DECEMBER

December 27th – Big Sky Loop

11 hikers met along Big Sky Place (970’) in Simi Valley on a chilly early-winter morning for a familiar neighborhood hike.  After a short walk northward on a sidewalk along Erringer Road at the entrance to the Big Sky neighborhood, we turned east onto the well-signed Big Sky Trail.  After crossing a streambed, we headed off in a clockwise direction as the trail followed the oak-lined streambed northward, crossing streets three times.  The trail then undulated until we reached the northernmost point (1,357’) in our hike where the trail turned sharply to the southeast and we climbed fairly steeply up to the north-south ridge to the east of the housing development where we reached  the highest point (1,463’) in our hike.  After taking a short break while enjoying unobstructed views of the surrounding area including Whiteface Mountain, we continued southward along the north-south ridge until we descended to the west, thus completing the loop portion of the hike.  We finished our invigorating outing having completed a 4.5-mile hike with about 900’ of elevation gain/loss.  We had the trail entirely to ourselves.  There were virtually no blooming plants along our way.

December 13th – Mission Point

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Five hikers met at the entrance to O’Melveny Park, in Granada hills, on a breezy December morning.  Our hike began by walking southwest along the nearby sidewalk on Sesnon Blvd to its junction with Neon Way.  While we walked on the sidewalk, we enjoyed the domestic trees and plants along the way. Turning north on Neon Way, after a short distance, we reached Sulphur Spring Fire Road (aka the Dr. Mario A. De Campos Trail).  We began the steady climb along the fire road to Mission Point in the Santa Susana Mountains.  We passed a small irrigation pool and baby snake (1 ft. long) on our upward hike.  Though the breeze was persistent, there were plenty of birds that didn’t seem to mind.  We eventually came to a bench beneath a large oak tree.  A short distance further up the trail was Mission Point, with its small, stone monument memorializing Mario De Campos, a lover of the local mountains.

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After a short break we resumed our hike by retracing our route a short distance downhill to the junction with the Mission Point Trail that we followed northeast as we made our way down into Bee Canyon. There were quite a few hikers coming up the trail as we were going down.  The trail leveled and there was water flowing in the creek, surrounded by trees, brush, flowers and birds.  The trail evolved into the beautiful 627-acre O’Melveny Park with its still well maintained green lawns shaded by oak and eucalyptus trees.  It is the second largest park in Los Angeles.  We reached our vehicles, completing our loop hike, having hiked 5.9 miles with about 1,661’ of elevation gain/loss on a nice morning for mountain hiking.  The conditions were dry so there weren’t many wildflowers.  We saw/enjoyed one lone lupine, sunflower, gum plant, caterpillar Phacelia, sticky monkey flower, California aster and coyote gourd.

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December 6th – Wildwood Neighborhood Park Lynnmere Trail Loop

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Nine hikers (and one cute dog) met at the trailhead in the Baseball Field Parking Lot at the junction of Avenida de Los Arboles and Canna Street in Thousand Oaks on a pleasant late autumn morning.  We began our hike by crossing Avenida de Los Arboles to the east and descending into a tunnel under Avenida de Los Arboles.  We then climbed some stairs and crossed Arroyo Conejo on a bridge; next we headed through a neighborhood to the Las Flores Trail which we followed to Lynn Road where we connected to the Lynnmere Trail which we followed west to the Wildwood Canyon Trail which we followed eastward back to Neighborhood Park.

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The mountainsides and canyon boasted displays of a variety of plants and provided views of the surrounding countryside.  There was a variety of blooming plants including small amounts of sticky monkey flower, toyon (Christmas berry), golden yarrow, morning glory, coyote brush, and red flowering eucalyptus.  We encountered a few other people during the hike.  The route we took was still new to most of us so the hike was especially interesting.  We reached our vehicles having completed a 4.9-mile hike with 775 feet of elevation gain/loss on a nice morning for hiking.

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NOVEMBER

November 29th – The Chumash Trail to the Rocky Peak Fire Road

Nine hikers met at 7:30 AM at the Chumash Trail trailhead at the northeast end of Flanagan Drive in Simi Valley on a cool autumn morning.  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 passed two runners, going uphill, and three hikers, all of whom were by themselves. We completed a 5.4-mile hike with an elevation gain/loss of around 1,100’.  About the only blooming plants were some deer weed, golden yarrow, California aster and a lot of toyon (Christmas berry).

November 22nd – Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park Loop

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10 hikers met at 7:30 AM in the dirt parking area along Lilac Lane at the upper end of the Chatsworth portion of the Stagecoach Trail in the Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park on a pleasant autumn morning (which followed several days of high winds).  We  began our hike by following a short loop passing by a pond (now empty) and ending near our starting point.  We then headed 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” where we continued following the Mattingly Trail to the northeast to the Williams Trail which led downhill toward the Spahn Ranch [there’s little to see there now] and the El Camino Nuevo Trail which headed west and connected to the Sanchez Trail which we followed to the paved Santa Susana Pass Road (SSPR).

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A short distance westward along SSPR brought us to the northern end of a nameless dirt trail that we followed southward to our vehicles.  Our route provided us with many picturesque views (mountains, rock formations, etc.).  There were a few blooming plants including Santa Susana tar plant, common yarrow, toyon, golden yarrow, and California everlasting; as usual we encountered no other people during our hike.  It was a pleasant outing, particularly the opportunity to spend time with friends. The distance was 3.4 miles with an elevation gain/loss of 765’

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November 15th – Sage Ranch Loop

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Three hikers met at the lower parking lot in Sage Ranch Park, on a perfect fall morning for hiking.  The sky was filled with spectacular high clouds.  The 625-acre park is located just north of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) (aka Rocketdyne/Boeing) at an elevation of 2,000’.  The park features massive sandstone rock formations, expansive views, an outdoor amphitheater, picnic tables, and toilet facilities.  The counterclockwise loop hike began with the usual uphill walk, on a paved road, to the main parking lot. A side trail to the north took us to a nice overlook with sweeping views of Simi Valley and the Santa Susana Mountains.  We then hiked along the main Loop Trail to the imposing Turtle Rock.

