Los Angeles Hikes

Hike Rustic Canyon, Unseen Murphy Ranch Buildings

Enjoy a mostly shaded hike, boulder and creek hoping to your delight, whilst exploring old abandoned buildings often overlooked and hidden from the more popular trails of the Murphy Ranch complex. Rustic Canyon is located in the Pacific Palisades, generally located south of the Murphy Ranch powerhouse and included in the outer boundary of Will Rogers State Park. Be warned, this area is very muddy and the creek crossings are many, but stick to the shallow creek and you’ll be rewarded with layers of green along the hike until the dilapidated wooden and concrete structures take your attention away.

Hike Stats:

Distance: 5 Miles (total to the barn and back)

Time: 3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Hike Configuration: Out and Back

Shaded: Mostly


Parking Location and Address: Park at 1047 Will Rogers State Park Road (Free Parking)

Lower pinpoint is parking, Upper Pinpoint is Trailhead start.

Hike Write-up:

After the initial stretch after a long car ride. We were off.

We headed north and continued from the parking area to enter Will Rogers State Park. As you enter the park you will first see a “dogs on leash” sign, enter through this gate and follow the paved path into a wide green pasture. A white fence and a hill to your left will signify  the right direction.


Continue down this paved road for about .2 miles

The paved road will soon turn into dirt road and you’ll begin to see the start of the trail-head.


Start of the Trail-head

Although we hiked this on March 2016, the sign for the Murphy Ranch demolition was still there.



The path begins nice and tamed, a lot of necessary infrastructure gives the beginning of the hike a scenic look.


Bridges – Railways

Travel down this exciting little path for a short while until you hit the creek. This nice walk overlooks a few buildings and backyards of the Palisades. Definitely doesn’t make you feel like you are part of nature, until you get to the creek. The hike will change into more of an adventure than anything.


When you hit the creek, hang a left, head up the canyon. The trail then becomes unmantained, expect the trail to disappear for short intervals. But as long as you follow the creek, you can sight the trail over the next ridge or bend.


Venturing through the brush of the canyon.


During the morning the nice breezy air made this a comfortable hike with few bugs. If you decide to hike this trail realize that you are next to a creek and may encounter some annoying pests. Unfortunately on this trip I encountered 4 ticks and had to remove them. This was probably because I was hoping in and out of brushes and trees looking for the next best photo. As long as you stick to the trails you should be tick-free the whole time. Also the nats could be an annoying thing, bring some bug-spray just in case.

But as long as you’re in nature enjoy the beauty of the babbling Rustic Creek.


The Seasonal Rustic Creek.

As long as you continue along the Rustic Creek and trail, you’ll first find the Check Dam, which created an artificial waterfall. It’s a shame some graffiti artists have painted on the dam, but if urban art is your thing, enjoy the looks., just don’t add to it.


At this point you will have to take a path to the left of the dam in order to hike to the top of the dam. Do this but continue along the creek if you want to see the abandoned structures. At the top of the dam there will be an optional uphill trail to the right that leads you to the ridge of the canyon and back to the main Sullivan fire road. Some nice views on this trail, but not worth the trouble to hike back down a steep grade to then check out the buildings.

The first building you will see is an old wooden horse stable probably used by the residents of Murphy Ranch.


A very interesting find, many rooms to explore. (Something that was really interesting) See those metal bars hanging from the roof? You can actually use those as a workout station!

Once you’ve checked out the horse stable continue on the trail, More secrets await you.


Another abandoned structure.


In total there were at least a half dozen abandoned structures we found on this trail, many of which I had no idea were here until I took this trail. We took this trail all the way to the powerhouse. If you continue on the trail it will lead you to a large dirt fire road. Take this trail to see the now sealed off Murphy Ranch powerhouse.


Powerhouse completely sealed off, due to being a “hazard”.


Back also sealed off.


The inside of the powerhouse at an earlier date if you’ve never seen it.

To my surprise the city never completed the demolition of Murphy Ranch, but now looking at the number of buildings and the cost to go through with the demo, it would be a pain in the neck. Instead of completely demolish the buildings, they tore down a scrapyard and a water tank. With the sealing off of the powerhouse all that’s left is the barn. Who knows when that will be demolished, but all I can say is that it’s one large project.

We continued on the trail in the same direction we’ve been heading the whole time  to find this beast of a building.


1 year demo project

With this being the main attraction we wanted to see, we decided to turn back here. The hike to this point was about 2.5 miles, so we thought this was a healthy amount to walk.

Turn around at this point and you should be able to retrace your steps.

On the way back…


Gotta love those creepy random trail signs.

GPX Route:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.