OCTOBER

October 15th – Work Party: Long Canyon

We arrived at the trailhead despite the gloomy sky and slight drizzle. There were plenty of cars in the parking lot, both hikers and people with bikes.  Five volunteers showed up and decided to brave the misty weather. We cleaned out water bar runoffs as best we could. The ground was still hard as a rock from lack of moisture. We removed stones and left over dead brush from the trail.  There was some Deer Weed (plant), and some California Sage Brush, along the trail to clear before coming growing season.  Further up the trail, we leveled out a couple places of rock cropings, and shored up the edge of the trail with the rocks we removed.  After a full morning of work, the mist thickened to a drizzle, and we headed back down to the parking lot arriving a little soggy.  Special thanks go out to the troopers from Student Corps: Liang Wang, Amy Wang, Yuet Tung Wang, Anna Lu, and Chun Lu.

October 1st – Devil Canyon to Browns Canyon Road

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6 hikers (and one dog) met at the hike’s starting point on Poema Place in Chatsworth on a cool early autumn morning.  As our hike began we descended along a fairly steep “use” trail into the heavily shaded bottom of Devil Canyon where we followed the remnants of the Devil Canyon Motorway upstream as it frequently crisscrossed the currently dry creek bed (several stretches of trail are in the stream bed) but there was no water in the stream.  We spotted lots of interesting sandstone-rock-cliff formations and a variety of healthy plants as we made our way up to the large check dam at the trail’s junction with the mouth of Ybarra Canyon.  After a brief rest break we continued upstream along the dry trail.  As the canyon widened we passed by hillsides dotted with oak trees.  When we reached the upper-canyon Cathedral-like oak woodland, the trail looked more like the one-lane road it once was.  Surprisingly the trees and some of the bushes were an attractive bright green despite the ongoing drought.

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The morning was perfect for hiking: [1] the temperature was mild since we were hiking in a canyon with shade from its walls as well as that of the many trees; [2] recent rain had “cleansed” the flora and there was no water in the creek (so no wading in water); [3] there were only a couple of bicycle riders (and no other hikers) while we were there.  Upon reaching Browns Canyon (dirt) Road we turned right (east) and hiked a short distance uphill where we took a break and enjoyed views to the south.  We then retraced our route and returned to our vehicles having completed a very pleasant 9.6-mile hike in this unique canyon with about 1,100’ of elevation gain/loss.

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SEPTEMBER

September 24th – Charmlee Wilderness Park (aka Charmlee Natural Area) in Malibu

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8 hikers gathered just outside the gated entrance road into Charmlee Wilderness Park in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking Malibu on a pleasantly cool early autumn morning (Note 1: The gate isn’t opened until 8 AM; Note 2: There is no longer a parking fee).  The park has a somewhat bewildering network of trails criss-crossing it but our route this day was a clockwise loop mostly around the outer edges of the park.  We began our hike at what had been a picnic area (destroyed by the 2018 Woolsey Fire) a short distance south of the information board along the Botany Trail as it rose through a fire-damaged oak grove to a three-way trail split.  We  continued straight ahead on the main trail as it passed between the eastern edge of the dry grass meadow that occupies much of the park on one side and mostly dead oak trees and rock outcroppings on the other (east) side.  Eventually we reached “Ocean Vista” overlooking the Pacific Ocean which lay more than 1,000’ below (unfortunately the distant views were largely obscured).

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After a short break we continued as the trail rose through chaparral to an abandoned reservoir bordered by eucalyptus trees where we enjoyed a cool ocean breeze.  The West Meadow Trail led us down to an old well and water pump after which we hiked around the “Black Forest,” partially on the Clyde Canyon Trail which provided views to the west.  After rejoining the West Meadow Trail we soon turned left and headed northwest along an unnamed trail through a decimated oak woodland until we reached Potrero Road which we followed up to a road junction where we turned right and explored the Ranch House ruins (also negatively impacted by the Woolsey Fire) before following Carmichael Road and the Botany Trail back to the parking lot.  We returned home having completed a short-but-satisfying 4-mile hike with about 750’ of elevation gain/loss in this park with a diversity of botany and geology on another nice morning for hiking.  Note: This hike, despite the impact of the Woolsey Fire, is still a pleasant one.

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September 17th – Solstice Canyon, Sostomo Trail, Deer Valley Loop Trail, and Tropical Terrace

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5 hikers met in the main parking lot at Solstice Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area near the Pacific Ocean on a cool overcast late summer morning.  Our out-and-back hike began by following nearly dry Solstice Creek along the almost level, well-shaded Solstice Canyon Trail (a dirt road), taking advantage of two short trails paralleling the dirt road along the way, and reaching the Sostomo Trail junction after about one mile.  Next we followed the Sostomo Trail as it climbed steadily toward a junction with the Deer Valley Loop Trail, enjoying a pleasant [not hot] day with green mountainsides.  As the somewhat-shaded trail rose we had clear views of Solstice Canyon and the Rising Sun Trail across the canyon.

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After reaching Deer Valley, we followed the loop trail in a clockwise direction as it ascended the mountainside to an overlook of the Pacific Ocean.  There were good views of the surrounding land area, but ocean views were limited.  After taking a break we completed the loop and then returned along the Sostomo Trail to the Solstice Canyon Trail (road).

Turning left we walked the very short distance to Tropical Terrace, the ruins of the Roberts house built in the 1950s and destroyed by wildfire in 1982.  At one time there were giraffes, camels, buffalo, African deer, and exotic birds in the canyon (but not now!).  We took a lengthy rest break at Tropical Terrace and enjoyed the ambiance of palm trees, and murmuring Solstice Creek, but there was no visible water in the nearby “waterfall.”  We then returned to our vehicles via the Solstice Canyon Trail having completed a 6.6-mile hike with about 1,600’ of elevation gain/loss.

