December 18th – Work Party: Long Canyon

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Eight volunteers cheerfully met on at the Long Canyon trail head on a slightly chilly beautiful morning. We attentively went over the Trail Maintenance Safety Rules and Maintenance Guidelines and everyone enthusiastically started working. The soil condition was nearly perfect. We made numerous water bars for diverting water from eroding gullies down the center of the trail. We filled in the existing gullies and smoothed out the trail. Everyone did a supper job. Thank you so much to Mike Kuhn, Geneen Garcia, Mathew Gonzales, Monty, Mason & Geno Gonzales, Paul Friedeborn, and Martin DeGoey.

December 11th – Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park Counterclockwise Loop

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14 hikers met at 8:00 AM in the dirt parking area along Lilac Lane (in Simi Valley) at the upper end of the Chatsworth portion of the Stagecoach Trail in the Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park on a cold nearly winter morning (which promised to warm up some as the day progressed). We began our hike by heading northeast into the park via the Mattingly Trail which we followed to the Upper Meadow Trail which led us to a rocky overlook of Chatsworth Park South and the surrounding area. We then followed a short connector-trail northward to “Five Points,” passing two archery afficionados practicing their sport [perhaps illegally]. Then we hiked up a short fairly steep trail leading up to a hilltop viewpoint with a 360-degree view of a wide area.

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Returning to Five Points we continued following the Mattingly Trail to the northeast to its junction with the narrow Williams Trail which we carefully followed as it descended to Chatsworth Park South, crossing above the railroad tunnel on the way down. We then skirted Chatsworth Park South and made our way via a couple of trails to the Old Santa Susana Stagecoach Road (OSSSR) which we followed as it climbed fairly steeply up the boulder-strewn mountain to the starting point of the hike, passing the plaque installed by the Native Daughters of the Golden West along the way. We eventually arrived at our vehicles having completed an estimated 4.5-mile hike with around 1,100’ of elevation gain/loss on an invigorating morning for hiking. Our route provided us with many picturesque views (mountains, rock formations, etc.), but the landscape was “bone dry” due to the ongoing drought. Surprisingly, even though it was Saturday, we encountered almost no other hikers or bicycle riders.

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December 4th – Los Robles Trail via Los Padres Trail and Oak Creek Trail

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13 hikers met at the Los Padres Trail trailhead in Thousand Oaks on a cold ‘foggy’ (marine layer) late-autumn morning. We began our hike through a pleasant oak woodland into the hills south of Thousand Oaks. However, many of the oak trees showed the ravages of the ongoing drought (and wildfire). When we reached a dirt access road, we followed it to its junction with the Los Robles Trail. We headed west on the Los Robles Trail but soon turned right onto the “Scenic Loop” trail which led us to the Conejo Valley Scenic Overlook (where there’s a bench) which provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and grasslands (though not today). After stopping to take a short break, we continued on along the Los Robles Trail as it descended to a nice oak-shaded picnic area (with a table and benches) and then to a junction with a connector trail that led us to the upper (south) end of the Oak Creek Canyon Loop Trail.

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The western 0.4-mile section of this trail is called the Oak Creek Canyon Whole Access Interpretive Trail and is a mostly shaded oak grove area that is accessible by all, including equestrians, bicycles, hikers, wheelchairs, disabled and blind individuals; there is actually a “guide cable” along the fence as well as informational signs in braille. After hiking the western section of this loop, we walked a short distance eastward along Greenmeadow Avenue to the eastern section trailhead and hiked back up to the connector trail that led us to the south end of Moorpark Road. We returned to our vehicles about a block away and returned home invigorated, having completed a 4.5-mile hike with about 750’ of elevation gain/loss.

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November 27th – Happy Camp

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13 hikers met in the dirt parking area at the north end (15100) of Happy Camp Canyon Road adjacent to the Rustic Canyon Golf Course parking lot in Moorpark. NOTE: This is the first time this group began this hike from this trailhead; previously we began from the dirt parking lot at the east end of Broadway Road in Moorpark. We followed the trail (dirt road) along the east side of the golf course for a while and then followed an actual trail to the east of the road until it reached the signed kiosk entrance to Happy Camp Canyon. We took the left fork just past the signed entrance and followed the old ranch road eastward as it rose 600’ gradually in the canyon bottom between Oak Ridge (to the north) and Big Mountain (to the south). An easy several miles later we reached a shaded picnic/rest area with two tables with benches, two hitching rails, and lots of shade provided by oak trees. After a very pleasant break everyone decided to continue hiking the loop [rather than an option of returning the way we came].

