...but when I do...
...it's usually to Murphy Ranch.
After all, it took me at least three visits just to find all of the ruins I was looking for.
And now, since I know the creepy, abandoned area pretty well, I'm inviting people to come hike it with me for my next event as field agent for Atlas Obscura.
From the official event listing:
Join Obscura Society LA as we step back in time to explore the ruins of an attempted Nazi utopia – right here in the Santa Monica Mountains
If Hitler had ever made his way stateside, he would have been welcomed by a group of his supporters living in deep seclusion in a compound mere miles from Brentwood.
Join Obscura Society field agent Sandi Hemmerlein (me!) as we explore Murphy Ranch – a famed, creepy hiking destination, with a sordid history of Nazi sympathizers and art colonists, hidden deep on the canyon floor of the Santa Monica Mountains.
Now entirely tagged with graffiti, the various structures of the compound (cisterns, water tanks, a burned-out machine shed, and the main power house) were all meant to sustain as a Nazi holdout for years in isolation.
We'll start our journey at the wrought iron gated entrance of this would-be "Hitler Bunker," designed by famous African-American architect Paul Revere Williams, and work our way through the 50 acre property, where a four-story mansion was also planned. On the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the United States federal government raided the compound, shutting down their command center and the Nazi utopia that never was.
Now city-owned, this secluded parcel of land has been home to wealthy ranchers, immigrant bohemians, local artists, and even the famous novelist Henry Miller. Wildfires have ravaged the Rustic Canyon area on several occasions, but many of these ruins remain ripe for exploring.
Notes for this adventure:
- Murphy Ranch is located in a remote canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains with no services and no cell phone service.
- We will email out exact meeting location to all attendees closer to the event date.
- Street parking is available, but limited and in a residential area. Please be respectful of the neighbors, and carpool if possible.
- We will be hiking about 3.5 miles round trip at a moderate pace. Please plan accordingly with water, snacks, and proper shoes.
- This is a reverse hike, meaning we will descend into the canyon first and then climb out of it when we exit. Please reserve your energy for the uphill climb at the end!
- There are a couple of different route options, but this hike will require a significant amount of stair-climbing, as well as paved and dirt trails.
- Be prepared for heat! Please bring water and sun protection (sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, etc.).
- Dog-friendly! Just be sure your pup can climb up and down stairs, as well as bring proper clean-up equipment.
I don't usually post detailed directions to a lot of the places I explore, but I'm looking forward to helping a group of intrepid explorers find where the good stuff is at one of my favorite places in LA.
Photo Essay: Murphy Ranch in Rustic Canyon
Photo Essay: Rustic Canyon's Twisted History
Photo Essay: The Lost Ruins of Rustic Canyon
Photo Essay: Solstice Canyon