August 25th – Temescal Canyon

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10 hikers carpooled to the lower parking lot at Temescal Gateway Park. A lovely refuge from the nearby urban congestion, it borders Topanga State Park. Our hike began on a shady trail along the streambed in Temescal Canyon and led pleasantly past rustic buildings constructed in the 1920’s for the Methodist Church as a west coast center for the Chautauqua movement.

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The whole area is shaded by towering eucalyptus trees as well as oak trees and a variety of other non-native trees such as palms and conifers. The trail began rising in Temescal Canyon as it entered Topanga State Park and we soon reached a wooden bridge crossing the streambed at a point where there is sometimes a series of cascades (a “waterfall”) though there was no water at this time of year. Continuing westward (and upward) along the trail we reached Temescal Ridge where there are usually panoramic views of the Santa Monica Mountains, the coastline, the Los Angeles skyline, and hazy views of Santa Catalina island and the San Gabriel Mountains. However, on this day visibility was limited by a marine layer which (on a positive note) kept us cool. We then descended along the Temescal Ridge (aka Viewpoint) Trail to the canyon bottom where we made our way to a different trailhead for the second part our hike. We hiked eastward on a shady trail over another ridge and down into Rivas Canyon where the heavily shaded trail followed a seasonal stream (dry this day). Using a short connector trail, we reached Will Rogers State Historic Park where we took a lunch break on the front porch of the old ranch house and enjoyed the rocking chairs and the views of the spacious green lawn and the nearby polo field. We then returned to Temescal Gateway Park and our vehicles via the Rivas Canyon trail, completing a 9.3-mile hike with over 2,000’ of elevation gain/loss on a pleasant day for hiking. NOTE: Though there weren’t many wildflowers at this time of year, there were lots of cliff asters blooming along our way.

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August 18th – Westward Beach to Pt. Dume and Paradise Cove

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18 hikers traveled to Malibu and Westward Beach Road where some of us took advantage of free parking along the road and then hiked to the parking lot trailhead while others paid to park in the parking lot (due to the large turnout at the beach). The temperature was pleasant but the humidity was high as we began hiking up onto Point Dume.

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After an easy climb, we hiked through a maze of trails surrounded by a “forest” of dormant coreopsis plants to the east side of the peninsula with a breathtaking view of Dume Cove and the Pacific Ocean. After gawking at an unusually large group of surfers in the ocean below us, we descended an increasingly dangerous rusty stairway that led to Dume Beach. Despite being very close to low tide, our beach walk to Paradise Cove consisted of rocky stretches interspersed with long sandy expanses; at several points we timed our passage to the outflow of waves as we scampered carefully across the exposed bottom before our footwear was inundated by the next wave (all of which made for an interesting passage). We enjoyed the ocean sounds and sights (which included virtually no sea creatures), eventually arriving at the Paradise Cove Beach Café (http://www.paradisecovemalibu.com), a landmark for decades. We rested for a while in the free-of-charge Adirondack chairs facing the ocean outside the restaurant and visited the nearby pier. After a while we resumed our hike and headed back along the beach the way we had come; the tide was now “coming in” but it was still possible to minimize getting our footwear wet. After climbing back onto Point Dume, we hiked along a wooden walkway to an observation platform which afforded views of the ocean and a nearby small seal rookery. We then returned to the main trail, descended to the parking lot, and walked back to our vehicles, returning home having completed a pleasant 5.9-mile hike with about 400’ of elevation gain/loss.

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August 11th – Carpinteria Bluffs to Tar Pits State Park

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This time of year is often the hottest, so we schedule hikes in locations that afford us a break from the heat. Having endured weeks of temperatures in the nineties and triple digits, it was a welcome relief to learn the forecast high was only 76 degrees at the trailhead. 8 hikers began our hike along the Carpinteria Bluffs overlooking Bates Beach.

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Again this year, there were no seals to be seen at Carpinteria Seal Sanctuary, except for one bobbing around just off the shore. 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 especially inviting, with it’s unusually high water temperatures, and a welcome change of pace from our usual hikes. Continuing past Marsh Park, we saw hundreds seagulls enjoying the day too. The turn-around point of our hike was Sand Point, where we took a break for lunch and snacks. A welcome and cool ocean breeze started just in time for our return. 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 7.9 miles with with 200’ of elevation gain/loss.

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August 4th – Serrano Canyon Lollipop Loop

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The plan was to leave an hour earlier to beat the heat this year. What we didn’t know, is the Sycamore Canyon parking lot gates don’t open until 8 AM, so we had what a brief 20 minute wait at the ranger kiosk. More time to tell hiking stories from lore is a good thing. [Note to self: leave Donut Delite at 7:30 AM next year.]

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Temperatures were mild throughout the hike and humidity was high. Passing the campground, between the parking lot and the trailhead, the inviting smell of breakfast was in the air, but still we pressed on to the Serrano Trail junction, about a mile ahead. Again, visited us mosquitos along the way, but this time came prepared with bug spray. After a short distance up the Serrano Trail and the mosquitoes were gone and we had the remainder of the hike to ourselves. Next was the beautiful riparian canyon section of the hike, as we gradually gained elevation. This time of year, wildflowers are often scarce, but we still enjoyed Cliff Asters, Scarlet Buglers, Scarlet Monkey Flowers, and some variety of Tar Weed. We briefly rested at the “top of the stick” part of the lollipop, before continuing on the left, choosing to do the loop in a clock-wise direction. The next trail junction afforded us commanding views of Serrano Canyon, where we took a right turn to continue on the loop. At about 4 miles, we took an immediate right turn to the south, where we rapidly started losing all the elevation we worked so hard to gain. On our way back to the “top of the stick” we enjoyed the stark and bright colors of the dead California Buckwheat, Blackened shrubs from a previous fire, and the exposed rock formations. There was a inviting breeze through the canyon, following the “stick” part of the loop on our return. It did wonders to cool us off and keep the mosquitoes away. We all enjoyed our morning, having hiked 8.3 miles with about 1,100′ of elevation gain/loss.

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