Date and Time: Sunday, 20 October 2013, 11 am-ish
Location Details: http://www.hikespeak.com/trails/sullivan-ridge-hike-palisades/
Who: Me, Essex, Maddie (and my roommate who came along)
This easy and close hike begins from a fire trail in the Santa Monica mountains between Rustic Canyon and Sullivan Canyon. It is easily accessible with plenty of street parking on Casale Rd. See the above location details for exact GPS coordinates for the fire trail entrance. You can also GPS one of the houses on Casale Rd. at Capri Dr. for parking (for example, I used 1613 Casale Rd. in my car’s GPS). Be careful of which street you park on as there are no parking signs immediately in front of the road leading to the entrance.
We began our walk on the fire road that has a small incline and then decline into the canyon. About half a mile up on the right are a series of concrete stairs. You can’t miss them — they are just after the high fence that begins about a half mile in. These stairs enter the canyon toward Will Rogers State Park, going through a long abandoned Nazi commune (wtf!) in the Pacific Palisades area of the Santa Monica Mountains. Dogs, if we want to get technical, are not allowed in some areas of the Santa Monica mountains and this might be the case for the part of the park with the ruins. But we’ve seen plenty of dogs on our hikes here and no one seems to bother about it. Many dogs are off leash. If your dogs are well-behaved, no one seemed to mind. But be considerate since this place does get some foot and mountain bike traffic.
After walking down the 500-ish concrete stairs, there is a clear road/path that leads to the abandoned camp with an interesting of decaying buildings from the World War II era. For more information on the abandoned Nazi commune, click here. This place was envisioned as a self-sustaining Nazi community first begun in 1933, a place from which Hitler might launch his conquest of the US after Continental Europe had been secured. Although many of the buildings still exist, the main mansion (designed by Paul Revere Williams) is no longer there. The structures are covered with graffiti (some good, some bad) and, unfortunately, lots of abandoned cans of spray paint. The dogs really enjoyed hiking down here into the canyons, but they were kept on leash and NOT allowed into the buildings–there was a lot of broken glass around, so be careful!
Continue to the right through the commune where the road eventually turns into a single-file trail following a dry creek bed. You will eventually connect back with a dirt/paved road when you come to the final abandoned building in the woods–a derelict and fenced off wooden structure that a passing dude on a mountain bike told us was the old commune’s school house. Follow the road to the left when it forks to climb out of the canyon, past the massive water tank and through the main gates for the commune to the main fire road. It should be about a mile walk back (to the right) to your car.
This hike was probably around 4.5 miles or so, with some incline (although nothing too onerous). My older german shepherd was pretty tired by the time we arrived back at the car. We did see quite a few mountain bikers (probably around 10-15) and 3-4 other small groups of hikers. Also, be careful since the fire road does get some infrequent car travel from campers at the boy scout camp.
After dropping the dogs at home, we finished the hike with a lovely (although sort of loud) soul-inspired brunch at My Two Cents on Pico near Genese. Get the FRIED CHICKEN — it’s marinated in BBQ before frying. YUM! Brunch was followed by a palate-cleansing ice cream at the place right next door (Cordially Invited, I think). This is a cute little shop for handmade cards, paper, and thoughtful-looking last-minute gifts.