January 30th     –     Oak Flat Trail to Whitaker Peak to Old Highway 99

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10 hikers met at the carpool point on a cool overcast morning. Since it was to be a one-way hike, we took three vehicles to the hike’s end-point at the east (lower) end of Whitaker Peak Road (6N53). After dropping off one vehicle there, we carpooled to the hike’s starting point in a large dirt parking area just outside the Verdugo Oaks boy-scout camp (2,831′) where we were met by three additional hikers who live in the area. As we began our hike, we headed southward up the well-maintained Oak Flat trail as it rose 1.5 miles through an oak woodland and then chaparral to the Whitaker Ridge dirt road (3,820′), enjoying scenic views to the east and north including Pyramid Lake. We followed the Whitaker Ridge Road southeastward down to its junction with Whitaker Peak Road which we then followed southwestward up to its end (4,119′), enjoying “ever-widening vistas of fault-tortured canyon country” and a growing “ocean” of low-lying white clouds which blocked a view of Lake Piru to the south. After a rest stop, we returned down Whitaker Peak Road all the way to Old Hwy 99 [aka Golden State Hiway] where our shuttle vehicle awaited. After retrieving our remaining vehicles we returned home having completed a pleasant 9.7-mile hike with 1,900′ of elevation gain and 1,785′ of elevation loss on another cool crisp winter morning.

January 23rd     –     Sunset Hills Open Space to Oakbrook Regional Park Hike (Shuttle)

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20 hikers met at the carpool point on a cool overcast morning. Since it was to be a one-way hike, we took eight vehicles to the hike’s end-point at the northwest end of Falling Star Avenue in Oak Park. After dropping off four vehicles there, we carpooled to the hike’s starting point in a dirt parking lot along Erbes Road. After the obligatory group photo was taken, we hiked up to a fine overlook of the Bard Reservoir in Simi Valley. As we then followed a trail eastward along the north side of the gated community in Sunset Hills there was enough very light rain to warrant donning rain jackets. Next we headed south into the Lang Ranch Open Space where we experienced a bit of route-finding confusion which was soon resolved as we followed the Autumn Ridge Trail to Lang Ranch Parkway where a neighborhood park provided a convenient rest stop. Our hike continued as we climbed steeply up the Oakbrook Vista Trail to a high peak which provided a 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding areas. We then followed the Hidden Meadows Trail to Falling Star Avenue. We retrieved our other vehicles and returned home having completed a pleasant 7.5-mile hike with 1,500′ of elevation gain on a cool crisp winter morning.

January 9th     –     Mugu State Park – Hidden Pond Trail Lollipop Loop

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7 hikers carpooled to the main parking lot at the Rancho Sierra Vista site in Point Mugu State Park in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) on a chilly overcast winter morning. Our hike began as we hiked past the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center and descended southward down a paved road into Big Sycamore Canyon. When we reached the bottom of the hill and the paved road became a dirt road, we turned right (west) onto the Hidden Pond Trail and followed it nearly three miles as it rose and fell on its way to Hidden Pond (which held no water) enjoying “backcountry” views along the way, including a flock of bright-green South American parrots. Our hike continued southward along the 2.2 mile Coyote Trail as we climbed along a ridge that provided excellent canyon and mountain views of the surrounding area. When we reached the Two Foxes Trail we stopped for a lunch/rest break. We then headed northward along the Two Foxes Trail and the Sin Nombre Trail (with its pleasant oak woodland) to a section of the Hidden Pond Trail and retraced the first part of our hike back to our vehicles, thus completing a 12.1 mile hike with about 2,400′ of elevation gain/loss on what turned out to be a good day for hiking.

January 2nd     –     Charmlee Natural Area Loop

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12 Trail Blazers met at Donut Delite, and carpooled to the Charmlee Natural Area parking lot, where we met 3 more hikers. It was a cool and mildly overcast morning and the light was especially good for taking scenic pictures. As we climbed to several good lookout points along the trail, we could see Santa Catalina, Santa Barbara, Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands in the distance. In 1950, Leon and Charmian Schwartz bought the Park, hoping to build a golf course on the property. The name “Charmlee” is a combination of the first parts of their first names. We visited the remains of the only permanent structure in the Park, an A-frame ranch house, which burned to the ground in 1978. There’s something special about Charmlee that is difficult to express. Hiking its beautiful wooded canyons, experiencing the many colors of the eroding sandstone rocks, and of course taking in the expansive views, all contribute to this peaceful and tranquil place. Our leisurely hike was enjoyed by everyone. Total distance was 4 miles, with about 625′ of elevation gain and loss.