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|
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.
I try a lot of hiking boots and shoes, and there are some great options out there, but the La Sportiva Spire is the best combination of comfort, protection, low-weight, and durability. They are waterproof, and the high cuff keeps debris out without the need for a gaiter. Time tested over thousands of miles. Use them with a two-layer sock system to end blisters for good.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: Women – Men
On a medium or longer hike I recommend a pack like the Osprey Talon 33 (men) or Osprey Sirrus 36 (women) which is a little bit larger. These packs are on the upper end of the (35L) daypack range, but they only weigh a small fraction more than a pack with less capacity. Having the extra space gives you more flexibility and means you don’t have to jam things in there. I use the space for things like extra layers in the winter, extra water on desert hikes, and even a tent & sleeping bag on overnights.
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI (or Amazon).
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated September 2020.
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 offset website expenses. 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.
Download the Hike GPX FileView a Printable PDF Hike Map
Your best move to navigate this hike is to take a paper map, compass, and a GPS device. Load the GPX track from this hike onto your GPS to ensure that you’re on the trail. I’m a big fan of GPS watches; I just glance down at it to cross-check my position and use paper when I want a deeper dive. The GPS watch that I’m using now is the Fenix 6 Pro Solar (price: REI or Amazon). It’s pricey but has a great battery, accurate GPS, and tons of other wellness, fitness, and smart-watch applications. For a more affordable option, check out the value-packed Garmin Instinct (price: REI or Amazon), a similar watch without some of the features. There are also great smartphone GPS apps like GaiaGPS. If you end up getting GaiaGPS premium, I’ve arranged for a 20-40% discount for my readers.
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!
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.