The Nike Missile Hike
Once a missile defense site. Now a gorgeous hike.
Los Angeles, our hilltops once bristled with nukes.
Today, the weed-filled remains of those ’50s Army outposts — where nuclear-tipped missiles waited for Soviet bombers that never came — make for excellent hikes.
Introducing the Nike-Ajax Missile Hike in San Vicente Mountain Park, a trek into the dusty vestiges of Cold War-era California.
To get started, download this map. Few signs dot these trails, so this guide will keep you from wandering into the wilderness, or worse, Encino.
Park in the dirt lot at the end of Westridge (map) and take one of two trails — a fireroad to the left, or a single-track to the right.
After a steep climb you’ll emerge above the treeline, where panoramic views of the LA Basin await. From there, it’s 3.5 miles to the site.
The station below (there were 16) – a radar outpost – has been impeccably preserved.
Still dotting the property: the original signage, including one with the Kruschev quote “We will bury you.” The observation tower, which you can climb, overlooks the San Fernando Valley and the Encino Reservoir.
Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and the map.
Good preparation: it’s the reason you’re here, after all.
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