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Continuing our hike, we followed the newly graded/widened dirt road southeast as it rose from the canyon bottom up Big Mountain to the Middle Range Fire Road. NOTE: This section was previously an abandoned, steep, and partially eroded dirt connector trail (formerly a road). It is now a “superhighway” by comparison which made it much easier to climb, but not as interesting. Once we reached the ridge we took in the views to the south and west which were relatively clear for several miles, but were hazy at greater distances [for example, we could barely see the outlines of two of the Channel Islands]. After hiking westward a few miles we descended to the signed kiosk entrance to Happy Camp Canyon, and then we made our way back to the parking lot the way we came, thus completing an 11.1mile hike with about 1,550’ of elevation gain/loss on a pleasant late-autumn day for hiking. The hillsides were “bone dry” due to the ongoing drought but we spotted a few wildflowers including some bush sunflowers. We encountered no other hikers but there were several bicyclists toward the end of the hike and we spotted a roadrunner and a few rabbits during the hike.

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November 20th – Work Party: Mt McCoy

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It was perfect weather for trail maintenance. There was a cool misty breeze for the duration of the work party. Five volunteers met at the top of Mt. McCoy, where the tools were brought up by truck, and the volunteers prepared to work their way down the mountain. They began at the very beginning of the trail by the cross. Paul had already covered some graffiti up at the cross. Many thanks to Paul Friedeborn, and Richard Snowden, on a beautiful job clearing rock and smoothing the trail. Thank you Mike Kuhn, who continued clearing the trail until meeting up with Daniel DeGoey, and Martin DeGoey who were working a ways down the trail, shoring up a highly eroded trail edge using pressure treated lumber. Brian Denert was there with his daughter Chloe, who filled up a huge bag of trash, and Brian covered some graffiti on one of the benches up at the top. Thank you, Brian and Chloe Denert and all in support of Rancho Simi Trail Blazers.

November 13th – Las Llajas Trail to the Shovel

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Seven hikers met at the trailhead on Evening Sky Drive on a pleasant autumn morning. We began our hike by descending a short paved section of road into the canyon bottom; from there we followed the wide well-graded dirt road upstream to the north 1.8 miles, crossing the dry streambed three times. We then followed a not-at-all-overgrown “use” trail (the remnants of an old mining road) as we climbed up the eastern slope of the mountain, atop which we enjoyed panoramic views of the surrounding area including parts of Chivo Canyon, Las Llajas Canyon, the Santa Susana Mountains, and Simi Valley. We were in shade for much of the trek to the top and there was a nice intermittent breeze as we gained elevation.

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We took a break when we reached our goal, the site of a coquina (a soft whitish limestone formed of broken shells and corals cemented together and used for road building) mining operation. Various mining equipment artifacts are strewn about near the mining site, most notably a P&H Model 206 “steam” shovel. We encountered several other people during the hike but only one bicycle rider once we left the canyon bottom. The vegetation on the hillsides was “bone dry” due to the ongoing drought and the upper section of the trail (old road) up to the AMO site has been “widened” presumably by the lack of water. There were almost no wildflowers and there was no sign of wildlife. We returned to our vehicles having completed a pleasant-enough 6.3-mile hike with about 1,050’ of elevation gain/loss, despite the temperature in the canyon having risen to about 90 degrees by the time we finished our hike.

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November 6th – Long Canyon, Oak Canyon, Montgomery Canyon, Challenger Park, Canyon View Trail

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12 hikers drove through heavy fog to meet at the Long Canyon Trail trailhead parking lot at Wood Ranch in Simi Valley on a chilly autumn morning. Fortunately as we approached the trailhead it was not foggy as was the case during our entire hike (despite lingering fog at a distance). We began hiking the Long Canyon trail as it climbed steeply 0.7 mile to a trail junction atop a ridge overlooking western Simi Valley to the north as well as the Lang Ranch Open Space to the south. We then followed a “use” trail down to the dirt road in Oak Canyon while enjoying views of the surrounding mountain slopes. After a short break we headed eastward up a dirt connector road to a ridge that provided nice views of western Simi Valley. We continued along the dirt road as it dropped into Montgomery Canyon and headed toward Long Canyon Road. We then crossed the street, walked a short distance northward and then hiked steeply up the Canyon View Trail which provided views of the surrounding area including Bard Reservoir and followed it as it undulated along a ridgeline back to the trailhead parking lot, completing a 6.2-mile loop hike with about 1,500’ of elevation gain/loss on a very pleasant morning for hiking.


