Midweek Mountaineers

2022

SEPTEMBER

September28th – Chivo Canyon Buckhorn Trail Marr Ranch Road Cappocchi Trail Lollipop Loop

11 hikers met at 6:30 AM at the “trailhead” on Cottonwood Drive in the Wild Horse Canyon development on a pleasantly cool autumn morning on a day for which the high temperature was close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit – the choice of this hike (a “north-south” hike mostly on the west side of the canyon) was to afford maximum shade).  After we “dropped” into Chivo Canyon, we hiked northward along a single-track “use” trail and then the old Chivo Canyon (dirt) Road to its junction with the Buckhorn Trail (named by Joe Beautz after finding a set of deer antlers), passing a couple of large oil seeps (decorated for Halloween) along the way.  The impact of the ongoing drought was obvious in the canyon bottom and its sides as nearly everything was “dry as a bone.”

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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”) with the Cappocchi Trail (also named by Joe Beautz after a spray painting on a rusty water tank) which connects with the Chivo Canyon Road below.  This connector trail was somewhat overgrown.  After descending into Chivo Canyon once more we returned southward to where our hike started.  We completed our pleasant 4.5-mile hike with about 850’ of elevation gain/loss (again we “beat the heat”).

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September 21st – Santa Rosa Valley Park (Conejo Canyons Open Space)

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8 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 near-end-of-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 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.

After a short break we retraced our steps to the Western Plateau dirt road and headed northward on it for a very short distance to its junction with the Plateau Rim Trail which we followed 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 it 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 6.5-mile hike with about 875’ of elevation gain/loss.  We encountered several other hikers during the hike, mostly during the last half of the hike.  We spotted one rabbit, some lizards, and a small (but fast) snake during the hike.

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September 14th – Wildwood Park: Mesa Trail, Stagecoach Bluff Trail, Lizard Rock Trail, Paradise Falls, Wildwood Canyon, Indian Creek Trail Loop

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5 hikers met at 7:00 AM in the dirt parking lot at Wildwood Park at the west end of Avenida de los Arboles in Thousand Oaks on a cool overcast late summer morning.  The hikers began their counterclockwise loop hike by heading west on the Mesa Trail.  They soon turned left, hiked a short distance south on the Tepee Trail, and then took the Stagecoach Bluffs Trail westward with the usual views down into Wildwood Canyon as 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 the flowing water several times on short wooden bridges.  When we reached Hoegeman’s Hollow where there are several picnic tables (and bathrooms) we took a longer break before continuing on upstream to Paradise Falls where we enjoyed looking at and listening to the waterfall.  Continuing on 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 on a very nice morning for hiking (as opposed to the recent scorching temperatures).  There were few blooming plants but the foliage was a pretty green having been cleansed of the months-long dust buildup thanks to a short rain.

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AUGUST

August 31st – 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 early summer morning (which was forecast to become very hot 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 almost entirely dry streambed.  There were few blooming plants along the way as a result of the ongoing drought and the time of year.  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).  This upstream portion of our hike led through a mostly heavily shaded environment bordered with interesting rock formations.

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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 including following the route we had used as we descended into the canyon (this final ascent was the only steep uphill during the hike).  We completed a very pleasant 6-mile (round trip) hike with about 600’ of elevation/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!

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August 24th – Big Sky Trail

12 hikers met along Big Sky Place (970’) in Simi Valley on a pleasant summer morning for a familiar neighborhood hike.  After a short walk northward on a sidewalk along Erringer Road where we admired the rose beds [there was no water in the waterfalls] at the entrance to the Big Sky neighborhood, we turned east onto the well-signed Big Sky Trail.  After crossing a very dry streambed, we began the counterclockwise loop portion of the hike as we climbed fairly steeply up to the north-south ridge to the east of the housing development.  Upon reaching the ridgetop, we enjoyed unobstructed views of the surrounding area including Whiteface Mountain.  The hillsides were all “bone dry” as a result of the ongoing drought.  After reaching the highest point (1,463’) in our hike, we took a short break and then continued on to the northernmost point (1,357’) in our hike where the trail turned sharply to the southeast, winding its way along the oak-lined streambed that runs through the Big Sky development.  We finished our invigorating outing having completed a 4.6-mile hike with over 800’ of elevation gain/loss on a nice morning for hiking.  We had the trail entirely to ourselves.  Surprisingly there were some bush sunflowers blooming at one point during the hike.

August 17th – Hummingbird Trail to Rocky Peak Fire Road

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9 hikers met at 7:00 AM at the trailhead next to the paved parking area just outside the gated entrance to Hummingbird Ranch at the north end of Kuehner Drive in Simi Valley to hike up the Hummingbird Trail (and back).  The temperature was pleasant (but promised to become quite hot as the day progressed) as we began our 2.4-mile eastward climb to the Rocky Peak Fire Road.  It wasn’t long before we were passing through (and on) a variety of imposing sandstone rock formations along the way including very large boulders and giant slabs of sandstone rock, many with small “caves.”  We had the trail almost entirely to ourselves thanks to our early start, the fact that it was a weekday, and the forecast of a hot day.  As we gained elevation the views of the surrounding area expanded.

