More Military History: San Vicente Mountain Park

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It’s clear one of my recent obsessions is the Nike missile sites across Southern California. It’s so fascinating our own country’s obsession with coastal defense from the Japanese during World War II and the Soviets during the Cold War. And it’s amazing to step foot on these once forbidden places that could have been part of the chain reaction that destroyed the planet.

This site, LA-96, was a radar site that controlled and tracked all of the missiles part of the LA area sites. It’s mostly intact and part of a monument to our military history tucked away off the 405 freeway in the Santa Monica Mountains.

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Off the 405 going west on Mulholland Drive, there’s a parking area where it ends. There are two trailheads available: the southern most trail takes you to the LA-96 site. It’s an easy uphill walk there of about less than a mile, and voila there it is.

While the signage is pretty funny, perhaps the most amusing thing are the telescopes they put all around the site including the radar tower. I don’t know exactly what they expect people to see through the haze that we can’t see with the naked eye, but they’re there.

From the site, there are a lot of trails that go out into the Santa Monica Mountains that can take you every which way. Just remember that the LA-96 site is on one of the highest places in the area so when heading back there is an incline. It’s not tough, but it is still something to consider.