31 January 2013


Besides the five sketches that accompany the previous entry visiting Paradise Falls in Wildwood Park, there was only one other hiking sketch for this month.

The island of Coulter  Pines that make up The Pines in Horn Canyon.

28 January 2013

Wildwood Park

Thousand Oaks

Locate the trail head.

I needed an excuse to head south for some shopping for materials to practice on for the making of a backpacking quilt, a craziness I have decided to undertake. I've found the perfect trail for the group of geeks in Thousand Oaks, but can never seem to get them to go. I decided to try it out on my own. I arrived at the main parking area at the end of Avenida de los Arboles and grabbed my supplies. There was a great electronics failure for this hike and here I discovered the first one. The camera pocket was empty. I'd left the camera on the coffee table. This wasn't so bad since I was wondering what to do with the rest of the day if I was going on such a short hike. Paper maps are available for the visitor to borrow in a box by a sign decorated with a larger map on one side and common animals on the other. I already had one printed out so attempted to head out along the Moonridge Trail only to find my route looping back to the Mesa Trail I had pointedly not taken.

18 January 2013

Alejandro Trail

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trail head.

I've been pondering some areas up north for hiking because I really haven't tested those rocks quite enough. I saw a report that Colson was open, at least to one perfectly suitable trail head, and in shape for travel by the average car, so I headed out to it. On the way, I did check out the Paradise area for roads heading northward (none), see a great blue heron, plenty of deer, and a rafter of turkey, all without any fear of cars, and get caught waiting for some construction while there. Once getting on to the purpose of heading up Colson and finding a trail to hike. A sign near the beginning reaffirmed that the forest gate was open. I found that the road fords the creek many times, especially near the start before getting into the forest, but they are not difficult to navigate. Eventually I came to a spot that looked a bit like a trail head, although no road signs to say so, then a road to the left which seemed likely to be the campground although again without any road signs to say so. From there, I quickly came to a saddle at another junction. To the left, a road closed to the public leads up to a quarry. To the right, a road that hasn't been open to the public for a while leads down the next canyon to the north fork of La Brea Creek. It is adorned with a cattle guard and two locked gates, closed due to "recent" wildfires. I decided to head down Alejandro Trail based on it allowing for a loop that was a little shorter, finishes along a lot of good road (so says the map), and happened to start right next to where I was already parked.

Alejandro trail head sign
The start of Alejandro Trail: 3 miles to Alejandro Camp and 5 miles to La Brea Canyon Road.

"Down" the trail turned out to actually be up, at least at first. The trail climbs up past some huge manzanita trees, one at least 10 inches in diameter, to the ridge above near a saddle with the next canyon over on a nice tread. At the saddle, it meets an old fuel break. The left looked like it was being kept open by mountain bike use but turned out to be the trail as well. The right could be hiked with minimal discomfort up to higher peaks. After trying to go for a phantom trail cut I'd seen from the peak, I checked the map and decided to follow the mountain bike tracks along the ridge.

bee on manzanita flowers
The higher up manzanita were covered in flowers and the bees were enjoying it greatly.

Colsom Canyon and campground
A look out over Colson Canyon. The campground is visible as a loop of road left of center.

13 January 2013

Temescal Canyon

Topanga State Park

Locate the trail head.

The Santa Monica Mountains are dotted with little tiny parks that tend to feed into the trail systems of the Santa Monica National Recreation Area and Topanga State Park. The HIKEtheGEEK crew decided to take a loop trail out of Temescal Gateway Park which promises ocean views and a little waterfall and to make it an animal themed thing. I quite like the Rustic Canyon hike that starts just a little way down the road, separated only by Rivas Canyon Park from this one, so decided to join up. There is a $7 fee for the lot at the trail, but there is a lot of parking on Temescal and Sunset as well as a number of entry points from other, smaller streets in the area. Running stop signs in the area comes with a $50 ticket from photo enforcement, which seems to be a common problem because someone took the time to mention it to me as I took a paper map from a kiosk. We gathered and started up along the paths next to the roadway, then turned left at the first junction to climb up onto the ridges and Topanga first.

the neighbors and Santa Catalina
A few of the houses down below the ridge and Catalina Island in the distance.

03 January 2013

Horn Canyon

Ojai front country

Locate the trail head.

