SEPTEMBER

September 25th – Wildwood Park Loop

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22 hikers arrived in the main parking lot in Wildwood Park at the west end of Avenida de los Arboles in Thousand Oaks on a cool slightly overcast early autumn morning. After taking a group photo, we began our counterclockwise loop hike by heading west on the Mesa Trail as we enjoyed the company of both old friends and potential new ones. We soon turned left, hiked a short distance south on the Tepee Trail, and then took the Stagecoach Bluffs Trail westward which provided views down into Wildwood Canyon as we hiked past lots of prickly pear cacti; we also spotted a couple of “conejos” (rabbits) for which the Conejo Valley is named. Upon rejoining the Mesa Trail, we hiked uphill to its junction with the Lizard Rock Trail where some of us took a break while others climbed on up to Lizard Rock to enjoy the panoramic view from that high perch.

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After we regrouped just below Lizard Rock, we followed the Lizard Rock Trail down into Hill Canyon and soon headed eastward into heavily shaded Wildwood Canyon. We headed upstream to a large shady picnic area where we took a rest/snack/bathroom break. We then crossed the flowing water several times before reaching Paradise Falls where we enjoyed looking at and listening to the waterfall. Continuing on up the Wildwood Canyon Trail, we spotted several dozen mallard ducks in the stream above the waterfall. Eventually we reached the always pleasant Indian Creek Trail and followed it up to an unnamed trail that led us back to our vehicles, thus completing a 5-mile hike with about 850’ of elevation gain/loss on a very nice morning for a hike. We also spotted lots of seldom-seen cattails during the hike.

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September 18th – Alamos Canyon Open Space

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10 hikers gathered in the Simi Valley Sanitation parking lot at 600 W. Los Angeles Avenue (as previously arranged) on a pleasantly cool late-summer morning. Since there was a bi-monthly household hazardous waste drop-off service simultaneously underway, we quickly drove over to the true trailhead of the Alamos Canyon Trail in the nearby Oak Park County Park. After paying the $5.00 parking fee we parked at the signed trailhead. We began our hike along the fairly new connector trail connecting the true trailhead to the Alamos Canyon Road which we followed uphill and then under Hwy 118. We soon reached the official signed entrance to the Alamos Canyon Open Space where took a short break. We continued north/northeastward along the Alamos Canyon dirt road until we encountered a broken sprinkler that was spraying water fairly high in the air and not much other than the bare ground was being watered [this was reported after the hike]. Visibility was pretty good except for long-distance photos. Our route soon curved uphill to the west where we reached a trail (dirt road) junction.

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Since visibility atop the central ridge trail appeared to be poor, we continued as the trail curved to the south. Despite the ongoing drought, the foliage (with lots of healthy-looking oak trees) along the east side of the road as we headed south was quite pleasant to look at. Eventually the trail (dirt road) curved to the east and delivered us back to its junction with Alamos Canyon Road (thus completing a loop). We then retraced the route that we came in on and reached our vehicles having completed a 6-mile hike with a little over 600’ of elevation gain/loss on a very nice day for hiking. We spotted several rabbits and lots of crows during the hike, but no other hikers and only one bicyclist (near the end of the hike).

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September 11th – Corriganville to Santa Susana Pass Loop

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18 hikers met at 7:00 AM at Corriganville Park at the east end of Simi Valley on a cool late summer morning. We began our hike along the primary north-south dirt road in Corriganville. After passing Camp Rotary we followed a single-track trail as it snaked uphill to the east. When we reached the junction with the trail leading on up to the wildlife tunnel under Hwy 118, we turned right (south) instead and followed the Simi Valley portion of the old Stagecoach Trail until we reached the Santa Susana Pass Road opposite the north end of Lilac Lane. We then followed Lilac Lane to the Stagecoach Trail kiosk in the dirt parking area at the upper end of the Chatsworth portion of the Stagecoach Trail in the Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park (SHP).

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From there we followed the Mattingly Trail northeast to an overlook of Chatsworth Park South (and points south and east) where we took a short break to enjoy looking at the landscape; visibility was fairly good. As we headed northward to Five Points we passed two archers practicing shooting at a target. Upon reaching Five Points and the Mattingly Trail we followed it eastward to the Williams Trail where we stopped to look at what appeared to be the setting-up of a movie set immediately to the east on a large flat barren dirt area.

We then followed the Williams Trail northeast to El Camino Nuevo and the Spahn Ranch. Little is left of the ranch, so after a short look at it, we continued westward to its junction with the Sanchez Trail and then onward to the Santa Susana Pass Road. We followed the road to its junction with Lilac Lane (across the road). We turned right onto the Simi Valley portion of the old Stagecoach Trail and followed it back to Corriganville Park, encountering a languid gopher snake along the way (there’s a photo of it). We then followed the shaded main Corriganville trail back to our vehicles, thus completing a nice 6-mile hike with an elevation gain/loss of 1,175’.