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Soon after the trail turned eastward we reached a “detour” section of the trail and a temporary fence blocking a section of the original trail.  The temporary blockage has been caused by a planned cleanup of the former trap and skeet range in the park.  We turned onto the “detour” trail which led us northward through the center of the ranch, thus providing us with views of the interior section of the park.  On the way back to our cars, we took a short path to the top of a hill to look at a water tank and view the San Fernando Valley to the east.  We completed our relatively short, but quite scenic, stroll around and through the park having hiked about 3.7 miles with about 814’ of elevation gain/loss [including optional out-and-back side trails]. Some of the wildflowers we saw were; hoary fuchsia, sticky monkey flower, golden yarrow, California everlasting, Chamise, toyon and deer weed.

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November 8th – Los Robles Trail via the Los Padres Trail and Oak Creek

5 hikers met at the Los Padres Trail trailhead in Thousand Oaks on a cool autumn morning.  We began our hike through a very pleasant oak woodland into the hills south of Thousand Oaks.  This initial stretch of trail with its many oak trees and other flora provided a peaceful experience (there was even a short stretch of barely flowing water in the creek).  When we reached a dirt access road, we followed it up to its junction with the Los Robles Trail (the primary trail in Thousand Oaks).  Upon reaching the trail junction, 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 are two benches) which provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and grasslands.  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 proceeded on 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.

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After hiking the heavily shaded western section of this loop we walked a short distance eastward along Greenmeadow Avenue to the (partially shaded) 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 4.4-mile hike with 776’ of elevation gain/loss.  NOTE: There were still several types of blooming plants along our route including (but not limited to) hoary fuchsia, sticky monkey flower, golden yarrow, cliff aster, morning glory, California everlasting, coyote brush, and scrub oak-acorn.[/show_more]

November 1st – Simi Peak from King James Court via China Flat

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Three hikers began their hike at the China Flat trailhead on a perfect summer-like morning.  The trail was a steady rocky climb up Dead Cow Road on the south side of the mountain, seeing interesting rock formations and expanding views to the south.  A little way beyond the top of the old road we came to the China Flat Trail, descending into patches of oak trees, shrubbery of all kinds and sprawling grassy meadows.  There were so many birds and butterflies along the way, seen by clear and pleasant sunshine shining through the trees. Turning west, we followed a trail that leads up to Simi Peak (2,403’), the highest point in the Simi Hills, giving us a good panoramic view of the surrounding area.

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We returned the way we came. It was a beautiful mountain hike, completing a 5.73 miles hike with about 1,565’ of elevation gain/loss.  Some wildflowers we saw/enjoyed included golden yarrow, California chicory, California everlasting, wishbone bush, sticky monkey flower, California aster, and vinegar weed.

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OCTOBER

October 25th – Tapo Canyon Open Space Trail to Chivo Canyon

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7 hikers met at 7:30 AM in the dirt trailhead parking area (1,136’) for the Tapo Canyon Open Space Trail (T23) in Simi Valley on a cool autumn morning.  As we began our hike we headed northward along the nearly flat dirt road/trail which was bordered by surprisingly green flora for this time of year and a few blooming plants.  After a mile or so the road/trail 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.  Continuing, we turned left (north) and began hiking the T23 loop which took us up to a T-junction with an “off-limits” left fork so after a break we took the right fork and descended into the valley in the center of the loop.  When we reached another T-junction.  We took the left fork and descended into Chivo Canyon (1,224’) where we looked at the sparse Halloween decoration of an oil seep.  We retraced our steps to the T23 loop where we took the left fork and followed T23 through an oak woodland upward to the narrow pass (completing the loop) and then we returned to the original trailhead.  We completed our pleasant outing having hiked 5.48 miles with a total elevation gain/loss of 834’ on a nice morning for hiking.  We saw small patches of  blooming plants including rod wire-lettuce, hoary fuchsia, sticky monkey flower, wishbone bush, bush sunflower, common sand aster, Indian paintbrush, seaside heliotrope, bush mallow, purple nightshade, cliff aster, golden yarrow, red-stem filaree, and tree tobacco.

October 18th – McCoy to the Reagan Presidential Library and Back

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Seven hikers gathered at 7:30 AM at the Donut Delight parking lot on a warm autumn morning.  We crossed Madera Road, walked the short distance to the west end of Royal Avenue and then headed up Washburn Street to the trailhead.  We began our climb up the trail’s many switchbacks, marveling at the hillside’s arid mystique.  Upon reaching the cross at the top of Mt. McCoy, we stopped for a short break.  The sun was out and there was a light breeze keeping the weather pleasant while enjoying the views in all directions.  Before long we headed toward the presidential library, passing the nearby water tank and then following the service road to Presidential Drive which we followed up to the library.  The library indoors was closed at the early hour so we had a comfortable little break outside to ourselves until heading back.  We returned the way we came, completing a 5.37-mile hike with 879’ of elevation/loss.  The blooming plants we saw included (but were not limited to) Indian paintbrush, California poppy, golden yarrow, purple nightshade and prickly pear.