NOTE: The gate blocking entrance to the driveway leading to the main parking lot was open a few minutes before 6 AM and was empty at that time.  A second vehicle arrived at 6:25 AM and a third one arrived at 6:35 AM.  After that vehicles arrived at an increased rate; however, there were still a few empty parking spaces at 7:30 AM.  After that there were no empty parking spaces [except when a vehicle left and the space was almost immediately filled) until sometime after we left at around 11 AM.  Conclusion: It it’s a Saturday morning we should arrive by 7:15 AM

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September 10th – Chumash Trail to Rocky Peak Fire Road

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6 hikers met at 7:00 AM at the Chumash Trail trailhead at the northeast end of Flanagan Drive in Simi Valley on a cool somewhat overcast morning that escaped rain from Hurricane Kay during the hike; instead the sky changed so that there were patches of blue sky.  We hiked steadily up the trail as it rose through a rocky landscape until we reached the Rocky Peak Fire Road (our turnaround point).  Although there were not many blooming plants along the way, the recent rain had “cleansed” the mountain chaparral so it was an attractive bright green.  Also we were cooled by an intermittent breeze.  After resting for a while at the turnaround point, we returned the way we came, this time “beating the hurricane,” as we completed a nice 5.4-mile hike with an elevation gain/loss of around 1,250’.  We encountered very few other hikers and only a single bicyclist.

AUGUST

August 27th – East Canyon (and Corral Sunshine Motorway) to Mission Point

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12 hikers met at the trailhead in the “East Canyon, Rice Canyon, and Michael D. Antonovich Open Space” section of the 4,000-acre Santa Clarita Woodlands Park via Interstate 5 and “The Old Road” in Santa Clarita.  It was pleasant as we began hiking southward along the shady somewhat-eroded East Canyon Motorway as it followed the small dry creek bed in the canyon bottom.  The route was lined with bay laurel, black walnut, cottonwood, sycamore, and oak trees.  Soon the dirt road began rising more steeply along the eastern side of a partly wooded ridge and we were exposed to direct sunlight for some distance; fortunately it wasn’t yet a hot morning.  After a while the dirt road began rising on the west side of the ridge and there was a lot of shade including lots of black walnut trees.  We enjoyed views of the steep slopes to the west and a few surviving relics of the bigcone Douglas-fir trees that once covered the mountain [most of the trees appear to have died as a result of the ongoing drought and wildfire].  An intermittent breeze cooled us and the temperature became pleasant as the road led us upward to a junction with Bridge Road (and the Oat Mountain Motorway) which is blocked by a SoCal Gas fence and gate where we took a break.

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Having reached the highest point in our hike, we headed southeast along the pleasant Corral Sunshine Motorway with intermittent shade and occasional cool breezes to Mission Point which provided a panoramic view of the San Fernando Valley and beyond as far as the quite hazy San Gabriel Mountains.  Some of us also peered through the fence separating us from the infamous Southern California Gas Company’s natural gas storage facility in Aliso Canyon to the west.  After resting/snacking, we retraced our now warmer (and mostly downhill!) route to the trailhead and returned home having completed a 9-mile hike with about 1,750’ of elevation gain/loss on a nice day for well-shaded hiking.

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August 20th – Las Llajas Canyon to the Abandoned Coquina Mining Operation

25 hikers met at the trailhead on Evening Sky Drive on a pleasant summer 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-so-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 during the first couple of miles of the hike and the temperature was moderate for the trek to the top of the mountain.

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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 shovel.  We encountered several other people during the hike but only a couple of other hikers and no bicycle riders once we left the canyon bottom.  The vegetation on the hillsides was “bone dry” due to the ongoing drought.  There were almost no blooming plants and there was no sign of wildlife (aside from a few small lizards).  We returned to our vehicles having completed a pleasant-enough 6-mile hike with about 1,175’ of elevation gain/loss; there was a cool breeze during most of our return hike on the wide dirt road.

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August 13th – Upper Zuma Canyon (BBT) and Zuma Ridge Trail to Buzzard’s Roost

11 hikers met at the Upper Zuma Canyon trailhead on Kanan Dume Road just north of Tunnel #1 early on a pleasant (but forecast to get hot) morning.  We began our hike by heading west along the Santa Monica Mountains Backbone Trail (BBT) as it descended into Upper Zuma Canyon.  After crossing Newton Creek, the no-longer well-shaded trail rose and fell until we reached a very nice bridge crossing dry Zuma Creek.  We continued following the sparsely shaded BBT westward as the temperature rose but it was still tolerable thanks to our early start.  Upon reaching a trail junction 2.5 miles from the trailhead, we left the BBT and headed southward steadily uphill on the Zuma Ridge Trail (actually a well-graded dirt road) toward Buzzard’s Roost where we climbed to a viewpoint just to the west.  We enjoyed a cool marine breeze and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, but the ocean view was obscured by a marine layer.  After a leisurely break we returned along the now hot trail to our vehicles and headed home having completed an 8.2-mile hike with 1,600’ of elevation gain/loss.

August 6th – Serrano Canyon + Serrano Valley Loop (from Sycamore Cove)

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10 hikers met in the Sycamore Cove Beach parking lot via Pacific Coast Highway in Point Mugu State Park on a pleasant summer  morning [NOTE: The parking lot opens at 8 AM].  We began our hike along the beach and soon passed through a tunnel under Pacific Coast Highway after which we hiked northward through the Big Sycamore Canyon Campground.  We continued hiking northward 1.1 miles up the Big Sycamore Canyon dirt road which we shared with bicyclists and mosquitos (fortunately we had some insect repellent which was quickly applied).  Next we headed 1.7 miles eastward through Serrano Canyon on the Serrano (“from the mountains”) Trail as it climbed gradually upstream through the beautiful shaded canyon.  We enjoyed some late-blooming plants along the trail, including lots of cliff asters, some morning glories, and poison oak (which provided a festive red and green touch).  We emerged from the canyon into lovely Serrano Valley which is ringed on all sides by mountains; it consists mainly of large meadows covered by wild grasses and dotted with a few trees and some bushes along the seasonal streams (all presently dry).

