We Went to a Great Hiking Trail… and Did a Lot More Than Just Hike!

A few days ago, a couple friends and I went to Veterans Memorial Park in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Sylmar. It’s at the edge of the Angeles National Forest, and after just a little while, you’re surrounded by nature and quickly forget you’re next to the second-largest city in the country. But we came to do more than just hike. We came to conquer this hill:

Photographs don’t do this hill justice. It’s steep. For about a tenth of a mile, it shoots up at probably a 35-40% grade, heading up and to the left, starting near that utility pole. It’s sandy and rocky, so you gotta pay attention so you don’t slip. Long story short: it’s one helluva place for a workout.

While we parked in Veterans Memorial Park, the hill is just beyond it, a little ways up the May Canyon Truck Trail, which continues, to the right, at a gentler incline. I learned about it a couple years ago, and I think it’s an under-appreciated hike in the Los Angeles area.

RELATED CONTENT: My recent hike to the remains of a shipwreck!

We came to do hill repeats: multiple climbs up and down that super-steep hill, where you really push yourself to hustle during the climbs. It’s a great interval workout that really pushes your heart and the rest of your body when you go up. You can catch your breath on your way down, but going down is a different sort of challenge, with lots of bracing required as you combat gravity on the sandy trail.

Each climb is about 200 feet in elevation gain (roughly a 15-story building), and we did it four times. I was excited to share this workout venue with my friends Dan and Juliana – Dan had seen my Instagram post about a similar workout here a couple months ago, and wanted to check it out. Here’s Dan, Juliana, and me after our fourth ascent:

That took about 50 minutes, but we didn’t stop there. The trail continued on, up another steep hill:

After another 20 minutes of climbing, we got to our highest perch, after a total of almost 1,500 feet in elevation gain.  Fantastic views of the San Fernando Valley!

This photo was taken where our trail met up with the May Canyon Truck Trail, so we took that road back down, and that concluded our workout. We covered 2.8 miles, in 1 hour and 35 minutes. Here’s our elevation chart…  cool, right?

1,479 feet in elevation gain is roughly a 110-story building. Whoa!

Keep it up, David!


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