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Unfortunately the official trail continues to be damaged by bicycle riders who (without permission) create “bandit trails” that cut steeply through the pleasant original switchback trail; the “bandit trails” make it nearly impossible to discern the original trail at many intersections and invite soil erosion.  Nevertheless we eventually reached the trail’s junction with the Rocky Peak Fire Road where we took a rest break before retracing our route to our vehicles.  We reached the trailhead having completed a 4.8-mile out-and-back hike with about 1,250’ of elevation gain/loss.  Note: We were grateful that (as planned) most of the uphill part of our hike was shaded and the temperature wasn’t oppressive until most of the way back downhill.

NOTE: Work on the “Pinehurst” construction [of 24 expensive homes] continues.  It’s located at Canyon Oaks Drive at the northeast corner of Kuehner Drive and the Hwy 118 freeway.  The first part of today’s hike skirted the project’s property before starting the uphill climb to the Rocky Peak Fire Road.

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August 10th – Long Canyon, Lang Ranch Open Space, Chumash Interpretive Center, Autumn Ridge Trail Loop

8 hikers met at 7:00 AM in the Long Canyon Trail parking lot in Wood Ranch on an already warm summer morning.  The outing began by hiking up the Long Canyon Trail to the Lang Ranch Open Space and then hiking over to the Chumash Interpretive Center portion of the Oakbrook Regional Park.  Continuing they then followed the Autumn Ridge Trail to the Woodbridge Connector Trail as they made their way back to their vehicles, thus completing a 5-mile hike and again “beating the heat.”  One of the hikers spotted a snake on the Long Canyon Trail during the hike.

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August 3rd – Los Robles Trail via the Los Padres Trail and Oak Creek Canyon

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10 hikers met at the Los Padres Trail trailhead in Thousand Oaks on a nice summer 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 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 (where we spotted a California scrub jay), we walked a short distance eastward along Greenmeadow Avenue to the 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 4.3-mile hike with about 700’ of elevation gain/loss.

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JULY

July 27th – Tapo Canyon Open Space Trail and Chivo Canyon

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6 hikers met at 7:00 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.  We encountered quite a few other people on this first part of the hike.  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.  The sky was a pretty blue color and was dotted with puffy white clouds.  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 then decided to hike up the canyon trail to its junction (1,460’) with the Cappocchi Trail (named by Joe Beautz).  We enjoyed the scenery from this viewpoint and then 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 on down to the original trailhead.  We completed our leisurely outing having hiked 6 miles with a total elevation gain/loss of about 1,075’ on a nice morning for hiking.  We did spot two cottontail rabbits during the hike but they quickly scampered away.

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July 20th – Corriganville Park, Hwy 118 Tunnel, Rocky Peak Fire Road, Stagecoach Trail Loop

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5 hikers met at 7:00 AM at Corriganville Park at the east end of Simi Valley on a pleasant summer early 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 to the wildlife tunnel under Hwy 118.  We headed north through the tunnel and then followed the steep unnamed “use” trail uphill northeast to the Rocky Peak Fire Road.  As planned, we were in the shade for most of this section of our hike.  There were views of the rocky surroundings but the blooming-wildflower season has ended.

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We turned right (south) onto the well-maintained Rocky Peak Fire Road and followed it downhill to the bridge over Hwy 118.  Crossing the bridge we turned right (west) onto the Santa Susana Pass Road and followed it to its junction with Lilac Lane (across the road).  We turned right onto the shady Simi Valley portion of the old Stagecoach Trail and followed it back to Corriganville Park where we followed the shaded main Corriganville trail back to our vehicles, thus completing a nice 3.8-mile hike with about 1,080’ of elevation gain/loss.  Since most of the elevation gain occurred in the early part of the hike, that part was definitely aerobic exercise).

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July 13th – Las Llajas Canyon to the Abandoned Coquina Mining Operation

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Six hikers met at the trailhead on Evening Sky Drive on a pleasantly cool summer morning.  We began our hike by descending a short paved section of road into the canyon bottom; from there we followed the wide well-graded dirt road upstream to the north 1.8 miles, crossing the very dry streambed three times.  We then followed a single-track “use” trail (the remnants of an old mining road) bordered with desiccated plants as we climbed up the eastern slope of the mountain, atop which we enjoyed panoramic views of the surrounding area including parts of Chivo Canyon, Las Llajas Canyon, the Santa Susana Mountains, and Simi Valley.  There were a very few “late bloomer” plants along the way.  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 gasoline-powered shovel.  We encountered only a few other people during the hike and only two bicycle riders once we left the canyon bottom.  We returned to our vehicles having completed a pleasant 6-mile hike with about 1,050’ of elevation gain/loss having “beat the heat again.”

July 6th – Porter Ranch Loop

8 hikers met at 7:00 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 pleasantly cool summer morning (which grew warmer as the hike progressed).  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.  The Aliso Canyon Trail was nearly level and was dotted with large oak trees (many of which had been damaged by wildfire) and lots of blooming sunflowers so it was a pleasant stroll through the canyon, though the streambed in the shady canyon was dry.  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 excellent views of the surrounding area mainly to the south.