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After taking a leisurely break, we began hiking the Serrano Valley Loop Trail in a clockwise direction, stopping briefly to examine an old water pump.  Resuming our hike, we soon reached a fork in the trail; we took the right fork and headed northeast, eventually dropping to a dry creek bed which we crossed and then continued eastward, climbing uphill.  Upon reaching a narrow single-track “use trail” on our right, we followed it as it headed southwest, spotting a trail marker indicating that we were still on the Serrano Valley Loop Trail; this stretch of trail is not being maintained and is fairly rough.  We crossed the dry creek bed again, and eventually completed the loop portion of our hike.  We then followed our initial route downstream through Serrano Canyon and then Big Sycamore Canyon.  We again passed through the tunnel under Pacific Coast Highway and soon reached our vehicles having completed a nearly 8-mile hike with about 1,000’ of elevation gain/loss on a surprisingly pleasant morning for hiking (we “beat the heat”).  NOTE: Serrano Canyon and Serrano Valley are off-limits to bicycle riders and horses; except for two other hikers in Serrano Valley we had the whole place to ourselves.

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JULY

July 30th – San Buenaventura State Beach from Marina Park to the Ventura River Estuary

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9 hikers traveled to the Greenock Lane “entrance” to San Buenaventura State Beach in Ventura on a pleasant summer morning [Note: Greenock Lane is on the west side of Marina Park; parking is free].  As we began our out-and-back hike along the beach it was nearly deserted, making our walk along the shore easy to enjoy as we watched ocean breakers and various birds searching for food near the water.  We passed lots of homes set back a reasonable distance from the shore and a series of four rock groins [“a rigid hydraulic structure built from an ocean shore that interrupts water flow and limits the movement of sediment”] that extend offshore to protect the beach from erosion as we drew closer to the Ventura Pier.

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Since the “beach” had turned mostly to rocks by then we moved onto the paved walking and bicycling path for the remainder of the “out” portion of our hike.  Continuing, we passed under the Ventura Pier, walked through Promenade Park, passed by Surfers Point at Seaside Park (there were a couple dozen surfers in the water), and hiked beside the Ventura River Estuary (where the river flows into the ocean), passing by the Ventura County Fairgrounds as we did so [Note: There were no “deep-fried” goodies to be had there on this day].  We continued hiking northward along the Lower [Ventura] River Parkway until we reached its junction with Hwy 101, passing (or being passed by) many other people including walkers, bicycle riders, and lots of young runners.  After a leisurely break we hiked back to the Ventura Pier and then retraced our route to our vehicles having completed a 7.1-mile hike with about 100’ of elevation gain/loss on another fine morning for hiking/beach walking.

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July 23rd – Ormond Beach to Point Hueneme Lighthouse

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9 hikers traveled to the gated Arnold Road entrance (opens at 7 AM) to Ormond Beach in Oxnard on a cool overcast summer morning [Note: there is very limited parking at this entrance, so it’s best to arrive early].  As we began the short walk from the parking area to the beach, we spotted over a dozen ducks.  The beach is “an 865-acre undeveloped beach in Oxnard that is off the beaten track.  The beach is backed by acres of farmland and has an extensive dune structure.”  It “also includes a salt marsh wetland preserve, mud flats, and a freshwater lagoon [and the] preserve is on the Pacific Flyway, a 2,000-mile migratory route providing habitat for birds between Alaska and Latin America.”  Due to our early morning start, we encountered only a few individual fishermen and  a few sandpipers as we hiked northwest along the beautiful nearly deserted beach while enjoying the sound and sight of waves breaking as they approached land.

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Eventually we reached Port Hueneme Beach Park, “a well-maintained, landscaped park to the southeast of the 1,600-acre Port Hueneme Naval Construction Battalion Center.”  The 50-acre park “has a wide sandy beach and a T-shaped recreational Pier that extends 1,240 feet out to sea [with] great views of the Ventura County coastline and the Channel Islands” [though not this day due to the overcast sky].  Upon reaching our turnaround destination, the Point Hueneme Lighthouse, there was no longer any sign that free tours on the 3rd Saturday of each month are still available (in any event we arrived on the 4th Saturday of July).

As we started back the way we had come, we passed by the long fishing pier in Port Hueneme Beach Park and then continued back to our vehicles, returning home having completed an approximately 8-mile hike with less than 100’ of elevation gain/loss on a very pleasant day to be at the beach.

NOTE: The 3.6-mile (RT) Bubbling Springs Recreational Greenbelt Trail is also available from our route (though we did not hike it).  Bubbling Springs Park “is a long, narrow greenbelt extending from the ocean at Port Hueneme Beach Park to Port Hueneme’s inner residential area.”

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July 16th – Newton Canyon and beyond on the BBT

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9 hikers carpooled to the Newton Canyon trailhead just north of Tunnel #1 on Kanan Dume Road in the Santa Monica Mountains on a pleasant summer morning (which promised to become a lot hotter 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).  However, many of the trees died in the Woolsey fire and others were scarred and offered less shade than before.

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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 through a pleasant canyon eventually reaching Latigo Canyon Road.  Despite the recent heat and the summer season, there were still quite a few blooming wildflowers along our route, particularly cliff asters and morning glories as well as buckwheat (actually not blooming but still looking nice).  Wildlife sightings were mostly, if not entirely, of lizards.  After crossing Latigo Canyon Road, the trail dropped into another canyon as it headed northeast.  The temperature had risen noticeably by the time we crossed the dry creek bed in the second canyon and shade was again intermittent so we turned around at that point and retraced our steps to the original trailhead thus completing a mostly pleasant 6-mile hike with about 1,300’ of elevation gain/loss.

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July 9th – Happy Camp Canyon

11 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 on a cool foggy (on the highway from Simi Valley) morning.  We followed the trail (dirt road) along the east side of the golf course until we 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 all but two hikers decided to continue hiking the loop [the other two hikers returned the way we had come].

