A wilderness preserve in Glendale

Gas prices and apprehensive curiosity brought me to the trails of Deukmejian Wilderness Park last Saturday. I wanted to test out a new phone application (more on that to follow in a separate post), but didn’t want to drive across town to do it ($4.29 a gallon!?).

The Station Fire ripped through this park in 2009, turning it into an apocolyptic wasteland, and it was closed for more than a year. I had heard parts of it had reopened, but was reluctant to check it out and destroy my peaceful memories of the place.

News flash: it’s as beautiful as ever.

Tucked into the northernmost Glendale, the park is named after George Deukmejian, former governor of California. Some serious money went into spiffing it up before the economy tanked. There is a wide lawn with picnic tables overlooking the Verdugo Mountains for post-hike relaxing and a restored barn surrounded by robust rows of grapevines.

The main loop trail (LeMesnegar) is slightly shorter than I remember (about 1.8 miles), but it’s in good condition and has a couple of nice turnoffs that lead to viewpoints. Half the trail has distant views of the 210 Freeway and the other half views of chaparral-covered hillsides that make you forget civilization is just around the bend. Charred oaks dot the landscape, but in hopeful contrast, wildflowers and wild fennel also coat the hills and illustrate nature’s power to fight back and survive. Interestingly, while cars jammed the pullout next to the La Tuna Canyon trails just across the freeway, Deukmejian only had a handful of cars in its ample lot. The longer and more strenuous Rim of the Valley trail is closed for the time being, so that may be one of the reasons.

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