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There was stark evidence of a wildfire 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.  We then returned to our nearby vehicles having completed a 5.7-mile hike with about 850’ of elevation gain/loss.  We encountered no other hikers and only a few blooming plants including bush sunflowers, datura (aka Jimsonweed), tree tobacco, deerweed, and morning glories.  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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JUNE

June 29th – Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park Counterclockwise Loop

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6 hikers met at 7:00 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 summer morning (which promised to heat up as the day progressed).  We began our hike by heading 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).  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.), but the landscape was “bone dry” due to the ongoing drought.  There were intermittent areas of shade during the hike (thanks in large part to our early start) and a cool light breeze during much of the last quarter of the hike.  Not unusual, we encountered no other hikers or bicyclists (and almost no blooming plants) during our hike.  So it was a pleasant outing, particularly the opportunity to spend time with friends.

June 23rd – North Ridge Trail, Chumash Trail, Simi View Ridge, Mt. Sinai Cemetery

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5 determined-to-hike hikers met at 7:00 AM at the North Ridge Trail trailhead on Evening Sky Drive in Simi Valley on a soon-to-be-quite-hot early summer morning with a somewhat cloudy sky  (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 to the Chumash Trail trailhead on Flanagan Drive.  We hiked up the Chumash Trail a mile or so as it rose to a junction (on the right) with the unmarked Simi View Ridge Trail which provided broad views of eastern Simi Valley as we headed mostly down to a large water tank which we skirted.  We then continued downhill along a maintained dirt road near the eastern side of Mount Sinai Cemetery.  When the road leveled out we turned left (northeast) onto the remains of a dirt road leading into what was once Douglas White Oaks Park ( https://www.beyondtheacorn.net/articles/simis-summertime-past-douglas-white-oaks-park/ ) but is now “A few crumbling stone foundations dotting a small canyon in northeastern Simi Valley,” all that’s left of what was once a 355-acre ranch property used by Douglas Aircraft Company as a recreation area for its employees.

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We returned to the maintained dirt road skirting Mt. Sinai Cemetery and followed it a short distance southward to the eroded and overgrown remains of a dirt road that rises to the east to a saddle with a view toward the Santa Susana Pass.  After a short break; we decided not to continue eastward up a fairly steep “use” trail to an excellent overlook of Hummingbird Ranch in order to “beat the heat.”  Returning to the maintained dirt road we followed it 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 6-mile hike with about 1,200’ of elevation gain/loss on a mostly pleasant morning for hiking [but the temperature had risen to the high 80’s by the time we reached our vehicles].  We encountered a California kingsnake and a few blooming wildflowers including cliff asters, datura, California buckwheat (actually not blooming but still looking nice), and a single Catalina mariposa lily.

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June 15th – Devil Canyon to Browns Canyon Road

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4 hikers met at 7:00 AM at the starting point of the hike on Poema Place in Chatsworth on a very pleasant late spring morning.  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 mostly dry streambed.  Despite the ongoing drought there were quite a few blooming plants along the way.  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).  This first part of our hike led through a mostly heavily shaded environment bordered with interesting rock formations.

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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.  A nice display of various blooming wildflowers continued to adorn our route.  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 including following the route we had used as we descended into the canyon (this final ascent was the only steep uphill during the hike).  We completed a very pleasant 6-mile (round trip) hike with about 600’ of elevation/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.  Some of the blooming wildflowers we encountered along the trail included English holly, white nightshade, golden yarrow, sheep’s bit, California buckwheat, Chaparral yucca, wild roses, cliff asters, deerweed (sic), dudleya live forever chalk plants, climbing penstemon, bush sunflowers, California everlasting and, most notably, several Plummer’s mariposa lilies, and a Humboldt lily.

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June 8th – Wildwood Park: Mesa Trail, Stagecoach Bluff Trail, Lizard Rock Trail, Paradise Falls, Wildwood Canyon, Indian Creek Trail Loop

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7 hikers met at 7:00 AM in the dirt parking lot at Wildwood Park at the west end of Avenida de los Arboles in Thousand Oaks on a cool overcast “June gloom” late spring morning.  The hikers began their counterclockwise loop hike by heading west on the Mesa Trail as they enjoyed the company of friends.  They soon turned left, hiked a short distance south on the Tepee Trail, and then took the Stagecoach Bluffs Trail westward but the usual views down into Wildwood Canyon were severely limited due to the fog as we hiked through a display of prickly pear cactus and a few cholla cactus.  Upon rejoining the Mesa Trail, we hiked westward up to a trail junction just below Lizard Rock.  The scenery was dominated by buckwheat which grew on the hillside after a wildfire burned the area a few years ago.

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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 the flowing water several times on short wooden bridges.  When we reached Hoegeman’s Hollow where there are several picnic tables (and bathrooms) we took a longer break before continuing on upstream to Paradise Falls where we enjoyed looking at and listening to the waterfall.  Continuing on up the Wildwood Canyon Trail, we spotted some 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 on a very nice morning for hiking.  There was a variety of blooming wildflowers along the trails including (but not limited to) yerba mansa, Conejo buckwheat (lots of it), yucca, morning glories, cliff asters, deerweed (sic), dudleya live-forever chalk plants, climbing penstemon, and bush sunflowers as well as Mexican elderberry.

