Tongva Peak
Cerro Negro P500
Peak 1,780ft P300
Flint Peak P500
Eagle Rock
Oxy Hill

Apr 15, 2016
Eagle Rock
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 Profile

I was in Los Angeles for a three-day volleyball tournament my daughter was playing in. The venue was the downtown convention center, not exactly the best location for some peakbagging during the few hours in the afternoon when I had some free time. Luckily there are some opportunities to the north in the Hollywood Hills (at the east end of the Santa Monica Mtns), the Verdugo Mtns and the San Rafael Hills. I visited the latter two ranges in the afternoon, spending about 5hrs all told between hiking and driving.

Tongva Peak

Named for the Native Americans who first inhabited the LA Basin some 3,500yrs ago, this is the only officially named summit in the entire Verdugo Mountains. Oddly, it's not even the range highpoint. That honor goes to the unnamed point some 500ft higher than Tongva Peak. Because the highpoint is on the LPC list, I'd already visited it more than six years earlier. Tongva is a much easier effort that can be climbed from a number of directions. I chose to use the Beaudry Motorway from the east. Though no longer open to motor vehicles, the dirt road is open to cyclists, equestrians and hikers. Access is via Beaudry Blvd just west of Oakmont Country Club and appears popular for joggers and dog walkers as well. The trail starts next to someone's driveway, inconveniently unmarked, at least until one climbs above the flood catch basin it is adjacent to, and the first signs one comes across aren't terribly inviting. The trail soon splits as the Beaudry North and South Motorways, both going to the summit. The north trail is shadier and more direct, while the south trail has better views following along the SE Ridge of Tongva. I took the northern route on the way up, passing by an old water tank and other detritus of bygone times, views opening up as one climbs higher with Spring flowers populating portions of the hillsides.

The Beaudry North and South routes rejoin just north of Tongva Peak, continuing on the ridge to the range highpoint another 2mi to the northwest. From this junction, Tongva Peak is only a few minutes south along Beaudry South Motorway. A fence appears to surround a small complex of communication towers, barbed-wire in three strands across the top. One can use a convenient set of iron steps next to the gate to surmount the fence, or more easily, walk to the south and west to simply go around the fence which does not continue on the west side. The fence appears to only keep vehicles out, allowing wildlife access to the summit where a water catch has been installed. I found a coyote in the summit area while I was there, not much afraid of me but keeping a wary eye, probably there to slake its thirst. The highpoint of Tongva is found at the north end of the flat summit area, not terribly impressive, but having a nice view west to the Verdugo Mtns highpoint (which the LPC calls Verdugo Peak). I left the fenced area to visit an overlook to the south where two guys were enjoying a few beers and the hazy views overlooking Los Angeles. Two plaques regarding Tongva Peak can be found here. After a brief chat with the other two visitors, I continued SE along a use trail above the motorway, following another hiker ahead of me, also on his way down. The nice use trail rejoins the motorway at the base of another tower site, this one known as Mt. Thom on The motorway turns east as it winds its way downhill, following the ridge until it reaches Pt. 1,753ft, after which it circles the point and drops to rejoin Beaudry North near the start. I was back at the van by 4:20p, having taken just about 2hrs for the six mile outing.

Cerro Negro

Spanish for "Black Mtn", Cerro Negro is the second highest summit in the San Rafael Hills found just across the Glendale Fwy (SR2) to the east from the Verdugo Mtns. The Ridge Motorway rises from the southwest to the summit, another dirt road no longer open to vehicle traffic. An upscale Glendale suburb can be found on the south side of Cerro Negro, with paved Camino San Rafael making access almost trivial. An even shorter access route can be found off Sugar Loaf Dr northeast of Cerro Negro, but I found the southwest route from the junction of Ridge Motorway and Flintridge Dr to be easy enough. A hike of less than 10min saw me to the summit where a very beefy fence protects a lookout tower installed there. An old and rusting relic of the Cold War is also found inside the fence, what appears to be a massive air horn intended to give one a few minutes' warning to drop and cover before hydrogen bombs incinerate your ass along with the rest of Los Angeles in a nuclear strike. Immediately east of the fenced area is a memorial bench with coins and lots of new-agey stuff to honor an unnamed man who could play guitar. Sitting on the bench, I took in views looking north to the San Gabriel Mtns and east to other summits of the San Rafael Hills where I headed next.

