Here is an incredible hiking trail, located in the Burbank area, a little more challenging than Griffith Park, but a lot less known. For all fitness fans, this trail features a little bit of everything. Mother Nature has given us a variety of California’s variety of landscapes to explore for free, and it beats an indoor gym any day.
Wildwood Canyon park is made up of several small canyons. It offers a variety of trails for hikers of all skill levels. The smaller trails are for hiking only, and along with the fire roads, lead to spectacular views of the San Fernando Valley. Mountain bikes are permitted if that’s your preference.
You can “choose your own adventure” here, so to speak, and pick the route you want to explore. You can head up one of three ways, and down whichever one you’d like. They are all joined by a central trail up at the top, and each segment is about a quarter of a mile long.
“There is a trail that leads to the top of a mountain crest which overlooks Montrose. One time on a hike, I hit snow at the top!” an avid hiker tells me, as he is trying to explain ‘why’ I should visit this beautiful natural landscape. “It’s blissfully quiet, and it’s not uncommon to see deer grazing”, he says. ”You will see beautiful wild flowers, birds, and lizards. I mostly enjoy the breeze!”
The trails, which extend from the Sun Valley area North of Burbank to the adjacent Brand Park, can test the strongest hiker. As you move up the hill, be ready for narrow and often very steep paths. Some of the segments are a bit difficult and require sure footing. The road fork goes down and comes steeply back to the Wildwood green level park space. Since the trails are sandy, unpaved, and secluded, they should be traveled with a companion.
Once you reach the top of the mountain you will see the radio tower. Your choice is to keep left and take the fire road down to the Stough Nature Center, or to continue along the crest of the trail south to the Glendale Verdugo Hills hike path. The Stough Canyon Nature Center has an exhibit hall with educational displays about the natural history. It also exhibits its domestic plant life. Visitors, residents, and hikers, come for the nature workshops, classes and seasonal day camps. The Center additionally features a kid’s hike for birthdays and kid’s parties. An outdoor theatre and classroom, a small nature library, and nature hikes can make any celebration a healthy and fun activity.
For beginners I suggest the small hike near the yoke of the entrance. It is considered a beginners’ hike by most. The view is spectacular, so don’t forget your camera. There are not a lot of places to sit once you’re away from the resting area, so be aware that if you pause to catch your breath it has to be done standing up. Your reward however, for your work-out, is not only your level of increased fitness, but also the wonderful view.
If you are an inexperienced hiker, you should wear some bright clothing in case you get lost or fall. Hillsides are steep and uncertain, so wear good walking shoes with traction. Early morning and dusk are naturally the more crowded times.
All hikers should bring water bottles and cell phones for those ‘just in case’ situations. You should also pack sunblock and a hat to protect your face from the sun and the wind. A walking stick might do the trick and help you through the steep and narrow parts, especially the north trail of Wildwood leading up from the water tower split.
The park offers a variety of other activities like picnics in the lower grassy resting areas. Many of the Burbank Nature Program’s hikes and activities are conducted in Wildwood Canyon Park. This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and you will be happy to know that you can bring your four-legged friends. The park is dog friendly, there is plenty of running and play space, but please bring a leash just in case.
Parking is plentiful along the main roadway. At the bottom there are public restrooms and drinking fountains. There are also benches for that necessary rest. The park closes at sundown, unless special events and activities are planned.
Directions: From Glen Oaks Boulevard, take Olive Avenue north towards the mountains. Turn left onto Sunset Canyon Drive. Turn right onto Harvard Road. The entrance to Wildwood Canyon Park is on the right.
Address: 1701 Wildwood Canyon Drive, Burbank CA 91501
Phone: (818) 238-5440