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June 1st – Sage Ranch Loop

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After successfully navigating Black Canyon Road, 5 hikers arrived at the lower parking lot in Sage Ranch Park in the Simi Hills on a pleasant late spring morning.  The 625-acre park is located just north of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) (aka Rocketdyne/Boeing) at an elevation of 2,000’.  It is chock-full of world-class sandstone rock formations and has several picnic tables shaded by large oak trees.  A lone coyote strolled near the parking area before our hike began.  Shortly after we began our counterclockwise loop hike, we followed a side trail to a nice overlook with sweeping views of Simi Valley, and the Santa Susana Mountains.  After hiking along the main Loop Trail and various somewhat overgrown “use” trails for a while including a view of the imposing Turtle Rock, we climbed up on Sandstone Ridge (aka “Sugarloaf”), a long, steep rock formation rising alongside the trail near the southwest corner of the park; it afforded us with excellent views 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 the “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 this only recently seen section of the park.  We were pleased to see a variety of late blooming plants (though nothing like many of our hikes the past two or three months).  We finished the hike on a recently discovered (by us) trail leading down to our cars; it afforded us with an excellent view of the eastern entrance to the Santa Susana Field Laboratory.  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]. The wildflowers we saw included (but were not limited to) black mustard (lots of it), deerweed (sic), buckwheat, yucca, sticky monkey flower, sunflowers, Turkish rugging, cliff asters, and several dudleya live forever (chalk) plants.

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MAY

May 18th – Big Sky Trail Loop

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5 hikers met along Big Sky Place (970’) in Simi Valley on a very pleasant spring morning for a familiar neighborhood hike.  After a short walk northward on a sidewalk along Erringer Road where we admired the rose beds and waterfalls at the entrance to the Big Sky neighborhood, we turned east onto the well-signed Big Sky Trail.  After crossing a dry streambed, we began the counterclockwise loop portion of the hike as we climbed fairly steeply up to the north-south ridge to the east of the housing development.  Upon reaching the ridgetop, we enjoyed unobstructed views of the surrounding area including Whiteface Mountain.  However a marine layer restricted the distant views, particularly to the southwest.

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After reaching the highest point (1,463’) in our hike, we took a short break and then continued on to the northernmost point (1,357’) in our hike where the trail turned sharply to the southeast, winding its way along the oak-lined streambed that runs through the Big Sky development.  We finished our invigorating outing having completed a 4.6-mile hike with a little over 800’ of elevation gain/loss on a nice morning for hiking.  We had the trail almost entirely to ourselves during our hike (only a few hikers and no bicyclists).  There were several types of wildflowers along our route, particularly black mustard, deerweed [sic], buckwheat, yucca, and purple lupine as well as a few sunflowers and bush mallow.  However, the splendid displays of blooming plants we’ve witnessed for the past couple of months are mostly “in the rear view mirror” for this year (at least on this trail).

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May 18th – Chivo Canyon (T22) to Buckhorn Trail to Marr Ranch Road to Cappocchi Trail to the T23 Loop

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9 hikers met at 7:00 AM at the “trailhead” on Cottonwood Drive in the Wild Horse Canyon development on a pleasant spring morning with a blue sky (just right for hiking).  After we “dropped” into Chivo (goat) Canyon, we hiked northward along a single-track “use” trail and then the old Chivo Canyon (dirt) Road (T22) to its junction with the Buckhorn Trail, passing a couple of large oil seeps and a possibly (black mustard obscured our view) abandoned bee apiary along the way.  Somewhat surprisingly there were still lots of blooming plants along the route of our hike.  When we reached the Buckhorn Trail we followed it uphill to the Marr Ranch Road atop the eastern ridge of Chivo Canyon.

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Then we headed south along Marr Ranch Road while enjoying views of the surrounding mountains and canyons.  Upon reaching the “Four Points” trail junction, we descended the Cappocchi Trail which connects with the Chivo Canyon Road/trail below (since the Cappocchi Trail isn’t being maintained it was somewhat overgrown).  After descending into Chivo Canyon once more we returned southward to the junction with the eastern end of the Tapo Canyon Open Space trail (T23) where five hikers decided to return to the “trailhead” and the other four hikers set out to hike the nearby T23 loop to extend their outing.  After finishing the loop, the remaining hikers also returned the trailhead having completed an estimated 6-mile hike with an estimated elevation gain/loss of 1,200’.  The wildflowers we saw included (but were not limited to) black mustard (lots of it), purple sage, sticky monkey flower, deerweed (sic), bush mallow, sunflowers, morning glories, cliff asters, elegant clarkia, Mexican elderberry, thistle, and a half-dozen Catalina mariposa lilies.

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May 11th – Santa Rosa Valley Park (Conejo Canyons Open Space)

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8 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 chilly spring morning (just right once we reached direct sunlight).  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 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 no longer there and there were no waterfowl in evidence upstream.