October 11th – Woodridge Trail, Sunrise Trail, Long Canyon Trail Counterclockwise Loop

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6 hikers met at 7:30 AM in the Long Canyon Trail parking lot in Wood Ranch on a cool autumn morning.  We began our hike along the Woodridge Connector (trail) heading southwest to a junction with the Woodridge Loop Trail which we then followed westward near the fenced-off Bard Reservoir to our north which we were able to see at one point.  The trail rose gradually until we reached a junction with the Sunset Hills Trail [where we took the left/south) fork and followed it downhill to an entrance to the gated community along Sunset Hills Blvd that the Woodridge Trail loops around.  [Not entering the gated community] we crossed Sunset Hills Blvd and continued hiking on the Woodridge Trail (now on the south side of the gated community).

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We continued eastward until we reached the Sunrise Trail in the Lang Ranch Open Space which we followed up to a T-junction at which we turned left (west) and followed the trail to the upper end of the “West Long Canyon Trail” which we descended to the parking lot where our hike started, having completed a pleasant approximately 4.9-mile hike with just under a 1,000’ of elevation gain/loss.  There were still some blooming plants including Menzies golden bush, coyote brush, Toyon, wishbone, cliff aster, purple nightshade, and sticky monkey flower and the surrounding plant life was still amazingly green.

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October 4th – Wildwood Park: Mesa Trail, Stagecoach Bluff Trail, Lizard Rock Trail, Paradise Falls, Wildwood Canyon, Indian Creek Trail Loop

On a warm early autumn morning, eight hikers met at 7:30 AM at Wildwood Park west end parking off Avenida de los Arboles in Thousand Oaks.  The hikers began their counterclockwise loop hike by heading west on the Mesa Trail.  Continuing westward with the usual views down into Wildwood Canyon, we hiked through a huge display of prickly pear.  Upon rejoining the Mesa Trail, we hiked leisurely westward up to a trail junction just below Lizard Rock.

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After taking a short break, we followed the Lizard Rock Trail down into Hill Canyon and soon headed eastward into heavily shaded Wildwood Canyon.  As we headed upstream we crossed flowing water several times on short wooden bridges.  When we reached Hoegeman’s Hollow, there were several picnic tables (and bathrooms).  We took a long break before continuing on upstream to Paradise Falls where we enjoyed looking at and listening to the waterfall.  Continuing 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 a short unnamed trail that led us back to our vehicles, thus completing a 4.6 mile hike with 819’ of elevation gain/loss.  There weren’t very many blooming plants; there was prickly pear cactus, beavertail cactus, California chicory, and smallseed sandmat.

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SEPTEMBER

September 27th – Santa Rosa Valley Park (Conejo Canyons Open Space)

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7 hikers met in a dirt parking area on the left (east) side of Hill Canyon Road in Santa Rosa Valley Park (10241 Hill Canyon Rd, Camarillo) on a cool somewhat cloudy early-autumn morning.  We began our hike into the Conejo Canyons Open Space just west of Wildwood Park by crossing 25-foot-wide Arroyo Conejo Creek via a nice bridge that provided excellent views of the year-round creek which had lots of flowing water.  We then hiked along the Hill Canyon dirt road; it followed the creek upstream to a trail intersection that we’ve named “Five Points” where we followed a short nameless spur trail down to the creek where we noted that the “temporary” dam has again been removed; a couple of ducks flew away.

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Returning to “Five Points” we continued southeast a short distance before turning southwest on the Hawk Canyon Trail (a dense riparian woodland with poison oak and lots of other plants).  The shaded canyon trail led us along a seasonal feeder stream (presently nearly dry) to the Western Plateau dirt Road which we climbed as it rose steadily westward to a junction with the Peninsula Loop Trail which we followed until it rejoined the Western Plateau dirt Road.

Almost immediately we turned right onto the Plateau Rim Trail and followed it to an overlook above a seasonal waterfall (where there is a bench) and continued north/northwest until it rejoined the Western Plateau dirt road near the junction with the Volcanic Trail.

We then followed the Western Plateau dirt Road back down to “Five Points” where we retraced our steps along the Hill Canyon dirt road to our starting point.  We reached our vehicles having completed a pleasant 4.5-mile hike with about 884’ of elevation gain/loss.  We encountered a few other humans during our hike.  There were still a few blooming plants including some purple nightshade, California chicory, wishbone, morning glory, cliff aster, bull thistle, California fuchsia, datura, and briskly oxtail.

Note: A map of Wildwood Park is here; as you read the trip report, it should provide a general idea of the route our hike took.

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September 20th – Big Sky Loop

Eleven hikers parked along Big Sky Place and met next to the empty waterfall at the entrance of the Big Sky neighborhood. The hike started north, on the sidewalk of Erringer Road on a pleasantly cool, overcast morning.  Walking until we reached the trailhead entrance, we stopped for a picture.  Reaching the summit of the first steep hill, we stopped to catch our breath and regroup.  The hike continued on the north-south ridge east of the housing development.  We enjoyed the views of the valley below and sections of different neighborhoods and surrounding hills, including Whiteface Mountain.  At the highest point of our hike (1,463’) we could see the remnants of Lost Canyons Golf Course.  There was some greenery though not many wildflowers, but we were all enjoying the hike in lively conversation. We made our way to the oak-lined streambed that runs through the Big Sky development.  Along the way we passed a few people walking their dogs as we finished our 4.5-mile hike, with 884’ of elevation gain/loss, on an enjoyable early-morning hike.

