Beware! Trespassing

By Shirley Jean Jalmaani, Brenn Richard, Alex Vejar, Alle Lopez

Los Angeles can be overwhelming with all there is to do and see in the city. But for those who want an unconventional taste of adventure, below is a list of places you won’t find confused tourists, screaming children and overpriced souvenirs. If fact, there may not be any people at all.

Some places had signs warning those that setting foot inside the abandoned grounds would be trespassing. Others are frequented by in-the-know Angelenos.

“First and foremost, if there are trespassing signs, if an officer would see you, he would cite you,” said G. Saldaña, public information deputy at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau. “If its not clearly posted, they'll just leave you alone.”

Our staff hiked to remote sites, scaled some fences and ducked from security and curious onlookers. Here are five abandoned places urban explorers have to check out.

Disclaimer: Some of these hidden gems are illegal to enter, and visitors may risk getting slapped with at least a trespassing fine. Explore at your own risk.

Abandoned Los Angeles Zoo

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According to the old Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park was founded in 1912 and only contained 15 animals.  The caged enclosures that were once created to hold  monkeys, lions and bears are now destroyed and inadequate to hold any animals.   

It was kind of haunting to go through the old zoo, and its abandoned exhibits, enclosures and buildings. Some enclosures had staircases that lead from one area to the next and those were covered from top to bottom in graffiti, trash, debris and bottles. Other enclosures were locked up. One was boarded up completely, its insides hollow, empty and shielded from view. Wired fenced exhibits were rusted and spoke loudly of the horrors that the animals once had to experience when living in their cages.

The old LA Zoo was haunting in both a terrifying and beautiful way. It is housed in the middle of Griffith Park in Los Feliz, California. It has been closed for nearly 49 years and is slowly being reintegrated back into nature. The enclosures have become rusted over the years and the paths destroyed.

To get around, it requires a bit of a hike to go from one enclosure to the next. While the enclosures themselves show the haunting homes of the animals that once lived there, the surrounding area is surprisingly a sight to behold as paths lead in and out of the zoo, overlooking not just the city of Los Angeles but a good portion of the large Griffith Park.

Zoos are meant to be a place to go to for fun, but the old LA Zoo in Griffith Park was more of a haunting beauty. If you don’t know much of it’s history, it’s quite a place to visit. It causes curiosity and gives off an air of mystery all at the same time. If you feel the need to see where the animals have moved, the new LA Zoo is no more than a few minutes away.

Dead Mall in Hawthorne (Broadway Plaza)

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Malls are usually a place the family gets together for holiday shopping, or to buy some of the latest trends at the department store. But after this particular mall was shut down to a bad economy several years ago. It was left in ruin, but still intact.

Now, it’s being used for movie sets — most recently in the thriller “Gone Girl.

The mall is located on Hawthorne Blvd, right off the 405 freeway. In order to get in, you have to take the side streets behind the mall, because it sits across from a police station. On the corner of Birch and 120th Streets, you will find an unused parking structure, and locked entrances to staircases leading to the different levels of the structure.

Those who dare can shimmy across a gate and into the structure, go up the nearest staircase, and make their way to the roof, where a heavily graffiti’d area is visible. After you make your way across the ramp, to the left there is a small opening that you can fit through if you are a similar size.

Word of caution: It’s best to do this in daylight because you can see better. However, there are cars and people constantly passing by. The building right next to the abandoned mall is a busy office building, complete with security and employees. Tread lightly.

Rancho Los Amigos abandoned medical buildings

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If you’re looking to explore acres of abandoned buildings, this site in Downey, Calif., is the place. Located on the corner of Gardendale Street and Erickson Ave are multiple buildings that once housed medical patients.

Every building is boarded up, but access is not terribly difficult if you can find the hole in the fence directly in front of a large house. The area we explored was just one piece of the entire area, but it took about two hours to get through it.

The site is perfect for photography, but also for general exploration. This is another one of those places where it’s best to go during the day — not only because there’s a lot to see, but also because many commenters online have said they have heard strange noises when they visit at night. Others who have written blog posts about this place have said it’s haunted.

There isn’t much visible security in the area, however, there are cars passing by frequently, and signs everywhere warning you not to trespass. But once you are within the buildings, no one from the outside can see you, so it’s pretty safe.

Murphy Ranch — Abandoned Nazi Compound

This isn’t as ominous as it sounds. Said to be built by Nazi sympathizers in the 1930s who wanted to build a place they could meet. According to an LA Times article from 1990, the area is now heavily graffiti’d and a popular place to visit for Angelinos willing to make the two-mile hike.

The name comes from a public record stating a woman named Jessie M. Murphy bought the property in 1933, according to the Times article. However, there is no other record of this woman anywhere else.

The compound is located in Rustic Canyon, Los Angeles, but a simple Google search of “Murphy’s Ranch” will get you there more easily. After driving up a hill for a little while, you’ll reach an area that has a yellow bar that goes across the entire road. This is where your mile-long hike will start.

After hiking the mile, an old gate will be visible — and locked — but there is a break in the stone wall directly to the left of the gate. Go down that path for another mile and you will see start to see all the wonderful structures the area has to offer.

Los Feliz Mansion

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The mansion is said to be the site of a murder in 1959, according to an LA Times article. The site is definitely creepy, especially at night — the best time to visit this 1950s relic.

Visitors should park down the block and quietly make their way up the cul de sac where the house sits, and be careful that neighbors don’t see you. There are several “No Trespassing” signs that were prominently displayed around the property, and a recent visit by the staff in the middle of the night tripped the front-door alarm.

It is said that no one has lived at this place for over 50 years. The house was recently used in an episode of the TV show, “American Horror Story.”

Some of the windows are boarded up, but furniture can be seen through the dusty windows near the front door. But to get to the windows, you have to quietly tiptoe across the creepy, unkempt lawn.