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Returning to Five Points we continued south, passing under majestic oak trees dotting a landscape sporting lots of invasive black mustard plants with their yellow blossoms – but also a variety of blooming native plants – until we entered Hawk Canyon (a dense riparian woodland with poison oak and more blooming 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 (more blooming plants).  Note: the morning had warmed to a comfortable temperature by the time we left Hawk Canyon and it was comfortable for the remainder of our hike.

After a short break we retraced our steps to the Western Plateau dirt road and headed northward on it for a very short distance to its junction with the Plateau Rim Trail which we followed 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 it 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-mile hike with about 700’ of elevation gain/loss.  We encountered several hikers and bicyclists during the hike.  The blooming plants we saw included (but were not limited to) black mustard (lots of it), caterpillar phacelia, sunflowers, morning glories, sticky monkey flower, deerweed [sic], California poppies, Catalina mariposa lilies, cliff asters, purple sage, elegant clarkia, Turkish rugging, bush mallow, Mexican elderberry, and thistle.

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May 5th – Mission Point Loop via Neon Way and O’Melveny Park

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5 hikers gathered in the parking lot at the entrance to O’Melveny Park (the second-largest city park in Los Angeles) in Granada Hills on a chilly spring morning with the promise of higher temperatures ahead.  We began our hike by walking southwest along the nearby sidewalk on Sesnon Blvd to its junction with Neon Way (enjoying some blooming “domestic” plants along the way).  We then followed Neon Way three blocks north to the lower end of the Sulphur Spring Fire Road (aka the Dr. Mario A. De Campos Trail).  We began the steady climb along the fire road to Mission Point in the Santa Susana Mountains.  As we gained elevation the temperature was quite pleasant and we were caressed by a cool breeze; there were lots of blooming plants, particularly caterpillar phacelia, sunflowers, and black mustard.  Though smog shrouded distant views, we were able to see the nearby Los Angeles Reservoir (which replaced the Van Norman Reservoir whose dam nearly failed during the 1971 Sylmar earthquake).  Eventually we reached a bench beneath a large oak tree; there was a somewhat obscured “million-dollar view” of the San Fernando Valley.  After taking a short break we continued a short distance up to Mission Point with its small, stone monument memorializing Mario De Campos, a lover of the local mountains.  The view from the top was fairly good despite the distant smog.  The wind was stronger at the top and was somewhat annoying.

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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 which we followed northeast as we made our way down into Bee Canyon; the trail became increasingly steep as it lost elevation.  We were treated to excellent views of the rugged landscape to the north.  When we reached the floor of Bee Canyon we turned right (east) and hiked over to a nice rest stop with lots of shade and a working water fountain (though we didn’t need it).  We continued following a dirt road into beautiful 627-acre O’Melveny Park with its still well-maintained green lawns shaded by oak and eucalyptus trees.  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.  The wildflowers we saw/enjoyed included (but were not limited to) a surprisingly large number caterpillar phacelia as well as sunflowers, lupine, morning glories, sticky monkey flower, deerweed [sic], California poppies, yellow mariposa lilies, cliff asters, tar weed, California everlasting, datura (aka Jimson weed), and black mustard.

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APRIL

April 28th – Joughin Ranch to Oat Mountain

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Five hikers carpooled to a parking lot on Browns Canyon Road [the northern extension of De Soto Avenue in Chatsworth] at the Michael D. Antonovich Regional Park at Joughin Ranch (1,893‘) on a chilly foggy spring morning.  After paying the $5.00 parking fee at the “iron ranger,” our hike began on the asphalt-paved road that climbs steadily to the western end of Oat Mountain (3,740’).  NOTE: As anticipated there are still signs intended to prevent you from driving up Browns Canyon Road to the parking lot despite the residents having been told repeatedly to take them down.  Shortly after we started our hike, the name of the paved road changed to the Oat Mountain Motorway (and Browns Canyon Road headed westward as a dirt road).  After hiking 0.7 mile northward on the Oat Mountain Motorway, we passed through the abandoned site of a 1950’s Nike missile base (2,307’), once manned by U.S. soldiers but used more recently (but no longer) by LAPD SWAT for training.  NOTE: Attached photo #30 shows the western part of the missile base (where the soldiers lived); it was completely destroyed by a wildfire several years ago.  Attached photo #33 shows the eastern part of the missile base (where LAPD SWAT trained).  These photos were taken in September, 2006.

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As we continued our upward climb, the usually increasingly broad views of the surrounding area were restricted by the fog in the area, but we were able to enjoy the thousands of blooming plants along the nearby hillsides.  Eventually we encountered a small herd of free-range cattle (including a couple of calves) along the road.  When we reached the western “top” of Oat Mountain (~3,750’) the fog had cleared where we were but the views of the Santa Clarita Valley were still impaired by lingering fog.  We returned the way we came, spotting a slender snake on the road and three mule deer in the area formerly used by LAPD SWAT (where an old school bus they used still sits).  The fog had cleared by the time we reached our cars having completed a 6.25-mile hike with 1,865’ of elevation gain/loss which provided a good workout in a seldom-visited area.  The blooming plants we encountered included (but were not limited to) lupine, caterpillar phacelia, deerweed (sic), California poppies, and black mustard; and an amazing number of just-past-blooming fiddleneck plants.

