Saturday, July 1, 2017 – ONE OF OUR BEST HIKES! – Fish Canyon to Piano Box Canyon

Distance:  ~ 8 Miles total (out and back)

Gain: ~ 500′

Hiking Time:  ~ 4 hours

Rating:   Moderate  (uphill at end, returning to car)

Description: This is an amazingly beautiful area containing 37 types of endangered species. It is prime yellow-legged frog and Arroyo Toad Habitat. Bring your camera. Not only is the area beautiful, but you might see some of the endangered species along the way. Please stay on the trails here, and watch where you step during river crossings.  The hike starts on an abandoned asphalt road, moves onto a dirt road at the north end of Castaic lake and follows Fish Canyon.  The only major hill is the asphalt road coming back up to the cars.    The trail is fairly level the rest of the way.  The trail through Fish Canyon is interspersed with portions of the old cement road from the 1930s. Then we split off the main trail for the trail to Piano Box Canyon, a beautiful single track wooded trail.  We will snack and rest in Piano box and have ample time to enjoy the canyon walls of reddish/orange rock (see above) before returning.

Carpooling from Santa Clarita:  We will meet at the outside gate of Towsley Canyon (24255 The Old Rd, Newhall, CA 91321) at 7:15AM for a 7:30AM SHARP departure to the trail head (see directions below).  We will be carpooling to the trailhead above Castaic on I-5, about 30 minutes away.  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, meet your leader at the Trail Head –

Directions to Trail head from SCV and SFV areas:    Take the I-5 Freeway North from Santa Clarita. About 6 miles north of Lake Hughes/Castaic, exit at Templin Highway. TURN RIGHT at bottom of ramp. Follow this curvy road, straight through a 4 way stop sign (i.e. do not turn off it), about 10 mins max, all the way until Templin Highway ends at a set of white K rail barrier/ gate. Park along the road here, leaving nothing showing in your vehicle.

Meet your Leader:  At the white K rails at the Templin Highway trail head at 8:00AM for an 8:15AM SHARP departure.

Bring:  Snack/Lunch, lots of water (2 – 3 liters including electrolytes), snacks, camera.

Wear:  Layered clothing, hat, sunscreen, shoes with good tread, preferably water-proof.  Wear long pants in case there is poison oak or ticks about.

There are several water crossings we may encounter, that may still have water flowing in them.  We suggest you wear boots or athletic shoes that can get wet and bring a change of shoes/socks in your car for the return trip home.

Adventure Pass: Not required.

Dogs: OK, but must be kept on a leash and well behaved around other dogs/ people with poles.

Leader:  Dianne

July 8, 2017 – Chantry Flat/ Sturtevant Falls, looping back via Hogee’s Camp to Adam’s Mule Packing station.

Hike Length:  8.4 Miles with 700 feet elevation gain.

Rating:  Moderate

DROP OFF Disclaimer: This trail has a few narrow areas with drop offs. These are sound (solid rock) and perfectly adequate for most. However, if you are not able to avoid looking down and freaking yourself out, you might want to give this hike a miss.

Description:  The trail starts at Chantry Flat on a paved road, then becomes a single track trail past Roberts’ camp and then to Sturdevant Falls. After a rest we will hike back to Roberts’ camp and follow another hiking road back looping back via Hogee’s camp to approach Chantry Flat from above, completing a loop.  The hike is well shaded and usually has water flowing year round. There is lots of greenery and rustic charm.

PARKING:  NOTE, this trailhead is very popular, parking can be difficult, that is why we strongly recommend you carpool with us from Santa Clarita.

By far the most difficult thing with this very popular hike is finding a place to park. The parking lot opens at 6AM and is usually full with locals by 7AM, for this reason, we have to leave SCV early.  On weekends, cars can be parked up to a half mile down the approach road to the lot. If you are not able to park in the main lot for free, you will have to park along this approach road.  In that case, you will need an Adventure Pass on display, if you want to avoid a ticket.

Directions to Trailhead: Take 210 Fwy East from SCV. On the 210 Fwy in Arcadia, heading East, take the Santa Anita Ave. exit. Turn left (North) on to Santa Anita Ave and drive 6 miles until the road deadends in Chantry Flat parking lot.

Directions to Santa Clarita Valley (Towsley Canyon) Carpooling spot:

From the north (Valencia), take the I-5 South to the Calgrove exit off ramp. Exit, turn right. Go through the signal and immediately turn right into the driveway for Towsley Canyon but park OUTSIDE the gate. Look for club members and leader here.

