|Various radio facilities crown the Verdugo peaks.|
I convinced two other people to join me. Well, actually I convinced Sue, who had participated in the superloop to San Gabriel Peak. Then she convinced Bob, one of her regular hiking partners. We three gathered at the entrance to Wildwood Canyon Park (1,240') on January 4th. It was a frigid but crystal clear, shining Friday. Bob pointed out a family of coyotes moseying around on the neighboring golf course, and by 7:00 AM we hit trail.
|Mt. Thom radio facility.|
This completed the first half of our Wildwood Canyon loop, which more precisely is a lollipop-shaped route. The second half, returning via the park road, would have to wait until the end of our day.
Turning east across the tower facility we merged with the Verdugo Motorway, a wide, unpaved, service road traversing almost the entire range west to east and providing connections between other roads and trails. It carried us past a junction for Hostetter Motorway, which wound down the range's north side toward Tujunga. A few minutes later we stood upon the fenced, tower-covered summit of Verdugo Mountain (3,126'), nicknamed Bicycle Peak, presumably for its appeal to mountain bikers. The Sierra Club has planted a register can on an antenna-free bump a quarter-mile further east. But I did not know that at the time.
|Photo Op Rock on Mt. Thom.|
|The North Beaudry Motorway seen descending toward Glendale.|
|Pomeroy Canyon leaving Tongva Peak with Griffith Park in the distance.|
|Sue and Bob taking the use trail up to Point 2646.|
Thus far we had covered a distance of 16.3 miles in 6.25 hours. An empty bench welcomed our weary rear ends. Miss Drinking Fountain and Mr. Restroom shouted out, "Use us!" Socks were changed, lunches consumed. And half an hour later, Sue, Bob, and I felt somewhat refreshed, ready to take on the second half of the Stough Canyon loop.
|This is what remains of the Old Youth Campground facility.|
The La Tuna loop is longer, more rugged, and less popular than Beaudry or Stough. It begins and ends off of the I-210 on La Tuna Canyon Road. Hikers park at turnouts for either the La Tuna Canyon or La Tuna Foot trailheads, which are 0.3 miles away from each other. It is therefore necessary to car shuttle or to walk the moderately busy, litter-filled surface street between trails. Both singletrack paths ascend to the Verdugo Motorway, which can be used to connect the two and form a loop.
|A bobcat notices our presence.|
Without delay, the La Tuna Canyon Trail gently sent us northward along a ridgeline, falling a mere 250 feet in 0.4 miles. A more rapid decline followed as we were moved eastward into a lush little tributary. This refreshing side canyon sponsored a slow-flowing stream and numerous oaks. Unfortunately, the footpath seemed in a hurry to depart these cool narrow walls. It floated over to the next canyon and after a few u-turns released us onto La Tuna Canyon Road (1,320').
Here we faced east and negotiated the street, which ran in unison with La Tuna Canyon creek. After a short distance there was a turnout and picnic area for The Grotto, apparently a local hangout featuring a small, enclosed waterfall.
|The La Tuna Foot Trail is visible across the canyon.|
Plantation Lateral spent another quarter-mile increasing us to 2,980 feet, and in the process guided us through a bunch of planted trees, including pines, referred to on maps as the Fire Warden's Grove. Shaded benches provided a place to recuperate after our stamina had taken a beating on the La Tuna Foot climb. Having previously criss-crossed between Warden's Grove and West Peak, we considered the 7-mile La Tuna Canyon loop closed and could almost see the end of our journey.
|Heading down the Vital Link Trail at sunset.|
Despite some aches and pains, and a few blisters, the group fared well. We racked up 25.6 miles and 6,700 feet of gain, all done in less than eleven hours. I, for one, felt like there were another 5 or 10 miles left in my legs. Next time I would put that feeling to the test.
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