May 1st – Wildwood Park: Mesa Trail, Stagecoach Bluff Trail, Lizard Rock Trail, Paradise Falls, Wildwood Canyon, Indian Creek Trail Loop
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.
May 24th – Las Llajas Canyon to the Abandoned Coquina Mining Operation
Seven hikers met at the trailhead on Evening Sky Drive on a pleasant overcast late spring 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 flowing stream two times. We then followed a single-track “use” trail (the remnants of an old mining road) as we climbed up the eastern slope of the mountain, atop which there are panoramic views of the surrounding area including parts of Chivo Canyon, Las Llajas Canyon, the Santa Susana Mountains, and Simi Valley. The mountainsides boasted beautiful displays of a variety of plants (see list below). We took a break when we reached our goal, the site of a coquina (a soft whitish limestone formed of broken shells and corals cemented together and used for road building) mining operation. Various mining equipment artifacts are strewn about near the mining site, most notably a P&H Model 206 “steam” shovel. We encountered only a few other people during the hike including one group who were heading up as we started down. We returned to our vehicles having completed a pleasant 6-mile hike with about 1,050’ of elevation gain/loss on a pleasant morning for hiking. The trail leading to and then heading up the mountain was a wonderland of wildflowers, including (but not limited to): Purple sage, wild sweet pea, elegant clarkia, giant wild rye, golden yarrow, coast wallflower, Turkish rugging, bush sunflowers, morning glories, phacelia, sticky monkey flower, Mexican elderberry, deerweed, thistle, black mustard, and yellow mariposa lilies.
May 17th – Porter Ranch
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 typical summer-like morning, we began our clockwise-loop hike at the trailhead gate where there was a sign cautioning us of a trail closure. Dropping down into Aliso Canyon, the trail was clear and widened, leading us southward toward Rinaldi Street and Aliso Canyon Park.
Some of the flowers we saw were; Caterpillar Phacelia, Toyon, Golden Yarrow, Wild Rose, Wild Rose, California Poppy, Hubby’s Phacelia, Morning Glory, Yucca, Scarlet Pimpernel…
May 7th – Mt. McCoy to the Reagan Presidential Library and Back
Nine hikers gathered at 7:30 AM at the Donut Delight parking lot on a pleasant spring 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 [no parking is available there]. We began our climb up the trail’s many switchbacks marveling at the beauty of the plethora of a wide variety of blooming wildflowers [see list below]. Upon reaching the cross at the top of Mt. McCoy we took a break and enjoyed the views in all directions. The sun was out and there was a light breeze that enhanced our hike. After a while 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 indoors of which were closed at the early hour [so we had the outside to ourselves until just before we left]. We returned the way we came, completing a 5.5-mile hike with 900’ of elevation/loss. The blooming plants we saw included (but were not limited to) bush sunflowers, purple nightshade, owls clover, morning glories, caterpillar phacelia, sticky monkey flower, Mexican elderberry, California everlasting, Catalina mariposa lilies, purple nightshade, silver puffs, deerweed, blue dick, Turkish rugging, sticky monkey flower, caterpillar phacelia, golden yarrow, thistle, Chinese house, black mustard, etc.
May 2nd – Long Canyon and Lang Ranch Open Space Loop
Five hikers met at the usual parking for the Long Canyon Trail. The sun was shining and the air was clean and comfortable. The trail was almost unrecognizable going up Long Canyon Trail and along Sunrise Trail, because of the Black Mustard growth. Getting to the top along Long Ranch Ridge Trail, the views were spectacular. Then, going down Hidden Canyon Trail, we came in close contact with a lot of color. There was: Owls Clover, Indian Paintbrush, Golden Yarrow, Catalina Mariposa Lilies, Sticky Phacelia, Sticky Monkey Flower, Fuchsia Flowered Gooseberry and many more. Crossing the normally dry stream, we came across; Canyon Sunflower, Chinese Houses, Fiesta Flower, Bush Poppy, Purple Nightshade.
April 26th – Upper Meadows Spahn Ranch Loop
After parking in an amusingly rutty dirt parking area, seven hikers gathered at the Lilac Lane trailhead to Stagecoach Trail in the Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park. We began our hike walking up Lilac Lane to where it turned into a private road. There we took an unmarked trail across a property belonging to a friend of one of the hikers. Hiking a short distance down to a small earthen dam pond, we couldn’t see any tadpoles in it, but there was an occasional swirl on the water surface.
Along the way we saw: Black Sage blooming, Caterpillar Phacelia, Mustard Evening Primrose, Wishbone, Coulter’s Lupine, Bush Lupine, Morning Glory, Owl’s Clover, Sticky Monkey Flower, Scarlet Monkey Flower, Chia, Catalina Mariposa Lily, Chamise, Golden Yarrow, Common Yarrow, Ceanothus, California Everlasting, Popcorn, and Wild Sweet Pea.
April 19th – Tapo Canyon Open Space Trail and Chivo Canyon
Twelve hikers met at 7:30 AM near the dirt trailhead parking area (1,136’) for the Tapo Canyon Open Space Trail (T23) in Simi Valley. A chilly breeze was doing its best to hasten the group picture. Our hike began heading northward along the nearly flat dirt road/trail, bordered with scatterings of different types of flowers and oak trees, grasses and plants all bursting with energy. Closeups were taken of Western Wallflower, Bush Lupine, wild sweet pea and Catalina Mariposa Lily. After a mile or so of conversation, the road/trail rose steadily to a narrow pass and a dirt-road junction (1,535’), where we took a short 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 oak woodland toward its eastern junction (1,276’) with itself. We turned right and hiked eastward down to the floor of Chivo Canyon where we stopped close to an abandoned apiary. Bees are always a fun topic.
