Blog Post Alana Garibaldi May 15, 2024

A Hiking Guide to the Rim of the Valley

An insider’s guide to exploring this region of California that could soon become part of the National Park System.

NPCA’s newest partnership campaign with Nature Valley spotlights how expanding the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to include land within the Rim of the Valley will increase access to the last wild lands and cultural sites in Los Angeles. NPCA recently spent a day in Rim of the Valley with Nature Valley producing a video highlighting this area. We found a terrific hike that you might want to explore, as well.

Blog Post

5 Reasons the Rim of the Valley Should Be Protected

National Parks Conservation Association and Nature Valley are working together to protect places in nature for everyone to enjoy – including land that comprises the Rim of the Valley in…

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This easy to moderate hike in the backyard of Los Angeles is part of an important wildlife corridor connecting the Santa Susana and Santa Monica mountain ranges to the Angeles and Los Padres National Forests.

In it, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the city, see a marker commemorating the historical overland route to San Francisco, and have opportunities to view deer, bobcats, coyotes and other wildlife. With easy access and parking, plus trail loop options to explore, it’s a great option for the whole family.

Getting to the trailhead

Our favorite aspect of this trail is how easy it is to access — yet how completely removed it is from the hustle and bustle of LA! Travelling from downtown Los Angeles, take the 118 Freeway to the Rocky Peak Road exit. After less than half a mile, turn onto Lilac Lane and drive a short distance to the Lilac Lane Trailhead at the end of the street. You’ll be just a few minutes from the freeway, yet you’ll likely hear just the sounds of birds or wind rustling through the trees.

Trail highlight: Sweeping views of Los Angeles!

As you approach the trailhead, you’ll immediately be greeted by stunning views of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see the Santa Monica Mountains, the Verdugo Mountains, Angeles National Forest and even Griffith Park! Seeing both natural and manmade spaces around you provides a striking reminder of how close this rugged landscape is to the city. You’ll soon have the option of heading left, up the Mattingly Trail, or right, down Old Santa Susana Stagecoach Road. A trail map can guide you. (Note: dogs on leash are allowed on trails.). Both trails offer views throughout their length, but we started by exploring the historic area along Old Santa Susana Stagecoach Road.

Hidden gem: Old Santa Susana Stagecoach Road

After descending about half a mile, keep your eyes peeled to the rock face on your right. A mosaic plaque was built and erected here in 1939 to commemorate the historic road that traced a rocky Native American foot path linking villages in the Simi and San Fernando valleys. From the 1860s until rail service arrived a decade later, the route connected the Los Angeles Basin and inland Ventura County. It also served as the main route between Los Angeles and San Francisco by early stagecoach travelers.

The marker is a great place to stop and reflect on the earlier people who connected with this land. But remember not to disturb any natural or cultural features, as on any public lands.

Local plants and wildlife

Heading back up to the trailhead where we started, we hiked north and began exploring the Mattingly Trail. This portion features the wild landscape emblematic of the Rim of the Valley area. Along this roughly half-mile section of trail, you’ll see sandstone rock outcroppings, narrow ridges and deep canyons.


Protecting the Rim of the Valley

In Los Angeles’ backyard, just beyond the hustle and bustle of the city, a nature escape awaits. Watch this video by National Parks Conservation Association and Nature Valley.

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This landscape is home to the rare Santa Susana tarplant, as well as more common native plant species such as California sagebrush (also known as cowboy cologne due to its pleasant aroma that can be used as a natural deodorant), buckwheat, coast live oak and more. Mule deer, bobcats, coyotes and mountain lions live in this diverse ecosystem. During my first hike here, I was lucky enough to spot a coyote just off the trail!

Abounding in natural and cultural resources, this trail is a great showcase of the treasures within the Rim of the Valley. You can join NPCA and Nature Valley in our efforts to protect it for future generations to come!

About NPCA’s Efforts to Protect the Rim of the Valley

NPCA has advocated for the Rim of the Valley’s national park designation as an extension of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area for nearly a decade. Mobilizing a community-based effort, NPCA created and continues to lead the Rim of the Valley Coalition to amplify diverse voices and ensure protection of this vital landscape.

About NPCA’s Partnership with Nature Valley

Together, NPCA and Nature Valley are increasing access to nature by protecting national parks and public lands. Supported by a $200,000 donation, Nature Valley and NPCA are furthering efforts this year to preserve the land that comprises the Rim of the Valley in Los Angeles, California, by spotlighting how the land’s protection will create greater opportunities for recreation and access to nature, among other benefits, for Los Angeles residents. Be sure to follow along on NPCA’s YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok as we release content to inspire you to learn more about this land and make your own memories in parks like this.

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About the author

  • Alana Garibaldi Manager, Strategic Partnerships

    As the manager of corporate partnerships and cause marketing, Alana connects like-minded companies to NPCA’s work, creating collective impact for our parks.