Tending The Wild

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Sunday 1 January, 2017 –  Towsley Canyon Loop Trail via the Narrows

Distance:  ~ 6 miles

Gain:  ~ 800 feet

Rating:  Easy / Moderate

Description:  As Los Pinetos is closed from the Sand fire, this is our replacement New Year 2016 hike and a good work out to welcome in the New Year.  We hope to wish a Happy New year to many old and new friends on the trail today!

Directions to Towsley Canyon meeting spot:   From North (Valencia) – Take the I-5 South to the Calgrove exit. Exit, turn right. Go through the signal and immediately turn right into the driveway for Towsley Canyon (look for signs and a mailbox for the park). If gate is open, drive a tenth of a mile up Towsley Canyon Road to the first gravel parking area on the right. The lot is labeled with a sign that reads, “Rivendale Ranch at Towsley Canyon”; free parking provided by the City of Santa Clarita.

From South (LA) – Take the I-5 North, kept left at HWY 5/14 split until next Exit (Calgrove Blvd.).  Exit, turn left at bottom of ramp. Go through the signal and immediately turn right into the driveway for Towsley Canyon  (look for signs and a mailbox for the park). Drive a tenth of a mile up Towsley Canyon Road to the first gravel parking area on the right. The lot is labeled with a sign that reads, “Rivendale Ranch at Towsley Canyon”; free parking provided by the City of Santa Clarita.

Meet your leader: Meet inside Towsley Canyon (beyond the green gate) at the first inside gravel Parking lot on the right.   Look for a group of hikers.  It may be a little more difficult to wake up, so we will meet at 8:30AM for a 8:45AM SHARP departure up the trail.

Bring: A light snack (e.g. granola bar/ piece of fruit) to munch on as you go and water (2-3 liters recommended), and some electrolytes if it looks to be particularly hot; sunscreen, hat, and hiking poles, if you have them.  No flip flops or tennis shoes please.

Adventure Pass: Not required.

Dogs: OK, but must be kept on a short leash and well-behaved around people with hiking poles and especially other dogs.  We do not recommend you bring your dog due to the possibility the presence of tar seeps in various places along this trail.

Kids:  If adventurous and say > 12 are welcome.

Leader(s): Steve or Diane


Saturday, January 7 , 2017 – We give you choices – Go Short or Long?

Option 1 (short): Mentryville and Pico Canyon

Option 2 (long): Mentryville and Pico Canyon, continuing from the back of the canyon up to the Pico Peak – A NEW YEAR’S BUTT KICKER!!

Option 1:  Rating/ Distance (Round Trip)/ Total Gain:   Easy /~4 miles total (out and back) / 200ft Gain

Description:   The first 2 miles of the hike starts in the town of Mentryville, followed by a gradual climb on a paved road (no traffic though), until we reach Oil Well #4 at the back of the canyon.  The well was owned by California Star Oil, later to become Standard Oil of California.

Along the way we will talk as we go about Mentryville, the history of Pico Canyon and the early oil industry in Santa Clarita Valley.  This shorter hike ends after the 2 miles at the end of the canyon.  Anyone who does not wish to continue up to the Peak with Steve can return along the asphalt service road to the parking lot the same way.  This will give you a nice Easy 4 miles!

Option 2: Rating/ Distance (Round Trip)/ Total Gain:  Moderate / ~7.5 miles total (out and back) / 1200ft Total Gain

Description:  After Well #4 at the back of the canyon, we start to climb the service road for another 2 miles, adding another 1000 ft. in gain giving us 1200 ft total gain getting to the peak.   At the top there is a picnic table where we can have lunch/snack, and relax for a bit. The views from here are some of the best in Santa Clarita Valley (see above)!

On our return, about 2/3 the way back, we will take a detour down a different and more challenging but shorter trail back to Pico Canyon.  We will pass interesting rock formations to arrive in Johnson Park.  We pass a mock- up of an oil well (see photo below), an old saloon bar, and a dancing / recreation area used by the oil workers in the 1930’s.   From there, we walk back down the canyon and return to our vehicles.

