Mt Lukens from Deukmejian Wilderness ParkAuthor: Efrain Silva
Summer’s coming to a quick close on us, folks, and you know what that means --- it’s time to make the most of that short time we have left!!!! So what’s one good way to spend it, if you live in or near the city of LA? Mt Lukens, of course. There is no better way to burn off that remaining steam, along with showing your family a good time (and allowing your own kids to “get it out of their system” while they still can, before getting ready for ‘back to school’).
Anyways, let’s chat, for a brief bit, on this amazing hiking experience and why you should check it out if, you haven’t already, or why you should check it out again if you already have. This one - of - a - kind excursion is well worth it, whether you’re already a long - time native of California or even a first - time visitor alike. You will leave as a whole different person, and yes, we do most certainly mean that in a way you will appreciate --- we say it all “in a good way”.
Where the Hike Begins
You start the journey over at Deukmejian Wilderness Park, which is nearly a half hour out from downtown Los Angeles. With traffic, it could be a bit more or a bit less. Either way, be prepared and leave with plenty of time to spare ---- LA evening traffic rushes are no joke. I know.
And to get you started, here’s the actual trailhead address as well : Deukmejian Wilderness Park, 3429 Markridge Rd, Glendale, CA 91214.
Feel free to play around on the Google Map, once you put it in, seeing which routes and streets are nearby, as well as asking Google which way is best to go at the time you go so as to avoid the worst traffic delays on the road. Time is money, after all. Save yourself some time, and you’ll be saving you and your loved ones some money. Think of it that way.
Park Hours & More
If you’re a bright n’ early sort of individual, or group, you’ll find it’s a perfect fit because park hours are from 7 am to dusk. Many have noted the park staff to be very punctual with this, as well, as some have tried to show up a little earlier but still found the park’s gates closed. And when it says ‘7 am’, it means 7 am. But early is good --- you can at least beat the line, if there is one.
If you should find the park’s parking lot at full occupancy, and / or the gate itself is shut, take note that you can also likely find some parking right around the main entrance (street parking). Note : They lock the gate very punctually, as well, just one hour after sunset. To confirm it for yourself, you’ll note a white sign as you approach the vicinity, which says, “WARNING : MAIN GATE WILL BE LOCKED ONE HOUR AFTER SUNSET (DON’T BE LOCKED IN!)”. The secret is to time that walk before going, and the return walk, having some extra time to spare, so that you can make it back to the gate in time before closing.
Facts to Note on Navigating the Hike Itself
Some use basic paper maps. Others use a known tour guide, or at least, someone who has been on the hike numerous times before. Others, still, instead use Google Maps & GPS. I, for one, like to use all (or combine more than one method, as much as I can --- the more prepared you are, the better it will be, right?).
You can bring a blank notebook and something to write with, as well, so you can take note of any significant markers or landmarks (to help you navigate your way around, seeing where you’ve been and remembering familiar objects / spots you passed by earlier, etc). And this is one of the hikes that requires the best of you : mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. No, really, it will leave several people drained by the end of the day. So pack plenty of powerades, Cliff bars, motivational songs loaded on your phone (and some headsets), and a good attitude among your group of fellow hikers. And be there for each other throughout the experience, offering support to whomever needs it in the group ; that’s the most important part, and what it’s really all about.
Now, Mt Lukens is the ‘top’ of LA, so to speak. It is, indeed, the highest elevation point in all of Los Angeles. Finish the hike, and come back, and you’ll be able to say you “officially climbed Los Angeles”! This hike brings you up, then back down --- many consider the descent to be far more enjoyable, which makes perfect sense. The really challenging part is the climb up.
Additional Thoughts / Facts to Note?
- Before ‘Mt Lukens’ became its name, this special place was known as Sister Else Peak. It was a name coined to it in honor of a Catholic nun.
- Did you also know that Deukmejian Wilderness Park is relatively new? In fact, it opened and got its name in 1989.
- Years ago, it was home to some of the very best, top - notch regions in California known for wine production. Neat, right?
- Much of what was originally in this area got burnt in a massive fire, which occurred only a few years ago in 2009. The park has still been recovering and rebuilding since.
Anyways, when you can, take the hike! You’ll love it. Make the effort to finish strong….