You won’t find your next pair of sneakers at this Nike outlet, but you’ll still need a good pair of shoes for this 4-mile (round-trip) hike in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Nike Missile Control Site, a decommissioned Cold War military outpost in San Vicente Mountain Park
is your starting and ending point. The entrance is about a mile up a stretch of unpaved road. Vintage signposts explain the site’s history. San Vicente Mountain’s 1,950-foot elevation made it ideal for erecting a missile radar station in 1956; the project was shut down in 1968. Today the station marks a great spot for nabbing a panoramic view of Los Angeles, the Valley, and the Pacific. But first, take a hike that offers an interesting perspective of the site’s advantageous location. Take a right past the picnic benches to the trailhead of the Mandeville Canyon Fire Road. After 0.5 mile, keep left at the fork to descend deeper into Mandeville Canyon, marked by the fancy pools and yards of luxe properties. Plan to hit this trek in the morning or evening—it may have been a Cold War site, but the exposed trail makes this an afternoon scorcher. When you turn around at the 2-mile point (marked by the fork in the road) the hike back up reveals the missile radar towers from across the canyon. When you reach them, make one last push to climb the stairs to the top. From here it’s an incomparable 360-degree view sweeping across the valley and to downtown. On clear days you can see all the way out to Catalina Island. Rad radar.
Exit the 405 Freeway at Skirball Center/Mulholland Dr. and make a left onto Mulholland Dr. Follow Mulholland until it hits Encino Hills Dr. at the Encino Hills Overlook, and make a left to stay on Mulholland, which becomes a dirt road. Follow it for about a mile until it dead-ends. The entrance to San Vicente Mountain Park will be on your left. Dog-friendly!