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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 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 outline of one 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-mile hike with about 1,450’ of elevation gain/loss on a nice morning for hiking (when the temperature rose we were cooled by a gentle breeze during much of the second half of the hike.  The mountainsides were “bone dry” due to the ongoing drought but there were more blooming wildflowers than we expected including cliff asters, bush mallow, morning glories, datura, tree tobacco, and California buckwheat (actually not blooming but still looking nice).  We encountered very few other people during our hike.

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July 2nd – Mt. McCoy and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

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16 hikers met at the former carpool point near the intersection of Royal Avenue and Madera Road on a pleasant somewhat overcast 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 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 nice view to the west.  We also hiked around to the east side of the library where there’s a new statue of Nancy Reagan as well as an older statue of President Reagan.  There were lots of pretty cultivated plants blooming all around the outside of the library.  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 has been on The Rancho Simi Trailblazers calendar for many years on the first Saturday in July except for 2020 (due to the Covid-19 pandemic).  The combination of a moderate temperature and a very pleasant cool breeze during much of the hike made it a nice hike [despite all of the bicyclists’ “bandit trails.”].  We spotted quite a few rabbits, several squirrels, and some lizards during the hike as well as encountering quite a few hikers on the trail up to the cross.  There were very few plants that were still blooming, for example a few cliff asters and very few California poppies.

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JUNE

June 25th – Long Canyon, Oak Canyon, Montgomery Canyon, Canyon View Trail Loop

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9 hikers arrived at the Long Canyon Trail trailhead parking lot at Wood Ranch in Simi Valley on a pleasant early summer morning which promised to heat up to the low ‘90’s during the day.  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 and some blooming plants.  After a short break we headed eastward fairly steeply 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 (which still had a surprising display of blooming wildflowers) and headed toward Long Canyon Road.  We then crossed the street, walked a short distance northward and then hiked steeply up the northeastern end of the Canyon View Trail.  The trail provided views of the surrounding area including the Bard Reservoir as we followed it as it undulated along a ridgeline back to the trailhead parking lot, thus completing a 6.2-mile loop hike with about 1,500’ of elevation gain/loss on a relatively pleasant morning for hiking thanks in large part to an intermittent cooling breeze particularly during the Canyon View Trail portion of the hike.  We encountered a rabbit and a few blooming wildflowers including cliff asters, morning glories, bush mallow, tree tobacco, bush sunflowers, and California buckwheat (actually not blooming but still looking nice).

June 11 – Hummingbird Trail to Rocky Peak Fire Road

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9 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 a pleasant but-soon-to-heat-up late spring morning.  We began our 2.4-mile eastward climb to the Rocky Peak Fire Road, taking in the increasingly wide views to the west as we gained elevation.  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.”

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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; in fact, several sections of the original trail now have plant-life hiding them since most people now hike sections of the “bandit trails.”

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Nevertheless we eventually reached the trail’s junction with the Rocky Peak Fire Road where we took a rest break and enjoyed a cool breeze 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 summer-like morning.  NOTE: The wildflowers we encountered included (but were not limited to) California buckwheat, Bush sunflowers, black mustard, Turkish rugging, and several Plummer’s mariposa lilies.

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June 6th – Conejo Mountain

6 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 closer to the ground was surprisingly clear.  The trail began gently enough and we soon reached the Edison Road which we followed through a landscape littered with volcanic detritus to a spur road which we followed up to a pair of power transmission towers at the end of the spur road.  There were several types of wildflowers along the way.  We then 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 on the mountain – in the distance to the west.  We followed the “use” trail southwestward across the rock-strewn landscape to the mountain “peak” where the foggy overcast deprived us of seeing the usual 360-degree views of nearby mountains, the eastern portion of Camarillo, and parts of Newbury Park.

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However, the overcast kept the temperature cool and we were rewarded at the “peak” by encountering scores of Plummer’s mariposa lilies in full bloom [the most I’ve ever seen in one place and a lot more than the half-dozen (in total) I’d seen during the more-than-40 hikes I’ve been on this year].  After taking a break, we headed carefully back down to the spur road a different (a lot less steep) way 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.  NOTE: The wildflowers we encountered included (but were not limited to) sticky monkey flower, deerweed, chaparral yucca, California everlasting, California buckwheat, cliff asters, and black mustard.

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MAY

May 28th – Placerita Canyon Trail to Los Piñetos Trail to Wilson Saddle and then back to the Nature Center via a Steep Firebreak loop

8 hikers arrived in the main parking lot in Placerita Canyon County Park in southeastern Santa Clarita Valley on a somewhat overcast late spring morning.  After taking a few photos Placerita Canyon Nature Center (1,550’) they began hiking eastward along the Placerita Canyon Trail.  The air was pleasantly cool, there was running water in the canyon, and there was a stunning abundance of blooming plants (many types of wildflowers, etc.) for this time of year particularly since there is an ongoing drought.  Eventually we reached the Walker Ranch Group Campground (about two miles from the trailhead) and the lower (northern) end of the Los Piñetos Trail. Boy scouts had camped there a week earlier for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic started in early 2020 [according to a local hiker].

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Since the nearby Waterfall Trail was closed to the public, the group began heading southward on the Los Piñetos Trail, climbing steadily toward Wilson Saddle (3,100’) and the Santa Clara Divide Road enjoying a cool light breeze.  After the first moderately steep mile or so, the trail entered a still-pleasant woodland (burned by the Sand Fire in 2016) for the remainder of the nearly three-mile-long trail, passing Los Piñetos Spring along the way.  We took a short break at Wilson Saddle (which has comfortable seating and bathroom facilities) when a group of horseback riders appeared, having come up Wilson Canyon.  After resting and having conversation with the equestrians, we resumed our hike along a short portion of Whitney Canyon Road, but soon turned northward onto an unmarked firebreak leading down toward the Nature Center.  This firebreak is not a fire road; it has many steep downhill stretches as it heads to the northwest, as well as several short sometimes-steep uphill stretches.  It is challenging and strenuous if one is heading up it and if you are descending it as we were, care is required to avoid the danger of injury from slippage on the way down (hiking poles and boots with good traction/deep lugs are helpful).  Eventually we reached the Manzanita Mountain trail leading down toward a large water tank overlooking the Nature Center. Finally we descended to the parking lot via the Hillside Trail.  We returned to Simi Valley having completed a pleasant 9-mile loop hike with about 1,800’ of elevation gain/loss.

