October 26th – Conejo Mountain

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10 hikers assembled at the signed “Powerline Trail” trailhead on Via Ricardo in Newbury Park on a warm autumn morning on a much-appreciated break between high-wind advisories and red-flag warnings. The temperature was pleasant for hiking up the mountain and the air was surprisingly clear. The trail began gently enough and soon afforded us with views of Old Boney Mountain to the east.

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As we reached the Edison Road, we had a brief view of Camarillo and beyond to the west. We followed the Edison Road through a landscape littered with volcanic detritus to a spur road that led up to a pair of power transmission towers at which point we regrouped and followed a “use” trail which led steeply up the eastern flank of Conejo Mountain. Once we summited the eastern portion of the mountain, we could see our destination: the highest point to the west on the mountain. We followed a “use” trail across the rock-strewn landscape to the “peak” of Conejo Mountain where we enjoyed 360-degree views of both near and distant mountains, Camarillo, and the Pacific Ocean including Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands National Park. We followed a different “use” trail back down to the spur road and then retraced our route to Via Ricardo and returned home having completed a pleasant 5-mile hike with 1,275’ of elevation gain/loss on a nice morning (which had heated up some by the time we completed the hike). We encountered a small (young) rattlesnake near the Conejo Mountain “peak.”

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October 19th – Newton Canyon and the Backbone Trail

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10 hikers carpooled to the Newton Canyon trailhead just north of Tunnel #1 on Kanan Dume Road in the Santa Monica Mountains on a cool autumn morning (which promised to warm up later). Our out-and-back hike covered a formerly (before 2018’s Woolsey Fire burned it) heavily-shaded section of the 67-mile-long Santa Monica Mountains Backbone Trail (BBT).

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The trail initially climbed to a point where it crossed above Tunnel #1 and then rose and fell as it wound mostly eastward two-and-a-half miles along a mostly open trail with scattered shade and wide open mountain views eventually reaching Latigo Canyon Road. Surprisingly there were lots of blooming plants along the trail including Cliff Asters, Morning Glories, California Fuchsia and Bush Mallow among others. Despite the recent wildfire, there was ample evidence of botanical recovery including lots of black walnut trees.

After crossing Latigo Canyon Road, the trail dropped into another canyon as it headed northeast. The temperature was still pleasant so we continued hiking all the way to Corral Canyon Road. After a short break we turned around and retraced our steps to the original trailhead, marveling at nature’s ability to recover from a natural (wildfire) disaster. As we neared our starting point the temperature had risen to a slightly uncomfortable level so we were happy to reach our cars having completed a pleasant 8-mile hike with about 1,775’ of elevation gain/loss.

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October 5th – Camp Three Falls to Lilly Meadows

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Eight hikers carpooled to the entrance to Camp Three Falls on Boy Scout Camp Road in Lockwood Valley on a cool autumn morning. We began our hike along the lower end of the North Fork [of Lockwood Creek] Trail (22W02). The first two miles of the hike were along a dirt road that led through the Boy Scout Camp and then continued through low hills dotted with pine trees and interesting rock formations until we reached North Falls, currently only a small trickle of water.

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We then carefully followed a narrow trail as it climbed up the mountainside to skirt the nearly dry waterfall; this took us to a vantage point that provided us with a fine view to the southeast. The trail then followed Lockwood Creek upstream through a surprisingly verdant narrow canyon populated with heavy brush in the streambed; very little water was visible but we could hear the moving water. Eventually we emerged into the lovely pine forest surrounding Lilly Meadows where we took advantage of a picnic table with benches for our lunch/rest break. We had not planned to continue further up the mountain toward Sheep Camp so we returned the way we had come, encountering no other hikers during the entire hike. We returned home having completed a pleasant 7.6-mile hike with 1,280’ of elevation gain/loss. Several plants were blooming in the area including penstemon and virgin’s bower. NOTE: The trail leading up from the dirt road to the top of the waterfall has continued to deteriorate; it requires constant vigilance for one’s safety.

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