A stark reminder of L.A.’s Cold War air defense system can be found at the top of San Vicente Mountain, off an unpaved portion of Mulholland Drive. The official name for this facility is the Cold War-creepy LA-96, a/k/a the Van Nuys/Sepulveda Nike Missile Control Site. It’s also one of the more scenic spots in L.A., rewarding hikers and mountain bikers at the top of the West Ridge and Sullivan Canyon Trails with stunning 360-degree vistas.
According to the San Vicente Mountain Park website, LA-96 contained a radar tracking station for the Nike-Ajax antiaircraft missiles that were prepared to fire from the nearby Sepulveda Basin at invading Russkie warplanes. Now the site has picnic tables and bathrooms for hikers and other visitors.
The sign at the entrance to LA-96 sends a bit of a mixed message. No commies or cars allowed?
This guard looks menacing. He’s armed with … fleece.
Stunningly scenic, creepy, and historic all at once? That’s what makes LA-96 one of my favorite spots in Los Angeles.