Peak 1,780ft

This is a disappointing summit on several levels. Found in the northeast corner of the San Rafael Hills, there are actually two points with equal contours vying for the highpoint. ListsofJohn and both show the northern point as the highpoint. It is occupied by a pair of homes. A private drive lets you get pretty close, but you'd have to go stand in someone's backyard to reach the very highest point. Just to the south is a second contour area. It features a couple of high water towers located in private backyards. Yay. No views, either.

Flint Peak

This is the highest point in the San Rafael Hills, by all of two feet. Scholl Canyon is found on the south side of the mountain. At one time there was a Scholl Canyon Park here, but the upper part of the canyon has become a landfill and one is left with a much smaller Lower Scholl Canyon Park. East Glenoaks Blvd provides the shortest route to the summit from the south. I used a slightly longer route from the northeast since I was in the area for Peak 1,780ft. There is a use trail starting from the end of Figureroa St. that leads to the Loma Linda Motorway (which is also the dirt road continuation of E. Glenoaks). A spur road off the motorway leads to the communication towers atop Flint Peak a short distance away. Though formidable, the surrounding fence has a weakness at the left side of the gate that can be exploited without much trouble. There is an LA County/City benchmark found under the tall tower at the highest point dating to 1933. I came down a slight variation, following the Loma Linda Motorway down to Marengo Dr where a gate and sign informed me this route is not currently open due to pending litigation. I had to awkwardly find my way over the fence while several neighborhood dogs took a distinct disliking to me, yapping from behind the protection of their own fences. No one came out to see what was causing the disruption and I made my way back to the van in another minute. Better to use the trail off Figueroa St.

Eagle Rock

This is a distinctive rock feature on the southern edge of the San Rafael Hills just north of the Ventura Fwy. The city of Eagle Rock was named for the feature (absorbed into Los Angeles in 1923, but still a neighborhood name), which is listed as an historical landmark. There is a sign at the corner of Eagle Rock View Dr and Patrician Way to this effect. On the SW side is the Eagle Rock Canyon Trail and the exceedingly small Eagle Rock Park. All of this would seem to suggest the feature is a popular spot, but one is quickly surprised to find otherwise, with access to the summit quite difficult. There is a single, bolted route found on the main face on the SW side. A short hike though the park will take you to the base of the rock climbing route that appears on Mountain Project but looks to be all but abandoned. Old concrete steps can be found going around the south side of the rock, climbing higher until blocked by a very spikey fence and dense brush. The northwest side is occupied by homes. The east side is blocked by an apartment complex. There appears to be no legal way to reach the summit at all. Barbed-wire and dense brush conspire to block access from the apartment complex - almost. I found a way through the natural and man-made defences from the parking area behind the apartments (and next to the swimming pool) that takes one through the fence, weaving through brush and cactus, eventually reaching the summit area. There used to be steel poles installed in concrete at the top for purposes unknown, but these have been sheared in an effort to restore the natural setting. It seems a shame that no one has figured a way to leave public access to the top of this local landmark. I suspect past use as a nighttime teenage drinking spot (within bottle-tossing distance to the freeway, too) may have played a part in making if off-limits. My summit stay was brief lest I be spotted by those who deem such things as not a good thing.

Oxy Hill

About a mile and a half southwest of Eagle Rock is Oxy Hill, named after Occidental College found on its southwest flanks. There are a number of ways to climb this small bit of Open Space. I approached from the north off La Roda Ave, sandwiched between Eagle Rock High School and the Yosemite Recreation Center. A trail behind the swimming pools lead to an old amphitheater where use trail can be found leading to the summit. It was just after sunset as I made my way to the top where I found an older hispanic man enjoying a beer at an overlook bench. A battered benchmark from 1953 marks the highpoint, with views to the college and surrounding areas of Glendale and Eagle Rock. I followed an alternate use trail down an adjacent ridgeline, returning me to the amphitheater and recreation area where I'd started. Time for dinner, a shower, and rest. More exhausting VB to watch in the morning...


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