June 02, 2011

Photo Essay: Murphy Ranch in Rustic Canyon (Updated for 2021)

Update 9/11/21 2:11 PM PT—I'm not 100% sure of the status of some of these structures, as I haven't been able to get down there and see them for myself. 

circa 2011

Unfortunately, it's been confirmed that the Paul R. Williams-designed gate (made of wrought iron and stone pillars, anchored by a long stone wall) was removed without notice in 2016. 

circa 2011

In 2011 and 2012, it was intact.

circa 2011

But time and foot traffic had not been kind to the gate, which became increasingly tagged and unstable by the time of my last visit in 2014.

circa 2014

Whether any of it was salvaged is currently unknown. And I have heard from reliable sources that some of the other ruins at Murphy Ranch have also been razed or removed. I'll update this post when I have a definite confirmation.

In the meantime, here's my original post from 2011:

When I heard that there was a mysterious, graffitied, abandoned building hidden in Rustic Canyon, near the Rustic Canyon Trail I couldn't find during my hike from Will Rogers into Topanga, I knew I had to go.

Its creepy history as a Nazi camp only added to the draw of visiting the site, which isn't easy to find - not only because of the 500+ stair descent into the canyon (and climb back up), but also because of how hidden those stairs actually are. Even after having come down off of them, I had a hard time finding my way back up.

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