NOTE: The wildflowers we encountered included (but were not limited to) sticky monkey flower, deerweed, California buckwheat, golden yarrow, cliff asters, bush sunflower, elegant clarkia, speckeled clarkia, climbing penstemon, milk thistle, California everlasting, caterpillar phacelia, fern-leaf phacelia, Chinese houses, Mexican elderberry, and one Plummer mariposa lily.  Photos of these wildflowers are available in the May 21st entry below of the solitary “pre-hike” taken by the leader of today’s hike [it was the same route as today’s hike].

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May 25th – Work Party: North Ridge Trail

There was plenty of parking on the south side of Evening Sky Drive.  The weather was not too warm, the sky was slightly cloudy, and there was a faint breeze. 15 volunteers gathered to clear weeds from the North Ridge Trail (rsrpd.org)  The trail overgrowth was dry. The Mustard and Russian Thistle were tough and there was a lot of Wild Oat grass. The volunteers were good spirited and cleared a good portion of the trail, using weed cutter grass whips, pick mattocks, loppers and hoes. It was a great morning as always working with volunteers from Student Corps. Many thanks to Andrew Chen, Baohui Chen, Jonathan (Junru) Chen, Harry Ding, Stella Ding, Nelson Hu, Jayden Hu, Mingfei Luo, James Miller, Daniel Choi, Noah Kang, Chun Lu, Tianyue lu, Vicky Chen, Mike Kuhn, and Martin DeGoey.

May 20th – Pre-hike: Placerita Canyon Trail to Los Piñetos Trail to Wilson Saddle and then back to the Nature Center via a Steep Firebreak

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Les Wilson decided to “pre-hike” the route planned for the RSTB hike on the following Saturday (5/28/2022)  He arrived in the main parking lot in Placerita Canyon County Park in southeastern Santa Clarita Valley on a very nice spring morning.  After taking a few photos Placerita Canyon Nature Center (1,550’) he began hiking eastward along the Placerita Canyon Trail.  The air was pleasantly cool, there was running water in the canyon, and there was a stunning abundance of wildflowers, for this time of year particularly since there is an ongoing drought [he took scores of photos].  Upon reaching the Walker Ranch Group Campground (about two miles from the trailhead) he spotted a group of boy scouts setting up camp for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic started in early 2020 [according to a local hiker Les encountered].

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After determining that the nearby Waterfall Trail was closed to the public, Les began heading southward on the Los Piñetos Trail, climbing steadily toward Wilson Saddle (3,100’) and the Santa Clara Divide Road.  After the first steep mile or so, the trail entered a still-pleasant woodland (burned by the Sand Fire in 2016) for the remainder of the nearly three-mile-long trail, passing Los Piñetos Spring along the way.  He took a short break at Wilson Saddle which has comfortable seating and bathroom facilities.  The hike resumed along a short portion of Whitney Canyon Road, but soon turned northward onto an unmarked firebreak leading down toward the Nature Center.  This firebreak is not a fire road; it has many steep downhill stretches as it heads to the northwest, as well as several short sometimes-steep uphill stretches.  It is challenging and strenuous, particularly if one is heading up it (rather than down as Les was).  There was a recurring danger of injury from slippage on the way down, making hiking poles (which Les had and used) almost a necessity.  Eventually he reached the Manzanita Mountain trail leading down to a large water tank overlooking the Nature Center.  He then descended to the parking lot via the Hillside Trail.  He returned to Simi Valley having completed a mostly pleasant 9-mile loop hike with about 1,800’ of elevation gain/loss.

NOTE: The wildflowers encountered included (but were not limited to) sticky monkey flower, deerweed, California buckwheat, golden yarrow, cliff asters, bush sunflower, elegant clarkia, speckeled clarkia, climbing penstemon, milk thistle, California everlasting, caterpillar phacelia, fern-leaf phacelia, Chinese houses, Mexican elderberry, a few Catalina mariposa lilies, and a couple of Plummer mariposa lilies.

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May 14th – Wildwood Park: Arroyo Conejo Creek, Hill Canyon Open Space, Wildwood Canyon (Paradise Falls), Lynnmere Trail Loop

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6 hikers arrived at 8:00 a.m. at the trailhead at the northwest end of Calle Yucca on the south side of Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks on a pleasant spring morning.  As the hike began we descended into the shady canyon through which the Arroyo Conejo Creek flows.  The trail (an old dirt road) ran through a pleasant woodland of oak and walnut trees; we crossed the creek four times by walking on wooden planks recently placed to facilitate the crossings whereas in the past we had to carefully step on rocks in the stream (hiking poles are still advised) before reaching the (2005) Hill Canyon Wetlands, formerly the home of coots, mallards, herons, and pond turtles. However, there were no signs of life in or around the water, much of which was covered with a layer of light green algae(?).

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Leaving the wetlands, we made our final “wet” stream crossing (also with the help of recently placed wooden planks) and then hiked along a narrow trail through some tall brush, soon reaching what was once an open grassland, but is now victim to lots of black mustard [which was quite pretty].  At this point we were in the Conejo Canyons Open Space.  Then we hiked north through Hill Canyon to a very nice bridge and crossed over Wildwood Creek to Hill Canyon Road which we followed to a trail which skirts the modern-looking Hill Canyon Wastewater Treatment Plant.  Continuing past the junction with the Lizard Rock Trail, we headed upstream through Wildwood Canyon, taking a break in a wooded picnic area at Hoegeman’s Hollow near the foot of the Teepee Trail.  Along the way we happened upon a mother mallard duck and half a dozen of her young offspring in the creek only a few feet from us.

