La Tuna Canyon Trail is a little gem on the northwest side of the Verdugo Mountains. The trailhead is officially in Sunland, and easy to reach from both the 210 and 5 freeways on – what else – La Tuna Canyon Road.
Time: 2 hours
Elevation gain: 1,126 ft
When to go: Year-round
There are no permit or parking fees. Just find a place to pull up and park. The trail begins on the south side of La Tuna Canyon Road, 1.2 miles west of the 210 freeway. Look for the big, brown Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy sign marking the start of the trail.
The trail meanders back and forth, zig-zagging through several canyons as it slowly and steadily climbs. This side of the Verdugo Mountains faces north, so it gets much more shade than the Vital Link Trail. On a January morning, it was cool and the hills were turning green from the winter rains.
After a mile and a half of meandering and gentle gains, the trail climbs out of the shade, into the sun, and the vertical gains come more steadily.
The last mile to the top the trail climbs 600 feet. Once you reach the “top” of this this trail, you’re granted a restful lounge chair with the name “Chuck” carved into the back. You get a great view of the 210 snaking it’s way through the mountains and the taller San Gabriel range just beyond.
Here the trail hooks up with the Verdugo Motorway – a fire road the weaves closely along the crest of the Verdugo Mountains, ultimately connecting with both the Vital Link Trail and the Beaudry Motorway Loop. If you’re looking to extend your hike, you can follow this road in either direction, but be sure to save energy and water for the return trip.
After a rest break at “Chuck,” we headed back down the La Tuna Canyon Trail, but on our return we followed the steep single-track down the ridge. It begins innocently enough.
The last section of this “short-cut” adds an element of adventure, requiring hand-over-foot scrambling. Trekking poles, hiking shoes with good grip and a willingness to get a little dirty come in handy on the steep, rutted descent. We shaved about half a mile returning this route, but had to take it slowly.
La Tuna Canyon Trail Map & Elevation Profile
La Tuna Canyon Trail Tips and Resources
- Get driving directions to the trailhead via Google Maps
- The trails in the Verdugo Mountains are also popular with mountain bikers. Be alert!
- There are no facilities or water on this trail.
- Download our GPX track
La Tuna Canyon Weather Forecast
Originally hiked on January 16, 2016.