From 1956 to 1968, the spooks and bigwigs in the U.S. Army called it A98C, one of 16 heavily patrolled NIKE missile sites that protected Los Angeles during the Cold War from widely feared attack by the former evil empire, the Soviet Union. Tucked just above quiet suburban Encino and various celebrity homes about two miles west of the 405 and 101 freeway interchange near unpaved “dirt” Mulholland Drive, it’s now the strangest feature to be seen at San Vicente Mountain Park. The nonoperational anti-aircraft structure remains, and you can clamber up on the old radar tower to get a damn good look west at the sunset. Strange times, as this iconic leftover of the massive Cold War military budget, which once had L.A. bristling with pricey defenses, now acts as entry to a network of trails into the 20,000-acre “Big Wild” wilderness area. 17500 Mulholland Drive, Encino. —N. Jenssen

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