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April 20th – Lang Ranch Open Space, Chumash Interpretive Center, Rocky Incline Trail, Long Canyon Trail, Counterclockwise Loop

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8 hikers met at 7:00 AM in the Long Canyon Trail parking lot in Wood Ranch on a chilly spring morning.  We began our hike along the Woodridge Connector (trail) heading southwest to a junction with the Woodridge Loop Trail which we then followed southward into the Lang Ranch Open Space and then followed an unnamed [as far as we could tell] trail that connected us to the Autumn Ridge Trail which we followed toward the Lang Ranch Parkway which in turn led us to the entrance to the Chumash Interpretive Center portion of the Oakbrook Regional Park.  Despite the continued drought there were lots of blooming plants along the way.  We headed eastward within the wooded area containing the Chumash Interpretive Center until the trail became so overgrown as we approached Elephant Rock that we exited onto the Albertson Motorway [just west of where it was blocked off after a wildfire in the area several years ago].

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Almost immediately we took the Long Ridge (workaround) Trail to its junction with the Rocky Incline Trail which we followed as it climbed northward up to the Alapay Trail.  Again there were lots of blooming plants along the way.  A short distance to the north we turned west onto the Sunrise Trail and soon reached the upper end of the “West Long Canyon Trail” which we descended to the parking lot where our hike started, having completed a lovely 6-mile hike with an estimated 1,000’ of elevation gain/loss.  There were many different types of blooming plants and frequently lots of them, including (among others) sunflowers, sticky monkey flower, purple nightshade, caterpillar phacelia, morning glories, deerweed [sic], Mexican elderberry, black mustard, Catalina mariposa lilies, yellow mariposa lilies, thistle, lupine, prickly phlox, California everlasting, Indian paintbrush, and owl’s clover.

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April 13th – 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 chilly spring 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.  When we reached a dirt access road, we followed it to its junction with the Los Robles Trail; having been shaded all the way up, we were happy to be in the direct sunlight when we reached 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 – during which we spotted a coyote in the distance – 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 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-mile hike with about 700’ of elevation gain/loss.

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April 6th – Corriganville, Lilac Lane, Five Points, Spahn Ranch Lollipop Loop

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7 hikers met at 7:00 AM at Corriganville at the east end of Simi Valley on a slightly chilly, but fortunately windless, spring morning (Note: An 11 AM Heat Advisory and a Wind Warning were both forecast for this day but neither warning affected us during our early morning hike).  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 enjoying a variety of wildflowers but the California poppies had not opened yet.  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 fairly good.  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 6-mile hike with about 1,200’ of elevation gain/loss on a nice morning for hiking.

NOTE: During our hike we observed many types of wildflowers including (but not limited to) fiddleneck, Catalina mariposa lily, blue dick, purple nightshade, caterpillar phacelia, bush mallow, morning glories, sticky monkey flower (3 different colors), deerweed (sic), Mexican elderberry, black mustard, yerba santa, and wild cucumbers.

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MARCH

March 30th – Tapo Canyon Open Space Trail (T23) and Chivo Canyon Loop

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9 hikers met at 7:00 AM in the dirt trailhead parking area (1,136’) for the Tapo Canyon Open Space Trail (T23) in Simi Valley on a chilly spring morning.  As we began our hike we headed northward along the nearly flat dirt road/trail which was bordered by green hillsides, interspersed oak trees, and a variety of blooming wildflowers (especially fiddleneck and sunflowers).  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 south side of 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 a short distance into Chivo Canyon (1,224’) where we followed the old Chivo Canyon (dirt) Road northward to its junction with the Buckhorn Trail (named by Joe Beautz after finding a set of deer antlers) and followed it 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”) with the Cappocchi Trail (also named by Joe Beautz after a spray painting on a rusty water tank) which connects with the Chivo Canyon Road below.  This connector trail was somewhat overgrown.  After descending to the bottom of Chivo Canyon we retraced our steps to the T23 loop where we followed the trail on the northern side of the 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 in this loop).  We enjoyed the scenery from this viewpoint and then took the left fork and 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 about 7 miles with a total elevation gain/loss of about 1,300’ on a very nice morning for hiking.

NOTE: During our hike we observed many types of wildflowers including (but not limited to) fiddleneck, bush sunflowers, lupine, Catalina mariposa lily, blue dick, phacelia, prickly phlox, bush mallow, morning glories, sticky monkey flower, penstemon, deerweed, Mexican elderberry, black mustard, sage, and a few white lupine plants.

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March 23rd – Las Llajas Canyon to the Abandoned Coquina Mining Operation

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Eleven hikers met at the trailhead on Evening Sky Drive on a pleasant warmer-than-usual early 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 mostly dry streambed three times.  We then followed a wildflower-bordered single-track “use” trail (the remnants of an old mining road) as we climbed up the eastern slope of the mountain, atop which we enjoyed panoramic views of the surrounding area including parts of Chivo Canyon, Las Llajas Canyon, the Santa Susana Mountains, and Simi Valley.  The mountainsides boasted beautiful displays of a variety of plants (for the most part there were individual displays of the blossoms of a single type of plant at a time in large swatches of it, e.g., a display of hundreds of lupine in a single area).

