looks out towards Griffith Park.
From here, stay on the Verdugo Motorway
which speeds back down past the La Tuna Canyon Trail
entrance all the way to the Stough Canyon intersection. Instead of going back the way you came at this point, keep going west another 0.25 miles past Stough and look out for the Old Youth Camp Trail (Scout Trail)
trailhead on the left. After a little more singletrack climbing, round a corner and get ready for more fast, technical riding with several gigantic, bike-eating ruts.
Take a quick stop halfway down the mile-long trail at the ruins of an old youth camp lodge and enjoy the fantastic views westwards. Keep left at the bottom as it widens to doubletrack and ignore the unofficial, handmade 'no bikes' sign. These trails are multi-use per the map here
. The trail ends where it rejoins the Stough Canyon Fire Road
, take a right and watch your speed as you head back to the parking lot.