We continued on upstream to Paradise Falls where we spent a few minutes enjoying the view.  We continued further upstream to an access to the Lynnmere Trail and crossed Wildwood Creek for the last time during this hike.  We followed the trail (a fairly steep dirt road) as it rose to the southeast before reaching a fork to the west which we followed as it led us around the north side of the mountain and then climbed southward to the top of the mountain, affording us with a spectacular 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains and a light refreshing ocean breeze (the day had become quite hot).  We then descended back to the original trailhead and headed home having completed a mostly enjoyable 8-mile loop hike with about 1,200’ of elevation gain/loss.  The blooming plants we saw included black mustard, caterpillar phacelia, Catalina mariposa lily, morning glories, purple sage, sticky monkey flower, deerweed [sic], golden yarrow, Chinese house, scarlet bugler, cliff asters, sunflowers, thistle, and bush mallow.

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May 7th – Towsley Canyon and Wiley Canyon Loop

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5 hikers met at the “Ed Davis Park at Towsley Canyon” section of the 4,000-acre Santa Clarita Woodlands Park on a pleasant spring morning.  We began hiking along a dirt road toward the Sonia Thompson Nature Center, crossing Towsley Creek on a concrete bridge.  Soon we began a counterclockwise hike on the Towsley View Loop Trail.  After passing through The Narrows section of Towsley Gorge, the trail began rising via switchbacks along the shaded eastern slope of the canyon.  The verdant north-facing slopes of the Santa Susana Mountains rose steeply to the south.  The single-track trail passed through sage scrub, stands of California walnut and bay laurel trees, and scattered oak trees as we made our way to the 2,450’ high point on the trail from which much of the Santa Clarita Valley could be seen.  The hillsides were adorned by many blooming wildflowers which begged to be photographed.  The trail then began dropping into shady Wiley Canyon which we followed downstream to a junction with the Canyon View Loop Trail which rose along the northern flank of the mountain before descending to the Sonia Thompson Nature Center.  After a brief respite we followed the dirt road back to our vehicles.  We returned home having completed a pleasant 6.5-mile hike with about 1,600’ of elevation gain/loss.  The wildflowers we saw/enjoyed included (but were not limited to) caterpillar phacelia, yellow mariposa lily, morning glories, purple sage, lupine, sticky monkey flower, elegant clarkia, deerweed [sic], California poppies, Indian paintbrush, golden yarrow, scarlet bugler, cliff asters, bush mallow, yerba santa, datura (aka Jimson weed), and black mustard.

APRIL

April 30th – Cheeseboro Canyon – Palo Comado Canyon Loop

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April 23rd – Devil Canyon to Browns Canyon Road

14 hikers met at the Cheeseboro Canyon trailhead in the Simi Hills (5792 Chesebro Rd, Agoura Hills; GPS coordinates for the main parking lot entrance: N 34.1543 W -118.7339) on a chilly spring morning.  We began our hike by heading north on the Cheeseboro Canyon Trail (a dirt road) under a blue sky with some clouds.  Almost immediately the trail was bordered with invasive black mustard plants with their pretty yellow blossoms.  We soon passed through what had been an open grassland in the wide canyon bottom and then through a drought-weakened oak woodland; the effect of the prolonged drought (and a past wildfire) was obvious from the number of dead trees lying on the ground.  Still the oak woodland was appealing though the trail continued to be bordered with black mustard plants.  Eventually we reached Sulphur Springs which in the past produced a strongly pungent smell, but this day there was no water and no stench.  As we were hiking, quite a few bicyclists passed us as well as some high-school-age cross-country runners.  There was a variety of blooming plants as well as black mustard as our hike progressed.

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As we continued hiking northward we passed through a wide area that had not yet succumbed to black mustard.  It provided an amazing array of beautiful blooming plants including (among many others) mariposa lilies and California poppies. Upon reaching Shepherd’s Flat at a trail junction we took a short break before heading west on the Sheep Corral Trail (the corral is all but gone), enjoying the blooming plants along the way and ascended the ridge between Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons.  Our immediate objective, an overlook of Palo Comado Canyon, offered distant views of the surrounding area and we enjoyed a rest/lunch break while enjoying the lovely views.  We then began hiking south through Palo Comado Canyon and soon realized that the morning had heated up noticeably.  The final portion of our hike became more challenging for some of the participants as it got hotter so we slowed our pace and worked on our hydration.  Eventually we reached the trailhead parking lot having hiked approximately 10 miles with about 1,200’ of elevation gain/loss.  The wildflowers we encountered included (but were not limited to) black mustard, caterpillar phacelia, Catalina mariposa lily, yellow mariposa lily, purple nightshade, morning glories, lupine, sticky monkey flower, elegant clarkia, deerweed [sic], California poppies, blue dick, Indian paintbrush, scarlet bugler, and yerba santa.

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9 hikers met at the hike’s starting point on Poema Place in Chatsworth on a cool spring morning.  As our hike began we descended along a fairly steep “use” trail into the heavily shaded bottom of Devil Canyon where we followed the remnants of the Devil Canyon Motorway upstream as it frequently crisscrossed the sometimes wet (thanks to recent rain) creek bed.  One stretch of trail was actually the stream bed but it was mostly dry.  We spotted lots of interesting sandstone-rock-cliff formations and some dudleya “liveforever” (chalk) plants as we made our way up to the large check dam at the trail’s junction with the mouth of Ybarra Canyon.  After a brief rest break we continued upstream along the occasionally muddy, but mostly dry, trail.  As the canyon widened we passed by grass-covered hillsides dotted with oak trees.  When we reached the upper-canyon Cathedral-like oak woodland, the trail looked more like the one-lane road it once was.

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The morning was perfect for hiking: [1] the temperature was mild since we were hiking in a canyon with shade from its walls as well as that of the many trees; [2] recent rain had “cleansed” the flora and there was a little water in the creek (but not so much that it impaired our progress); [3] we were greeted by a variety of blooming plants (mostly wildflowers); and [4] there were only a few other humans (a dozen or so bicyclists) in the canyon while we were there.  Upon reaching Browns Canyon (dirt) Road we turned right (east) and hiked a short distance uphill where we took a break and enjoyed views to the south.  We then retraced our route and returned to our vehicles having completed a very pleasant 9.6-mile hike in this unique canyon with about 1,100’ of elevation gain/loss.  The blooming plants we saw included (but were not limited to) yerba santa, blue dick, caterpillar phacelia, morning glories, sticky monkey flower, deerweed [sic], wild roses, elegant clarkia, and black mustard.

