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.

At the next junction I turned south. This took me to another parking lot. The clue was probably the sign saying "lot 1". From here, I found a couple options and decided I had had enough road already, I would go on the trail and headed down Moonridge. The trails here are extremely well groomed. They have even gone so far as to build in steps wherever it gets a little bit steep. In spite of the name, my trail dropped down into a narrow drainage and then up again along a twisting set of stairs. Here the GPS batteries failed. They had drained a bit fast on the last use, so I drained them entirely before charging and now they drained in a half hour instead. Whoops?

Moonridge Trail as it descends a tight drainage
When the going gets slanted, the trails get steps. Moonridge Trail as it descends a narrow drainage which had just a touch of water snaking through under a bridge.

Moonridge ends in a road that would have been my second choice to head south from the Mesa Trail. At the end of the road was the "tepee", which is more like a sculpture of the thing and shades a picnic table. I headed to this monstrosity and then turned right along more road as a couple used the drinking fountain and turned up the road I'd come down. In a very short distance, a trail winds down to the waterfall, which was the point in coming down into what is essentially a city park. A very large one to be sure, with sufficient adjacent open space to set it apart from most buildings. Homes edge in near the parking lot to the east, but to the south there are only a few buildings cresting the ridge and they come no closer. To the north, there isn't even that. West just has a large valley with more dirt roads and trails and the, ahem, water treatment plant. I took a little bit of trail that follows upstream to a lookout over the top of the waterfall, and although half hidden, the waterfall already seems a delight. The creek course coming to it is a series of extremely nice cascades. After spying on it from a height, I headed down a few more snaking turns to a set of steps down to the creek side. The waterfall was still obscured by the rocks to its left, so I crossed the creek on stones and reeds to a nice sitting spot on the other side. The only detraction was a light breeze occasionally blowing up the canyon that told exactly what kind of water is treated at the plant.

rocks obscuring all but the top half of Paradise Falls
Just the top piece of Paradise Falls which was flowing fairly well.

a better view of Paradise Falls, head on
Paradise Falls from the south side of the creek where the large rock on its north no longer obscures the flow.

A number of people came by while I drew. While at the top, there was a man yammering on his cell phone and he plodded past. While at the bottom, a number of joggers came and stood for a minute or two at the top of the steps. It's curious that they come all the way down to the falls but then stand where the water is hard to see when it would be so easy to get a little better view just be descending the steps. When finished, I crossed back over and continued downstream on another bit of road. It forks and I kept to the packed dirt on the left instead of the grassy section on the right. The right fork climbs a short distance to some more picnic tables and BBQ with a sign that informs the passerby which site this is. Crossing the creek on a bridge that could easily wash away, I came to another group of picnic tables with another name. Crossing again, there's more picnic tables, a drinking fountain, a group BBQ, even bathrooms, but no name.

I spotted a sign down by the creek that looked like another trail. Steps lead up the hillside behind it, so I hopped a couple rocks and started up them. The lesser used trails seem to be lacking the same bridgework. It connects to the Eagle Point Trail above. I took a right and climbed up a little more before dropping down to another set of picnic tables. I turned right to get to a creek crossing to the main trail. I followed it further down the canyon as it is the best route around to new trails to follow back, but the source of the smell on the wind was uncomfortably close. With a little climbing along the trail, the mild assault on the nose vanished but was replaced by an assault on the ears. With an long turn around the hills, that vanished too, except for the frequent trucks down the paved fire road that serves the plant. Once up on the ridge, the light breeze was replaced with a light gale. I passed a bench and took advantage of it for a bit more drawing, which was a battle with the wind.

open space to the west of Wildwood Park
Across the road is a bit more open space with a few more roads and trails. Mountain bikers were chatting on the road up the ridge on the left as I fought the wind and drew.

A little more climbing and I could see a rock jutting out above that looked like it could be a named spot, but the Lizard Rock on the map is on the other side of the trail. My route came to a nice viewpoint of the park I was in and I decided to fight the wind for one last drawing.

looking out over the 'mesa' of Wildwood Park
Wildwood Park stretches below with houses encroaching here and there, but not much. Their mesa seems to be more of a potrero.

With a little more climbing, I came to a junction and followed the Lizard Rock trail for a little more climbing. This trail is marked as "not maintained", which seems to mean plenty of good use trails going everywhere. I turned down one use trail at the top and visited the jutting rock, then continued along the ridge and took another use trail back down to the main route. I walked along it briefly, passing a couple groups, then decided to go off on a lonelier trail again to a "box canyon overlook". Along the way I spotted a shooting star. A couple more steps and I was surrounded by the unexpected flowers.

I got to another road which was covered in hoof prints and then the overlook. More trail and road leads out around this canyon. In the bottom, there is a small ranch. I turned back and followed the road back to the Mesa Trail, then walked across the wide meadow. It isn't quite as flat as it looks from a distance and the few trees turn out to be in the bottom of a drainage. I continued on this trail back to the parking lot to finish my loop.

©2013 Valerie Norton
Posted 30 Jan 2013

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