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September 4th – The Chumash Trail

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14 hikers met at 7:00 AM at the Chumash Trail trailhead at the northeast end of Flanagan Drive in Simi Valley on a cool morning that promised to heat up considerably within three hours. We hiked steadily up the trail as it rose through a rocky landscape until we reached the Rocky Peak Fire Road (our turnaround point). We were grateful that we were not in the direct sunlight during most of our ascent. Part way up the trail we spotted a doe (deer) grazing on the sparse ground near the trail; it “posed” for us as we took photos of it and then went back to its grazing. After resting for a while at the turnaround point, we returned the way we came, again “beating the heat,” as we completed a nice 5.7-mile hike with an elevation gain/loss of around 1,250’. We encountered quite a few other hikers and bicyclists. Almost nothing was blooming; the landscape was “bone dry” due to the ongoing drought.

AUGUST

August 28th – Chivo Canyon Loop

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15 hikers met at 7:00 AM at the “trailhead” on Cottonwood Drive in the Wild Horse Canyon development on a pleasant late summer morning lollipop-loop hike. After we “dropped” into Chivo (goat) Canyon, we hiked northward along a single-track “use” trail and then the old Chivo Canyon (dirt) Road to its junction with the Buckhorn Trail (named by Joe Beautz after finding a set of deer antlers), passing a couple of large oil seeps and a bee apiary along the way. The impact of the ongoing drought was obvious in the canyon bottom and its sides as nearly everything was “dry as a bone.” We decided not to continue up the canyon to its “Narrows”; instead we followed the Buckhorn Trail up to the Marr Ranch Road atop the eastern ridge of Chivo Canyon where we had views of the surrounding mountains and canyons. We then headed south along the Marr Ranch Road to its junction (“Four Points”) with the Cappocchi Trail (also named by Joe Beautz after a spray painting on a rusty water tank) which connects with the Chivo Canyon Road/trail below. This connector trail was somewhat overgrown. After descending into Chivo Canyon once more we returned southward to where our hike started. The morning had warmed up quite a bit by the time we completed our 5-mile hike with about 950’ of elevation gain/loss. We spotted several rabbits and lizards during the hike as well as a few blooming plants such as datura (Jimson’s weed) and tree tobacco.

August 21st – Devil Canyon

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11 hikers met at the starting point of the hike on Poema Place in Chatsworth on a cool overcast summer morning. Our hike began as we descended into the heavily shaded bottom of Devil Canyon where we followed the remnants of the Devil Canyon Motorway upstream as it frequently crisscrossed the presently dry creek bed. We spotted a few blooming datura (aka jimson weed) plants, a blooming dudleya “liveforever” chalk plant, and a couple of other types of blooming plants as we made our way up to the large check dam at the junction with the mouth of Ybarra Canyon (which extends north to the Regional Park at Joughin Ranch). This first part of our hike led through a mostly heavily shaded environment bordered with interesting rock formations.

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After a brief rest break near the dam, we continued on upstream along the Devil Canyon trail as the canyon widened and we passed by grass-covered hillsides dotted with oak trees. We eventually reached our predetermined turnaround point where there is a very large pile of firewood [cut from oak trees damaged by wildfire some years ago] piled on the right (northeast) side of the trail. After another rest break we returned the way we came, except for our final climb out of the canyon. One of our hikers was familiar with a fairly recent signed section of the Santa Susana Pass Trail which includes a man-made staircase leading up out of the canyon so we followed it [Note: The lowest stair is several feet above the ground at the foot of the staircase which could be problematic for some hikers]. We returned to our vehicles having completed a very pleasant 6-mile (round trip) hike in this unique canyon with about 600’ of elevation gain/loss. Although it was a Saturday, we encountered no other hikers and only a handful of bicyclists.

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August 14th – Porter Ranch Loop

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13 hikers met at 7:00 AM at the Canyon Trail trailhead just below Porter Ridge Park at the east “end” of Sesnon Blvd at the north end of Reseda Blvd in Porter Ranch on a pleasant summer morning (which grew warmer as the hike progressed). We began our clockwise-loop hike by dropping down into Aliso Canyon; we then followed the wide dirt trail southward toward (nearly all the way to) Rinaldi Street and Aliso Canyon Park. The Aliso Canyon Trail was nearly level and was dotted with large oak trees and lots of blooming sunflowers so it was a pleasant stroll through the canyon. We then followed a well-defined connector trail that led somewhat steeply upward to Eddleston Park at Reseda Blvd. Crossing to the west side of Reseda Blvd, we hiked northward a short distance on a short trail to the eastern trailhead for the Palisades Trail which we followed westward. The wide well-maintained Palisades Trail provided excellent views of the surrounding area mainly to the south. There was stark evidence of a recent wildfire as we passed a formerly beautiful grove of pine trees which is now a stand of burned-and-blackened skeletons. The trail then rose fairly steeply just before dropping down to Tampa Avenue.

