Very often I hate, loathe and despise social media but I have to admit it can come in handy. If you wonder where I learn about the unique places I visit I must admit one of my sources is Instagram. Sometimes I’ll be scrolling through my feed and I’ll come across a picture that makes me think, “where’s that?” and a little research will soon introduce me to a brand new spot I’ll just have to check out. That certainly was the case with Mentryville, a small ghost town near Santa Clarita. I came across a photo on Instagram and decided “I want to go to there.”
Today Mentryville is a park located a few miles from the 5 freeway near Newhall but over 100 years ago it was a boom town after oil was discovered in 1876 by Charles Alexander Mentry. The discovery helped form Standard Oil (now known as Chevron) and the area grew into a company town called Pico Springs. Having well over 100 residents the town was home to boarding houses, a bakery, a school house and Charles Mentry’s 13 room mansion.
Although the oil well went on to become the world’s longest continually operated (it closed in 1990) the surrounding town didn’t last nearly as long and by the 1930’s it had a very small population. In 1996 Chevron sold the buildings and land to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and today the entire area operates as a park complete with hiking and equestrian trails.
The park is easy to locate as it’s at the dead end of Pico Canyon Road. There’s a pay parking lot (currently $5) and the entire town is accessible by foot. As I visited during covid no staff was onsite and no structures were open to tour but you could still walk around and look at the exteriors. Luckily, they’re accompanied by handy dandy informative signs that provide backstory to each building.
From the town there’s a paved trail that leads into Pico Canyon where you’ll find a few miles of marked trails.
The entire are is dog friendly and my four legged companion and I had a fun time hiking throughout the canyon.
For a nature and history nerd like myself Mentryville offers the best of both worlds. The town structures have been lovingly preserved and offer a fascinating glimpse into the area’s past. The hiking trails showcase the beauty of the area and provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural landscape (though I wouldn’t recommend visiting at the height of summer as it can get quite hot). Thanks to that darned Instagram I discovered yet another Southern California hidden treasure. Wonder where it will lead me next?