Tending The Wild

Autry Museum of the American West and KCETLink Media Group Partner to Produce Multiplatform Environmental Documentary Series

A Project of the CALIFORNIA CONTINUED Exhibition

MORE Information Here



Saturday October 1, 2016 – Hike along the Sam Merrill trail to Echo Mountain / Mt Lowe Railway (Altadena Area)

Distance: ~ 6 miles total, out and back.

Gain:  ~ 1000′

Rated:  Moderate, due to gain, this hike is NOT for beginners

Description:  One of the greatest historical hikes in the Angeles National Forest.  The hike route used to be the right of way for the Lowe Mountain Railway. We will go up the trail to the ruins of an old hotel that burned down in 1936 on the top of Mt Lowe.  Steve will explain the history of the area, especially the ruins of the hotel and the remains of the railroad that served it (it was the greatest incline railroad in the world at one time) .  We will check out an old megaphone that points up to Inspiration point. Yell into it and hear your echo being repeated over and over again – that is why it is called Echo Mountain!  There are also remnants of a reservoir, tennis courts and an observatory nearby to check out.

Transport: (Parking can be a problem at the trail head on weekends)

Option 1: Meet at Towsley Canyon parking area in front of the green gate at 6:45AM to arrange carpools.  We will leave at 7:00AM SHARP for Altadena.

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.

Option 2: Meet at the Altadena Trailhead – Cobb Estate Gate at 7:45AM.  Directions to trailhead below.

The group will leave the trailhead at 8:00AM 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 – THX).

Directions to the Altadena Trailhead:  Address – 3302 Lake Avenue, Altadena, CA 91001

Coordinates: 34.203811, -118.130507 (34° 12′ 13.71″N 118° 07′ 49.82″W)

210 East from Santa Clarita.  From the 210, take the Lake Avenue exit North over the highway – from Pasadena into Altadena.  Continue on Lake Ave North as it climbs the hill.  Parking is at the end of the street, near the sharp left hand turn (E. Loma Alta Dr.), outside the large gates of the Cobb Estate.

Permits: No permits are required, street parking only.

Bring:   Water (3 liters is recommended), electrolytes if it is a hot day, sunscreen, hat, lunch/ snacks, hiking poles (which are very helpful on the climb up), and your camera. Wear layered clothing in case it gets hot or cold. Wear good boots with lots of tread on this trail.

Hike Leader: Steve


Saturday, October 8, 2016 – Water Hike  Adventure – Piru Creek/ trail, from Frenchman’s Flat

Distance:  ~ 7 miles RT (out and back style)

Gain:  None

Rated: Moderate (some water if you are not careful or just want to get wet/ minor bouldering/ maybe a little bushwhacking)

Time:  ~ 4 hours

Description:    Piru Creek is a Native California Fishery fed by Pyramid lake.  We will hike a trail past camp sites and follow the canyon / creek bed, heading West/ South downstream toward Piru Lake.  There will be overhanging trees, some boulder hopping and we will cross the creek several times. You can be in and out of the creek at several stages, if you want to get wet.  We will be in the canyon, see some amazing rock formations, bird life, maybe a deer or two and some wild flowers.

It is usually easy enough, with care and some bouldering, to stay dry if you like.  However, you can easily tramp in the stream, water hiking sandals are highly recommended for their convenience/ your toe safety.  We recommend you wear synthetic materials that you do not mind getting wet, so they dry fast on your way back.

The canyon is narrow in many places, so there will be a sense of adventure…… We cannot make it all the way to Lake Piru in the time we have but we will hike ~2 hours in (until the trail gets pretty overgrown), have a snack and then return the same way.

Mark Mac Memorial Water hike:  Mark Mac was a friend to many members of our club and a wonderful person. He especially enjoyed water hikes and joined us on this hike in August 2015, just 3 weeks before losing his life with the Keyhole 7 in an unfortunate flash flood drowning accident in Keystone Canyon, Utah.

Carpool to Trailhead:  Your leader will meet you at the trailhead.  For those who want to carpool meet at the outside gate of Towsley Canyon ( 24255 The Old Road, Newhall) at 6:45AM for a 7:00AM SHARP departure to the trail head. There you can carpool to the trailhead above Castaic on I-5, about 25 minutes away.