From the South (Fwy 5/14 interchange), take the I-5 North over the hill into Santa Clarita Valley.  First off ramp is the Calgrove exit. At bottom of ramp, turn left. Go under the freeway and through the signal, then when you see the parked cars at Towsley canyon, immediately turn right and park OUTSIDE the gate. Look for club members and leader here.

Carpool: Meet at the Towsley Canyon front parking lot at 6:00AM.   Carpool arrangements will be made at that time and we will leave at 6:15AM SHARP.  Please be respectful of your driver’s support by contributing something at the end of your carpool to help defray the cost of gas.

If meeting your Leader at the Trailhead:  The group will meet at the lower trailhead entrance (as you enter the parking lot, beside the Restrooms).   We plan to leave this spot at 07:15AM SHARP or as soon as the Towsley carpool members arrive.

Adventure Pass: Required if you park outside the parking lot (which may end up being the case).  We recommend you get one good for a year at Big 5 Sporting Goods or any Ranger Station ($30) or $5/ day.

Bring:  A snack/lunch, water (3 liters is recommended), and electrolytes (i.e. Gatorade) if it is a hot day, sunscreen, hat, hiking poles if you have them, and your camera. Wear an extra light layer (as we are starting early), you can always leave it in the car, and good boots with tread. There is water / trees, so, just in case, I’d bring a bug facenet (~$3 – 4 at Walmart) and busgspray.

Bring some money, if you want to enjoy a cold beer, a hot dog, or homemade chili at Adams Pack Station (above, established 1936) at the end of the hike. If we are lucky they will have their famous pulled pork sandwich.

Leader: Steve i.


NOTE:  LIMITED GROUP SIZE; RSVP closes 2 days before (due to special carpool arrangements)!!

Saturday July 15, 2017 – GREAT VIEWS, lots of greenery and solitude – Five Deer trail from Artesian Springs Camp to Martindale Ridge Road

Distance:  10 Miles RT (out and back)

Gain: 1200′ Approx.

Hiking Time:  4.5 hours

Rating: Moderate ++ (for distance and several very steep hills, later in the hike, poles will help a lot)


Description:  This hike is one of my personal favorites – a beautiful hike, 100% single track – so close to suburbia but still miles away.  We start at 3800′ (2600′ above Santa Clarita and 10 degrees cooler) with a view of the Bouquet Reservoir, Jupiter and Grass Mountains, Mt. McDill and the Sierra Pelona.  We hope to catch some breezes and big views as we hike East in the Angeles National Forest.

NEW IMPROVED ROUTE !! – LONGER VIEWS FROM THE RIDGELINE  For those of you who have been out with me on this trail before, I am trying a slightly different route that is a lollipop style hike, rather than an out and back. The main advantage of this is we get to do most of our climbing earlier in the hike. The bonus is we get to see more trail variety and more time hiking along the ridgeline to look down on the Sierra Pelona way below. We’ll see if you like this route better?

After a 30 minute drive from Santa Clarita, up a curvaceous Bouquet Canyon, we kick the adrenaline up a notch by going off-road driving 2 miles on a dirt forest road to start our hike at Artesian Springs camp.  This is a fun trip just in itself!!

As we hike along a little used mountainbike trail, we pass through old growth chaparral and periodically dip into shady canyon doglegs.  Along the way, we hope to enjoy wildflowers, birds, and views across Bouquet reservoir to Jupiter Mountain.

We will still stop for snack/lunch at our favorite climbeable shady oak tree and enjoy an expansive panoramic view of Mt. McDill, the Sierra Pelona, with Vasquez Rocks / Agua Dulce in the distance, as you look South East (see photo below).  If it is a cool clear day, we should be able to see all the way East to Palmdale and North to the Tehachapi Valley and its windmills.

Meet your Leader to Carpool to the trailhead:!!!! DO NOT GO TO TOWSLEY!!    Meet in the Santa Clarita Best Buy parking lot (26531 Bouquet Canyon Road ), the one with the Trader Joes, at 6:30AM for a 6:45AM SHARP departure.

