March 9th – Beaudry Loop

« 1 of 4 »

14 hikers carpooled to a not-so obvious trailhead along Beaudry Boulevard, at the northeast base of the Verdugo Mountain Range in Glendale. The hike began following a flood control channel on the left, and after a half mile, came to the intersection of South Beaudry Motorway to the left and North Beaudry Motorway to the right. We decided to do the loop in a counter-clockwise direction, expecting a bit less elevation gain. Our climb to the ridge-line was slow and steady, as more and more of the San Gabriel Mountains came into prominent view, along with the expanse of the city below.

show more

There was much evidence of erosion along the trail, including a landslide that almost obliterated a section of the fire road, certainly from the recent rains. Tongva Peak (2,656 feet) was the next milestone on our hike. Named commemorating the Gabrieleno ~ Tonga Community of Wiqanga Native Americans, the peak is an important Los Angeles area broadcast site, and the home of “World Famous KROQ.” A clearing just past the peak offered an expansive view in all directions, and was the half-way point along our hike. There we rested, enjoyed our time with expanse, and marveled at the majestic clouds remaining from the previous storm. We left the peak and continued down the ridge to the South Beaudry Motorway. As we started to loose elevation, we found a short offshoot from the main trail, covered with wildflowers. In evidence were Red Maids, Meadow Nemophila, Fiddleneck, Filaree, and Sticky Monkey Flowers. We dropped elevation quickly, proving our wise decision to do the loop in a counter-clockwise direction. Soon after the flood control catch-basin came back into view on the right, a young-looking coyote quickly crossed the trail and was soon out of sight. Completing the 6.2 mile loop, with close to 1,600′ of total elevation gain, we were again back at our cars’ knowing that our first time on this trail was well worthwhile.

show less

February 23rd – Mentryville Park and Pico Canyon

« 1 of 3 »

12 hikers carpooled to a dirt parking area about 0.4 mile outside the entrance to Mentryville, located in Pico Canyon in the north end of Santa Clarita Woodlands Park (only a few miles from Towsley Canyon). Mentryville was an oil boom town in the 1880’s and was home to over 100 families until the early 1930’s.

show more

Pico Canyon was the site of the first commercially successful oil well (Pico No. 4) in the western United States. Several historic buildings are still standing in Mentryville including Charles Mentry’s grand 13-room mansion, a one-room school house, and a small barn. After taking a quick tour of the “ghost” town, we headed southwest along the paved road into shady Pico Canyon with its towering walls and a pleasant stream until we reached Johnson Park (“the party place for oil miners of more than a century ago”) where we dallied for a while. As we continued further into the canyon, the paved road made a sharp switchback to the northeast, became a dirt road, and we began climbing up out of the canyon. As we gained elevation our views of the surrounding rugged landscape with green mountainsides (thanks to recent rainfall) steadily improved. As we continued southeast toward the road’s upper end we had excellent views of the transverse range of the Santa Susana Mountains as well as some snow on distant peaks in the San Gabriel and Topa Topa Mountains. The road ended in a wide flat mountaintop area which was at one time the home of the Union Oil Company’s Odeen #1 oil well, but is now the home of a lone picnic table with two benches where there was a large group of cub/boy scouts who had reached the summit shortly before we did. After a leisurely snack/rest break, we returned the way we came and reached our vehicles, having completed an 8.5-mile hike with about 1,450’ of elevation gain/loss on what had turned into a very nice day for hiking.

show less

January 26th – Johnson Motorway to Rocky Peak

« 1 of 4 »

18 hikers met at the trailhead on Iverson Road just outside the gated southern entrance to Indian Springs Estates in Chatsworth on a mild winter morning with a wind advisory. After following the easement through the upscale gated community, we reached the beginning of the unpaved Johnson Motorway (once a toll road).