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We took a break when we reached our goal, the site of a coquina (a soft whitish limestone formed of broken shells and corals cemented together and used for road building) mining operation.  Various mining equipment artifacts are strewn about near the mining site, most notably a P&H Model 206 “steam” shovel.  We encountered only a few other people during the hike and none once we left the canyon bottom.  As mentioned above, the trail going up the mountain was a wonderland of wildflowers, including (but not limited to) LUPINE, SUNFLOWERS, black mustard, blue dick, chia, fiddleneck, caterpillar phacelia, morning glories, deerweed, and Indian paint brush, as well as some large wild “cucumbers.”  We returned to our vehicles having completed a very pleasant 6-mile hike with about 1,050’ of elevation gain/loss.

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March 16th – MWM Johnson Motorway to Rocky Peak Fire Road

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Eight hikers met at the trailhead on Iverson Road just outside the gated southern entrance to Indian Springs Estates in Chatsworth on a cold fairly clear late-winter morning.  We were greeted by a chilly intermittent wind encouraging us to begin our hike (and generate some body heat).  We walked through the upscale gated community on the designated pathway/easement, enjoying the beautiful flowers maintained between the pathway and the walls separating the homes from the pathway.  Eventually we reached the beginning of the unpaved Johnson Motorway (once a toll road). The trail (an old dirt and sandstone roadbed) rose westward until it met a short “driveway” leading north to the ruins of the ranch house that was built by Ann and Neils Johnson who were the first English-speaking homesteaders in the San Fernando Valley; they had built their primary home in “Chatsworth Park” in the 1870’s.  After admiring the view to the north of Devil Canyon and Oat Mountain, we followed the Johnson Motorway as it passed through a landscape of dramatic rock formations, climbing steadily, but not steeply, toward the Rocky Peak Fire Road.  The sun gently warmed us and we generated heat as we climbed upward so we soon removed our outer layer of warm clothing.  After 3.5 miles we reached the fire road where we took a short break.  We then we retraced our route downhill back to our vehicles and returned home having completed an invigorating 7.25-mile hike with about 1,450’ of elevation gain/loss.  There was a variety of wildflowers along the trail/motorway including sunflowers, purple nightshade, blue dick, prickly phlox, morning glories, and Indian paint brush; it was all-in-all a nice mid-week hike.

March 9th – Long Canyon Trail, Oak Canyon Trail, and Canyon View Trail Loop

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14 hikers gathered at the Long Canyon Trail trailhead parking lot at Wood Ranch in Simi Valley on a chilly winter morning with a clear blue sky.  We began hiking up the frequently used Long Canyon trail as it climbed steeply 0.7 mile to a trail junction atop a ridge overlooking western Simi Valley to the north as well as the Lang Ranch Open Space to the south.  The trail was adorned with  blooming wildflowers including purple nightshade, lupine, blue dick, morning glories, and wild cucumber vines with white blossoms.  There was evidence of erosion caused by winter rains.  Since it was early on a weekday we had the area to ourselves.  Continuing, we followed a “use” trail down to the dirt road in Oak Canyon while enjoying views of the beautifully green surrounding mountain slopes as well as lots of wildflowers.

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Although we had originally intended to include Montgomery Canyon in our hike, we decided to skip it and began hiking northward along the heavily shaded dirt road in Oak Canyon (aka “Long Canyon East Trail”).  When we reached the northern end of Oak Canyon several of the hikers decided to return along the sidewalk beside Long Canyon Road to the Long Canyon Trail parking lot (thus ending their hike).  The remainder of the hiking group crossed Long Canyon Road, walked a short distance northward along that sidewalk, and then began hiking (sometimes steeply) up the Canyon View Trail.  We followed the trail as it undulated along a ridgeline, enjoying ever-improving views of the surrounding area including the Bard Reservoir.  Eventually the trail dropped down to Long Canyon Road near our starting point.  This final section of the hike was bordered with a spectacular display of blooming wildflowers, particularly lupine, sunflowers, and fiddleneck.  We reached our vehicles having completed a 4.3-mile loop hike with around 1,000’ of elevation gain/loss on what had turned into a very pleasant morning for hiking.

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March 2nd – Tierra Rejada Park Exploratory

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Five hikers met at 7:00 AM at Stargaze Park in Simi Valley on a chilly, clear winter morning.  As our hike began we headed north toward Tierra Rejada “Park” and the Arroyo Simi, but soon headed uphill to the west along an Edison Road.  The formerly tan hillsides were displaying recently grown bright green grass and lots of wildflowers including large patches of lupine, smaller patches of California poppies, lots of sunflowers, and some purple nightshade, blue dick, prickly phlox, and wild cucumber vines with delicate white blossoms (and a few wild “cucumbers”).  At one point we spotted a couple of rabbits which quickly disappeared into the chaparral, one coyote, and two red-tailed hawks flying overhead.  It wasn’t long before the sun warmed us and we shed our jackets; the sky was a pretty blue.