Directions from the 5 FWY East to the Best Buy Carpool spot:  From the I-5 Freeway, heading North toward Castaic, exit at Newhall Ranch Road (Route 126). Head up an off ramp and then turn East (right) along Newhall Ranch Road, toward Valencia.  Go 4.4 miles on the Newhall Ranch to the intersection with Bouquet Canyon. Turn left at this light and left again at the next light into the Best Buy parking lot (26531 Bouquet Canyon Road).  Meet the group in front of the Best Buy store entrance to organize carpools.

Carpooling from Bouquet Canyon Best Buy to trailhead:

NOTE: Unless you have driven there with us before, I do not recommend driving all the way to the trailhead  on your own.  Meet us at Best Buy in Valencia, if you can.  If you are driving from Lancaster, meet at the gate for forest road 6N08 on Bouquet Canyon Road, just South of Spunky Canyon Road.

The carpool will drive 20 miles up Bouquet Canyon to the Forest road 6N08 gate.  Here we may need to consolidate the shuttle further before we go off-road, driving 2 miles East from Bouquet Canyon, along 6N08 .  It is a fairly rough road, so we will need several high clearance vehicles (i.e. SUV/ pick ups) , but not necessarily 4WD  – no problem with a Subaru.  We need enough of this vehicle type otherwise everyone is going to have to get “very friendly” for 2 miles.  If you have a “weekend vehicle” and can help contribute to this special carpool, please let me know (by messaging) ahead of time, so I can ensure we have enough space.

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.

Heading down the trail:  I expect to be heading down the trail at 8:15AM latest.

We should be back at Artesian Springs campground by about 1:30PM and Best Buy by ~ 2:00PM.

Dogs:  OK, must be on a leash and well behaved around other dogs and people with hiking poles.  If you bring a dog, please plan to drive yourself in your SUV. Remember this is a lot of narrow single-track, if your dog likes to do donuts, you may need to be in the back!

Adventure Pass:  Yes (just in case) 1/car.  These can be obtained at any BIG 5 Sport­ing Goods store or ranger station; $5 for a day pass, $30 for a year pass.

BRING:  Hiking Poles, lunch/snacks, at least 3L of water and some electrolytes, camera, hat and sunscreen.  Wear long pants, hiking shoes/boots with good tread – No flip-flops!  Check forecast and bring an extra layer (windbreaker) if it looks cooler. Bug Net is strongly advised for several shadier parts with megafly populations.  I have limited extras –  $5, if you do not have one.  I will try to tramp the grass down as best I can in the grassy spots where this can be an issue (top photo above).

Leader:  Steve I.

Saturday July 22, 2017 – BEAT THE HEAT  – 1) Mount Pinos or 2) go on to Sawmill Mountain from Mount Pinos – An Easy Hike or a Moderate Hike , your choice?

Distance:  4 miles or 7 miles, out and back.

Gain: About 500′ in first 4 miles and another 600′ if doing the full hike

Rated: Easy+ if doing the first 4 miles only; or Moderate for full 7 mile hike

Time: About 4 hours, including a 20 minute lunch break.

Description:  Listen to the swush of the wind as it gently caresses the huge pines teasing out their fragrance.  This 4 mile or 7 mile hike takes in 1 or 2 summits (Mount Pinos and then Sawmill Mountain).  The nice thing is that you can make it an “Easy” or “Moderate” hike.  The hike is an “out and back”, regardless of which one you chose and is well marked, so you can turn around after the “Easy” (2+2 mile) hike or whenever you like after that.  You just need to coordinate with your carpoolers

Beginning hikers can summit Mt. Pinos, enjoy the views, and fresh mountain air before heading back down to the parking lot at their own pace.

Moderate hikers should be easily able to complete both summits (3.5 + 3.5 miles).

First, we summit Mt. Pinos (8831 ft.) from the Trail head (8340 ft.) for an “Easy” 4 mile Round Trip hike, made a little more difficult due to the altitude. Then, if you continue with us down some switchbacks and up some others you arrive at Sawmill Mountain (8818 ft). This will add another 3 miles RT and another 600 ft of gain to give you 7 mile total distance and 1100 ft total gain for a nice “Moderate” hike.

Mount Pinos is the highest point in Ventura County and lies on the edge of the Chumash Wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest.  Mount Pinos, created over 100 million years ago was known as Iwihinmu to the indigenous Chumash people. The slopes are a mix of sub-alpine, white fir, and Jeffry Pine habitats.  The views from Mount Pinos are beautiful, including the patchwork quilt of agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley to the north, the Tehachapis to the east, and the Carrizo Plain and Temblor Mountains to the northwest.