show more

The trail (an old dirt and sandstone roadbed) rose westward until it met a short “driveway” leading north to the ruins of the ranch house that was built by Ann and Neils Johnson who were the first English-speaking homesteaders in the San Fernando Valley; they had built their primary home in “Chatsworth Park” in the 1870’s. It should be noted that we were “assaulted” by strong intermittent winds at times during the hike, although there was little or no wind during more than half of the hike. Leaving the ruins, we followed the Johnson Motorway as it passed through a landscape of dramatic rock formations, climbing steadily, but not steeply, toward the Rocky Peak Fire Road. The temperature rose (but was still pleasant) as the sun ascended and we soon removed our jackets. After 3.5 miles we reached the fire road where we took a short snack/rest break while we enjoyed the scenery including lots of green hillsides. We then headed southward along the Rocky Peak Fire Road enjoying views of interesting rock formations and Simi Valley to the west. A short spur trail led us eastward to an overlook of the San Fernando Valley near Rocky Peak. We took another break while we enjoyed views as diverse as snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains, Santa Cruz Island, and the tops of tall buildings in downtown Los Angeles. We soon retraced our route downhill back to our vehicles and returned home having completed a pleasant 9.5-mile hike with about 1,900’ of total elevation gain/loss.

show less

January 19th – Las Llajas Canyon and Chumash Trail Loop

« 1 of 2 »

21 hikers met at the Las Llajas Canyon trailhead on Evening Sky Drive in Simi Valley on a cool winter morning. We began our hike by descending a short paved section of road into the canyon bottom; from there a wide graded dirt road followed a streambed north through the canyon, crossing the streambed three times.

show more

The stream had a little water in it and a trickle was slowly moving downstream; there were also several separate mud puddles in the road itself. The steep canyon walls provided shade and a refreshing breeze as we enjoyed an easy 3.5 mile trek up the canyon. Nearing the Poe Ranch gate, we took the right (east) fork and continued up the dirt road leading to an abandoned oil field which has been “cleaned up” (purposefully stripped of all remaining aboveground equipment/pipes) and then on up to a junction with the Rocky Peak Fire Road, savoring the views back down the canyon and of the surrounding area along the way. After reaching the Rocky Peak Fire Road (where a majestic oak tree has died and crashed to the ground), we turned right and headed south toward the upper end of the Chumash Trail. Along the way we passed Fossil Hill (named for the shells of sea creatures left behind when the area was under a vast sea). We enjoyed panoramic views of mountains and canyons to the east, south, and west including some snow atop a peak in the distant San Gabriel Mountains. The nearby mountainous terrain was covered with pretty bright green grass that had seemingly appeared overnight. Upon reaching the upper end of the Chumash Trail with its “Chumash Trail 2.7 miles to Flanagan Drive trailhead” sign, we stopped briefly before rapidly descending the familiar trail into Simi Valley; along the way down we spotted two red-tail hawks and a vulture. We then turned right (west) and followed a short connector trail to a closed-but-not-locked gate in a fence at the east end of Evening Sky Drive. A short walk along Evening Sky Drive took us back to our vehicles, having completed a very pleasant 9.6-mile hike with over 1,900’ of elevation gain/loss.

show less

January 5th – Devil Canyon to Browns Canyon Road

« 1 of 5 »

21 hikers met at the hike’s starting point on Poema Place in Chatsworth on a cool winter morning. As our hike began we descended along a fairly steep “use” trail into the heavily shaded bottom of Devil Canyon where we followed the remnants of the Devil Canyon Motorway upstream as it frequently crisscrossed the sometimes wet (thanks to recent rain) creek bed.

show more

We spotted lots of interesting sandstone-rock-cliff formations and chalk dudleya “liveforever” plants as we made our way up to the large dam at the trail’s junction with the mouth of Ybarra Canyon. After a brief rest break we continued upstream along the occasionally muddy, but mostly dry, trail which from this point on had been transformed a few of years ago from single-track to a “one-lane” dirt road [the reason for this not being apparent though several short dirt “side roads” and one long one heading north have also been created]. As the canyon widened we passed by grass-covered hillsides dotted with oak trees. When we reached the upper-canyon Cathedral-like oak woodland, the trail reverted to its natural undisturbed state (including lots of fallen oak trees, presumably killed by wildfire and drought). Upon reaching Brown’s Canyon Road we turned right (east) and hiked a short distance uphill where we took a break and enjoyed views to the south. We then retraced our route and returned to our vehicles having completed a very pleasant 9.6-mile hike in this unique canyon with about 1,300’ of elevation gain/loss.

show less