October 23rd – The Hummingbird Trail

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10 hikers assembled at the on-street-parking area at the north end of Kuehner Drive at the trailhead (1,175’) for the Hummingbird Trail (just outside the gate into Hummingbird Ranch) on an overcast autumn morning with a little bit of very light rain. It was a bit chilly as we started our hike, but we quickly warmed up as we began our 2.4-mile eastward climb to the Rocky Peak Fire Road. The trail passed through (and on) a variety of imposing rock formations along the way including very large boulders and giant slabs of sandstone rock, many with small “caves.” As we gained elevation the views of the area were limited by the overcast sky but were clear close-up. The landscape had been cleansed by the light rain and the air was clean and invigorating.

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Unfortunately the official trail continues to be damaged by bicycle riders who (without permission) create “bandit trails” that cut steeply through the pleasant original switchback trail; the “bandit trails” make it nearly impossible to discern the original trail at many intersections. Nevertheless we eventually reached the trail’s junction with the Rocky Peak Fire Road where we took a rest break before retracing our route to our vehicles. We reached the trailhead having completed a 4.8-mile out-and-back hike with about 1,250’ of elevation gain/loss on a very pleasant morning for hiking, grateful for the small amount of rain that had fallen.

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October 16th – Work Party: China Flats

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Mike Kuhn & Martin DeGoey meet at China Flat trailhead, on a beautiful and calm sunny morning. We hiked up the trail, pulling a light weight wheelbarrow, to our first and only stop where we were joined by a third volunteer, Sheryl Knight. There was a large sinkhole gully eroded into the trail. We filled the bottom with dead branches, to help prevent rocks from rolling down the drop off. Next, we shoveled dirt from the surrounding area and gathered rock from up the trail, bringing the rocks down for fill using the wheelbarrow, until the sinkhole gully was full. Many thanks to all who volunteered!

October 9th – Conejo Mountain

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12 hikers assembled at the “Powerline Trail” trailhead on Via Ricardo in Newbury Park on a cool autumn morning. The temperature was pleasant for hiking up the mountain and despite an overcast sky the air was surprisingly clear. The trail began gently enough and soon afforded us with views of Old Boney Mountain to the east. As we reached the Edison Road, we had a brief view of Camarillo 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. Along the way a late-arriving 13th hiker caught up with us.

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We stopped several hundred yards short of the towers and decided to follow a “use” trail which led steeply up the southeastern flank of Conejo Mountain. We followed the “use” trail northwestward across the rock-strewn landscape to the “peak” of Conejo Mountain where we enjoyed 360-degree views of nearby mountains, the eastern portion of Camarillo, and parts of Newbury Park. After taking a break, we headed carefully back down the sometimes steep “use” trail to the spur road and then retraced our route to Via Ricardo and returned home having completed a pleasant 5.3-mile hike with about 1,350’ of elevation gain/loss on a nice morning for hiking. We encountered a roadrunner as we neared the end of our hike.

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October 2nd – Simi Peak

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14 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 at the easier trailhead in King James Court as we headed uphill 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 China Flat with its oak trees and sprawling meadows. Despite the recent drought many of the oak trees that were burned in the 2018 Woolsey Fire displayed bright green leaves and provided some much-appreciated shade as the morning grew warmer.

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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 though the quite-distant landmarks were hazy or couldn’t be seen at all. We took a rest-and-snack break atop the peak and enjoyed the closer views. After a while we returned to our vehicles the way we came, completing a 6-mile hike with around 1,500’ of elevation gain/loss on a mostly nice day (it was noticeably hot as we descended the southern slope during the final leg of the hike). Although we saw few, if any, wildflowers we did see a deer on the way up to the peak and what appeared to be the same deer in the same location on the way back down.

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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 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 wildflowers 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 wildflowers 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. Wildflowers 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 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 wildflowers 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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