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We crossed to the west side of Tampa Avenue and soon dropped down to the Limekiln Canyon Trail which led us to Sesnon Blvd (near the entrance to the Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon underground natural gas storage facility, infamous for its 2015-2016 months-long methane leak). After crossing Sesnon Blvd to the northeast, we followed the Sesnon Trail (which forms the border of a housing development to its south) eastward to Ormskirk Avenue and then walked a couple of blocks to Porter Ridge Park where on a clear day one can see the upper parts of several of the highest skyscrapers in downtown Los Angeles through the Cahuenga Pass. We then returned to our nearby vehicles having completed a 5.7-mile hike with about 850’ of elevation gain/loss. Blooming plants included sunflowers, datura (Jimson weed) cliff asters, and tree tobacco. NOTE: Ormskirk (see above) is a market town in West Lancashire, England, 13 miles north of Liverpool; it was famous for its baking of gingerbread.

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August 7th – Sage Ranch Loop

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After successfully navigating Black Canyon Road [which was unexpectedly closed for road repair just after our 7 AM starting time], 13 hikers arrived at the lower parking lot in Sage Ranch Park in the Simi Hills on a pleasant summer morning. The 625-acre park is located just north of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) (aka Rocketdyne/Boeing) at an elevation of 2,000’. It is chock-full of world-class sandstone rock formations and has lots of picnic tables shaded by large oak trees in a picnic/camping area. Shortly after we began our counterclockwise loop hike, we were rewarded with sweeping views of Simi Valley and the mountains to the north as we followed several “use” trails as we headed westward. Not long after we returned to the loop trail/dirt road, we reached a “use” trail and climbed up on Sandstone Ridge (aka Sugarloaf), a long, steep rock formation rising alongside the trail on the west side of the park; it afforded us with excellent views of the once-bustling SSFL (most of the structures have been removed from the property as the cleanup effort continues).

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We resumed our hike southward and then eastward on the loop trail until we reached the “detour” section of trail and a “temporary” fence blocking a section of the original loop trail. The temporary blockage has been caused by a planned (but not started as far as we could tell) cleanup of the former trap and skeet range in the park. We eagerly turned onto the “detour” trail which led us northward through the center of the ranch, thus providing us with views of a previously unseen section of the park. Part way along the “detour” section we decided to pass by a “use” trail that leads a short distance eastward up to an overlook down into an otherwise hidden canyon with interesting rock formations and heavy foliage. We completed our relatively short, but quite scenic, stroll around and through the park having hiked about 3.5 miles with 750’ of elevation gain/loss. As expected, the landscape was “bone dry” due to the ongoing drought.

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JULY

July 31th – Las Llajas Canyon

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15 hikers met at the Las Llajas Canyon trailhead on Evening Sky Drive in Simi Valley early on a pleasant summer 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 (no water) three times. The steep canyon walls and lots of green-leaved oak trees soon provided shade during our mildly uphill 3.5-mile trek up the canyon. When we reached the locked gate at the south side of the Poe Ranch, we took a short break before retracing our route to the trailhead where we started (Brian Dennert joined us for most of the hike back).

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Despite the ongoing drought there were quite a few datura (Jimson weed) plants and tree tobacco with blossoms and the eastern wall of the canyon grew greener the farther up the canyon we hiked. We encountered lots of hikers and bicyclists (particularly on the return part of our hike) who were also outdoors enjoying nature. We finished having hiked 7 miles round-trip with about 650’ of elevation gain/loss on a very nice morning for hiking.

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July 24th – Tapo Canyon Open Space

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16 hikers met at the trailhead (1,145’) of the Tapo [Canyon] Open Space Trail (T23) in Simi Valley on a surprisingly cool summer morning. We headed northward along the nearly flat dirt road which was bordered by numerous oak trees with bright green leaves that have so far survived ongoing drought conditions. After a mile or so the road rose steadily to a narrow pass and a dirt-road junction (1,535’) where we took a break and enjoyed the views of the “valley” before us and the rows of mountainous ridges to the northeast. Resuming our hike, we took the right fork (leaving the main route of T23) and began the loop portion of our hike as we followed a section of dirt road downhill through a pretty oak woodland until we reached its eastern junction (1,276’) with the main T23 route. We then followed the eastern-most section of T23 down into Chivo Canyon (near a bee apiary).

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After a short break, we returned to the T23 loop and took the right fork and followed the main T23 route as it rose gently to the west through a large “valley” before rising fairly steeply to the southwest to another dirt road junction (1,620’, the highest point on our hike). We enjoyed the scenery from this viewpoint and then took the left fork and followed T23 back to the narrow pass (completing the loop) and then hiked on down (along T23) to the original trailhead. We completed our leisurely still-pleasant hike (with a nice cool breeze and a temperature in the 70’s) having hiked just over 5 miles with a total elevation gain/loss of about 800’. We spotted several rabbits and one blooming datura (Jimson weed) plant in Chivo Canyon.

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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. 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).

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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. 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.

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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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