September 13th – Corriganville, Lilac Lane, Five Points, Spahn Ranchsana

6 hikers met at 7:00 AM at Corriganville at the east end of Simi Valley on a slightly chilly, 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 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 somewhat limited.  Returning to the Mattingly Trail we followed it eastward to the Williams Trail and then followed the El Camino Nuevo Trail which passed westward through Spahn Ranch (there’s little or nothing to see there).  After reaching the Santa Susana Pass Road, we walked along it to the Simi Valley portion of the Stagecoach Trail and followed it back to Corriganville, thus completing a brisk 5.5-mile hike with 1,150’ of elevation gain/loss on a nice morning for hiking.  The only other hikers we encountered was a group of five women near the Spahn Ranch [they moved a little faster than we did].

NOTE: During our hike we observed several types of blooming plants including datura, Indian pink, wishbone bush, narrowleaf milkweed, Santa Susana tarplant, and arid tansyaster.

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September 6th – Porter Ranch Loop

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At 7:00 AM six hikers met 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 perfect summer morning, with thick high clouds for shade we began our clockwise-loop hike.  Starting at the trailhead gate where the trail drops down into Aliso Canyon, the trail was clear, leading us southward toward Rinaldi Street and Aliso Canyon Park.

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The Aliso Canyon Trail is nearly level and has a lot of green foliage but not too many blooming flowers.  It was a pleasant stroll through the canyon, with running water in the normally dry stream for this time of year.  As we followed a well-defined connector trail that led upward to Eddleston, we saw some coyotes.  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.  The wide well-maintained Palisades Trail provided excellent views of the surrounding area mainly to the south.  The trail then rose fairly steep just before dropping down to Tampa Ave.  There we crossed over into a shadier, Limekiln Canyon and followed it north a short distance to the very end of Tampa Ave.  Taking an access, around a housing tract to the north, then through Porter Ridge Park to our cars, we completed a 4.7 mile hike.

Some of the flowers we saw were; menzies’ goldenbush, bush sunflower, rose hips (wild rose,) bush mallow, black walnuts and datura.

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AUGUST

August 30th – The North Ridge Trail

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10 hikers met at 6:30 AM at the North Ridge Trail trailhead on Evening Sky Drive in Simi Valley on a pleasant summer morning (NOTE: This trailhead is almost directly across the street from the Las Llajas Canyon trailhead).  As we began our hike the trail rose gradually to the south and then east to the Broken Arrow Street trailhead.  We then continued on Flanagan Drive to the Chumash Park entrance and followed its road until we headed east on a “use” trail and then on an old dirt road to the east side of Mount Sinai Cemetery.  We followed the dirt road southward to a point where we could turn right and head northwest alongside Mt. Sinai Drive to an unmarked trailhead a short distance west of the main entrance to the Mt. Sinai Cemetery.  That trail led us northwest uphill to the Flanagan Rocks area.  We crossed Flanagan Drive and then returned along the North Ridge Trail to our vehicles, thus completing a 4.2-mile hike with about 650’ of elevation gain/loss on a mostly pleasant morning for hiking.  We encountered no other hikers or any bicyclists during our hike; there were few blooming plants (including several patches of sunflowers).

August 23rd – Canyon View trail, Oak Canyon trail, Long Canyon trail Clockwise Loop

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Four hikers gathered at the Long Canyon Trail trailhead parking lot at Wood Ranch in Simi Valley on a pleasant fresh summer morning.  We left the parking lot and headed east along Long Canyon Road to the southwest end of the Canyon View Trail.  The hike began with a steep climb, on a moist trail, caused by the latest tropical storm.  The ever-improving view of the surrounding area, including the Bard Reservoir, is always a pleasure.  We hiked along the ridgeline until we reached a junction with a trail leading down to Coyote Hills Park. After our descent we hiked through the park and then crossed Long Canyon Road and followed the Creekside Trail to the mouth of Montgomery Canyon. We passed by it, hiked south through Oak Canyon, and eventually reached the signed upper end of the Long Canyon Trail which we descended into the parking lot from which we started our hike, thus completing a 6.23-mile loop hike with about 1,089’ of elevation gain/loss on a pleasant morning for hiking.  We encountered no other people during our hike and spotted only a few wildflowers including; coyote gourd, rod wirelettuce, narrowleaf milkweed, bristly ox-tongue and bush mallow.

August 16th – Devil Canyon toward Browns Canyon Road

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9 hikers met at 6:30 AM at the starting point of the hike on Poema Place in Chatsworth on a pleasant summer morning (which was forecast to approach 100 degrees as the day progressed).  We began our hike by descending into the heavily shaded bottom of Devil Canyon where we followed the remnants of the Devil Canyon Motorway upstream as it frequently crisscrossed the streambed (in which water was barely flowing in several spots).  There was little effort required to make the 3-dozen or so stream crossings since there was so little water flowing.  The trail is still partially overgrown in parts though relatively easy to follow.  There was quite a bit of poison oak in stretches [long pants and short sleeves recommended] but it’s easily avoided.  There were still a few blooming plants along the way which added beauty to the hike and there were many interesting rock formations.  Eventually we reached the large check dam at the junction with the mouth of Ybarra Canyon (which extends north to the Regional Park at Joughin Ranch).

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After taking a brief break near the dam, we continued on upstream along the Devil Canyon trail (formerly the Devil Canyon Motorway) as the canyon widened and we passed by brush-covered hillsides dotted with oak and walnut trees; we still had lots of shade.  Soon we 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 break we returned the way we came; the final short steep ascent out of the canyon exposed us to the direct sunlight; the morning had become hot as we climbed out of the canyon; however, our route was well-shaded for over 95% of our hike so we again “beat the heat” [until we reached our vehicles!].  We completed a very pleasant 6-mile (round trip) hike with about 600’ of elevation gain/loss in this “Hidden Treasure” located virtually in our “back yard.”  We encountered no other hikers and no bicyclists (or horseback riders) during our hike.

