31 March 2011


Sketches for the month.

Tight canyon turns up by the cabin foundation in Bailey Canyon.

Tiny waterfall a little way up Bailey Canyon.

A flavor of the trees in Las Virgenes Canyon.

Civilization stretching across the top of the ridge between Las Virgenes and Cheeseboro Canyons.

An oak by a good picnic site in Cheeseboro Canyon.

A tree surviving the onslaught of water, barely.

27 March 2011

Escondido Falls

Escondido Canyon Park, Malibu

Locate the trailhead.

Good rains recently, so time to go see some falls. I found that there's supposed to be some impressive ones down in Malibu. It doesn't seem to me like a place to find impressive waterfalls, but the hike is short and variably beautiful or ugly depending on the reviewer. It is also quite crowded on days like this when the water should be flowing well. There is a lot to park in next to the highway and still a mile or so to walk to get up to the trail head. This part was okay. There are views of the ocean along the road before plunging into the relative backcountry.

The trail was still wet from rain the night before and the remaining clouds were keeping it nice and cool. The trail initially slopped down somewhat steeply and the mud was made of very fine stuff and nice and slick. The trail promptly came to a stream crossing. I'd already caught up with a few people and a few more were crossing the other way. This was indeed a crowded trail with often quite large groups going down it. The group coming out offered a stick to help with the rock hopping but since it looked like a simple few steps, the stick was left by the side for less confident hikers.

Nice, bright hummingbird sage.
It is spring, so there are flowers abounding. Some hummingbird sage brightly decorating the side of the trail.

The trail was wide and easy as it went upstream. A few more crossings were made, all easy. A few spots with poison oak that was easily avoided. A few trails headed off that were much smaller than the main trail. One is reported to go nowhere, one headed downstream from the first crossing and fizzles out and one just comes back to the main trail after taking a different stream crossing, so there is no danger of getting lost along the way. Eventually, the top of the falls can be seen above the trees. Comparing, it looks like this is the upper falls.

Top of the falls above the highway of a trail.
The trail is like a highway with plenty of room to roam. The top of the falls and a cascade behind it breaks through the trees to show where we are going.

Top with cascade visible. Closer view of the top from another angle.
A couple of views of the top visible through the tall trees along the trail.

19 March 2011

Las Virgenes and Cheeseboro Canyons

Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Locate the trailhead.

I was thinking to go up to Fish Canyon and see the waterfall again and had decided on doing it the easy way with the shuttle running, but at the last minute decided to do an easy hike somewhere I'd never been. Since I hadn't printed out the rudimentary map found on the Calabasa city site, I ended up having to do it by memory. There are none available and wasn't even one posted on the information board at the start.

The day was heavily overcast and the weatherman was threatening rain, so I tossed in the rain gear. Although this is a canyon, the surrounding area is so flat, it is not a flash flood danger. In fact, Cheeseboro is more of a fold between rolling hills and doesn't even have anything flowing down it.

I parked at the end of Las Virgenes and at the edge of Los Angeles county, then walked into Ventura county and wild spaces. I took the trail somewhat along the creek and soon got a big whiff of sulfur. There could be a hot spring somewhere, or just a vent. Jackrabbits jumped out of my way as I came to a crossing. The large traffic seemed to be bikers and horseback riders, so the crossings tended to turn into wide fords deepened by passing even though the stream was just a trickle. A muddy path led along the edges to an area where the water was still quite narrow, usually.

Trail, trees, and low rolling hills.
Most of the trail is fire roads, so plenty of room for horse, bike, and hiker traffic. The hills are shallow rolling things and the trees few.

Long dead tree along the road.
I can see right through this tree!

A trail went off to the right and I stayed left since I knew there would be one of those to go to another popular entrance. There are supposed to be some caves off in that direction. There seem to be some small ones developing here as well.

small caves forming in th hillside
Some small caves in the hillside, but mostly just hillside.

06 March 2011

Bailey Canyon

Sierra Madre front country

Locate the trailhead.

Somehow I have never quite gotten to Bailey Canyon although it's quite close by. I always would look at it and think it was just another trail out of Chantry Flats. In fact, I'm sure there's a trail about halfway down the road from the parking to the cabins that says something like that on it. In fact, this is somewhat west of the flats. The trail goes up from the back side of the city and connects to a second trail that goes up to the top of Mt. Wilson. I have once taken this other trail for a one-way, uphill trek to the top.

The trail starts in a city park below the debris dam for the canyon with hours "sunrise to sunset". It heads out the west side through a turnstile and onto the road that services the debris dam. Past the basin, there's a bit of tough road and, for no good reason, a handicapped parking spot, then it quickly narrows into trail.

I thought I would head up to some cabin ruins that are supposed to be somewhere up it. A sign at the bottom said it was 2.2 miles up. Another 1.1 miles would take me to one of the lower peaks, and some 4 miles total would finish up the connector to the trail up to the real peak. I took the right fork as instructed on a web site to climb up the canyon instead of go to the waterfall, crossing a bridge into a space with a nature trail. I should have paid a little more attention to the signs at the bottom, because this was only a little loop and my branch was a little further down. Coming back from trying to go straight on a loop, I found a couple who had stopped because one had decided some lizards were scary. I looked, and they indeed had feet. They also seemed to be two different sorts of lizard and one had its mouth firmly clamped over the other's mouth. I walked past nature's struggle since lizards don't scare me and they didn't feel the need to move as I did.

Back on the other side of the bridge, I followed the other trail, which was signed for the waterfall. The fork was also signed, and I took off up it. The trail climbed steeply up the side of the canyon. For a bit it climbed out into the next canyon before climbing onto the ridge between them and back into Bailey. Little trails would lead out from the ends of switchbacks sometimes. The first lead out to a bench set for the view of the cities. The other couple were lead out to waterfall viewing, although not always very good.

Far below in the canyon, a cascade, nearly a waterfall, can be seen.
A waterfall, or perhaps just a cascade, far below in the canyon.

Waterfall in the canyon, almost visible.
A second waterfall, just a little below and left of center, visible along the trail from a path off the end of a switchback.