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April 16th – Work Party: The Lower Stagecoach

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On the most beautiful partly cloudy morning, 13 volunteers gathered near the picnic area at Corriganville Park.  After going over safety and tool use we worked our way up the Lower Stagecoach trail, Corriganville Trails (rsrpd.org), using Pick Mattocks, loppers, and shovels. We filled in ruts on the lower portion but mainly cleared plant overgrowth from the trail, mostly Black Mustard, Deer Weed, California Sage and Russian Thistle.  We cleared the trail past the small drainage creek and picked up where litter accumulates.  We filled in some large gullies with rocks and continued up the trail midway, just before the larger creek crossing, where we shored up a switchback with a 2in x 12in x 8ft plank.  Most of the volunteers were from Student Corps, https://studentcorps.org/about/our-mission/. The work party ended with a group picture and with great appreciation to Ming Fei Luo, Nelson Hu, Harry Ding, Liang Wang, Qifan Zhang, Amy Wang, Weijie Zhang, Lian zhi Guo, Yonghong Tong, Anna Lu, Chun Lu, Mike Kuhn, and Martin DeGoey.

April 9th – Simi Peak via China Flat

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8 hikers met along Lindero Canyon Road (near King James Court) in Oak Park on a pleasant spring 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 via switchbacks 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.  The oak trees that have survived the 2018 Woolsey Fire (and the ongoing drought) displayed bright green leaves and provided some much-appreciated shade as the morning grew a bit warmer.  Fortunately an intermittent cool breeze kept the temperature at a pleasant level and there was a lovely display of wildflowers along the trail.

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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 nice morning for hiking (however, it was noticeably warmer as we descended the southern slope during the final leg of the hike).  There were lots of wildflowers including yerba santa, fiddleneck, blue dick, purple nightshade, caterpillar phacelia, morning glories, sticky monkey flower  deerweed [sic], Mexican elderberry, black mustard, yerba santa, and some very healthy wild cucumbers [not actual cucumbers].

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April 2nd – Johnson Motorway to Rocky Peak Fire Road

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12 hikers met at the trailhead on Iverson Road just outside the gated southern entrance to Indian Springs Estates in Chatsworth on a chilly foggy spring morning.  After following the easement through the upscale gated community, we reached the beginning of the unpaved Johnson Motorway (once a toll road).  The fog was so thick that we could only see a short distance in any direction.  The trail (an old dirt and sandstone roadbed) rose westward until it met a short “driveway” leading north to the ruins of the ranch house that was built by Ann and Neils Johnson who were the first English-speaking homesteaders in the San Fernando Valley; they had built their primary home in “Chatsworth Park” in the 1870’s.  After exploring the ruins, we followed the Johnson Motorway as it passed through a landscape of dramatic rock formations (which we couldn’t see), climbing steadily, but not steeply, toward the Rocky Peak Fire Road.  We soon warmed up thanks to our bodies’ generation of heat as we hiked uphill.  We were able to see a variety of wildflowers bordering the trail/road along the way.  When we reached the fire road the view of Simi Valley to the west was “invisible” to us since the fog was still thick.  We soon retraced our route downhill back to our vehicles and returned home having completed a pleasant 7.25-mile hike with about 1,450’ of total elevation gain/loss.  The fog had finally lifted somewhat as we neared the end of the hike.

MARCH

March 26th – Ahmanson Ranch, Lasky Mesa, Las Virgenes Canyon Lollipop Loop

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13 hikers carpooled to the trailhead at the north end of Las Virgenes Road in the Simi Hills on a chilly spring morning (cool temperatures, and clear skies).  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.  The preserve consists of a vast expanse of rolling hills and grasslands dotted with large old oak trees.  There were many swaths of yellow “black” mustard on the still-green hillsides.  Just before we would have reached the Victory Blvd entrance parking lot, we followed an old ranch road as it climbed up onto Lasky Mesa where we ascended to an overlook that provides a panoramic view (that was fair today) of the San Fernando Valley and the Simi Hills.  Continuing our hike on Lasky Mesa we soon reached several buildings on the site of the old ranch house where there is some shade.  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 home having completed a pleasant 6.8-mile hike with around 850’ of elevation gain/loss.

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NOTE 1: 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.”

NOTE 2: 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

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March 21st – Work Party: Mt. McCoy

Saturday’s Work party was postponed to Monday 3-21-2022.  Two volunteers meet at the Mt. McCoy trailhead and began work where the trail goes through the cactus grove, clearing away growth encroaching on the trail.  The trail was cleared to about midway to the cross, where on the last of the lower switchbacks the trail was eroded to a sandy slippery side slope, that needed shoring up.  The previous Friday, a pressure treated plank was brought up the trail, and the volunteers anchored it in, and filled in the slippery side slope. Much thanks to Mike Kuhn and Martin DeGoey.

March 12th – East Canyon (and Corral Sunshine Motorway) to Mission Point

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13 hikers met at the trailhead in the “East Canyon, Rice Canyon, and Michael D. Antonovich Open Space” section of the 4,000-acre Santa Clarita Woodlands Park via Interstate 5 and “The Old Road” in Santa Clarita.  It was a little chilly as we began hiking southward along the non-maintained and somewhat-eroded East Canyon Motorway as it followed the small  (nearly dry) creek in the canyon bottom.  The route was lined with bay laurel, black walnut, cottonwood, sycamore, and oak trees.  Soon the dirt road began rising more steeply along the western side of a wooded ridge adorned with quite a few wildflowers including lupine, sticky monkey flower, fiddleneck, California poppies, miner’s lettuce, and lots of healthy black walnut trees.  We enjoyed views of the steep slopes to the west and relics of the bigcone Douglas-fir trees that once covered the mountain [many of the trees appear to have died as a result of the ongoing drought and wildfire].  An intermittent breeze cooled us and the temperature became pleasant as the road led us upward to a junction with Bridge Road (and the Oat Mountain Motorway) which is blocked by a SoCal Gas fence and gate where we took a break.