NOTE: During our hike we observed quite a few types of blooming plants including (but not limited to) wild roses, sticky monkey flower, cliff asters, datura, Dudleya live forever (chalk plant), California goldenrod, scarlet monkey flower, California chicory, holly leaf redberry, bush mallow, and mustang mint.

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August 8th – East Canyon Up and Back

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Four 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.  The weather was neither cool nor warm with an exciting type of cloud cover.  The hike began southward along the non-maintained and somewhat-eroded East Canyon Motorway, following the small creek in the canyon bottom.  The route was lined with bay laurel, healthy black walnut, cottonwood, sycamore, and oak trees.  Soon the dirt road began rising more steeply along the western side of a wooded ridge, yielding some blooming plants that included  Datura, sticky monkey flower, common madia, golden yarrow, common vervain, cliff aster, California everlasting and turkey mullen.  We enjoyed views of the steep slopes to the west and relics of the bigcone Douglas-fir trees that once covered the mountain.  An intermittent breeze and a brief sprinkle kept us cool, as the road led us upward.  We passed a southern pacific rattlesnake along the way, lying as still as can be.  It had a bluish tint to it and at first we thought it was dead but it was gone when we came back.

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At a junction with Bridge Road and the Oat Mountain Motorway, referenced by the SoCal Gas fence and gate, and the highest point in our hike, we took a short break.  After resting/snacking, we retraced our route to the trailhead.  Going down we encountered another southern pacific rattlesnake, this one was moving.  There were lots of birds and lizards and insects to look at on the way back.  Returning home having completed a 6.1-mile hike with about 1,200’ of elevation gain/loss, it turned out to be a fun and pleasant day for mountain hiking.

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August 4th – Exploratory Hike: Westward Beach to Point Dume to Paradise Cove and back

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Les Wilson and Martin DeGoey decided to scout the subject hike before scheduling it for the whole group to ensure its feasibility for a group hike in the near future.  After consulting the Saltwater Tides web site (www.saltwatertides.com), we chose August 4th because low tide was at 6:13 AM (Note: at high tide the route becomes impassable without getting very wet, if it’s at all possible then).  We left Simi Valley at 5:30 AM and began our hike at 6:15 AM.

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We traveled to Malibu and Westward Beach Road where we took advantage of free parking along the road and then hiked to the parking lot trailhead (we pretty much had the place to ourselves).  The temperature was quite pleasant as we began hiking up onto Point Dume.  After an easy climb, we hiked through a maze of trails surrounded by a “forest” of dormant coreopsis plants to the east side of the peninsula with a breathtaking view of Dume Cove and the Pacific Ocean.  We then located the beautiful new stairway leading down to Dume Beach (Note: the new stairway recently replaced the dangerous rusty stairway that was removed a few years ago).  Since it was low tide our beach walk to Paradise Cove consisted of wide rocky stretches interspersed with long sandy expanses and we encountered several adult hikers (most of them with a dog); nowhere did we get water in our boots.  We enjoyed the ocean sounds and sights (which included virtually no sea creatures), eventually arriving at the Paradise Cove Beach Café (www.paradisecovemalibu.com), a landmark for decades.

The restaurant was closed but was scheduled to open at 8:00 AM. We noted a significant increase in the number of outdoor Adirondack chairs and other outdoor furniture near the restaurant and we visited the nearby pier.  After a while we resumed our hike and headed back along the beach the way we had come; although the tide was now “coming in” it was not yet threatening to get our footwear wet.  After climbing back onto Point Dume, we hiked to its highest point and after backtracking a little we walked along a wooden walkway to an observation platform which afforded views of the ocean and then followed a narrow trail from which we spotted a nearby small seal or sea lion rookery.  We then returned to the main trail, descended to the parking lot, and walked back to our vehicles, returning home having completed a quite pleasant 5.9-mile hike with about 400’ of elevation gain/loss.  During the hike we saw several types of blooming plants including beach sand verbena, beach evening primrose, California poppy, and lemonade berry.

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August 2nd – Tapo Canyon Open Space

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8 hikers met at 6:30 AM in the dirt trailhead parking area (1,136’) for the Tapo Canyon Open Space Trail (T23) in Simi Valley on a cool summer morning.  As we began our hike we headed northward along the nearly flat dirt road/trail which was bordered by  tan/yellow grass dotted with healthy-looking green oak trees but very few blooming plants.  After a mile or so the road/trail 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.  Continuing, we turned right and began hiking the T23 loop which took us along a dirt road/trail that led downward through an oak woodland toward its eastern junction (1,276’) with itself.

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We turned right (leaving the loop) and descended into Chivo Canyon (1,224’) where we took a short break; then we retraced our steps to the T23 loop where we took the right fork and followed T23 back to the narrow pass (completing the loop) and then we returned to the original trailhead.  We completed our pleasant outing having hiked 5.1 miles with a total elevation gain/loss of 713’ on a nice morning for hiking.  NOTE: Most of the blooming plants we’ve enjoyed for the past couple of months are no longer blooming; however, there were quite a few bush mallow plants blooming as well as a few phacelia, holly leaf redberry, datura, purple nightshade, and Indian pink.

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JULY

July 26th – Chivo Canyon Buckhorn Trail Marr Ranch Road Cappocchi Trail Lollipop Loop

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Six hikers met at 6:30 AM at the “trailhead” on Cottonwood Drive in the Wild Horse Canyon development on a slightly cool summer morning.  It was pleasant hiking in the shade through Chivo Canyon on a single-track trail. Coming on to the old Chivo Canyon (dirt) Road to its junction with the Buckhorn Trail, (named by Joe Beautz after finding a set of deer antlers). Along the way we passed a couple of large oil seeps, there was a lone red white and blue pinwheel as the 4th of July decoration and some toy dinosaurs.

