Category archive for Trail Write-Ups

victory trailhead las virgenes canyon

Hiking the Victory Trailhead Loop

In the late 1990s, executives at the now-defunct bank Washington Mutual had its 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.…

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
split mountain

Hiking Split Mountain

With countless geological oddities including mud hills, wind caves, synclines, anticlines, and a deep cut straight through a mountain range, the Split Mountain/Fish Creek Wash region of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a geologist’s dream.  Even those with only a casual interest in geology will find no shortage of fascination on this varied hike, which visits everything mentioned above and…

read » January 29, 2015
balanced rock

Hike Balanced Rock in Arches National Park

Just off the main road in Arches National Park sits Balanced Rock, a large boulder sitting atop a much narrower 55 foot column. The formation is a popular destination because of its central location, its unusual figure, and also as a pilgrimage site for fans of the outspoken outdoors author Edward Abbey , who lived near the formation when he…

read » January 26, 2015
15744562458_09a2f39925_c

Hike Canyon View Loop in Whitewater Preserve

The bright, wide slash of Whitewater Canyon is a place of many treasures – well, the more natural kind, at least. From towering fanglomerate cliffs to the (sometimes) rushing Whitewater River, from the sandy desert floor to lush riparian greenery, this is a place unlike any other in Southern California. In 1939, the canyon became home to the Whitewater Trout…

read » January 22, 2015
stanley peak

Hike Stanley Peak

“You can tell who the old man is here.” That’s what the elderly gentleman on the trail said as he turned to see me gaining on him as we came up the Sage Trail toward Stanley Peak. The gentleman introduced himself to me as a 70 year-old retiree who had found himself gaining too much weight and was now walking…

read » January 21, 2015
mentryville mountains

Hike Mentryville Park

There are many reasons why California is what it is today – but you can argue that more than anything, two natural resources were instrumental in building the region and even making the land United States territory: gold and oil. Those who bemoan Southern California’s lack of preserved history need look no further than present-day Santa Clarita. To its east…

read » January 14, 2015
ChaparrosaPeakView

Hike Chaparrosa Peak

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead In our glittering world of megamalls and high-rises, the constant push for development has a profound impact on our relationship with the natural world. Unprotected wild lands continually recede in the shadow of towering…

read » January 13, 2015