Heading down to Ojai again, but this time keeping to 150 a little longer where a number of well used, but unfamiliar to me, trail heads make their start to climb up to Nordhoff above. I hoped to see Horn Canyon Road heading off to the right as I proceeded to The Thatcher School, but had no such luck and had to enter the school grounds just as every listing for how to get there says. Keeping right, I found myself on a dirt road that soon opened into a parking area next to a gate. A sign with the name and trail number beside the gate made it clear I was in the right place, so I parked. I'd asked a fellow on the way, since I get uncomfortable driving around school campuses when not a student there, but found someone who lived by Pratt Trail so hadn't looked around the trails here. Now, the part of Pratt I've been on is nice enough, but really you've got to have at least 3 or 4 trails in your repertoire. Since blundering on while keeping right worked, I stepped out into the chill, shaded lot and started up the trail. I didn't forget my gloves this time, but I almost neglected my hat.

a really big mushroom
A single massive mushroom by the side of the trail.

The first part of the trail is through a wide flat area with composting waste piled up around the place, but the correct route is clear. After the compost, the old road continues, so the trail is quite wide. Smaller trails break off often to either side, but the main route remains obvious. Most are unmarked, but one is signed. Old iron and new PVC pipes run along the side, the later carrying water to those below. Power lines hang overhead.

old road
The wide trail was once a road, but is now maintained for horses. It was a bit cold in the shade on this winter day.

01 January 2013

hikes of 2013

 Horn Canyon, Ojai front country: Jan 3

 Temescal Canyon, Topanga State Park: Jan 13

 Alejandro Trail, Los Padres National Forest: Jan 18

 Wildwood Park, Thousand Oaks: Jan 28

 Hot Spring Canyon, Los Padres National Forest: Feb 1

 Ellwood Butterfly Preserve, Goleta: Feb 4

 Escondido Falls, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area: Feb 10

 Nojoqui Falls, Nojoqui Falls Park: Feb 16

 Caldwell Mesa, Los Padres National Park: Feb 17

 Soda Lake, Carrizo Plain National Monument: Feb 18

 Wallace Creek, Carrizo Plain National Monument: Feb 18

 Caliente Ridge, Carrizo Plain National Monument: Feb 19

 Cold Spring Main Fork, Los Padres National Forest: Mar 8

 Hot Springs Canyon, Santa Barbara front country: Mar 15

 Forbush Flat, Los Padres National Forest: Mar 26-27

 Rivas Canyon, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area: Apr 5

 Divide Peak, Los Padres National Forest: Apr 13

 Random No. 1, Hungry Valley: Apr 17

 Mt. Pinos, Sawmill, Grouse, and Cerro Noroeste (Abel), with San Emigdio Mesa, Los Padres National Forest: Apr 17-19

 Fish Canyon, Angeles National Forest: Apr 28

 Hostetter Fire Road, Verdugo Mountains: May 5

 Mono Campground, Los Padres National Forest: May 17

 Arroyo Seco, Angeles National Forest: May 19

 Mount Tom, Inyo National Forest: May 25-27

 Pratt and Gridley Trail loop, Ojai front country: Jun 11

 Sandstone Peak, Circle X Ranch: Jun 16

 Colson Canyon, Los Padres National Forest: Jun 21

 Mineral King, Sequoia National Park: Jul 3-7

 Gaviota Peak, Gaviota State Park: Jul 19

 Boney Mountain, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area: Aug 2

 Los Liones, Topanga State Park: Aug 4

 Arroyo Hondo Preserve, Land Trust for Santa Barbara County: Aug 18

 Buena Vista and Old Pueblo Trails, Santa Barbara front country: Aug 28

 Hot Springs Canyon, Santa Barbara front country: Aug 30

 Ventura River Preserve, Ojai Valley Land Conservancy: Sept 10

 Burkhart Trail, Angeles National Forest: Sept 15

 Arlington Peak, Santa Barbara front country: Sept 24

 Reyes Peak, Los Padres National Forest: Sept 27

 Camino Cielo, Los Padres National Forest: Oct 8

 Rustic Canyon, Topanga State Park: Oct 13

 Castro Motorway, Malibu Creek State Park: Oct 13

 Townsend Peak, Angeles National Forest: Oct 22

 San Bernardino Peak and Initial Points, San Bernardino National Forest: Oct 26-28

 Thorn Point, Los Padres National Forest: Nov 6

 Cienaga Canyon, Angeles National Forest: Nov 18

 Mount Lowe, Angeles National Forest: Nov 24

 Squaw Flat, Los Padres National Forest: Dec 6

 Montecito Peak, Los Padres National Forest: Dec 17

 Gaviota Ridge, Los Padres National Forest: Dec 31

hikes 2013