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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”). Passing by Cappochi Trail, because of overgrowth, we continue southward and descend using the “Steep Mountain” section of the old road that leads down to Cottonwood Drive [at Gate 3]. We completed a pleasant 4.0-mile hike with about 974’ of elevation gain/loss. The flowers we saw along the way were; wishbone bush, tree tobacco, bush monkey flower, morning glory and slender tarweed.

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July 19th – Devil Canyon toward Browns Canyon Road

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hikers met at 6:30 AM at the starting point of the hike on Poema Place in Chatsworth on a pleasant summer morning (which was forecast to approach 100 degrees as the day progressed).  We began our hike by descending into the heavily shaded bottom of Devil Canyon where we followed the remnants of the Devil Canyon Motorway upstream as it frequently crisscrossed the stream which was still flowing as a result of the heavy rainfall through May.  Close attention was required during stream crossings and the trail was partially overgrown though relatively easy to follow; also there was quite a bit of poison oak in stretches [long pants and short sleeves recommended] but it’s easily avoided.  There were quite a few blooming plants along the way which added beauty to the hike as well as interesting rock formations.  Eventually we reached the large check dam at the junction with the mouth of Ybarra Canyon (which extends north to the Regional Park at Joughin Ranch).

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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 brush-covered hillsides dotted with oak trees; we still had lots of shade.  Soon we 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 until we reached the final ascent out of the canyon; we decided to take the overgrown Santa Susana Pass Trail which includes a man-made staircase leading up out of the canyon into to the Summerset Village Apartments at Poema Place. 

We completed a very pleasant 6-mile (round trip) hike with about 600’ of elevation gain/loss in this “Hidden Treasure” located virtually in our “back yard.”  We encountered no other hikers and no bicyclists (or horseback riders) during our hike.  We avoided direct sunlight on 97% of our hike (thanks to our early start and the nature of the canyon we were hiking in) so we “beat the heat” – until we reached our vehicles!

NOTE: During our hike we observed quite a few types of blooming plants including (but not limited to) wild roses, sticky monkey flower, morning glories, deerweed, cliff asters, California everlasting, clarkia, datura, nice specimens of Dudleya live forever (chalk plant), annual paintbrush, scarlet monkey flower, and one beautiful Plummer’s mariposa lily.

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July 12th – Sage Ranch Loop

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Two hikers met at the lower parking lot in Sage Ranch Park, on a clear summer morning, located high in the Simi Hills between the San Fernando and Simi Valleys at the Los Angeles-Ventura county line.  The 625-acre park is located just north of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) (aka Rocketdyne/Boeing) at an elevation of 2,000’.  The park features massive sandstone rock formations, expansive views, an outdoor amphitheater, picnic tables, and toilet facilities.  The counterclockwise loop hike began with the usual uphill walk, on a paved road, to the main parking lot.  The air was still and clean, you could smell the warmth of summer settling in.  A side trail to the north took us to a nice overlook with sweeping views of Simi Valley and the Santa Susana Mountains.  After hiking along the main Loop Trail to the imposing Turtle Rock, we climbed up on Sandstone Ridge (aka “Sugarloaf”).  It is a long, steep rock formation rising alongside the trail near the southwest corner of the park.  Hiking to the highest point of the formation, we passed a crater where a water tank used to be.  The rock summit gave us an excellent view of the once-bustling SSFL.  Most of the structures have been removed from the property as the “cleanup” effort continues.

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Soon after the trail turned eastward we reached a “detour” section of the trail and a temporary fence blocking a section of the original trail.  The temporary blockage has been caused by a planned cleanup of the former trap and skeet range in the park.  We turned onto the “detour” trail which led us northward through the center of the ranch, thus providing us with views of the interior section of the park.  We were pleased to see a variety of late blooming plants.  We completed our relatively short, but quite scenic, stroll around and through the park having hiked about 3.8 miles with about 750’ of elevation gain/loss [including optional out-and-back side trails]. Some of the wildflowers we saw were; yellow monkey flower, bush mallow, laurel sumac, coastal buckwheat, California everlasting, Turkish rugging, cliff asters, chalk live forever, Plummer’s mariposa lily, and scarlet larkspur and morning glory

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July 5th – Santa Rosa Valley Park (Conejo Canyons Open Space)

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3 hikers met in a dirt parking area on the left (east) side of Hill Canyon Road in Santa Rosa Valley Park (10241 Hill Canyon Rd, Camarillo) on a cool somewhat cloudy early-summer morning.  We began our hike into the Conejo Canyons Open Space just west of Wildwood Park by crossing 25-foot-wide Arroyo Conejo Creek via a nice bridge that provided excellent views of the year-round creek which had lots of flowing water.  We then hiked along the Hill Canyon dirt road; it followed the creek upstream to a trail intersection that we’ve named “Five Points” where we followed a short nameless spur trail down to the creek where we noted that the “temporary” dam was back again but there were no waterfowl in evidence upstream.

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Returning to Five Points we continued south, passing under majestic oak trees dotting the landscape until we entered Hawk Canyon (a dense riparian woodland with poison oak and lots of other plants).  The shaded canyon trail led us along a seasonal feeder stream (presently nearly dry) to the Western Plateau dirt road which we climbed as it rose steadily westward toward an overlook of the Oxnard Plain and the Pacific Ocean (distant views were not available due to moisture in the air over the ocean).  Although the morning had warmed some by the time we left Hawk Canyon it was still comfortable for the remainder of our hike.  Note: We substituted the Peninsula Loop Trail for a section of the Western Plateau dirt road on the way up to the overlook.

