Not many small- or medium-size cities can boast of three mountain ranges within its border, but Glendale, California, does. Stretching east and north from the San Fernando Valley, the city takes in substantial parts of the San Rafael Hills and the Verdugo Mountains, plus a small slice of the San Gabriel Mountains at the city's northern extremity. At this northernmost spot in Glendale, overlooking the foothill communities of La Crescenta and Tujunga, lies Deukmejian Wilderness Park, named after former California governor George Deukmejian. The park's 700 acres of chaparral-covered slopes are drained by two ravines with steep gradients: Cooks Canyon and Dunsmore Canyon. During the mid-20th Century, the area alongside the Dunsmore Canyon stream was used by the Le Mesnager family as a vineyard. An old stone barn at the trailhead is reminiscent of that time.
The park's entrance road can be found at the northern terminus of Dunsmore Avenue (north of Foothill Boulevard) in Glendale. Drive upslope to the stone barn and parking area, where you can begin the short but vigorous 2.4-mile hiking route described below.
From your parked car find and follow the Dunsmore Canyon Trail (a fire road), which wastes no time in a relentless and shadeless ascent that matches the gradient of the Dunsmore Canyon stream alongside it. After nearly one mile of distance and 700 feet of ascent, the road ends. Duck under the cover of the streamside alders and enjoy the sound of a happy little stream tumbling over and around boulders of various sizes. Winter floods occasionally rearrange the streambed rocks, creating mini-cascades that are probably temporary. The crystalline purity of the water at this spot is remarkable. Also, the 3000-foot elevation here ensures that on many days you can be well above the valley-floor smog.
Retrace your steps about 0.3 mile to where the Le Mesnager Loop Trail veers right. Take this slightly longer but view-rich route back toward the start, taking advantage of two short spur trails along the way. The spurs lead to points overlooking Dunsmore Canyon and Cooks Canyon. Both afford a more distant view of the suburbs below and the rising swell of the Verdugo Mountains beyond.