July 17 – Big Sky Trail Loop

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18 hikers (and three dogs) met along Big Sky Place in Simi Valley on a pleasant summer morning for a local hike. After a short walk northward on a sidewalk along Erringer Road where we admired the rose beds, we turned east onto the well-signed Big Sky Trail. After crossing a dry streambed, we began hiking the loop portion of the hike in a counterclockwise direction as we climbed fairly steeply up to the north-south ridge to the east of the Big Sky housing development.

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Upon reaching the ridgetop we enjoyed views of the surrounding area including the west end of Simi Valley and the Santa Susana Mountains, particularly Whiteface Mountain (which some of us had climbed in the past). We continued our hike by heading north along the ridge toward Lost Canyons Drive, taking in the views of mostly tan mountainsides and canyon bottoms. After we reached the highest point (1,463’) in our hike, we took a short break and then continued to the northernmost point (1,357’) in our hike where the trail turned sharply to the south as it wound its way southward, mostly along the oak-lined streambed that runs through the Big Sky neighborhood. The remainder of our hike was an easy nearly-level stroll and we finished our invigorating outing having completed a 4.7-mile hike with about 875’ of elevation gain/loss. We spotted a few blooming plants including datura (aka Jimson weed) and sunflowers.

NOTE: All species of Datura are poisonous and potentially psychoactive, especially their seeds and flowers, which can cause respiratory depression, arrhythmias, fever, delirium, hallucinations, anticholinergic syndrome, psychosis, and even death if taken internally.

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July 3rd – Mt. McCoy and the Reagan Library

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18 hikers met at the carpool point near the intersection of Royal Avenue and Madera Road on a pleasant summer morning and then (since trailhead parking is quite limited) walked from there to the Mt. McCoy trailhead on Washburn Street a few blocks to the west. The hike began along the trail heading south but it quickly began climbing gradually westward along the well-maintained (but frequently “cut” by bicycle riders) trail leading to the summit via a series of switchbacks. As the trail rose up the mountainside, we were rewarded by intermittent cool breezes and views of the western end of Simi Valley, including Sinaloa Lake, Wood Ranch, and the Bard Reservoir.

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There is a white concrete cross (erected in 1941) as well as two concrete benches at the summit, from which the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library can be seen.

After a short break to enjoy the panoramic view of the desiccated landscape (there was a single California poppy blooming along the way), we hiked southwest to Presidential Drive and then hiked along it to the west side of the library where President Reagan was buried in 2004 (and Nancy Reagan in 2016). The setting of the library is quite beautiful and there are planes and an army tank outside the library to look at as well as a spectacular view to the west. After a short rest break, we returned the way we came, completing a 5.8-mile hike with a little over 875’ of elevation gain/loss. NOTE: This hike was the first one for some of the participants since March, 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic “lockdown” went into effect; moreover it was, for most of us, the first time we had hiked with a sizeable group of friends/acquaintances since March, 2020 so the outing was particularly pleasurable.

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