After a short break we retraced our steps to the Western Plateau dirt road, turned left and headed northward on it for a very short distance to its junction with the Plateau Rim Trail where we turned right and followed it to an overlook above a seasonal waterfall (where there is a bench) and continued north/northwest to a different junction with the Plateau Rim Trail (near the beginning of the Volcanic Trail) and followed the Plateau Rim Trail to Five Points where we retraced our steps along the Hill Canyon dirt road to our starting point.  We reached our vehicles having completed a pleasant 6.8-mile hike with about 900’ of elevation gain/loss.

We encountered very few other humans during our hike (except for a couple dozen Ventura County Fire Department runners near the end of our hike).  There was lots of green foliage and still a lot (but decreasing number) of blooming plants including lots of bush mallow, black mustard, and morning glories, as well as some deerweed, sunflowers, wild roses, sticky monkey flower, California everlasting, yucca, datura, and a lovely specimen of a Dudleya live forever.

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JUNE

June 30th – Devil Canyon Exploratory Hike

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Martin DeGoey and Les Wilson arrived shortly before 7:00 AM at the starting point of the hike on Poema Place in Chatsworth on a pleasantly cool early summer morning.  We began our exploratory hike by descending into the heavily shaded bottom of Devil Canyon where we followed the remnants of the Devil Canyon Motorway upstream as it frequently crisscrossed the still-flowing stream.  The trail has suffered quite a bit of damage due to the winter-and-spring deluge (rain).  The water level presented challenges in crossing the stream back and forth as we hiked upstream and there was lots of very healthy poison oak to evade along the trail.  The stream-crossing problem was solved by Martin who is the leader of the Rancho Simi Trailblazers trail-maintenance outings on the 3rd Saturday of each month as he placed large rocks in the streambed to facilitate stepping across the stream [Note: After the stream dries up this summer there will be little or no challenge to crossing the streambed].

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We eventually made our way upstream to the large check dam at the junction with the south end of Ybarra Canyon (which extends north to the Regional Park at Joughin Ranch) before turning around.  There were still lots of blooming plants along the way as a result of the heavy rains earlier this year.  Our hike led through a mostly heavily shaded environment bordered with interesting rock formations.  Blooming plants included (but were not limited to) morning glories, sticky monkey flower, deerweed, golden yarrow, cliff asters, wild roses, and lots of lovely large dudleya live forever (chalk plants).  We encountered only one other human (a hiker) during the hike (4.4 miles round trip with 473’ of elevation gain/loss).

NOTE: The Devil Canyon trail continues upstream to Browns Canyon Road.  The canyon widens beyond the check dam as it passes through brush-covered hillsides dotted with oak trees and it eventually passes through an upper-canyon cathedral-like oak woodland.  A couple of hikes longer than turning around at the large check dam are:

1.  Hiking on up to a 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 for a 6-mile (round trip) hike with about 600’ of elevation/loss.

2.  Hiking on up to Browns Canyon Road for a 10-mile (round trip) hike with about 1,300’ of elevation gain/loss.

Any of these three choices will provide you with a unique (for this area) opportunity to explore this “Hidden Treasure” located virtually in our “back yard.”

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June 28th – Simi Peak from King James Court via China Flat

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Three hikers started their hike at the China Flat Trail Head on a perfect overcast morning.  The trail was a dirt and rock road rising up the south side of the mountain.  Upon reaching the apex of the old road, the sun peeked through the clouds briefly, and we were able to see expanding views to the south.  The clouds thickened as we descended into lovely China Flat, with its oak trees and sprawling grassy meadows.  Then we followed a trail that leads up to Simi Peak (2,403’), the highest point in the Simi Hills.  There were quite a few birds, flowers and lizards to enjoy along the way.  Reaching the top at Simi Peak, the overcast subsided, giving us a good panoramic view of the surrounding area.

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Coming back we extended the hike by taking the China Flat Loop Trail to Palo Comado fire road.  It was a beautiful mountain hike, completing our loop hike of 6.7 miles with about 1,400’ of elevation gain/loss.  Some wildflowers we saw/enjoyed included; sunflower, morning glories, sticky monkey flower, white snapdragon, woolly blue curls, moth mullein, canchalagua flower, California everlasting, chamise, elegant clarkia, buckwheat and rose snapdragon.

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June 21st – Los Robles Trail via the Los Padres Trail and Oak Creek Canyon Double-loop

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6 hikers met at the Los Padres Trail trailhead in Thousand Oaks on a nice summer-solstice morning.  We began our hike through a very pleasant oak woodland into the hills south of Thousand Oaks.  This initial stretch of trail and its many oak trees and other flora provided a dreamlike experience (there was even a short stretch of barely flowing water in the creek).  When we reached a dirt access road, we followed it up to its junction with the Los Robles Trail (the primary trail in Thousand Oaks).  Upon reaching the trail junction, 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.  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 proceeded on 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 heavily shaded western section of this loop we walked a short distance eastward along Greenmeadow Avenue to the (partially shaded) 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 4.4-mile hike with 730’ of elevation gain/loss.  NOTE: There were still lots of blooming plants along our route including (but not limited to) deerweed, canyon sunflowers, morning glories, golden yarrow, sticky monkey flower, elegant clarkia, Indian pink, green bark ceanothus, Mexican elderberry, thistle, Turkish rugging, purple sage, black sage, rabbit-foot grass, scarlet pimpernel, buckwheat, heart-leaved penstemon, and a few California golden poppies [the CA state flower].

