FEBRUARY

February 21st – Tapo Street, to the Arroyo Bike Path, to Arroyo Vista Park, and Back

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Five hikers gathered in the parking area near Tio’s Café (which is near the Walmart store on Tapo Street in Simi Valley) shortly after the intermittent raining stopped.  Soon after we began our hike the sky cleared and we were treated to sunlight, a blue sky, and puffy white clouds for the duration of our hike.  We headed parallel to Tapo Street and then along its sidewalk until we reached the bridge over the Arroyo Simi; we were astounded by the amount of water rushing down the arroyo [it was the most we’d ever seen in the arroyo].  We continued south along Tapo Street until it curved to the west and its name changed to Guardian Street and soon passed by the impressive relatively new Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District Activity Center.  We continued westward through a surprisingly pleasant wooded “industrial” area to Tapo Canyon Road where we turned north until we passed over its bridge over the Arroyo Simi.

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Marveling at the force of the water below; we also spotted a group of seven mallard ducks managing not to be swept away by the water.  We then turned westward and followed the newly paved Arroyo Simi Greenway (bike and walking path) until we reached Sequoia Avenue.  We then headed south on its bridge over the arroyo to the Vista Del Arroyo Park on Chicory Leaf Place with the adjacent (well-appreciated) Arroyo Simi Equestrian Center Restroom.  After resting a while at the park we headed back eastward to Tapo Street along the Arroyo Simi Greenway and then returned northward to our motor vehicles, having completed a 4.5-mile hike with a whopping 164’ of elevation gain/loss on a beautiful morning.  There were several types of blooming plants including bluepotato bush (Lycianthes rantonnetii), Tulip Magnolia (Magnolia Soulangeana), telegraph weed, and mule fat.

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February 14th – East Canyon

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Two 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 cold but warming slowly with the rising sunshine.  We began the hike following the small stream, normally a creek, southward along the non-maintained and somewhat-eroded East Canyon Motorway. Lined with bay laurel, barren black walnut, cottonwood, sycamore, and oak trees, we were thankful for a new wooden bridge placed over the first stream crossing. As we continued up the dirt road a short distance, we came to a second stream crossing, where a group of four hikers and two dogs were held up and had decided to turn back. The banks of the crossing seemed steep and muddy so we decided to explore Rice Canyon instead.  The heavily wooded trail that hugged the stream bed was gorgeous.  After 0.92 miles, the trail became impassable, we crossed the stream eight times, up and back.  Coming back we explored an unmarked trail; we went up about 500 ft. and then turned back. The plants we photograph were bay laurel, caterpillar Phacelia, milk thistle and arroyo willow.  We hiked a total of 3.42 miles with 510′ elevation gain loss.

JANUARY

January 31st – Porter Ranch Loop

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11 hikers met at 8:00 AM at the Canyon Trail trailhead just below Porter Ridge Park at the east “end” of Sesnon Blvd at the north end of Reseda Blvd in Porter Ranch on a pleasant sunny winter morning.  We began our clockwise-loop hike by dropping down into Aliso Canyon; we then followed the wide dirt trail southward toward (nearly all the way to) Rinaldi Street and Aliso Canyon Park (Note: we used a workaround trail part of the way to avoid a section of the Aliso Canyon Trail that has been severely damaged by heavy rains in recent years).  The Aliso Canyon Trail was nearly level and was dotted with large oak trees (many of which had been damaged by wildfire) and quite a few blooming sunflowers so it was a pleasant stroll through the canyon; there was water flowing in the stream.  We then followed a well-defined connector trail that led somewhat steeply upward to Eddleston Park at Reseda Blvd.  Crossing to the west side of Reseda Blvd, we hiked northward a short distance on an unnamed trail to the eastern trailhead for the Palisades Trail which we followed westward.  The wide well-maintained Palisades Trail provided views of the surrounding area mainly to the south.

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There was stark evidence of a wildfire in the past as we passed a formerly beautiful grove of pine trees which is now a stand of burned-and-blackened skeletons.  The trail then rose fairly steeply just before dropping down to Tampa Avenue which the group followed north to Sesnon Blvd (near the entrance to the Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon underground natural gas storage facility, infamous for its 2015-2016 months-long methane leak).  After crossing Sesnon Blvd to the northeast, the group followed the Sesnon Trail (which forms the border of a housing development to its south) eastward to Ormskirk Avenue and then walked a couple of blocks to Porter Ridge Park where the silhouettes of the upper parts of several of the highest skyscrapers in downtown Los Angeles can sometimes be seen through the Cahuenga Pass (but not today).  We then returned to our nearby vehicles having completed a 5.3-mile hike with about 850’ of elevation gain/loss.  We encountered a few other hikers and there were a few blooming plants including sunflowers, morning glories, red-stem filaree, and red flowering gum tree.  NOTE: Ormskirk (see above) is a market town in West Lancashire, England, 13 miles north of Liverpool; it was famous for its baking of gingerbread.

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January 24th – Chivo Canyon and Marr Ranch Road Loop

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Eight hikers met at 8:00 AM at the “trailhead” on Cottonwood Drive in the Wild Horse Canyon development on a chilly winter morning.  The sky was covered with clouds and there was stillness in the air as we began our hike through Chivo Canyon on a single-track trail.  When we came to the old Chivo Canyon (dirt) Road we followed it 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 were no new decorations). 

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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 at “Four Points.”  We passed by the Cappochi Trail (also named by Joe), because of overgrowth; then we continued southward and descended 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: sunflower (California brittlebush), wild cucumber, sugar bush, toyon, indian paintbrush, and lupine.

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January 17th – Long Canyon and Lang Ranch Open Space Loop

6 hikers met at 8:00 AM in the Long Canyon Trail parking lot in Wood Ranch on a slightly chilly winter morning.  The outing began by hiking up the Long Canyon Trail to the Lang Ranch Open Space where we followed the Sunrise Trail eastward to the Alapy Trail and then the Rocky Incline Trail.  Then we followed a connector trail to the Long Ridge Trail which led us to an entrance into the eastern end of the pleasant heavily-wooded area that contains the Chumash Interpretive Center portion of the Oakbrook Regional Park.

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We then walked a short distance eastward on the Lang Ranch Parkway and turned northward onto Autumn Ridge Drive and followed it a few blocks to the Autumn Ridge Trail trailhead and followed that trail making our way to the Woodbridge Connector Trail which led us back to the Long Canyon Trail parking lot thus completing a nice 5.4-mile hike with just under 1,000’ of elevation gain/loss.  We encountered several other hikers and bicycle riders and surprisingly there were small numbers of various blooming plants including California sunflower, lupine, sugar bush, toyon, bush mallow, and smallseed sandmat.

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January 10th – Las Llajas Canyon to the Abandoned Coquina Mining Operation

Six hikers met at the trailhead on Evening Sky Drive on a cold very breezy 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.  The wind had stopped and the sun was shining when we came to the 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.  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 returned to our vehicles having completed a pleasant 6.5-mile hike with about 1200’ of elevation gain/loss on a pleasant morning for hiking.