July 1st –  Mt. McCoy and the Reagan Library

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17 hikers met at the Donut Delite carpool location, at the intersection of Royal Avenue and Madera Road, on a foggy summer morning. From there, walked to the Mt. McCoy trailhead on Washburn Street, and stoped briefly for our group picture. The hike began along the trail heading south, and quickly began climbing westward along the well-maintained trail, leading to the summit via a series of switchbacks.

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The rule for the day was to always follow the path with the lest elevation gain, since there is so much damage from bicycles cutting the main trail. As the trail rose up the hillside, we were rewarded with views of the western end of Simi Valley, including Sinaloa Lake, Wood Ranch, and the Bard Reservoir. The white concrete cross at the peak (erected in 1941) is still the main landmark, as well as two memorial concrete benches at the summit, from which the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library can be viewed. After a short break to enjoy the panoramic view, we hiked southwest to Presidential Drive and then hiked along it to the west side of the library, where President Reagan was buried in 2004 (and Nancy Reagan in 2016). The setting of the library is well-manicured and colorful. We took some time to see the F-14A fighter jet, the main courtyard, and then the Air Force One extension on the north side. Eventually we returned the way we came completing a just over 6 mile hike with about 900′ of elevation gain/loss.

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June 24th –  Chivo Canyon and the Tapo Canyon Overloo

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On a still cool Saturday morning, 15 cheerful hikers met on Westwood Street, and walked to the nearby Chivo Canyon Trailhead. We originally planned to hike to Matilija Falls, but since the NOAA/NWS was forecasting 90 degrees, just northwest of Ojai, we thought it wise to plan a local substitute hike.

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 Our hike began along Trail #22 (shown on the RSRPD “Park Facilities Directory Map of Simi Valley and Oak Park), as it headed up Chivo Canyon. At 0.7 the mile mark, we turned left on Trail #23 and followed it through a side canyon as it climbed westward to an overlook that revealed a sweeping view of Tapo Canyon. Continuing downhill, we met Trail #24, and turned left heading back to Trail #22, taking us back to the trailhead. Despite the fact that Summer just began, there was still a good many wildflowers in bloom, including Heliotrope, Indian Pink, Datura, Bush Sunflower, Tree Tobacco, Indian Paintbrush, Bush Mallow, Cliff Aster, and Plummer’s Mariposa Lilly. All in all it was a short but enjoyable hike, covering about 4.5 miles round trip, and 600’ of elevation gain/loss.

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June 10th –  Fish Canyon Narrows

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22 hikers took advantage of a nice relatively cool late spring morning to hike the unique and beautiful Fish Canyon Narrows.  We began our hike at the gate at the east “end” of Templin Highway north of Castaic Lake.  After taking the obligatory group photos, we began by descending northeast along the closed paved road to a concrete bridge at the mouth of Cienega Canyon [which is quite overgrown].

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  Passing by and continuing southward as the road turned to dirt we soon veered left (eastward) onto the abandoned easy-to-follow Warm Springs-Fish Canyon Truck Trail which passed through a narrow gorge and was bordered by a plethora of blooming buckwheat and lovely (but deadly) datura plants (aka jimson weed) with their large white lily-like blossoms; later there were blooming yuccas and yellow creek monkey flowers.  After several paved creek crossings we reached the abandoned Cienega Campground (nearly three miles from our starting point) where one member of our group showed us a very interesting outdoor stand-alone “room” fashioned mostly from fallen tree branches in a shaded alcove.  We immediately left the Truck Trail and headed north along a lovely shaded single-track trail for about a mile to “Pianobox” [an old mining claim] where there’s a campsite.  The single-track trail ended as we entered the Fish Canyon Narrows and we found ourselves rock hopping, pushing through brush, and crisscrossing the creek to follow stretches of “use” trail for the next mile-and-a-half or so.  The stream was flowing and provided a musical accompaniment as we hiked carefully through the narrow canyon bordered by very scenic reddish hundred-foot rock walls and populated with oaks and alders.  We eventually reached the Rogers Trail Camp in a small oak-shaded clearing on an oak- and sycamore-shaded bench.  After we took a much-needed lunch-and-rest break we returned the way we came and then returned home having completed an 11.5-mile hike with a little over 1,000’ of elevation gain/loss, a hike described in 2009 by Los Angeles Magazine as the best hike in Los Angeles!

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June 3rd –  Ahmanson Ranch: Cave of Munits

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>24 hikers gathered in the Ahmanson Ranch parking lot at the west end of Victory Boulevard in West Hills on a not-yet-hot late-spring morning for a hike in the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve which offers a variety of single-track trails and old dirt ranch roads in a landscape of grasslands, rolling hills, and a smattering of ancient oak trees. 

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Our clockwise-loop hike began on a dirt trail that rose to the northwest quite steeply behind the information kiosk in the parking lot.  After reaching the summit of the hill we stopped to catch our breath and enjoy the panoramic view of the surrounding area.  Continuing we followed undulating single-track trails bordered by tall golden grass with occasional patches of blooming plants.  Soon we reached another ridge from which (if you knew where to look) we could glimpse the opening of the cave that was our destination.  We then descended northeast along a somewhat eroded “use” trail toward the cave.  The “use” trail eventually joined Moore Canyon (dirt) Road and we turned left (north) onto it and followed it a short distance to the point at which the “use” trail leading up to the entrance to The Cave of Munits branched off to the left.  We followed the steeply rising heavily eroded “use” trail to the cave’s entrance where we temporarily “installed” a climbing rope and most of the members of our group entered the cave.  As described on the excellent Modern Hiker web site, “The walls of the interior fold and undulate into a seemingly endless series of side caves and back caverns … it’s ceiling is very tall and it can feel like you’re standing inside a natural rock cathedral … this area was spiritually important to the Chumash [Indians].  After exploring the interior of the cave some of the hikers exited by climbing out one of the cave’s chimneys and circling around on the mountainside to the entrance; the remainder returned the way they entered the cave.  We returned to the parking lot along Moore Canyon Road.  By this time the temperature had climbed into the 90’s so we decided to abandon the second part of our hike (a loop around Lasky Mesa) and returned home having completed a nice 4.1-mile hike with over 800’ of elevation gain/loss.

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