November 30th – Escondido Falls Trail
6 hikers carpooled to Escondido Canyon Park at the junction of Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and East Winding Way on a chilly cloudy winter morning. There was very little traffic although we didn’t leave Simi Valley until 8 AM.) NOTE: We had planned to hike in Charmlee Wilderness Park, but when we arrived there we encountered a closed gate and a “Keep Out” sign at its entrance, presumably as a result of last year’s Woolsey Fire).
At just under a mile, we reached the signed trailhead where we began following a single-track dirt trail down into Escondido Canyon. We crossed the creek and turned left (upstream), following the nearly level forested trail as it crossed the winding stream several times. The hike was very pleasant as a result of recent rain; there was flowing water in the stream and there were several types of blooming plants along the way. Eventually the trail began rising, though not steeply, and we soon reached Escondido Falls. There was a slender waterfall flowing on the right side of the face of the wide lower waterfall as we stood in the lovely area at its base which was “surrounded by travertine rock.” After taking a break to enjoy the peaceful environment (there were no other hikers while we were at the waterfall), we reluctantly returned the way we came and returned to Simi Valley having completed a 3.8-mile hike with just under 600’ of elevation gain/loss on a great day for hiking.
November 23rd – Ahmanson Ranch, Lasky Mesa, Las Virgenes Canyon Lollipop Loop
9 hikers carpooled to the trailhead at the north end of Las Virgenes Road in the Simi Hills on a pleasant autumn morning (cool temperatures, clear skies with good visibility, and intermittent light breezes (some stronger wind). A short distance after the hike began we reached a T-junction and turned right onto the East Las Virgenes Canyon Trail (ELVCT), a dirt road that winds through the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve (aka Ahmanson Ranch) to the Victory trailhead at the west end of Victory Blvd in West Hills.
NOTE: Lasky Mesa is named for Jesse L. Lasky, a key founder of Paramount Pictures. A number of famous movies were (partially) filmed here, including the sunrise scene in Gone with the Wind in which Scarlett O’Hara declares “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”
After a short break we followed a trail (a dirt road at first which became a single-track trail after a while) down to the ELVCT which took us back to our vehicles. We returned to Simi Valley having completed a pleasant 6.8-mile hike with around 850’ of elevation gain/loss. NOTE: Refer to the following web site for an excellent and very interesting history of the Ahmanson Ranch (and surrounding) area: http://www.moviesites.org/laskymesa.htm .
NOTE: We had originally planned to hike in Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons but parking was non-existent near the trailhead due to the SocalUltraRunning group’s “No Name 5030” foot races (13.1m, 15k, 10k, 5k, and 1m) that were in progress in the area when we arrived. A decision was made to avoid the parking “mess” and presumably hordes of runners by relocating our hike to the Ahmanson Ranch area (where there were no such “problems”). We anticipate rescheduling the Cheeseboro Canyon – Palo Comado Canyon Loop hike in 2020.
November 9th – Simi Peak from King James Court via China Flat
13 hikers met along Lindero Canyon Road (near King James Court) in Oak Park on a pleasant autumn morning. Our hike in the Simi Hills began along a single-track trail, but soon continued along an old dirt-and-rock road as it rose steadily up the south side of the mountain, providing ever-expanding views to the south. Upon reaching the apex of the old road, we headed north and descended into lovely China Flat with its oak trees and sprawling golden meadows. Despite the recent drought and last year’s Woolsey Fire, many of the oak trees displayed bright green leaves and provided some much-appreciated shade as the morning grew warmer.
When the trail “leveled out” in China Flat, we followed a single-track trail westward and climbed to Simi Peak (2,403’), the highest point in the Simi Hills (which occupy the area between Simi Valley and Hwy 101 and between Hwy 23 and the San Fernando Valley), where we were greeted by relatively clear vistas. We took a rest-and-snack break atop the peak and enjoyed the panoramic views including the Santa Susana Mountains, and two of the Channel Islands (Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands). After a while we returned to our vehicles the way we came, completing a 6.1-mile hike with over 1,500′ of elevation gain/loss on a beautiful day.