April 12th – Big Sky Trail
Even though the sky was gray and hazy all around, the mood was bright and cheerful as six hikers gathered at the entrance to the Big Sky neighborhood. We noisily walked in conversation northwards along the sidewalk, then turned east at the well-signed entrance to Big Sky Trail. The stream bed to the south was marshy, but the normally dry stream crossing was easily crossed thanks to a wood walkway someone so graciously built. We went left at the trail junction, choosing to do a clockwise loop. As we hiked east the spring growth began to thicken. We knew we were in for a treat. Coming off the service trail that followed the stream bed, we began a hilly hike and the surrounding colors intensified. There were flowers everywhere: Owl’s Clover, Indian Paintbrush, California Poppies, Catalina Mariposa Lilies, Popcorn, Bush Lupine, Blue Dicks, Fiddleneck, Black Sage, Goldfields, Mustard Evening Primrose, Black Mustard, Lacy Phacelia, Santa Barbara Locoweed, Scarlet Bugler, Bush Sunflower, Pincushion, and Tidy Tips. The list went on and on to the summit of our hike. Overwhelmed, we headed down, slowly ending a spectacular two hour, 4.6-mile, with 800’ of elevation gain/loss.
April 5th – Chivo Canyon Buckhorn Trail Marr Ranch Road Cappocchi Trail Lollipop Loop
After missing some weeks of proper hiking, and with a joyful welcoming back, seven hikers met at Cottonwood Drive in the Wild Horse Canyon development. The air was crisp and clean. We hiked northward along an overgrown single-track trail, until we got to Chivo Canyon (dirt) Road to its junction with the Buckhorn Trail, passing a couple of large oil seeps (decorated for Saint Patrick’s day) along the way. Continuing our hike up Marr Ranch Road on the eastern ridge, we saw a lot of Indian Paintbrush, and Lupine, Blue Dicks, Sun Flowers etc. Arriving at the ridge, we were greeted by a pleasant breeze and the hills were as green as can be. Taking an overgrown, grass laden Cappocchi trail, we made our way back to Chivo Canyon Road. Our appetite for exercise and the love of the great outdoors satisfied, we made it back to our vehicles and waved our goodbyes.
March 8th – Santa Rosa Valley Peppermint – Twist Loop
In the still shaded dirt parking area on the left (east) side of Hill Canyon Road in Santa Rosa Valley Park (10241 Hill Canyon Rd, Camarillo), five hikers started their hike. Walking at a vigorous pace, eager to get to where the sun was shining, we crossed the 25-foot-wide Arroyo Conejo Stream and headed south on Hill Canyon Trail. We took a left on Hill Canyon Trail Connector, missing the Hawk Canyon Intersection. Feeling adventurous we continued east towards the Hill Canyon Treatment Plant Wetlands. Even though the road was well defined there was no way to cross the stream to get to the wetlands. Perhaps during the summer, when the stream may not be so full, there will be a way to cross. We decided to continue with wary agreement, up the Conejo Canyon Open Space Trail (fire road), to get to the south end of Hawk Canyon. The road was a steep: .31 miles with an elevation gain/loss 322 ft. There was some Lanceleaf Liveforever along the way. Arriving at the top of the hill, an industrial complex appeared that included a large pharmaceutical company. The trail we took to get to the south end of Hawk Canyon trail head ended up so steep, you would have to be a mountain goat to get down. Having enough exploring and exercise, we headed down an unmarked trail adorned with two ravens, along a hilltop ridge to Hill Canyon trail. We arrived back at the parking area, with a memorable 4.2 mile hike at hand and being grateful for each other’s company, we departed.
February 8th – Woodridge Connector Loop Trail to Sunrise Trail Loop
Six hikers met at the Long Canyon Trail parking lot in Wood Ranch on a delightful, early spring morning. The outing began by hiking west and upward where we could view an elegant housing tract. To the left, at one point we could see Bard Reservoir through the fence. There was Ceanothus in bloom and little flowers of purple and orange fighting their way through the thick green grass. Coming around, connecting to the Sunrise Trail we were surprised to see a seasonal pond that reminded us of our gratefulness for the recent rains. The open space views were spectacular. We saw a Garter snake crossing the trail and slithering into the grass. With a special feeling that a spectacular spring morning brings, we made our way back To Long Canyon Trail that led back to our vehicles.
January 25th – Los Robles Trail via the Los Padres Trail and Oak Creek Canyon
Eight hikers met at the Los Padres Trail trailhead in Thousand Oaks on a winter’s morning. We began our hike through very pleasant oak woodland into the hills south of Thousand Oaks. The creek was flowing with water and we crossed it three or four times. 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 into 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.
January 18th – North Ridge Trail, Chumash Park, and Mt. Sinai
Six anxious hikers met at 7:00 AM at the North Ridge Trail trailhead, on Evening Sky Drive in Simi Valley on a cold sunny 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 with a couple of particularly damp sections, going south and southeast to the Broken Arrow Street trailhead. We hiked through the Chumash Park to a trail running adjacent to the water tank. We then continued downhill along a maintained dirt road, near the eastern side of Mount Sinai Cemetery. The road leveled out and we bypassed the path we normally take leading into what was once Douglas White Oaks Park, because of puddles and mud. Remaining on the dirt road skirting Mt. Sinai Cemetery and following it southward, we crossed over a runoff creek full with running water. Following the road, we turned into a trail with a small stream running down the middle. Eventually, we got 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 4.1-mile hike with about 760’ of elevation gain/loss. It was quite an adventurous morning.