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June 14th – Mission Point Loop via Neon Way and O’Melveny Park

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In Granada Hills, five hikers met at the entrance to O’Melveny Park on a typical June gloom morning.  Our hike began by walking southwest along the nearby sidewalk on Sesnon Blvd to its junction with Neon Way. While we walked on the sidewalk, we enjoyed the domestic trees and plants along the way. Turning north on Neon Way, after a short distance, we reached Sulphur Spring Fire Road (aka the Dr. Mario A. De Campos Trail).  We began the steady climb along the fire road to Mission Point in the Santa Susana Mountains.  Passing a small irrigation pool and some deep gullies, trekking steadily upwards, the air seemed to thicken.  In a mystic atmosphere, we eventually came to a bench beneath a large oak tree.  A short distance further up the trail was Mission Point, with its small, stone monument memorializing Mario De Campos, a lover of the local mountains.

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After another short break we resumed our hike by retracing our route a short distance downhill to the junction with the Mission Point Trail that we followed northeast as we made our way down into Bee Canyon. There were a couple of frolicking rabbits and a little frog along the way.  The trail leveled and there was water flowing in the creek, surrounded by trees, brush, flowers and birds.  The trail evolved into the beautiful 627-acre O’Melveny Park with its still well maintained green lawns shaded by oak and eucalyptus trees.  It is the second largest park in Los Angeles.  We reached our vehicles, completing our loop hike, having hiked 6.1 miles with about 1,400’ of elevation gain/loss on a nice morning for mountain hiking.  Some wildflowers we saw/enjoyed included; Sunflower, Gumplant,  Caterpillar Phacelia, Morning Glories, Sticky Monkey Flower, Yellow Mariposa Lilies, Datura (aka Jimson weed), Bush Mallow, Tidy Tips, Fiesta Flower, Popcorn Flower, Tree Tobacco.

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June 7th – Wildwood Neighborhood Park, Las Flores Trail, Lynnmere Trail Clockwise Loop

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Seven hikers met at the trailhead in the Baseball Field Parking Lot at the junction of Avenida de Los Arboles and Canna Street in Thousand Oaks on a pleasant though somewhat overcast late spring morning.  We began our hike by crossing Avenida de Los Arboles to the east and descending into a tunnel under Avenida de Los Arboles.  We then climbed some stairs and crossed Arroyo Conejo on a bridge; then we headed through a neighborhood to the Las Flores Trail which we followed to Lynn Road where we connected to the Lynnmere Trail which we followed west to the Wildwood Canyon Trail which we followed eastward back to Neighborhood Park.  The mountainsides and canyon boasted beautiful displays of a variety of plants (see list below) and the streams had flowing water in them.

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We encountered only a few other people during the hike.  We returned to our vehicles having completed a pleasant 4.9-mile hike with 775’ of elevation gain/loss on a nice morning for hiking.  The route we took was new to most of us so the hike was especially interesting.  We reached our vehicles having completed a 4.9-mile hike with 775 feet of elevation gain/loss.

The wonderland of wildflowers we encountered included (but was not limited to): purple sage, Turkish rugging, deerweed, golden yarrow, morning glories, phacelia, sunflowers, sticky monkey flower, Mexican elderberry, thistle, black mustard, both Catalina mariposa and yellow mariposa lilies, wild roses, chalk plants (dudleya live forever), prickly pear cactus, “jumping” cholla cactus, cliff aster, elegant clarkia, buckwheat, slender tarweed, golden star, wild onion, yucca, dudleya live forever (chalk plant), chamise, lemonade berry, California everlasting, and yerba mansa.

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MAY

May 31st – Wildwood Park: Mesa Trail, Stagecoach Bluff Trail, Lizard Rock Trail, Paradise Falls, Wildwood Canyon, Indian Creek Trail Loop

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On a cool overcast late spring morning, seven hikers met at 7:30 AM at Wildwood Park west end parking off Avenida de los Arboles in Thousand Oaks.  The hikers began their counterclockwise loop hike by heading west on the Mesa Trail.  Turning left, hiking a short distance south on the Tepee Trail, we came upon a little pollywog pond.  Continuing westward with the usual views down into Wildwood Canyon, we hiked through a display of prickly pear cactus and a few Cholla Cacti.  Upon rejoining the Mesa Trail, we hiked leisurely westward up to a trail junction just below Lizard Rock.

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After taking a short break, we followed the Lizard Rock Trail down into Hill Canyon and soon headed eastward into heavily shaded Wildwood Canyon.  As we headed upstream we crossed flowing water several times on short wooden bridges.  When we reached Hoegeman’s Hollow, there were several picnic tables (and bathrooms).  We took a long break before continuing on upstream to Paradise Falls where we enjoyed looking at and listening to the waterfall.  Continuing 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 a short unnamed trail that led us back to our vehicles, thus completing a 4.9-mile hike with 850’ of elevation gain/loss.  There were so many blooming plants:  Purple sage, Turkish Rugging, Deerweed, Golden Yarrow, Morning Glories, Phacelia, Sunflowers, Sticky Monkey Flower, Mexican Elderberry, Thistle, Black Mustard, Yellow Mariposa Lilies, Wild roses, Chalk Liveforever (Dudleya), Prickly Pear Cactus, and “Jumping” Cholla Cactus, Sticky Phacelia, Cliff Aster, Elegant Clarkia, Bladder Pod, Buckwheat, Slender Tarweed, Yellow Monkey Flower, White Snapdragon.

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May 24th – Las Llajas Canyon to the Abandoned Coquina Mining Operation