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Eventually the trail headed south and then climbed west/northwest along an abandoned, somewhat overgrown ridge road affording excellent 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, including the Reagan Presidential Library, Moorpark College, Big Mountain to the north, and South Mountain to the northwest.  After taking a break at our turnaround point on another high ridge to the northwest we mostly retraced our steps with the notable exception that near the end of the hike we followed an access road adjacent to the Arroyo Simi where there was a little water.  We reached Stargaze Park again having completed a 7.8-mile hike with 1,616’ of elevation gain/loss on what had turned into a very nice morning.

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FEBRUARY

February 23rd – Porter Ranch Loop

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3 hikers met at 7:15 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 an unusually chilly winter morning (which grew a bit warmer as the hike progressed).  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.  The Aliso Canyon Trail was nearly level and was dotted with large oak trees (many of which had been damaged by wildfire) and lots of blooming sunflowers so it was a pleasant stroll through the canyon, especially since there was running water in the stream in the shady canyon.  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 a short trail to the eastern trailhead for the Palisades Trail which we followed westward.  The wide well-maintained Palisades Trail provided excellent views of the surrounding area mainly to the south. There was stark evidence of a recent wildfire 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.

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We crossed to the west side of Tampa Avenue and soon dropped down to the Limekiln Canyon Trail which led us 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, we 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 we could see the silhouettes of the upper parts of several of the highest skyscrapers in downtown Los Angeles through the Cahuenga Pass.  We then returned to our nearby vehicles having completed a 5.7-mile hike with about 850’ of elevation gain/loss.  We encountered several types of wildflowers, particularly sunflowers, lupine, and morning glories as well as purple nightshade, blue dick, datura (aka Jimson weed), and wild cucumber vines.  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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February 16th – Wildwood Park: Mesa Trail, Stagecoach Bluff Trail, Lizard Rock Trail, Paradise Falls, Wildwood Canyon, Indian Creek Trail Loop

[NOTE: The author of this trip report was not able to participate in the outing so it may not be exactly accurate]  9 hikers met at 7:00 AM in the dirt parking lot at Wildwood Park at the west end of Avenida de los Arboles in Thousand Oaks on a clear chilly winter morning.  The hikers began their counterclockwise loop hike by heading west on the Mesa Trail as they enjoyed the company of good friends.  They soon turned left, hiked a short distance south on the Tepee Trail, and then took the Stagecoach Bluffs Trail westward which provided views down into Wildwood Canyon as they hiked through a display of prickly pear cactus and a few cholla cactus.  Upon rejoining the Mesa Trail, they hiked westward up to a trail junction just below Lizard Rock.  The scenery was an attractive green (especially after the brown/tan color caused by the ongoing drought).

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After taking a short break, they followed the Lizard Rock Trail down into Hill Canyon and soon headed eastward into heavily shaded Wildwood Canyon.  As they headed upstream they crossed the flowing water several times on short wooden bridges; however, three of the bridges had been dislodged by the water flow so Roger (Sir Walter Raleigh) Steffen sacrificed his dry boots and waded into the water to provide the others with safe passage [something he’s also done in the past].  The hikers soon reached Paradise Falls where they enjoyed looking at and listening to the waterfall.  Continuing on up the Wildwood Canyon Trail, they spotted some mallard ducks in the stream above the waterfall.  Eventually they reached the always pleasant Indian Creek Trail and followed it up to a short unnamed trail that led them back to their vehicles, thus completing a 4.9-mile hike with 850’ of elevation gain/loss on a very nice morning for hiking.  There were lots of blooming wildflowers along the trails including California poppies, blue dick, lupine, and sunflowers.

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February 9th – Hummingbird Trail to Rocky Peak Fire Road

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5 hikers met at 7:00 AM at the trailhead next to the paved parking area just outside the gated entrance to Hummingbird Ranch at the north end of Kuehner Drive in Simi Valley to hike up the Hummingbird Trail (and back).  The temperature was pleasant as we braved intermittent wind gusts and began our 2.4-mile eastward climb to the Rocky Peak Fire Road.  It wasn’t long before we were passing through (and on) a variety of imposing sandstone rock formations along the way including very large boulders and giant slabs of sandstone rock, many with small “caves.”  We had the trail almost entirely to ourselves thanks to our early start, the fact that it was a weekday, and the intermittent strong wind.  As we gained elevation the views of the surrounding area expanded.  There was lots of bright green grass in patches on the rocky mountainside and there were some wildflowers, especially wild cucumber vines.

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Unfortunately the official trail continues to be damaged by bicycle riders who (without permission) create “bandit trails” that cut steeply through the pleasant original switchback trail; the “bandit trails” make it nearly impossible to discern the original trail at many intersections and invite soil erosion.  Nevertheless we eventually reached the trail’s junction with the Rocky Peak Fire Road where we took a rest break before retracing our route to our vehicles.  We reached the trailhead having completed a 4.8-mile out-and-back hike with about 1,250’ of elevation gain/loss on a pleasant (despite the intermittent wind gusts) morning for hiking.

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February 2nd – Long Canyon Trail, ‘Joe Beautz Ridge Trail,’ Albertson Motorway, Rocky Incline Trail Lollipop Loop