Vital Link Trail to Verdugo Peak Hike
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance (?)||6 miles (9.7 km)|
|Hike Time||3-4 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||1,920 feet (585m)|
|Highest Elevation||3,126 feet (953m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Wildwood Canyon Park|
|Weather & Forecast||Latest Conditions|
|Stay Safe||Copy this webpage link to the clipobard and share with a friend before you hike. Let them know when to expect you back.|
The Verdugo Mountains, often overshadowed by their bigger neighbors, offer great hiking and trails right in the middle of LA. This hike on the popular Vital Link Trail takes you to the highest point in the range, Verdugo Peak. The Vital Link Trail is a tough one, but you’re rewarded along the way with panoramic views from the ocean to the San Gabriels. And the Burbank trailhead makes it convenient to most of LA.
Where is the Vital Link Trail?
The hike starts at Burbank’s Wildwood Canyon Park. There are several trails in the park, which can get confusing, so make sure you pay attention to the starting directions below. There is plenty of free parking at the hike.
Use this trailhead address to get to the park:
Wildwood Canyon Park, 1701 Wildwood Canyon, Burbank CA 91501
There are a few use-trails in the park that all lead to the Vital Link Trail. These hike directions use the trailhead described here.
The park has port-a-potties and water fountains (that don’t always work). I’d take care of your business and fill up with water before you get here.
Gear for the Hike
The main thing to be aware of is the lack of shade and the heat. If you are doing this hike when it’s hot out, use sun protection and bring plenty of water. I usually bring 2L. The trail is steep and sandy, so good hiking footwear and trekking poles will help on the steeper slope.
Garmin InReach Mini 2
I’m a firm believer in carrying a satellite communications device which works where cell phones don’t. I use a Garmin InReach which lets me send text messages back and forth to my family to let them know that I’m okay or if my plans change when I’m out in the backcountry. It also has an SOS subscription built-in so that you can reach first-responders in an emergency. The devices also offer weather reports, GPS, and navigation functionality (what’s the difference between a GPS and satellite communicator?). For a few hundred bucks they could save your life, so for me it’s a no brainer to have something like a Garmin InReach. If you use a smartphone to navigate and want a more affordable option that integrates with your phone easily, check out the ZOLEO.
Latest Prices: Amazon | REI
Altra Lone Peak 6
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Terraventure 3 or Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. I have a video on the details of the Altra Lone Peak 6 here.
Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
I’ve gone back and forth on trekking poles, but I think for most people they are a good investment. They help you dig in on the uphills, provide stability on loose downhills, act as a brace when crossing streams, and can probably poke away aggressive wildlife in a pinch. The Trail Ergo Cork poles are a good balance of light weight, durability, affordability, and ease of use. If you want something ultralight and a little more pricey, I’ve had great luck with the Black Diamond Z Poles too.
Trail Ergo Poles: REI | Amazon
Z-Poles: REI | Amazon
Gregory Zulu 30 & Jade 28
After testing quite a few backpacks, the Gregory Zulu 30 (and Jade 28 for women) is, for most hikers, the best all-season day-pack. First off, it’s very comfortable, and the mesh “trampoline” back keeps your back dry. Its 30L capacity is enough for all the essentials and plenty of layers for winter hiking. External pockets make it easy to grab gear. It’s hard to find something wrong with the pack; if anything, it could be a bit lighter, but overall, it’s not heavy. And its price-point makes it not only affordable but generally a great value.
Women’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Men’s Latest Prices: REI | Amazon
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated June 2022.
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.
Vital Link Trail Maps
The trails to Verdugo Peak are not well marked, but are relatively easy to follow. The Vital Link Trail has lots of cut-offs, and it can be hard to know what is a trail cut-off and which is a trail junction. If you have a GPS, loading the GPX file helps.
If you look at the OSM map, you’ll see lots of trails that (as of me writing this) are not there. They might have been at one point, or are small use trails, but in general there is a lot in the OSM map that’s not hike-able.
Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File
If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.
How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
Here’s what I use. If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 7 or Epix. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
Vital Link Trail to Verdugo Peak Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
FYI “Verdugo” means executioner or hangman in Spanish.
If you go right, there is a dead end at some communications equipment, but there’s also a hidden, shady bench. I marked the waypoint in the GPX file. It’s a nice place to catch your breath before continuing.
Okay, back to the directions to Verdugo Peak.
From here you just turn around and go back the way you came!
This guide last updated on July 1, 2021. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.