Bring: Poles if you have them, lunch/ snacks, bug spray and bug net, 2-3 liters of water/ 1 liter electrolytes, sunscreen, lip balm.  The views are spectacular, so bring your camera.

Adventure Pass:  Required ,when parking at the Mt. Pinos Trail head (These can be obtained at any BIG 5 Sporting Goods store or Ranger station; $5 for a day pass, $30 for a year pass).

Trailhead Directions (from Santa Clarita Valley):  Allow 1 1/4 hours to get to trailhead from Santa Clarita.  Take the I-5 North ~ 40 miles to the Frazier Park off ramp. Exit, turn left under highway. Go West on the Frazier Park Road for about 12 miles passing Lockhart Valley Road (on the left) until you see signs for Mt. Pinos. Stay to the left at the fork and follow the road as it twists and turns 9 miles up the mountain to the Nordic Hut parking area at the very top. Park on the left side, by the Mt Pinos trailhead, and look for us there.

Carpooling: If you wish to carpool – meet at Towsley Canyon at 6.30AM to check in for a 6.45AM SHARP departure.  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.

Those intending to do only Mt. Pinos are encouraged to carpool with other “Easy” hikers, or drive alone to avoid waiting for the rest of a carpool.

Meet your leader: At the Mt Pinos parking lot trail head at 8:00 AM; we will depart up the trail to Mt Pinos at 8:15 AM SHARP (or when SCV carpoolers. who have checked in. get there).

Leader:  Steve i

Saturday July 29, 2017  – (Bandido Country) Hike from the Chilao Campground area to Mt. Hillyer and the Silver Mocassin Trail

Distance:  8 miles, Round trip – Lollipop style loop hike

Gain: ~ 1000′

Rating:   Moderate +

Description:  We will start the hike at the Chilao Visitor Center parking lot.  We start by joining the Silver Moccasin Trail surrounded by a pine and cedar forest.  At the Horse Flats fork we turn left passing the Horse Flats campground.  The well traveled trail climbs a gentle slope with just a few switchbacks to the top of Mt. Hillyer.  A century ago this was bandido country (the notorious Tiburcio Vasquez and his gang of horse thieves utilized Chilao and Horse Flats when they were not hanging out at Vasquez rocks, near Acton).  The great boulders we will pass served as a fortress for the bandits and today these same boulders serve as a great location for rock climbers and make for some amazing photos.


More about the bandido and his Chilao connection:  http://www.explorehistoricalif.com/bandito2.html

From the round top of Mt. Hillyer, we will be rewarded with nice views that I am sure the bandits used to their advantage.  We will follow the ridge line NE across an area that was hit by the Station fire but is now recovering.  At the end of the ridge is Rosenita Saddle/ trailhead. Here we turn right on a paved road and follow it to the turn off into the Bandido group campsite.  At the back of the campsite we will hook-up with the Silver Moccasin Trail again but this time turning right and heading back to the Chilao Visitor center.

Carpooling from Santa Clarita Valley:  Meet at Towsley Canyon in the front parking lot at 6:30AM for a 6:45AM SHARP departure, arrangements for carpooling will be made here.  Please be respectful of your driver’s support by contributing something at the end of your carpool to help defray the cost of gas.

Directions to trail head:  From the 210 FRWY exit at Angeles Crest Highway 2 North.  Follow the Angeles Crest Highway towards the mountains for 27 miles (est).  Make a left turn at the Chilao Visitor Center, it is just pass the parking location for Devils Canyon trail head.  Park in the Visitor’s center lot.    Meet your Leader:  At the Chilao Visitor’s Center ~ 7:45AM,  We will depart up the trail at 8:00AM SHARP.

Bring:  Lots of water (2-3L), some Electrolytes like Gatorade, a hat, sunscreen, a snack and hiking poles if you have them.  Good shoes with tread are a must – no flip flops or tennis shoes please.

Adventure Pass:  Yes , 1/car. Available at Acton or any other Ranger Station, the Little Tujunga Ranger station, REI Nothridge, Big 5 Sporting Goods ($5 a day/ $30 a year).

Dogs: OK, if on a leash and well-behaved with other dogs / people carrying poles. If you bring your dog, please drive yourself.

Leader:  Steve i


Camping April 6-9: at the Mojave Preserve. Get INFO Here!