Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
1,843.00 ft (561.75 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
12.71 mi (20.45 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Sullivan Canyon Loop is a moderate-to-highly trafficked, 12.7-mile loop in the Santa Monica Mountains near the city of Encino. The loop is popular with trail runners, hikers and mountain bikers, and boasts excellent views of the ocean, the Los Angeles Basin, and surrounding mountain ranges. 

Park off Mulholland Drive at Upper Canyonback Trailhead. This parking lot can fill up quickly, especially by mid-morning on sunny weekends. Make a note to bring plenty of water in the summer months when the creek runs dry.

From the trailhead, continue through the gate onto the dirt fire road toward San Vicente Mountain Park. The loop can be done in either direction, though for our purposes, continue straight for another mile before turning left onto Sullivan Fire Road, and another left in 0.5 miles onto Sullivan Canyon Trail. From here you’ll be descending nearly 1,300 feet over the next five miles through Sullivan Canyon, alongside stands of sycamore and valley oak. After heavy rains, water can turn this section into a maze of dry ground. At the bottom of the loop at Sullivan Canyon Trailhead, you’ll pop out into neighborhood streets with a trajectory as follows: straight onto Queensferry Road, left onto Bayliss Road, and left onto Westridge Road, which leads to Westridge Trailhead at mile 8.1 of the route. From here, the Mandeville Fire Road will take you nearly 4 miles along scenic ridges to San Vicente Mountain Park, an area rich with Cold War History. According to the numerous interpretive signs, soldiers and anti-aircraft technology were stationed here from 1956-1968 in order to protect the LA area from nuclear threats. Less historically significant but equally important, there is also a bathroom here. From San Vicente, it is another 0.7 miles back to Upper Canyonback Trailhead where your journey began.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Wildlife. Ocean views. Lush plant life.

Cons

Exposed on ridges. Crowded on weekends.

Trailhead Elevation

1,641.00 ft (500.18 m)

Highest point

1,924.00 ft (586.44 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Wildlife
Family friendly
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Biking

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

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