23 December 2015

Las Llajas Canyon and Chumash Trail

Marr Ranch Open Space

There seems to be quite a bit of hiking to the northeast of Simi Valley. For another foray into this territory, I have chosen another long loop with elements of canyon and ridge. This time, I am starting with the canyon so have arrived at the locked gate of the Las Llajas Trailhead at a break along the edge of a small house farm. There are a large number of other cars already here. Disappointingly, the road is paved. It drops gently down into the canyon past another paved road entering from the west. The pavement stops, for the most part replaced by mud, at the bottom before a second road enters from the west.

trailhead signage
Information and rules at the trailhead.

hilltop perch view
Surveying the canyon ahead from a small hilltop beside the road. Trail up the hills seems to be public, but connects behind a "no trespassing" sign on the gate below. My route is up the canyon to the right.

As I go, I find I must kick off the mud when a big clump sticks. There are occasional dog walkers, more frequent mountain bikers, and a large group of mildly organized hikers as I make my way up the slight slope in the canyon. Out of the center of the group pops Camille, who would have loved to be on a longer hike and is slightly scolding that I did not invite her along.

back out of canyon
Even a little bit of elevation gain can lead to a bit of view back out the bottom of the canyon.

layers in the canyon
Reaching some prominent layers in the canyon as two mountain bikers ride past.

I can see the remnants of road high on the canyon wall when I also notice a small trail beside me. It seems a little out of place, but I take a chance that it is the one I am looking for and start to climb. This climb is much more steep than along the canyon floor and does connect up with the high cut. The path down it has a curious look to it, like it was very recently pounded down by about forty pairs of feet. It takes me past some more expansive views than could be hoped for in the bottom of a canyon and on to an old quarry. On the way, I notice something I did not notice while next to it: there is water in the bottom of the canyon.

Las Llajas Canyon
Just getting started in climbing up the canyon wall toward the quarry.

canyon bottom
Looking into the sun, a line of bright left of the road betrays the presence of water.

abandoned equipment
A little bit of abandoned equipment along the side of the old road cut.

Simi Valley
Peeking out into Simi Valley.

There is a little abandoned equipment left along the road. The road splits at a dug site and the left side climbs in very easy switchbacks upward past more rusting iron. One grouping looks like part of loading apparatus and another includes the springs of an old couch. A little higher is the device that did the digging. Someone has been having fun adding some color to it as though it were some kind of 3D coloring book. It seems to sit as though it was only going to be left overnight before digging started again.

really big shovel
One earth mover from its unpainted side standing ready for someone to grab the levers and get it moving again.

The road continues on from the quarry area to views of the canyon to the northwest. It looks like there might be a more active quarry on the other side. A thin track keeps on going after the obvious road evidence has vanished. I continue down this a little way, but not too far. I still have the rest of a big loop to do.

Tapo Canyon
Some of Tapo Canyon.

hills of dead grass
Hills of dead grass and a couple trees on top to the north.

smaller canyon
A smaller canyon just to the west.

Simi Valley
Simi Valley spread out below.

Back down into the canyon is just a matter of retracing my steps. I am now confined to seeing just those things that the canyon is willing to show me. Oddly, this includes a gopher snake although the day really is not very warm.

yellow and white stones
Details of the canyon wall.

oaks at road side
Oak lined pathway.

gopher snake
A surprise discovery on this rather cool day in the fresh winter.

The road splits and the left is marked as private access to a ranch. That is the part that stays in the canyon. My route climbs upward toward the ridge portion of the hike. It is a steady climb, but again not all that steep. There are plenty of cow prints on the road and even a few to spot in the distance.

Las Llajas Canyon
Where I have been.

green in the bottom
Ranch and public lands.

road up
Just a bit more easy climb.

dying oaks and more road
At the top, sort of, and looking at where I am going.

The uphill is not over once I hit the Rocky Peak Motorway. This one loses and gains a few hundred feet over and over, generally climbing upward still. Slowly, Los Angeles, Burbank, Glendale sprawl out further and further to the southeast. Directly east are the San Gabriel Mountains with a snow capped Baldy lurking at first in the open, then in cloud. I take a spur for the high point finding a couple old foundations along the way.

Rocky Peak
Rocky Peak.

Los Angeles
Just the northwestern section of Los Angeles along with Burbank and Glendale.

San Gabriel Mountains
The San Gabriel Mountains including one distinctly snow capped one in the distance with clouds moving in.

After the high point, the road switches mostly to dropping, but not entirely. It is getting windy now and really quite cold. After one last climb, a sign points my way down along a trail, but the terrain is changing and I go just a little bit further along.

Downward and into the sun.

rocks with holes
Interesting rock structures just a little further down the trail. This can be spotted in the previous picture, too.

follow the hand
The hand points the way down the last stretch. Just 2.7 miles to go.

I do not go far out of my way and quickly turn to head down into the sunset. There is still one more mountain biker climbing up. There must have been about 20 throughout the day. It is curious how loud some spots are. They must get the city noises funneled right up to them.

trail cut
Finally on a trail.

Simi Valley
The last stretch of trail follows the ridge back into Simi Valley.

The moon rises soon after the sun has set. It is nearly full. Being so close to Christmas, the city below is a bit brighter than usual. I take a spur that grabs another high point a bit closer to the city, but it is cold and windy. There are a couple benches on the way to sit and enjoy the lights, too, but they are also windy tonight. They seem to be getting closer faster than expected. There starts to be trail wandering all over, but I manage to keep to my path. There is a latched gate to let me out onto the end of the street to wander past quite a few snowmen to the car. It may be cold, but it is not that cold. There are still quite a lot of cars at the trailhead as a large group with lighted bikes seems to be packing up.

©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 27 Dec 2015

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