May 21st –  Wildwood Park Loop

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>We had 21 hikers on today’s hike on a clear, cool day. We followed Mesa trail to Santa Rosa Trail and up Mountclef Ridge over to views of the Santa Rosa Valley. Descending to the Lower Santa Rosa trail led us to the paved road, then to the trail to Box Canyon. Hiking up this road led us back to Mesa Trail.

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We then went to Teepee trail and hiked down to Paradise Falls. Following Wildwood Canyon to Indian Creek trail led us back to the parking lot. The hike was just over 8 miles, and we all returned having enjoyed the weather and the rugged scenery.

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May 13th –  Oak Flat Trail to Whitaker Peak

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11 hikers met at the carpool point in Simi Valley on a cool clear morning.  We then drove to the hike’s starting point north of Santa Clarita in a large dirt parking area just outside the Verdugo Oaks boy-scout camp (2,831’) where we discovered a large group of campers engaged in a costumed role-playing activity. 

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As we began our hike, we headed southward up the well-maintained Oak Flat trail as it rose 1.5 miles through an oak woodland and then chaparral to the Whitaker Ridge dirt road (3,820’), enjoying scenic views to the east and north including Pyramid Lake.  The trail and Whitaker Ridge Road were adorned with a variety of blooming plants including Yerba Santa, Catalina mariposa lilies, wooly blue curls, yellow mariposa lilies, bush lupine, golden yarrow, sticky monkey flower, and elderberry.  An intermittent wind gusted as we hiked.  We then followed the Whitaker Ridge Road southeastward down to its junction with Whitaker Peak Road but we mistakenly continued down toward Old Hwy 99 until the error was recognized.  We reversed our direction and then followed Whitaker Peak Road southwestward up to its end (4,119’), enjoying “ever-widening vistas of fault-tortured canyon country” along the way and excellent panoramic views from the turnaround point including Lake Piru to the south and Castaic Lake to the east thanks to the wind which persisted.  After a rest/lunch stop, we returned down Whitaker Peak Road to its junction with the Whitaker Ridge Road where six hikers decided to continue on down to Old Hwy 99 [aka Golden State Hwy] while the remaining five hikers returned the way they had come.  After a short shuttle we returned home having completed a rewarding 11-mile hike with about 2,700’ of elevation gain.

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May 6th – Horn Canyon

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12 hikers carpooled to the Horn Canyon trailhead adjacent to the Thacher School a few miles east of downtown Ojai on a cool overcast morning.  Since a very light rain was falling when we arrived at the trailhead, we donned our rain gear.  As our hike began, the trail rose gradually upward to the north along a dirt road flanked by an assortment of blooming plants/wildflowers. 

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The route soon became a shady trail that followed a pleasant creek (with flowing water in it) as it continued up toward the Nordhoff Ridge; there was an amazing array of lovely wildflowers adorning the path highlighted by sticky monkey flower, Catalina mariposa lilies, and purple sage.  After several easy stream crossings, the trail began to rise inexorably via switchbacks toward our destination.  The customary views of the surrounding area were severely limited due to the continuing drizzle, but there were more beautiful wildflowers!  Eventually we reached the Pines Trail Camp where the dead pine trees we encountered last year had been cut down and sawed into small sections (camping may be allowed again).  After resting and eating lunch we returned the way we came, again admiring the beauty of the trail.  The rain continued and we reached our vehicles somewhat wet, having completed a sometimes demanding 5.5-mile hike with 1,845’ of elevation gain/loss, vowing to return again next year.

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