Category archive for Trail Write-Ups

worsham-canyon

Hiking Worsham Canyon

Less than a mile from the trailhead to the very popular (and often overcrowded) Turnbull Canyon lies the inconspicuous trailhead for the Elderberry Trail. It can be very easy to miss – the sign isn’t terribly visible from the road, it’s placed at a sharp hairpin turn, and odds are you won’t find many other cars parked there. But this…

read » March 26, 2015
natural bridges

Hike Natural Bridges National Monument

Well off the beaten-path, Natural Bridges National Monument may not be on your must-visit list of Colorado Plateau destinations, but it is definitely worth a visit. Declared in 1908, this small park system unit was the first National Monument in Utah – but was reachable only by three day horseback ride from Blanding, Utah until paved roads reached the area…

read » March 19, 2015
Culp Valley

Hiking the Culp Valley Loop

With some of the most developed and popular areas of Anza-Borrego State Park located around the town of Borrego Springs, many visitors find themselves driving down the winding, slightly terrifying, but always spectacular Montezuma Valley Road to reach their destination. This road drops over 3,000′ through the San Ysidro Mountains from the community of Ranchita to the main commercial area…

read » March 18, 2015
las virgenes canyon

Hiking Las Virgenes Canyon

This beautiful trek on the western edge of the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve differs greatly from the more popular routes starting from Victory Trailhead on the eastern end of the Open Space. Although they were both part of the same fairly recent land purchase and former Ahmanson Ranch, the eastern half of the Open Space is more…

read » March 16, 2015
Engelmann Oak Loop

Hiking the Engelmann Oak Loop

Escondido’s Daley Ranch packs a lot of natural beauty into its sprawling 3,200 acres. This city park features a number of moderate loops and out-and-back routes visiting a garden of granitic boulders, a series of old stock ponds left over from the days in which the property was both a cattle ranch and dairy farm, a trip up to Stanley Peak,…

read » March 12, 2015
trabuco canyon

Hiking the Trabuco Canyon / Horsethief Loop

Trabuco Canyon is one of Orange County’s great semi-hidden secrets. While a fair amount of hikers know about it thanks to its proximity with Santiago Peak and Holy Jim Falls, we suspect that most residents of the region are not aware that a beautiful canyon full of maples, bays, sycamores, and oaks lies hidden deep in the folds of the…

read » March 11, 2015
victory trailhead las virgenes canyon

Hiking the Victory Trailhead Loop

In the late 1990s, executives at the now-defunct bank Washington Mutual had their eyes on a nearly 3,000 acre tract of ranch land in the western San Fernando Valley near Calabasas, Simi Valley, Woodland Hills, and Agoura. The land was formerly owned by the Ahmanson Family, one of the most influential families in the history of the Los Angeles area. The…

read » March 4, 2015
boden canyon

Boden Canyon

It was turning out to be a lousy day. Things weren’t going well at my job. I was tired and cranky. I was experiencing the post vacation blues. My head hurt. Everything bugged me. As I commenced my hour-long commute thinking dark thoughts, I pulled over on the side of Highway 78 at the east end of Clevenger Canyon, through…

read » February 26, 2015
Turnbull Canyon Puente Hills

Hiking Turnbull Canyon

Between the cities of Whittier and Hacienda Heights, roughly bordered by the Pomona Freeway, Orange Freeway, and the 605, lies a low, small member of California’s transverse mountain ranges known as the Puente Hills. The Hills are dotted by a sprawling system of parks and open spaces that provide easily accessible beauty and outdoor recreation for its citizens, and it…

read » February 24, 2015
Lower Doane Valley

Hiking Lower Doane Valley and French Valley

If you are looking to take a vacation from the dry, shrubby, bouldery interior of San Diego County, but you do not have several days to travel to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the cool forests of Lower Doane and French Valleys will provide the ultimate getaway. These pine-rimmed meadows bordered by a spring-fed creek are entirely out of place in…

read » February 23, 2015
fiery furnace

Hike the Fiery Furnace

Just past the turn off for the iconic Delicate Arch is a bent and twisted labyrinth of sandstone fins called the Fiery Furnace. There are no trails, signs, or cairns inside the Furnace and GPS units don’t work well in the tall, narrow canyons. Due to the confusing nature of the landscape and the fragile ecosystems they contain, there are…

read » February 19, 2015
Whale Peak

Hiking Whale Peak

Recently, while I was leading a hike with our friends, the Anza Borrego Foundation, I heard a lady refer to the desert as “miles of kitty litter and stabby plants.” She meant this in jest, as she had clearly driven many miles to follow me around and drink donated beer from Ballast Point in said kitty litter. But if one looks at…

read » February 19, 2015
amir's garden 2

Hiking Amir’s Garden

You’ve likely seen Amir’s Garden in Griffith Park before but not known what it was – a strangely forested ridge amidst the otherwise dry Southern California landscape. Today, the five acre plot of land stands as a peaceful, shaded oasis amidst Griffith Park – a favorite of hikers and equestrians alike – but the garden itself arose from a dangerous…

read » February 17, 2015
delicate arch

Hiking Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch is one of the most famous arch formations in the country, and the trail to it is one of the most popular routes in Arches National Park. The Arch is on Utah license plates and is one of the most enduring symbols of the American West – but its popularity should not dissuade you from hiking this trail.…

read » February 12, 2015
Mountain Palm Springs

Hiking Mountain Palm Springs

At first glance, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park appears to be a lifeless, beige wasteland with equally lifeless, beige peaks rising up from endless plains covered in spiny demon plants and cursed with punishing sunshine and unquenchable thirst. These inhospitable qualities serve as the perfect cover for beautiful surprises that betray the desert’s outwardly lifeless appearance. One of the great surprises…

read » February 11, 2015
devils-garden

Hike the Devil’s Garden

The Devil’s Garden Trail is the longest and most difficult maintained trail in Arches National Park – and it’s also one of the most fun. Once you get past the early sections you’ll be scrambling up and over long, narrow sandstone fins (future arches!), ducking under and crawling through existing arches, and trekking through ruggedly beautiful backcountry that few of…

read » February 10, 2015
san mateo canyon

Hike San Mateo Canyon

Beautiful San Mateo Canyon lies in the heart of one of the few coastal California wilderness areas. This deep and rugged gorge occupies the southern third of the Trabuco District of Cleveland National Forest, and it protects one of the largest undisturbed watersheds in Southern California. The canyon’s remote location and relatively small number of visitors means hours (or days)…

read » February 9, 2015
Lost Horse Mine

Hike Lost Horse Mine in Joshua Tree National Park

Lost Horse Mine is a hardy relic of the California Gold Rush era and one of the best preserved mines found in Joshua Tree National Park. The history of the mine dates back to Johnny Lang, a rancher who bought the claim for $1000 in 1890. This mine was very successful, producing more than 10,000 ounces of gold and 16,000…

read » February 5, 2015
pinyon ridge

Hiking Pinyon Ridge

This scenic, rugged ridge forming the southern boundary of Borrego Valley was once known for supporting a sparse woodland of pinyon pines and California junipers to the point that it received the name Pinyon Ridge. Prior to 2013, one could walk the length of this ridge to gain outstanding views south over the Cuyamaca, Volcan, and Laguna Mountains and north over Borrego…

read » February 4, 2015
windows-loop

Hike the Windows Loop and Double Arch

The Windows Loop is a relatively easy trail that sits in the southeasternmost section of the main paved road that runs through Arches National Park. It packs a lot into a short distance – in just over 2 miles you can see two of the largest Windows in the Windows Section of the park, along with the impressive Turret Arch…

read » February 2, 2015