November 26th – Tapo Canyon Open Space

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24 hikers met at the trailhead (1,145’) of the Tapo Canyon Open Space Trail (T23) in Simi Valley on a chilly autumn morning to work off some of the “Thanksgiving-calories” we had consumed a couple of days before. We headed northward along the nearly flat dirt road which was bordered with new bright-green grass and numerous oak trees that have so far survived the ongoing drought.

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After a mile or so the road 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. Resuming our hike, we took the right fork (leaving T23) and began the loop portion of our hike as we followed an unnamed section of dirt road downhill through a pretty oak woodland until we reached its eastern junction (1,276’) with T23. After a short break, we took the left fork and again followed T23 as it rose gently to the west through a large “valley” before rising fairly steeply to the southwest to another dirt road junction (1,620’, the highest point on our hike). 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 hike under a clear blue sky with a pleasantly cool temperature having hiked about 4.5 miles with a total elevation gain/loss of about 750’.

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November 12th – Ferndell Park to Mt. Hollywood and Mt. Lee

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12 hikers carpooled to the Ferndell area (600’) near the southwest corner of Griffith Park on a pleasant autumn morning.  Our hike began on a well-shaded trail dominated by large oak and sycamore trees, but soon began climbing northward on the busy East Observatory Trail (a dirt fire road), reaching the Griffith Park Observatory (1,131’) in a mile or so. 

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After a group photo was taken, we continued northward on the busy Charlie Turner Trail through the Berlin Forest and then crossed the Mt. Hollywood Drive tunnel and followed another busy dirt fire road as it wound its way uphill to the Mount Hollywood overlook (1,625’), the highest point in Griffith Park.  The 360-degree view of the surrounding area was clearer than usual.  After taking a break, we headed north and then west (passing near Mt. Bell and Mt. Chapel) via a combination of dirt fire roads and a couple of deserted narrow single-track trails to the top of Mt. Lee (1,680’), just above the famous Hollywood sign.  We returned to our vehicles via Mt. Lee Drive, the Mulholland Trail, the abandoned Mt. Hollywood Drive, and the West Trail, reaching them just as a light rain started.  Happy but tired, we headed home having completed a 9.6-mile hike with 1,850’ of elevation gain/loss on a nice day for hiking.

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November 5th – Cloudburst Summit to Buckhorn Campground via Cooper Canyon

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On a lovely autumn morning, ten hikers carpooled to Cloudburst Summit (7,018’) in the San Gabriel Mountains where our one-way hike was to begin.  After positioning a shuttle vehicle at the hike’s end in the Burkhart-Trail-trailhead parking lot at the north end of the Buckhorn Campground, we began hiking northward along the section of the Pacific Crest Trail that descends into Cooper Canyon. 

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We immediately entered a wonderland of Jeffrey and sugar pine trees (as well as cedar, alder, and oak trees) as we hiked along a trail often covered in pine needles giving off a pleasant pine scent.  At first the trail descended steadily but then it rose along a mountain ridge providing scenic views of the surrounding mountains.  After hiking 2.5 miles we reached the Cooper Canyon Trail Camp (6,300’) which is used by backpackers.  After taking a short break we continued our descent to a junction with the Burkhart Trail (which descends northward all the way to the Devil’s Punchbowl).  We took another break above the nearby Cooper Canyon waterfall (5,656’) but decided not to descend the treacherous “use trail” to the base of the waterfall which was only a trickle of water due to the ongoing drought.  Continuing our hike, we followed the Burkhart Trail up to our shuttle vehicle (6,411’) enjoying the striking incense cedars and the bright-yellow foliage along the way.  We returned to Simi Valley having completed a very pleasant 6-mile hike with 1,000’ of elevation gain and 1,650’ of elevation loss.

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