Meet:  Be at the parking area in Mentryville at 8:15 AM, for a 8:30AM SHARP departure up the trail.  There is a restroom at the trailhead.

Bring:   Lots of water (2 – 3L), snacks, a camera, a hat and sunscreen.  For both hikes bring an extra layer as it can be cold and even frosty in the shady canyon at this time of year.  If going all the way to the top on the longer hike, you will need boots with plenty of thread  (as the trail is sandy and the return hike is down a narrow, steep trail).  Poles are very helpful for this portion of the longer hike, if you have them.    BRING $5 CHANGE FOR SELF-SERVE PARKING!

Directions/ Parking:

From Los Angeles , drive North toward Santa Clarita on the 5 Highway.

From Antelope Valley, etc.  Follow the 14 Hwy South to where it intersects with Interstate 5. Be ready in right lane and turn North on the 5 (a big curve flyover), toward direction Santa Clarita/ Sacramento etc.

Both – A few miles North of the 5/14 interchange, look for lots of fast food/ gas etc. and exit on Lyons Avenue WEST ramp. Turn left and go over the 5 Highway.  Keep going West until it becomes Pico Canyon (maybe 2 miles).

Continue on Pico Canyon as it narrows and ends at a green gate in front of the old town of Mentryville.  Go over the bridge on the left and park close to the big pepper tree by the rest room, where we will meet.   You must pay a $5 MRCA parking fee to park here.

If you wish to avoid the $5 fee, there may still be space outside Mentryville (back at a “Y” / turnout that you pass about 3/4 mile up the road) at no charge.  You then have to walk in to meet us (extra hiking credit!).  NOTE:  If doing this, allow an additional 20 – 30 minutes for the walk in , we will leave Mentryville going West up the canyon road at 8:30 AM SHARP!!!

Leader:   Steve I.


Saturday January 14, 2017 – NEW HIKE – Sulphur Mountain, Casita Springs, Ventura County

Mileage:   10 Miles RT (out and back)

Gain:  1200’

Rated: Moderate  ++ (for distance and reasonable gain)

Hiking time: ~ 4.5 hours

Description:   This is the ultimate social winter hike!  The trail is one long wide curving dirt service road that can accommodate a ton of hikers, 6 abreast, yacking and joking all the way!    We are hiking this in winter because there are many stretches with minimum shade.

The hike starts quickly with some heavy cardio, climbing rapidly from the trailhead up through shady oak woodlands.  After a mile or so, we break into open space, rolling hills and oak dotted ranch land with views of the Conejo Valley.  The trail continues around many curves with ever changing views, always ascending and moving through alternating patches of trees and ranch land.

At about 5 miles, we reach the highest point in the hike where we can enjoy great views of Ventura and two of the Channel islands beyond.  Near here we stop for lunch / snack in a very pleasant leafy grove of oaks, where we can also take in views of the Ojai area far below and Lake Casitas in the distance.   Then it is back the same way to the cars, downhill most of the way.

Bring/ Wear:   Shoes with good tread, camera, hiking poles, lunch/ snacks, LOTS of water/ electrolytes (2 – 3 Liters), a HAT and sunscreen.   Bring an extra outer layer in case it is chilly first thing in the morning or in case it gets windy.

Adventure Pass:  Not required

Dogs: OK, if kept on a leash and well behaved around other dogs, people with poles and horses. Bear in mind the distance, gain and limited shade, as dogs can get tired/ too hot.  If you bring a dog, please drive yourself.

Carpooling from Santa Clarita Valley to the trail head:  Meet at Walmart parking lot on Kelly Johnson PKWY in Valencia at the southwest corner at 6:45 AM for a 7:00 AM SHARP departure to the trailhead. We prefer that you carpool / caravan due to the distance and finding the trailhead may be difficult for some.

Please be respectful of your driver’s support by contributing something at the end of your carpool to help defray the cost of gas – THX

If you insist, you can drive to the trail head, following the directions below.

