Murphy Ranch Trail: Hike to An Abandoned Nazi Utopia

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2.6 Miles






≈ 2 Hrs


All Year

Elevation Gain

633 ft

Who would’ve thought that Rustic Canyon, in LA County, has so much eerie and shocking history related to Nazis and WW2? Yeah, you read that right. Crazy!

Murphy Ranch is a 2.6-mile hike in Rustic Canyon, near Pacific Palisades. It’s rated as moderately difficult due to lengthy, steep steps. There is no designated parking lot for this trail. This is a dog-friendly hike but is not recommended for small children.


Map of Murphy Ranch Trail


Directions & Parking

You can click the links for directions to parking and trailhead.

There’s no parking lot or specific parking area for this trail. So, I ended up parking on Amalfi Dr.

From here, I walked and made a left on Capri Dr. Then, I made a left onto Casale Rd where the trailhead began shortly after.

Trail Begins

The trailhead begins on a dirt road near some beautiful and quite expensive homes.

The neighborhoods there seem to be full of cameras and watchers. Honestly, I wouldn’t have expected there to be a trail right by these homes.

To the left, I could see the beautiful Santa Monica mountains.

There’s a hidden waterfall down by Rustic Creek. Guess I’ll have to come back and check that out!

Most of the trail is on a rundown road that’s definitely in need of a good repair. It definitely feels abandoned already.

There’s also tons of graffiti on the road.

Right behind this gate is where the lengthy stairs begin. Be prepared with some water and a hat if you’re doing this on a sunny day.

It’s definitely a workout. On the bright side, the views are amazing!

After this heart-pumping cardio workout, I reached the canyon floor.

I continued on the left.

Luckily, there was hardly anyone here.

The powerhouse looks crazy with tons of graffiti. Sadly, it’s been boarded up.

Here’s how the backside looks.

There’s a tiny door that’s probably under 5ft tall.

This is the water tower in the back of the building.

Next to the powerhouse, there are some steps that lead to the old”garden” area.

No flowers here, just short cement walls remain.

There’s plenty more to explore at Murphy Ranch such as the old machine shed.

But, I think the most interesting part of the hike is definitely the powerhouse. It’s an interesting photo spot for sure.

You can choose to do this as a loop or as a there-and-back trail. No matter what way you go, you’ll get interesting sights!


History of Murphy Ranch

Going to Murphy Ranch with some background knowledge makes this place way more interesting. Let’s get into the weird stuff!

It’s been said that there was a man and wife by the name of Winona and Norman Stephens who claimed to be very wealthy. Mrs. Stephens was into the “supernatural” and came across someone she believed to foresee the future.

This man, Mr. Shmidt, convinced the couple that the Nazis would invade and defeat the U.S. Soon after, they bought a huge piece of land in Pacific Palisades under the pseudonym “Murphy”. Their plans began in 1933.

The ranch was supposed to be self-sufficient, which is why they had the powerhouse and water tank built.

They had a blueprint of a giant mansion that was going to be built, with a “watchtower” and a giant library.

But, their plans of a doomsday utopia never fully went through and the enormous mansion was never built. Their ideas of a German invasion never came true either, thankfully.

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I’m Phillip, and just like you, I feel very passionate about California and the outdoors. After many years of exploring amazing and hidden places, I thought I’d share them with you. Life goes by fast so get out there and enjoy it.  

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