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Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park is the wordy title of a strip of public land squeezed between Tarzana, at the south edge of the San Fernando Valley, and “dirt Mulholland,” the unpaved section of the fabled and twisty Mulholland Highway that follows the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains. The scenic Caballero Canyon Trail connects the lowland and highland section of the gateway park and hooks up with trails in Topanga State Park, which spills down toward the Pacific Ocean on the west slope of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Since the Caballero Canyon Trail is basically an old fire road, mountain bikes are allowed on it as well as hikers. The starting point is easy to find. Simply exit the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101) at Reseda Boulevard and drive 2.2 miles south to the trailhead, which is opposite the Braemar Country Club clubhouse.

Start your journey on the marked trail up along sycamore-dotted Caballero Canyon. After less than a mile, the trail starts climbing in earnest up a slope east of the canyon bottom. By 1.5 miles you come up to a saddle traversed by dirt Mulholland — itself a popular route for both hikers and mountain bikers.

The views north have been good so far, but a more panoramic vista awaits you a short distance ahead. To the east you’ll notice a very steep fire break going up a ridge (no bikes allowed on that, though). Hike up this a short distance, then contour to the right to pick up the Bent Arrow Trail. This narrow path takes you on a winding route up a south-facing slope, crosses a wide fire break, and finally tops out on a rounded, nearly flat ridge. There’s a 1927-foot knoll immediately to the east, and a slightly higher point overlooking Mulholland Drive 0.4 mile east. Late in the day you can watch evening shadows elongate across the San Fernando Valley, and clouds form along the coast as the chill of evening descends upon the land.

This article contains information about a publicly owned recreation or wilderness area. Trails and pathways are not necessarily marked. Conditions can change rapidly. Hikers should be properly equipped and have safety and navigational skills. The Reader and Jerry Schad assume no responsibility for any adverse experience.

Caballero Canyon
Rise high above San Fernando Valley on the Caballero Canyon Trail.
Distance from downtown San Diego:
142 miles
Hiking length: 4.2 miles round trip
Difficulty: Moderate

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