Directions to trail head:  From LA / Valencia – Take the I-5 North to the 126 West (Direction Ventura). Continue all the way to Ventura, eventually merging into the 101 heading North. Continue on the 126 North and Exit onto Hwy 33 to Ojai.  Go 7.5  miles just through Casita Springs, until you see the small green Sulphur Mountain Road sign on the right.  If you reach downtown Oakview, you have gone too far.

Continue up Sulphur Mountain Road about 0.7 mile until it deadends and you see the trailhead / white gate.   Read and obey the various parking signs.

Leader’s Note:  There are no bathrooms at the trailhead. I did not see anything between Ventura and the trailhead, therefore, I recommend you stay on Hwy 33 and go beyond the Sulphur Mountain Road turnoff to find facilities in Oakview.

Meet your leader:   At the Sulphur Mountain trail head at 8:15 AM for an 8:30AM SHARP departure up the trail.

Leader:  Steve l.


Saturday, January 21, 2017 – Figure of 8 – Musch trail from Topanga S.P. to Eagle Rock and Hub junction

Distance:  ~7 Miles total

Gain: ~ 1300′

Hiking Time:  ~3.5 hours

Rating: Moderate – (due to periodic elevation gains and overall mileage)

Description: This weekend we hope to escape the August heat of the low desert by heading- closer to the ocean.   We have been in this area before, however, this time we start from Trippet Ranch and travel NE along the shady and winding single track Musch trail, until we meet a portion of the Back Bone trail at Eagle junction.  From here, we travel along the Eagle Rock fire road and make a stop at Eagle Rock.

Here, in addition to the views, and a chance to catch our breath and snap selfies, we will visit the Keystone 7, Memorial bench. Then it is on to Hub Junction, where we hope to catch up on the latest Hollywood gossip and catch a little shade.

From here, we turn around but return to Eagle junction via another route.  Then, after the junction, we head down hill and past “the meadows” on the fire road to complete our figure of 8  and we should be back at the parking lot.

Carpool from Santa Clarita Valley:

Meet at Towsley Canyon, outside the Towsley gate at 7.30 AM.  We will organize carpools and leave at 7:45AM SHARP, for the Trippet Ranch trailhead.

Please be respect­ful of your driver’s sup­port by con­tribut­ing some­thing at the end of your car­pool to help defray the cost of gas — THX.

Directions to Carpool meeting spot in Santa Clarita Valley: Exit the I-5 freeway in Santa Clarita Valley at Calgrove Blvd. Turn West and follow Calgrove around a curve and through one light on to The Old Road. You will now see the gate to Towsley Canyon on your right.  Park and look for a group of hikers/ leader.

Directions to the trailhead at Topanga State Park from Towsley Canyon, Santa Clarita Valley, (32 miles, ~45 mins):   Merge onto I-5 South. Keep right to continue on the I-405 S/​San Diego Fwy, following signs for Santa Monica.  After 9.0 miles, take the exit  to US101 N, towards Ventura , drive 8.2 miles on the 101 freeway, and exit at California 27 S/​Topanga Cyn Blvd.  Merge on to Topanga Cyn Blvd and drive 7.8 miles south on Topanga Canyon Blvd until you see Entrada Road on the left – this road is twisty, so be on the look out for it!  Turn East (left) into Entrada Road and drive up Entrada through the hilly neighborhood for 1 mile , following signs for Topanga State Park / Trippet Ranch, until you see cars parked on the left side of the road.  Right after these cars on the left is the entrance to the State Park parking lot.

NOTE: There is a $10 Park Service day-use fee to park in the Trippet Ranch parking lot, which is open from 8:00AM to sunset.  They have lots of spaces and immaculate modern bathrooms; so if you carpool and want to support their upkeep, go for it (I usually do) – IF SO, BRING $10 in CASH FOR THE SELF-SERVE (i.e. ENVELOPE) PAY SYSTEM!

Alternatively, a few hundred yards outside the park, there may be some free parking left along the road.  Watch for No Parking signs and leave nothing showing in your car.

