Your tour bus probably won’t stop here, but the extra effort it might take you to get to this spot will definitely be worth it. The Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City is guaranteed to give you one of the best views of the vast Los Angeles area without hiring a helicopter or climbing a mountain. At the top you will be standing at 511 feet, about the height of a 50-story building.
The Overlook opened in April, 2009 so not everybody has discovered it yet and most tour guides will not know anything about it. The entrance is located at 6300 Hetzler Road off Jefferson Boulevard, west of La Cienega Boulevard and east of Duquesne Avenue. It is part of the California State Park System which because of the state budget crisis is fighting for survival. Therefore, the visitor center has limited hours of operation but is usually open at the weekends.
However, this should not hinder you from visiting at any time during daylight hours on a weekday. There are information boards around the trails describing the flora and fauna in the area and nobody can stop you from looking at the spectacular views.
Parking at the top is $6 on the honor system. You can also leave your car on Jefferson Boulevard (or take the city bus) and walk up, but reaching the summit by foot is not for the timid. If you have any fear of heights or are physically impaired in any way, the best way to walk up is on Hetzler Road, but watch out for speeding vehicles (including cyclists) and loose gravel. The road is steep but graded for automobile use.
Two other ways for the more intrepid and physically fit are the stairs which are uneven and very steep, and the hiking trail which is steep in places with loose soil. If you have knee or hip problems, don’t take the stairs without a hiking pole to hoist you up. On the trail, be especially careful coming down.
As you soak in the view from the top, you can understand why the area is referred to as the Los Angeles Basin. The city occupies four hundred square miles and is the only city in the world divided by a mountain range, the Santa Monica Mountains. Hidden behind this range is the San Fernando Valley. To the east is the highest point within the Los Angeles City limits, Mount Lukens (at approximately 5080 feet) in the San Gabriel Mountains. To the west lies the Pacific Ocean, and on a clear day freighters and cruise ships are visible. Downtown LA, the Hollywood sign, the Griffith Observatory, Century City, and the Getty Center are all landmarks you will recognize from this vantage point.
For more information you can check out the official website at http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=22790
(Photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)