APRIL

April 10th – Los Robles Trail via the Los Padres Trail and Oak Creek Double-Loop

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Three hikers met at the Los Padres Trail trailhead in Thousand Oaks on a cool spring morning.  The beginning of the hike was very pleasant with its canopy of oak trees bursting with new growth, and the sound of a creek running alongside the trail.  The trail steepened until we reached a dirt access road.  We followed it up to its junction with the Los Robles Trail (the primary trail in Thousand Oaks) encountering an occasional swarm of what appeared to be mosquitos; they didn’t seem to be biting.  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 point 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; the swarms of mosquitoes thickened.  We had to hold our breath for fear of breathing an unwanted guest as we descended to a nice oak-shaded picnic area taking another break, making use of a large picnic table. We 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 4.6-mile hike with 692’ of elevation gain/loss, in 1hr-42 min.  NOTE: There were several types of blooming plants along our route including (but not limited to) black walnut, fiddleneck, miner’s lettuce, green bark Ceanothus, wild cucumber, wishbone bush, long-beaked stork’s bill, purple nightshade, Ceanothus, sugar bush, canyon sunflower, fuchsia flowering gooseberry, sticky monkey flower, prickly phlox, Indian warrior, California everlasting, and California poppy.

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April 3rd – Mt. McCoy to The Reagan Presidential Library

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Five hikers and a cute dog gathered at 7:30 AM at the Donut Delight parking lot on a chilly 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.  We began our climb up the trail’s many switchbacks, enjoying the bright green foliage and blooms.  Upon reaching the cross at the top of Mt. McCoy, we stopped for a short break.  The sun was out and the morning had warmed up to a pleasant temperature.  We enjoyed 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.  Several guided tours outside the library were underway so we sat by an outdoor table and enjoyed the nice morning.  Eventually we began heading back the way we came.

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However, two members of our group offered to show us a “secret” alternative route back, so we kept walking downhill on Presidential Drive (past our usual left turn) until we reached a point where a “use trail” headed down to the right/west to a tunnel heading east under Presidential Drive.  After passing through the tunnel we followed a trail eastward; the trail is north of the nearby homes.  Eventually the trail ended at the sidewalk parallel to Madera Road and we followed it for a while.  Soon we switched to Acapulco Avenue to avoid the loud traffic noise on Madera Road until we reached its junction with Royal Avenue which we followed back to our vehicles having completed a 5.1 mile hike with 724’ of elevation gain/loss.  The blooming plants we saw included (but were not limited to) Indian paintbrush, bush sunflower, purple nightshade, California everlasting, fuchsia flowering gooseberry, deerweed, Catalina mariposa lily, wishbone bush, goldfields, wild onion, owls clover, blue dick, golden yarrow, and a beautiful spread of California poppies along Presidential Drive.

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MARCH

March 27th – Tapo Canyon Open Space Trail to Chivo Canyon

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Seven 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.  It was a cool but beautiful morning.  Our hike began heading northward along the nearly flat dirt road/trail, with lush greenery all around.   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 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 noticed a small, newly constructed bridge crossing the stream.  We crossed over the bridge and hiked about 0.4 miles on the Chivo Canyon Trail heading NE until we came to the junction of the Cappochi Trail.  With a short break, we turned around and headed back the way we came to the creek crossing.

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We resumed our hike by heading westward [back] up the T23 loop as it rose gently to the west through a large “valley,” before rising fairly steeply to the southwest to another dirt road/trail junction (1,620’), the highest point on our hike).  We enjoyed the scenery from this viewpoint and then took the left fork. There were some people along the way, some hiking with their dogs, a couple runners and even a person on a horse.  We followed T23 back to the narrow pass (completing the loop) and then on down to the original trailhead.  We completed our leisurely outing having hiked 6.0 miles with a total elevation gain/loss of about 1,060’.

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March 20th – Santa Rosa Valley Park (Conejo Canyons Open Space)

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5 hikers plus a cute dog 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 foggy early-spring 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 toward a trail intersection that we’ve named “Five Points.”  Slightly before reaching Five Points we followed a short nameless spur trail down to the strongly flowing creek where we spotted a couple of mallard ducks.We then made our way the short distance up to “Five Points” where we continued southeast along the Hill Canyon dirt road to the Conejo Canyons Bridge [“at the Hill Canyon Treatment Plant” adjacent to the nearby “Wetlands the home to local bird and wildlife”] which is in the final stages of its construction.  The bridge will “Provide trail and vehicular access across the Arroyo Conejo Creek” and will “allow trail users including pedestrians, bicyclists, and equestrians to have a defined route between Santa Rosa Equestrian Park and Wildwood Canyon.”

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Then we returned along the Hill Canyon road a relatively short distance before turning southwest (left) onto the Hawk Canyon Trail (a dense riparian woodland with lots of 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 (east) 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 very pleasant 6.5-mile hike with about 822’ of elevation gain/loss.  We encountered a few other humans during our hike (particularly near the end).  There were lots of blooming plants including hoary leaved ceanothus, fuchsia-flowered gooseberry, holly-leaved cherry, purple nightshade, arroyo willow flower, milk thistle, wild cucumber, morning glory, bush sunflower, California goldfields, wishbone bush, Indian paintbrush, lupine, wild onion, lance-leaved dudleya, deerweed, blue dick, wild radish, and California peony.

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Click to see Conejo Canyons Trail Map.

March 13th – Wildwood Park: Mesa Trail, Stagecoach Bluff Trail, Lizard Rock Trail, Paradise Falls, Wildwood Canyon, Indian Creek Trail Loop

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On an early almost spring morning, eleven 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, and mused at Samson the great little dog playing with sticks and chasing birds.  Then continuing on upstream to Paradise Falls where we enjoyed looking at and listening to 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 were quite a few blooming plants; prickly pear cactus, goldfields smallseed sandmat, wishbone, bush sunflower, hairy vetch, sugar bush, lupine, blue dicks, fiddle neck, popcorn flower.

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FEBRUARY

February 28th – Canyon View Trail, Coyote Hills Park, Oak Canyon, and Long Canyon Trail Loop

3 hikers (and one cute dog) gathered at the Long Canyon Trail trailhead parking lot at Wood Ranch in Simi Valley on a late-winter morning (a little chilly to begin with but soon quite nice) .  We left the parking lot and headed east along Long Canyon Road to the southwest end of the Canyon View Trail.  We began hiking uphill on the trail, enjoying ever-improving views of the surrounding area including the Bard Reservoir.  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 a nameless trail to the mouth of Montgomery Canyon.  We passed by it, hiked south through Oak Canyon (aka East Long Canyon), and eventually reached the signed upper end of the Long Canyon Trail which we descended to the parking lot from which we started our hike, thus completing a 6.5-mile loop hike with about 1,300’ of elevation gain/loss on a pleasant morning for hiking.  We encountered very few other people during our hike and spotted only a few blooming plants.

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.