A short drive east from Will Rogers is a trail that cuts through Sullivan Canyon, one of the most popular hiking, mountain-biking, and horseback-riding routes in the city. And for good reason. The first three-plus miles take you up a very gently rising, intermittently shaded grade, really more of a stroll than a strenuous hike. Take the time to notice the changes in sounds as you progress up the trail - the hum of leaf blowers around affluent homes is gradually replaced with the songs of birds and the gurgling of a seasonal river. The trail - once narrow and bumpy, it has been widened and smoothed out in many places - ascends steeply over the final mile to the unimaginatively named Sullivan Fire Road No. 26, which hugs the ridge.
Turning back here and retracing your steps along the canyon floor will yield a trek of a little less than nine miles. But don't be too hasty to return to civilization - from the intersection of the Sullivan Canyon trail and the fire road, it's easy to imagine you're miles from the nearest town, so completely obscured by the surrounding mountains and ridge lines are any traces of humanity. To continue enjoying spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the ocean below - and to make it a loop, rather than an out-and-back hike - go right (or north) along the fire road until you reach a yellow metal gate, which is the intersection of an unpaved portion of Mulholland Drive.
Taking a right onto Mulholland will lead you quickly to San Vicente Mountain Park, which, at the height of the Cold War, was a radar installation. The location, once considered ideal by military planners intent on thwarting their Soviet counterparts, is oddly idyllic, with some of the remaining structures under siege by grasses and bright wildflowers. The original radar tower is now a lookout platform providing views of the entire Los Angeles basin.
To complete the 10-mile circuit, head south on Fire Road No. 25, which follows the ridge separating Sullivan Canyon on your right and Mandeville Canyon on your left. It's a pleasant, mostly downhill four-mile walk with almost continuous views south to the Santa Monica pier and the Palos Verdes Peninsula. When you reach Westridge Trailhead - conveniently spelled out on a metal gate - follow the sidewalk along Westridge Road to Bayliss Road. Take a right on Bayliss and follow it back to where the loop began.