Murphy Ranch in Rustic Canyon is a place with a legend. This legend goes like before WWII a wealthy American couple by name Stephens fell under charms of a Nazi agent known under an alias "herr Schmidt" and got convinced that the Third Reich would take over the world so they needed to create a base camp in America and get prepared. So in 1933 they bought land in Rustic Canyon under a pseudonym "Jesse Murphy, widow" and started building a self-sustaining ranch with a four-story mansion, extensive terraced gardens and a cattle farm. By 1941 they had graded the gardens, built a powerhouse, a two-story shed with garages downstairs and living quarters upstairs, a cattle barn and some other outbuildings. As the legend goes, on the next day after the attack on Pearl Harbor the ranch was raided by US authorities, everybody got arrested and the ranch started to decay. In 1948 the property was bought by Huntington Hartford Foundation and became a part of an artists and writers retreat that functioned until 1965. After that the ranch was not maintained and fell into disrepair.
Since 1973 the property has been owned by City Of Los Angeles that from time to time installs fences and "No trespassing" signs around the buildings due to them being unsafe to enter, but visitors including graffiti painters deface the signs and cut the fences.
The hike starts west on Casale Rd at the intersection with Capri Dr. Casale Rd becomes Sullivan Fire Rd and contours the canyon going slightly uphill. In 1.0 mi turn left and go down an endless concrete staircase (there is the second staircase 100 yards farther along Sullivan Fire Rd, but most people use the first one). Upon reaching the bottom of the staircase turn left on the formerly paved road. It will lead to a two-feet-high basement of some building. Take the short stairs down to the powerhouse. Then continue along the road to the mostly disintegrated shed/garage - this is a good place to take a side trip up to garden terraces. Follow the creek trail to the barn ruins. From there take the road up to the monumental gate at the vehicular entrance to the ranch and return to the starting point along Sullivan Fire Rd.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.