We were surprised to learn that right here in Los Angeles, there’s a property that was once meant to be a headquarters for Hitler himself. That’s right, there’s an abandoned Nazi compound in Pacific Palisades called Murphy Ranch, and we’re going to tell you how to get to it.
Murphy Ranch sits in Rustic Canyon, in the hills above Los Angeles. It’s a property in ruins now, with decaying structures covered in street art. Nothing about it gives away its dark past, and it’s debatable how much is fact versus folklore, but we had to come and explore it for ourselves. Check out our vlog about it here!
History Of Murphy Ranch
Murphy Ranch was built in the 1930s by Nazi sympathizers Norman and Winona Stephens, under the direction of a German National known as Herr Schmidt. The couple were anti-semites and white supremacists, and members of the Silver Legion of America. They poured millions into the self-sustaining property, which included a home that was intended for Hitler. They believed he would conquer Europe, and then come hide away in Los Angeles to plot his takeover of the U.S. In addition to the house, there were also water tanks, a fuel tank, a bomb shelter, stables, and several bunkers. Fortunately, federal authorities had been keeping an eye on them and in 1941, agents raided the compound and confiscated the property. During the 60s and 70s the abandoned buildings became an artist’s colony, until the Mandeville Canyon Fire in 1978 which caused the grounds to be abandoned once again.
Directions To The Best Parking For Murphy Ranch
From Sunset Boulevard, head North on Capri Drive. Follow Capri until you hit a dead end at Casale Road. This is residential, so be respectful of neighbors and find unposted street parking. There was plenty available when we visited.
Getting To The Trailhead
Start walking westbound on Casale Road, which will turn into Sullivan Fire Road. You’ll see a stone gate. Walk through the gate and follow the driveway to the bottom of the canyon. HIke about another ⅔ of a mile up that wide paved road. You’ll see a chain link fence on your left. Go through the opening and you’ll be led to the top of a massive stone staircase which will take you way down into the canyon. If you miss this staircase, there will be another about ¼ mile up the road next to an abandoned water tower, which is part of the compound.
I Would Walk 500 Stairs
Walk down the 500+ stairs (yes, 500+!) until they end at a road. Turn left here and follow this road all the way down to the bottom of Rustic Canyon. The road continues up the canyon, surrounded by trees that conceal what’s left of the ruins of Murphy Ranch along the way.
The Ruins Of Murphy Ranch
At about the half-mile point, you’ll reach a large heavily spray painted concrete building. Reports claim this was the power building. Once you’re in this area, a variety of structures and miscellaneous things will start to reveal themselves. We saw remnants of walls and building foundations, huge water tanks, a water trough, water spigots, a bomb shelter or bunker (which was wired for power back in the day!), and other evidence of a once fully-functioning compound. If you continue up the road headed north from here, you’ll come to a dilapidated steel structure that “historians” say used to be a garage and machine shed.
You’ll see several footpaths from those who came exploring before you. Follow them and see what you find. None of these ruins have been preserved, and less and less of the notable structures remain with each passing year. At some point in recent years, some of the ruins had even been demolished due to safety concerns.
Finding Your Way Out Of Murphy Ranch
To leave Rustic Canyon, head back to the power plant structure. Make your way up the stairs to the right until you reach the road coming down from Sullivan Fire Road. Go left and go up about a half-mile. You’ll pass one of those massive water tanks we mentioned and eventually arrive at the spot where a stone and wrought iron gate used to be. This was the impressive entrance to Murphy Ranch, and you might be able see some remnants of its footprint. Through there you will arrive at Sullvan Ridge Fire Road where you’ll turn right and follow it to your starting point.
The Attraction Of Murphy Ranch
While Murphy Ranch may have a dark past, its remnants have attracted those with more innocent intent over the years. Artists, hippies, and hikers alike all come to explore the beautiful canyon. And by the way, there is no fee to visit! Rustic Canyon is a wonderful, secluded place to hike and explore. And getting to see some history along the way makes it all the more interesting. Hot tip: bring water and wear comfortable shoes and clothes for hiking.
Speaking Of Hiking
If you love hiking, we 100% recommend the hike up to the iconic Hollywood Sign to see the most spectacular views in Los Angeles! We’ve got a post with directions to hike to the Hollywood Sign here. And check out our vlog from that day to see the views for yourself! If you’d like to virtually hike to some cool waterfalls in NC with us, watch here!