Hikes: Trebek Open Space

Named after Alex Trebek, the man who donated this land to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Trebek Open Space is a lovely area nestled in-between Runyon Canyon and some of the priciest real estate in Los Angeles. I’d always thought of this guy as kind of a dufus - a faux academic elitist who comes off as overly smug because he has all the 'questions' to the 'answers' on his game show. However, his donation of these 62 acres to the open space in Los Angeles has done much to shatter my preconceptions of the man. There is far less foot and paw traffic here than in nearby Runyon Canyon Park, dogs are welcome, and the scenery is quite similar, offering a panoramic view over Hollywood spanning from downtown Los Angeles to Century City and Santa Monica Bay beyond.

There are two half-mile long fire roads in Trebek Open Space that cross the south face of the Hollywood Hills; Bantam, the upper trail, and Castair, the lower trail. Bantam Trail begins at Nichols Canyon Road and climbs to a ridge on the east side of the park. Castair Trail begins from a trailhead lower down the ridge off Wattles Dr. and drops into Nichols Canyon, coming to a dead-end above the road. There is also a steep, rugged single-track that connects the two trails.

Bantam Trail

To get to the Bantam trailhead, take Hollywood Boulevard to Nichols Canyon Road, three blocks east of Fairfax Ave. Head north on Nichols Canyon Road for 1.3 miles. The trailhead is behind a black gate at a turnout on the right side of a left-hand hairpin turn. Plenty of parking is available in the turnout.

Castair Trail from Bantam Trail

Pass through the black gate and start up Bantam Trail. The dirt fire road heads southeast, gradually ascending out of the canyon. Views over Hollywood expand as the trail follows the east side of Nichols Canyon. After ascending 150 feet in the first 0.45 miles, you will come to a junction with Astral Drive Trail.

Turn left up Astral Drive Trail which ascends 125 feet over 0.3 miles to a trailhead on Astral Drive at the top of Trebek Open Space. Head left and hike 0.15 miles up Astral Dr. to Solar Drive. There are two options from here.

Option 1

Turn right on Solar Drive and walk 0.25 mile to a junction with Western High Way Trail in Runyon Canyon Park. From here, it’s a short 0.25 mile jaunt out to the rock formation that crowns Western High Way Trail at 1,223 ft. Stay for while and soak in the view - great photo ops abound. Retrace your steps back to Astral Dr. trail.

Option 2

Alternatively, you can continue another 100 yards up Astral Drive and make the next right up a service road that connects to the trailhead at the top of Runyon Canyon Park. The pavement soon ends on this residential road, and turns into a wide dirt road for the remaining 0.5 mile hike to the parking lot on Mulholland Dr. From here, Indian Rock at 1,325 ft, is easily accessible. When descending from Indian Rock, take any one of the trails heading southwest back towards Solar Dr. and retrace your steps back to Astral Dr. Trail.

Downtown L.A. from Astral Dr. Trail

Descend Astral Dr. Trail until it intersects with Bantam Trail, 0.3 miles from the trailhead. If you turn left, Bantam Trail follows a ridgeline and comes to an end in 100 yards at an overlook. To the east, hikers are often visible making their way along Western High Way Trail, the ridge on the west side of Runyon Canyon Park. Hollywood lies to the southeast, Park La Brea and the Miracle Mile are directly south, Century City and Westwood are visible to the southwest. From here there’s a rugged single-track that descends precipitously to the top of Wattles Drive and the start of Castair Trail - but it’s probably easier to reach this trail from the trailhead on Wattles Dr. (see below). Retrace your steps back to the gate on Nichols Canyon Road.

Details - Option 1
Distance: 4.5 mi
Duration: 2.5 hrs
Elevation Range: 815 ft - 1,223 ft
Net Elevation Gain: 408 ft
Total Elevation Gain: 771 ft
Trailhead Address: 2500 Nichols Canyon Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90046
Trailhead Coordinates: 34.113539, -118.359405
Description: There is far less foot and paw traffic than in nearby Runyon Canyon Park, and the scenery is quite similar.

Castair Trail

To get to the Castair trailhead: take Hollywood Boulevard to Curson Ave., six blocks west of Fairfax, and head north for 0.6 miles. At road’s end take the sharp left, and continue up Wattles Drive for 0.3 miles to the trailhead. Roadside parking is available, but limited.

The Castair Trail, a fire road, heads northwest into Nichols Canyon, dropping 125 ft in elevation as it runs parallel to the Bantam Trail above. There are nice views up and down the canyon, similar to Bantam Trail. Half a mile in, the trail comes to a sudden end at an imposing black gate marked “No Trespassing” and does not connect to Nichols Canyon Road.

Retrace your steps to the trailhead. If you like, you can then make the steep climb up the ridge to Bantam Trail. The single-track up the ridge is quite steep, so you will want to exercise some care. At the intersection of Bantam Trail, you can then hike one of the options listed above.

Distance: 1 mi
Duration: 30 mins
Elevation Range: 770 ft - 695 ft
Net Elevation Gain: 75 ft
Total Elevation Gain: 75 ft
Trailhead Address: 1900 Wattles Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90046
Trailhead Coordinates: 34.105764, -118.356813
Description: A short stroll with minimal elevation gain providing nice view up and down Nichols Canyon.