08 March 2016

Charmlee Wilderness Park


The waterfall is a short hike, so I planned to explore Charmlee afterward. It seems to be quite a popular park and is a good place to find wildflowers. Parking is $4 in the lot and although there are numerous places to park outside the lot, most seem to use it. Beside the lot are bathrooms, a nature center, interpretive trail, picnic tables, water, and a map of the many trails that form a mesh over the hills. As sensible as it might be to start there, I do not. Instead, I head up the fire road for the very highest point first.

Santa Catalina Island
Climbing high. Santa Catalina is still waiting out there.

eastern view
The view from high up in the park on down the coast with Point Dume and Point Vicente sticking out into the ocean.

Boney Mountain
Behind, the Boney Mountain with all its peaks rises much higher.

There is a gate without any signs. Maybe this high point is not quite in the park. It is labeled Three Park Trail on the map, so still a legitimate trail. Further down, the road splits. A sign points up or down, but up seems to go to a tank and stop. I pick down, then decide I really would rather stay to the crest and backtrack to go up. This trail does continue past the tank to a rocky outcrop that shows signs of much human play around it. The rocks look like fun and I add a bit more hand grease to them while pondering a small area that was once fenced in. Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands slowly showed themselves as I came down the hill. I was not sure at first, but from here they are clearly the islands I am much more familiar with, but in an unfamiliar aspect.

trail through green meadow
The Malibu Pacific Trail winds downward toward the highway below.

Charmlee Wilderness Park
The bulk of Charmlee Wilderness Park sits below.

Anacapa and Santa Cruz
Anacapa and Santa Cruz stack up on top of each other from this angle.

Finally heading the rest of the way down the trail, there is another junction. Taking the route without a sign does not get far, but does get to what is left of the ranch house among some trees.

concrete and stone ramp
A concrete ramp rises to nowhere. There is very little left of the ranch house.

After checking out the ruins, I turn along the eastward trail that quickly bends south down into the meadow. There is something playing in it that looks quite a lot like a coyote, although not particularly skittish or scruffy.

meadow below
Trail down to the meadow. Distant Point Vicente looks like it could be an island from here.

wide dirt path
Trail through the meadow.

is it a coyote
Playing in the meadow.

At another junction, I follow the Matt Kouba Trail into Clyde Canyon under some oak trees. A second junction soon after it has no signs and I pick the south route. The other apparently connects to that long trail down to the highway. The sheltered forest has flowers blooming. When I exit it into more meadow, there are views of the ocean, soon all the way down to crashing waves on the beach below. The trail turns and climbs to even better views down to the beach.

hummingbird sage
Some hummingbird sage under the forest canopy.

grassy trail
Looking back after winding through the grasses.

grass and beach
Waves crashing below.

A little further and there is another artifact that looks like bits of a pump and is labeled "old well" on one of the area maps. Before continuing along the more coastal routes, I head up on a detour into another little wooded area where rocks like lace can be found.

meadow ahead
Returning to the big meadow.

old pump
The remains of the old well for the ranch.

rock lace
Some rocks delicately carved by weather.

The coastal trails pass one more artifact from the history of this plot of land, a reservoir. Today it is half filled with dirt from a nearby low hill. The lack of any pooling water makes me think it might be cracked below and drain much better than it looks.

panorama of the meadow from the ocean side
One more look out over the meadow.

half filled cement bowl
The reservoir is just a big cement bowl now full of trees and bushes.

From the reservoir, trail drops down to the park boundary and more viewpoints over the ocean. There are cutoff routes along the way, but these do not look like they would have quite as good views as the lowest trail.

Point Dume
Looking down on Point Dume.

It is getting late, so I decide to head back by the most direct route. There are a lot of trails to choose from, but keeping right seems to keep me heading north and even without very much climb. This route edges around on the east side of the meadow, then follows the interpretive "Botany Trail" under more oaks to the parking area.

flowering current
Some current is currently flowering.

oak circle
A circle of oaks around some rocks.

meadow in colors
One last look out over the meadow.

oaks and trail
Trail through the oaks. The drought has not been kind to these oaks.

I finish off the last part of the hike with the companionship of a ownerless dog, although the tags would suggest that is not actually true. I check out the information kiosk, especially the large map provided. I hit a lot of the trails. I cannot recall seeing the connector trail to Nicholas Flats, just the one down to the highway that even had some hikers. As I glance at the other information, I notice the dog in the picture telling me how important it is to leash my pets looks quite a lot like the one beside me. Actually, come to think of it, this dog is the right shape to be my coyote out in the meadow, too. I raise an eyebrow at it as it trots off toward the nature center. I head off myself, down the entry road and a short way further to complete the loop.

entry sign
The sign at the entry.

©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 13 Mar 2016

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