Murphy Ranch, more commonly known as the “Nazi Bunker,” sits in the hills of the Pacific Palisades. It’s creepy because had Germany won WWII, this is supposedly the place where Hitler planned to rule the world. With a 375,000 gallon water tank, a diesel power plant, and many other amenities, this estate could’ve harbored a world fascism headquarters for an uninterrupted year. To the misfortune of worldwide fascist domination, construction on the ranch was interrupted by the federal government the day after Pearl Harbor.
In 2013, it’s perhaps a comical ruin of what never was. Hidden in LA’s 6th richest census tract and watched over by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, it has become home to local hooligans… beer cans scatter the grounds and graffiti covers every inch of poured concrete. This current narrative fits in more with the area’s history. After all, just down the creek from Murphy Ranch is the former Uplifters’ Clubhouse where bohemians hid out during Prohibition to keep the party going.
Despite its hidden nature, access is pretty simple. If you go up Capri from Sunset, you turn right on Casale Road and just park wherever you can, so thank you benevolent Palisades homeowners for letting us use your street parking. Anyway, if you turn back west an head down the road it will turn into Sullivan Fire Road. After a short while, the gates to the estate will appear. When there’s a fork in the road, turn left to find an unruly amount of stairs. Good for simplicity’s sake, and good for sculpting your butt.
When Angelenos leave town on the 15 searching for nudity, they’re normally going to Vegas. But, one only needs to drive to Hesperia to find these nude bathing pools. That is, one gets off the freeway in Hesperia and then drives another 20 miles or so, 6+ of which are on a dirt road. Also, once you park, it’s still another 2 mile hike down to Deep Creek. Most importantly, the Deep Creek Volunteers remind us that “nude is not lewd,” which is to say, there are no poles, no pasties, and no private rooms. It’s kind of like how Eleanor Roosevelt said, “A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” Well, there were a lot of women in very hot water during my visit to these hot springs and all of them were wearing their bathing suits. Sometimes, it’s just nice to know that if you have a burning desire to take off all your clothes, you won’t get arrested.
I’m a firm believer that hot springs are always enjoyable, but the best part about this trip is the landscape. You start in a Joshua Tree speckled desert, you work your way across a hillside covered with juniper and sage, and then you reach a portion of the 23-mile Deep Creek. I don’t know where the creek begins or how, even after a dry summer, there is still water flowing. But, there’s no wonder the Forest Service reports, “Deep Creek supports the greatest diversity of wildlife habitats of any drainage on the San Bernardino National Forest.”
For more information about these springs, check here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/sbnf/recreation/hiking/recarea?recid=34152&actid=50
Most of the land along Mulholland is made of vast open spaces like Topanga State Park and Malibu Creek State Park. But, there’s that strip of Mulholland people have heavily populated which straddles Sherman Oaks/Studio City on the valley side and Beverly Hills/West Hollywood/Hollywood on the city side. For example, Beverly Crest has 13 times the people per square mile than Unincorporated Santa Monica Mountains.
The people who live along populated Mulholland drive over the hill and back again. Back and forth, back and forth. In a video for Pacific Standard Time, Ice Cube weighs the good and the bad about Los Angeles, “The bad: the traffic. Each freeway has its own personality. The 405, bougie traffic. The 110, ha ha, that’s gangster traffic right there. There’s a difference, you gotta know where you at.” So, where are you at in canyon traffic? Who are those Angelinos?
But, the more relevant question is who are the Angelinos hiking in those canyons instead of driving over them?
Well, I’ll offer that my friends and I used to come here a lot in high school, partly because many of my friends lived down the block, but mostly because we needed oxygen to breath. I’ll bet the neighbors called us hooligans. We thought we’d found freedom.
There’s probably something interesting to say about the fact that Warren Beatty donated this 20-acre parcel of land in the 80’s, but I’m flooded with nostalgia and the strong belief that Los Angeles does offer refuges when we’re smart enough to brake for them.
For more information about Dixie Canyon, check here: http://www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=6