March 30th – Santa Paula Canyon
On a pleasant early spring morning 12 hikers began an out-and-back hike in Santa Paula Canyon from the trailhead on Highway 150 a few miles northwest of Santa Paula, a quaint town located in the agricultural Santa Clara River Valley and referred to as the “Citrus Capital of the World” for its orange, lemon, and avocado groves.
The initial portion of the hike involved skirting the campus of Thomas Aquinas College, the Ferndale Ranch, avocado groves, and an oil field with mountains looming in the distance. Then we reached the swollen, swiftly flowing Santa Paula Creek which we carefully crossed to reach the trail on the other (north) side. We then followed the trail upstream toward the waterfall (our original destination), enjoying the sound of the creek (on our right) and gorgeous displays of swaths of wildflowers which covered much of the mountainside to our left (west) [refer to the photos accompanying this report]. It quickly became apparent that the 2019 rains had severely damaged sections of the trail which slowed our progress upstream. We eventually reached a point on the trail where the old dirt road/trail that leads up to the Big Cone Campground on the opposite (east) side of the swiftly flowing stream was supposed to be. We sent a scouting team across the creek (to the east side) to look for evidence of the old dirt road, but there was none (at that point). The trail ahead (on the west side) appeared to deteriorate even more so we decided to abandon trying to hike further upstream and returned the way we had come (again enjoying the wildflower display), completing a lovely 6.5-mile hike with 675’ of elevation gain/loss.
March 23rd – Happy Camp Canyon
16 hikers gathered at the Donut Delite parking lot and carpooled to the trailhead at the eastern end of Broadway Road in Moorpark. It was a calm and partly cloudy day, not too warm, and just perfect for a hike. Happy Camp Canyon Regional Park was once home to several Indian groups. Later is became part of the expansive Strathearn Ranch, owned by a Simi Valley pioneer family.
Evidence still remains from when the land was a cattle ranch and vacation spot. Today, Happy Camp is a 3,000 acre wilderness area, managed by the MRCA (Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority), under an agreement with the County of Ventura. With almost 18” of rainfall so far this season, there was a prolific wildflower showing. The list was long, but included Owl’s Clover, Fiddleneck, Bladder Bush, Tanzy Phacelia, Chaparral Currant, Curly Docks, Prickly Phlox, Popcorn, Mustard Evening Primrose, Strigose Lotus, Purple Nightshade, California Poppy, Blue Dick, Scarlet Bugler, and three varieties of Lupine. We followed the canyon to the picnic benches and returned the way we came, having completed the 9.8 mile hike, with about 1,000′ of elevation gain/loss. We all agreed the wildflowers made this a very special hike.
March 9th – Beaudry Loop
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.
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.