A Cold War base once used for sighting enemy aircraft is bound to have panoramic views. And luckily those views haven’t gone to waste on San Vicente Mountain Park, where a decommissioned radar tower offers peaceful vistas. Some weekends it’s possible to drive right onto the base-turned-park from an unpaved section of Mulholland Drive, but for a more scenic and adventurous trip put your mettle to pedal on a 4-mile round-trip mountain bike ride that climbs from Mandeville Canyon in Brentwood. The dirt road starts out steep but levels out as you ride up the west side, passing suspension towers and catching expanding views down into a canyon cradled by tall green ridges. At the top of the road, turn right and bike the last half-mile along the spine of the ridge to San Vicente Mountain, 2 miles and 675 vertical feet from the start. From 1956 to 1968, this mountain was used as a military defense site to protect LA from soviet attacks. The base was shut down when the technology became outdated, but the tower is still in service for other purposes and the mountain’s history is explained on faux military signs. Climb up to the viewing platform to enjoy views that sweep south over Los Angeles, west over the canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains, north over the San Fernando Valley, and east toward the higher San Gabriels. Keep this one on your radar.
From the 405 in Brentwood, exit Sunset Blvd. and drive 2.3 miles west. Turn right on Mandeville Canyon Rd. and drive north for 4.8 miles. Turn left on Garden Lane Rd. and park. The trail begins on the left. After half a mile, stay to the right through an unmarked junction with a dead-end utility road. At the top of the road, turn right for the last half-mile. Return down the way you came. Dog-friendly! Photo by bdgstonepix.