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Walk on the wild side of L.A. by climbing to mile-high elevation in the City of Los Angeles.

From the top of Mount Lukens, the high point in elevation within the city limit of Los Angeles, you can peer over a vast and spacious urban plain -- coastal haze and smog permitting. During the next five months temperatures should be mercifully cool for the strenuous climb to the top. Late fall and winter brings clearer, cleaner, and drier air -- which will benefit your lungs as well as the long views you'll get on top.

From the foothill community of Sunland, off Interstate 210, take either Oro Vista Avenue or Mt. Gleason Avenue north to Big Tujunga Canyon Road. Turn right and drive east into the canyon. Some seven miles up the canyon, look for the well-marked turnoff for Vogel Flat. Turn right, drive to the bottom of the hill, and park at Vogel Flat Picnic Area, open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. A short way east is Stonyvale Picnic Area, open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. -- useful if you arrive early or will be returning late. A National Forest Adventure Pass is needed for parking.

On foot, head west down a narrow, paved road (private, but with public easement) through the cabin community of Stonyvale. When the pavement ends after 0.7 mile, continue on dirt for another one-quarter mile or so. Choose a place to ford Big Tujunga creek, step or wade across, and find the Stone Canyon Trail on the far bank. From afar you can spot this trail going straight up the sloping terrace just left (east) of Stone Canyon's wide, boulder-filled mouth. Once you're on that terrace, settle into a pace that will allow you to persevere over the next three miles and 3200 feet of vertical ascent.

From the vantage point of the first switchback, you can look down on the thousands of storm-tossed granitic boulders filling Stone Canyon from wall to wall. Although Stone Canyon's boulders are frozen in place, you can almost sense their movement over geologic time. Even today floods continue to reshape this canyon and many other steep canyons in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Ahead, there are many twists and turns along precipitous slopes covered by chaparral. The dizzying view from the midpoint of the trail encompasses a long, obviously linear stretch of Big Tujunga Canyon. This segment of the canyon is traced by the San Gabriel Fault and its offshoot, the Sierra Madre Fault.

You'll eventually come to a steep, bulldozed track leading to the bald summit ridge of Mount Lukens. Go 0.5 mile farther to the highest point on the ridge, the peak itself, which is occupied by several antenna structures. The view, north and east across the various ridges and peaks of the San Gabriels, and south and west across the endlessly spreading city, can be fabulous -- but only on a clear day.

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From the top of Mount Lukens, the high point in elevation within the city limit of Los Angeles, you can peer over a vast and spacious urban plain -- coastal haze and smog permitting. During the next five months temperatures should be mercifully cool for the strenuous climb to the top. Late fall and winter brings clearer, cleaner, and drier air -- which will benefit your lungs as well as the long views you'll get on top.

From the foothill community of Sunland, off Interstate 210, take either Oro Vista Avenue or Mt. Gleason Avenue north to Big Tujunga Canyon Road. Turn right and drive east into the canyon. Some seven miles up the canyon, look for the well-marked turnoff for Vogel Flat. Turn right, drive to the bottom of the hill, and park at Vogel Flat Picnic Area, open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. A short way east is Stonyvale Picnic Area, open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. -- useful if you arrive early or will be returning late. A National Forest Adventure Pass is needed for parking.

On foot, head west down a narrow, paved road (private, but with public easement) through the cabin community of Stonyvale. When the pavement ends after 0.7 mile, continue on dirt for another one-quarter mile or so. Choose a place to ford Big Tujunga creek, step or wade across, and find the Stone Canyon Trail on the far bank. From afar you can spot this trail going straight up the sloping terrace just left (east) of Stone Canyon's wide, boulder-filled mouth. Once you're on that terrace, settle into a pace that will allow you to persevere over the next three miles and 3200 feet of vertical ascent.

From the vantage point of the first switchback, you can look down on the thousands of storm-tossed granitic boulders filling Stone Canyon from wall to wall. Although Stone Canyon's boulders are frozen in place, you can almost sense their movement over geologic time. Even today floods continue to reshape this canyon and many other steep canyons in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Ahead, there are many twists and turns along precipitous slopes covered by chaparral. The dizzying view from the midpoint of the trail encompasses a long, obviously linear stretch of Big Tujunga Canyon. This segment of the canyon is traced by the San Gabriel Fault and its offshoot, the Sierra Madre Fault.

You'll eventually come to a steep, bulldozed track leading to the bald summit ridge of Mount Lukens. Go 0.5 mile farther to the highest point on the ridge, the peak itself, which is occupied by several antenna structures. The view, north and east across the various ridges and peaks of the San Gabriels, and south and west across the endlessly spreading city, can be fabulous -- but only on a clear day.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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