Meet the Hike Leader:   At Towsley Canyon to carpool (see details above) or at the Trippet Ranch Trailhead, by the parking lot bathrooms.

We plan to be at the trailhead by 8:30 AM so the group can start up the trail at 8:45 AM SHARP.  Note: Only if you have already checked in at Towsley Canyon, and are delayed in traffic, can we plan to wait for you.

Bring:  Plenty of water (3L),  electrolytes such as Gatorade, a snack, and shoes with good tread.  Poles would be helpful as trail is hilly and sandy in parts.

Hike portion is ~ 3.5 hours, so we should be back at Towsley by 1:30PM approx.

Dogs:  Unfortunately, dogs are not permitted on this trail by the park staff .

Adventure Pass: Not Required.

Leader: Steve I.


Saturday, January 28, 2017 – Devil’s Punchbowl to the Devil’s Chair

Distance:  ~7.4 Miles total (out and back)

Gain: ~ 615′

Hiking Time:  3-4 hours

Difficulty: Moderate + (for gain at start and hiking at an altitude of 4750 ft.)

Description:    BACK BY POPULAR REQUEST!!    The Devil’s Punch Bowl (below) is a gorgeous site with protruding rocks and sheer rock faces.  On the northern slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains, near Littlerock, California and Pearblossom, California, this 7 miler is a round trip, out and back hike.  It includes some altitude and a mild climb in the first mile.  After that first mile, the trail is fairly flat winding in and out of the canyons and trees, providing great views up the mountains behind and out over the desert below.  It is one of the most scenic forest hikes in our area.

Leader’s Notes:   For everyone’s enjoyment, depending on the number of hike leaders we have available, we will try to organize a faster group and a more moderate paced group. But do not worry, it is difficult to get lost on this trail.

NOTE: If you are uncomfortable with heights, narrow trails with adjacent drop offs, sections with loose scree (rock chips)  or similar, this hike is probably not for you.

We will head around the Devil’s Punchbowl and out to the Devil’s Chair.

Carpooling from Santa Clarita:  Meet at Towsley Canyon , 24489 The Old Rd, Santa Clarita, CA 91381

Meet at 7:45AM for a 8:00AM SHARP departure to caravan out to the trail head (directions below).  We are starting earlier than usual to try to avoid the heat.     Please be respectful of your driver’s support by contributing something at the end of your carpool to help defray the cost of gas.

Or, if you like, go straight to the trail head located at:   28000 Devil’s Punchbowl Rd., Pearblossom CA 93553

Meet your leader in the corner of the trailhead/ nature center Parking lot (near the porta potty). There are also other bathrooms behind the nature center.

We should all arrive by ~ 8:45AM for a 9:00AM SHARP departure up the trail.

Directions to trail head (we recommend these over using the address and Google maps):

Take the SR-14 North to the Angeles Forest Hwy exit, Exit 30.

Go towards Pear Blossom Highway, keeping on left of the ramp toward Pearblossom Hwy/Littlerock/Victorville.   Merge onto Sierra Hwy – stay straightto get you onto Pearblossom Hwy.

At the light, turn right onto Pearblossom Hwy/CA-138.

Turn right onto 87th St E. Take the 2nd left onto Fort Tejon Rd.

Turn right onto Longview Rd.

Turn left onto Tumbleweed Rd.

Turn slight right on to Devil’s Punchbowl Road.

28000 Devil’s PunchBowl Road is a cul de sac parking lot, at the end of the road.

Bring:  A snack/lunch, water (3 liters is recommended), electrolytes, sunscreen, hat, hiking poles if you have them, and your camera. Dress appropriately for the season / bring an extra layer in case it is windy.   Have hiking boots with tread – no gym shoes or flip-flops.  No poison oak expected on this trail.

Adventure Pass:  Not required.

Dogs: OK , if on leash and well behaved around other dogs and people with hiking poles.  If forecast looks to be very hot, we do not recommend you bring your dog.

Leader: Steve I.