September 30th – Upper Zuma Canyon and Zuma Ridge to Buzzards Roost

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15 hikers carpooled to the Upper Zuma Canyon trailhead on Kanan Dume Road just north of Tunnel #1 on a cool autumn morning.  We began our hike by heading west along the Santa Monica Mountains Backbone Trail (BBT) as it descended into Upper Zuma Canyon.  After crossing Newton Creek, the well-shaded trail rose and fell until we reached a very nice bridge crossing dry Zuma Creek. 

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We continued following the partially shaded BBT westward as the temperature rose but it was still tolerable thanks to the shade.  Upon reaching a trail junction 2.5 miles from the trailhead, we left the BBT and headed southward steadily uphill on the Zuma Ridge Trail (actually a well-graded dirt road) toward Buzzard’s Roost where we climbed to a viewpoint just to the west.  We enjoyed a cool marine breeze and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, but the ocean view was obscured by a marine layer.  After a lunch/rest break we returned to our vehicles and headed home having completed a pleasant-enough 8.3-mile hike with 1,700’ of elevation gain/loss.

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September 23rd – Solstice Canyon

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20 hikers carpooled to Solstice Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area near the Pacific Ocean on a cool early-autumn morning.  Our out-and-back hike began by following trickling Solstice Creek along the nearly-level, well-shaded Solstice Canyon Trail (a dirt road), taking advantage of two short trails paralleling the dirt road along the way, and reaching the Sostomo Trail junction after about one mile. 

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At one point we were treated to a view and the loud squawks of several beautiful green wild South American parakeets flying from sycamore tree to sycamore tree.  Next we followed the Sostomo Trail as it climbed steadily toward a junction with the Deer Valley Loop Trail, enjoying an intermittent light ocean breeze along the way.  As the somewhat-shaded trail rose we had clear views of Solstice Canyon and the Rising Sun Trail across the canyon.  After reaching Deer Valley, we followed the loop trail in a clockwise direction as it ascended the mountainside to an overlook of the Pacific Ocean.  As we neared the overlook a much-appreciated marine breeze cooled us and we took a break as we enjoyed the panoramic views of the area.  After the break we completed the loop and then returned along the Sostomo Trail to the Solstice Canyon Trail (road).  Turning left we walked the very short distance to Tropical Terrace, the ruins of the Roberts house built in the 1950s and destroyed by wildfire in 1982.  At one time there were giraffes, camels, buffalo, African deer, and exotic birds in the canyon (but not now!).  We took a lengthy lunch/rest break at Tropical Terrace and enjoyed the ambiance of palm trees, murmuring Solstice Creek, and a small amount of water in the nearby waterfall.  We then returned to our vehicles via the Solstice Canyon Trail having completed a 7-mile hike with 1,600’ of elevation gain/loss.

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September 16th – Pt. Mugu State Beach Walk

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12 hikers carpooled to Malibu via Kanan Dume Road and, as soon as we headed west on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), our hiking plans were dashed as we discovered that the 31st Annual Nautica Malibu Triathlon was underway. Traffic slowed to a snail’s pace and all access to the beach was blocked by highway patrol officers for the next 11 miles as traffic crawled westward between runners and bicyclists on both sides of the road.

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Once we “escaped” from the path of the triathlon, we decided to explore Thornhill Broome Beach State Park which is located along PCH between the giant sand dune and Mugu Rock. It was a pleasant morning as we strolled along the beach watching the waves and lots of seashore birds. The beach was surprisingly sparsely populated (with humans) to our delight. We eventually reached the western end of the beach near Mugu Rock and across the PCH from the entrance to La Jolla Canyon. After a leisurely rest/snack break during which our own “merman” made a short appearance, we then ambled back along the beach to our vehicles and headed back to Simi Valley via Camarillo having walked on sand for 2.4 miles with a “whopping” 35’ of elevation gain/loss (and having turned “lemons into lemonade”). NOTE: The original Westward Beach to Point Dume to Paradise Cove hike will be rescheduled in October.

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September 9th – Charmlee Wilderness Park Loop

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Seventeen hikers gathered in the main parking lot ($4 parking fee) at Charmlee Wilderness Park in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking Malibu on a pleasantly cool late-summer morning.  The park has a somewhat bewildering network of trails criss-crossing it but our route this day was a clockwise loop mostly around the outer edges of the park. 

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We began our hike at the picnic area a short distance south of the information board along the Botany Trail as it rose through an oak grove to a three-way trail split.  We  continued straight ahead on the main trail as it passed between the eastern edge of the grassy meadow that occupies much of the park on one side and copses of oak trees and rock outcroppings on the other (east) side.  Eventually we reached “Ocean Vista” overlooking the Pacific Ocean which lay more than 1,000’ below (unfortunately the distant views were largely obscured).  We continued as the trail rose through chaparral to an abandoned reservoir bordered by eucalyptus trees where we enjoyed cool ocean breezes.  The West Meadow Trail led us down to an old well and water pump after which we hiked around the “Black Forest,” partially on the Clyde Canyon Trail which provided views to the west.  After rejoining the West Meadow Trail we soon turned left and headed northwest along an unnamed trail through a pleasant oak woodland until we reached Potrero Road which we followed up to a road junction where we turned right and explored the Ranch House ruins before following Carmichael Road and the Botany Trail back to the parking lot.  We returned home having completed a short-but-satisfying 3.5-mile hike with 680’ of elevation gain/loss in this park with an amazing diversity of botany and geology on another great day for hiking.

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September 2nd – Carpinteria Bluffs to Tar Pits State Park

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This time of year is often the hottest, so we typically schedule hikes in locations that afford us a break from the heat. Having endured over a week of 100 degree plus temperatures, it was a welcome relief to find that it was only 76 degrees at the trailhead. 15 hikers began our hike along the Carpinteria Bluffs overlooking Bates Beach. This year there were no seals to be seen at Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary.

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Passing Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve, Tar Pits Park was the next stop on our hike. It is second only in size to the famous La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. Next the trail took us to Carpinteria State Beach, where we left the trail to begin the first beach segment of our hike. We stopped briefly at at the San Miguel Campground facilities, where several of us took off our boots to better enjoy the walk on the beach. The beach was busier than usual, probably because of Labor Day, and because many others planed to avoid the inland heat. The beach was especially inviting, and a welcome change of pace from our usual hikes. Continuing past Marsh Park, we saw many beautiful familiar and exotic birds that inhabit our shoreline. The turn-around point of our hike was Sand Point, where we stopped to enjoy the majestic ocean, and have some lunch and snacks. A welcome and cool ocean breeze started just in time for our return trip. Just past the Nature Preserve, we took a short and steep connector trail that took us down to Bates Beach. On the way back to Rincon Park, we enjoyed exploring the unusual rock formations, and finding shells along the tide-line. Our hike was 7 ¾ miles with 225’ of elevation gain/loss.

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