Tujunga, California. When asked where I live, most people—even many born in Los Angeles—stare at me in confusion. Those who do recognize the name rarely know where it is located, but imagine it is “far away.” North of Burbank, East of Sunland, West of La Cañada, and South of the Big Tujunga section of the Angeles National Forest. That is where you will find Tujunga. And, yes, it is inside Los Angeles City limits. Half an hour from the heart of the city, ten minutes from the mountains and forest. Oh, and Elliott’s house from E.T. is found here.
Many canyon routes are located on the other side, the North Side, of the mountains behind my neighborhood. A few blocks away are a couple of trails that head up the South side. The peak of one of those mountains is Mt. Lukens, the highest peak located in Los Angeles city limits. One afternoon while jogging/hiking one of those trails, I got an idea. I should be able to start from a trail in the Big Tujunga Wilderness, ascend to Mt. Lukens, and descend to my neighborhood. Then, walk home. The idea of beginning a hike in the forest and ending it at my doorstep was really appealing to me. One Sunday morning I had Erika drive me into the forest and leave me at the Wildwood Picnic Area and the start of the Stone Canyon Trail. I’ve hiked a portion of this trail a couple of times because it is the approach to the technical canyon route Stone Plus One. This route ascends 3500 feet over a few miles and leads to Mt. Lukens, a peak covered in transmission towers. I popped in some earbuds, turned on a podcast, and made my way up the trail. Two and a half hours later, I stood atop the peak. Behind me were views of never-ending mountains and forest. Ahead of me, Los Angeles spread in all directions terminating at the ocean. I explored the peak and its towers for a bit, then joined the Rim of the Valley Trail heading down into Los Angeles. At 3:00 PM, I walked down my driveway. There was something satisfying and freeing about ending a hike at my door. So much so, that I had Erika drop me off at Wildwood again yesterday.