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Having reached the highest point in our hike, we headed southeast along the pleasant Corral Sunshine Motorway to Mission Point which provided a fairly good panoramic view of the San Fernando Valley and beyond as far as the San Gabriel Mountains (including one mountain with snow on top).  Some of us also peered through the fence separating us from the infamous Southern California Gas Company’s natural gas storage facility in Aliso Canyon to the west.  After resting/snacking, we retraced our now warmer (and mostly downhill!) route to the trailhead and returned home having completed a 9-mile hike with about 1,750’ of elevation gain/loss on a very nice day for mountain hiking and wildflower viewing.  NOTE: About a mile from the end of the hike we encountered several very large expanses of California poppies which had fully opened since the wind had abated and the temperature had risen enough to “encourage” them to open; it was truly awesome.

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March 5th – Northern Malibu Creek State Park

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20 hikers assembled at the starting (and ending) point of our planned loop hike in Malibu Creek State Park on a chilly winter morning.  Shortly before we started our hike a very friendly deer approached us [no doubt it had been given food in the past] and posed for photos.  We began hiking northward along the North Grassland Trail as it passed through a landscape covered with bright green grass and dotted with oak trees blackened by the Woolsey Fire.  We soon reached the dirt Liberty Canyon Fire Road which we followed through the oak-dotted rolling hills of the Liberty Canyon Natural Preserve to the Phantom Trail’s northern trailhead.  Soon we began climbing steadily up a still-heavily-wooded slope heading southward until we crested high on a ridge.  Continuing southward along the ridge we encountered patches of bright green grass and enjoyed distant views of the surrounding area which was still surprisingly green.  There were lots of wildflowers of various types including California poppies, lupine, purple nightshade, sunflowers, blue dick, Indian paintbrush, and morning glories as well as lots of blooming white ceanothus trees.

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Eventually the trail dropped down to Mulholland Drive which we crossed to the Cistern Trail which led us to the Lookout Trail.  As we descended the Lookout Trail we had views of Century Lake and the surrounding craggy mountains.  After taking a short break at Century Lake where we spotted two Canada geese and a few coots (birds, not old men), we followed Crags Road eastward to the picturesque Rock Pool (along Malibu Creek) where some other folks were already enjoying the morning.  We passed a group of aspiring mountain climbers practicing rock-climbing not far from the Rock Pool.  Eventually we followed the High Road and the Grasslands Trail northward back to our vehicles parked along Mulholland Highway west of Las Virgenes Road and returned home having completed a scenic 8-mile hike with about 1,400’ of elevation gain/loss on what had become a very pleasant morning.

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FEBRUARY

February 26th – Mission Point Loop via Neon Way

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17 hikers gathered in the parking lot at the entrance to O’Melveny Park (the second-largest park in Los Angeles County) in Granada Hills on a chilly but clear winter morning with intermittent wind gusts.  Not to be deterred by the weather, we began our hike by walking southwest along the nearby sidewalk on Sesnon Blvd to its junction with Neon Way.  We then followed Neon Way three blocks north to the lower end of the Sulphur Spring Fire Road (aka the Dr. Mario A. De Campos Trail).  We then began the steady climb along the dirt fire road to Mission Point in the Santa Susana Mountains.  As we gained elevation we were treated to expanding views of most of the San Fernando Valley and its surrounding mountains, as well as the view through the Cahuenga Pass of the upper sections of the tallest buildings in downtown Los Angeles and the nearby view of the Los Angeles Reservoir (which replaced the Van Norman Reservoir whose dam nearly failed during the 1971 Sylmar earthquake).

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There were lots of blooming sunflowers and new-grown bright green grass despite the meager rainfall this year.  There were also lots of lupine and some blue dick and morning glories.  Eventually we reached a nice bench shaded by a large oak tree with a “million-dollar view” of the San Fernando Valley.  After taking a short break we continued a short distance up to Mission Point with its small, stone monument memorializing Mario De Campos, a lover of the local mountains.  The view from the top was spectacular (but the wind was pretty fierce).  Some of us also peered through the fence separating us from the infamous Southern California Gas Company’s natural gas storage facility in Aliso Canyon to the west. 

After a short break we resumed our hike by retracing our route a short distance downhill to the junction with the Mission Point Trail which we followed northeast as we made our way down into Bee Canyon; the trail became increasingly steep as it lost elevation.  We were treated to excellent views of the rugged landscape to the north.  After reaching the floor of Bee Canyon we followed the trail downstream into beautiful 627-acre O’Melveny Park with its well-maintained green lawns shaded by oak and eucalyptus trees; there are still some citrus trees near the entrance to the park but they were not bearing fruit the day of our hike (signs forbade us from “picking fruit”).  We reached our vehicles, completing our loop hike, having hiked 6.2 miles with about 1,500’ of elevation gain/loss on a relatively nice morning for mountain hiking.

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February 19th – Work Party: Lower Stagecoach Trail

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The Work Party was spectacular. Thirty People meet by the picnic area at Corriganville.  Most were from Student Corps: https://studentcorps.org/about/our-mission/ The atmosphere was lively and the chill in the air was gone. We went over the usual safety rules, then talked a little about the trail, and the volunteers were eager to get started. The younger volunteers, with their trash grabbers, were the first up the trail.  Then came the groups with the Pick Mattocks, loppers, and shovels who went to town clearing the trail of encroaching plants. To name a few: Black Mustard, Deer Weed, California Sage, and Russian Thistle.  With much appreciation for Mark Scheele, a veteran RSTB volunteer, helped oversee things while the other volunteers were busy filling in sinkholes on the edge of the trail with large rocks