Bring:  Lunch/ snacks, more water than you think you will need (3 liters is recommended), SUNSCREEN, hiking poles, and boots you do not mind getting a little wet or better still – water sandals.  Bugspray and a bugnet ($4 at Walmart) are also recommended as there are black flies. Please bring a couple of supermarket / garbage bags to help (on the way back) to remove recyclables and miscellaneous trash that are left by uncaring campers.

Directions to Frenchman’s Flat trail head (Frenchman’s Flat Campground, Castaic, CA 91384):  Go north on I-5, exit Templin Hwy, turn left. Go under the freeway, and turn right. Follow this road until it ends at a white forest service gate, park.

Meet at the Trailhead:  We will meet at Frenchman’s Flat at the white gate at ~7:45AM for a 8:00AM SHARP departure up the river trail.

Adventure Pass:  Required!  These can be obtained at any BIG 5 Sport­ing Goods store (Valencia or Canyon Country); $5 for a day pass, $30 for a year pass.

Dogs: OK, on a leash and well-behaved around other dogs and hikers with poles. If bringing your dog, please drive yourself and go directly to the trailhead.  Bear in mind, there will be poison oak on this trail.  If it is looking hot, it may not be the best day for Fido to be out.

Leader: George


Saturday October 15, 2016 –  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, before we snack and turnaround)

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) with a view of the Bouquet Reservoir, Grass Mountain and the Leona Valley.  We hope to catch some breezes / views as we hike East in the Angeles National Forest.

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, views across Bouquet reservoir to Grass Mountain, and finally whenwe reach the ridge above the Sierra Pelona.  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.

After passing an unusual rock outcropping, we pop out of the trees and arrive at our turnaround point – an expansive ridge line with a panoramic view of Mt. McDill, the Sierra Pelona, and Vasquez Rocks / Agua Dulce looking South East in the distance (see below).

Here we break for a snack/ lunch/ photos  under a huge climbeable shady oak.

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 7:00AM for a 7:15AM 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 East up an off ramp and then East 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 it before, I do not recommend driving straight to the trailhead  (even if you have a dog or need to leave early).  Meet us at Best Buy in Valencia, if you can.  If you are driving from Lancaster, message me directly to make a rendezvous plan. at road 6N08.

We 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 and drive 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 .  I had no problem  with my Subaru Outback.  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 2PM and Best Buy by ~ 2:30PM.

Dogs:  OK, must be on a leash and if well behaved around other dogs and people with hiking poles.  If you bring a dog, please plan to drive yourself in your SUV. Just 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 hiking shoes/boots with good tread – No flip-flops!  Bug Net is strongly advised for several shadier parts with megafly populations.  I have limited extras –  $5. if you do not have one.

Leader:  Steve I


Saturday, October 22, 2016 – Hummingbird Trail to a View of Fossil Ridge

Distance:  ~7.5 miles (out and back style)

Gain: At least 1000′ on the way out

Rating:  Moderate +

Description: Hummingbird Trail is only 2.3 miles by itself, with an elevation gain of a little over 1,000ft. But once you get up to the Rocky Peak Fire Road, it varies between somewhat flat with undulating hills, and more hills.

This is a beautiful hike that we are doing this time of year as it can get very hot in Summer.  There are lots of interesting rock formations (think 60’s cowboy movies) along the way.  Steve will point out the white Fossil formation ridge line in the distance at the lunch/ turnaround point! The views are fabulous in all directions and we will try to find / go in some interesting caves on the way back.

Carpooling from Santa Clarita Valley (Advisable, see “READ” below):  If you wish to carpool, meet at Towsley Cyn outside the entrance gate at 7:00AM for an 7:15 AM SHARP departure to the trail head.    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 Towsley Canyon Carpooling spot:  Exit the I-5 freeway in Santa Clarita Valley at Calgrove Blvd. Turn West and follow Calgrove around a curve and through one light. You will now see the gate to Towsley Canyon on your right. Park and look for group of hikers/ leader.

!!!!!READ !!!! Directions to the trail head/ Meet the leader: Take the I-5 South to the 118 freeway towards Simi. After about 10 mins, exit at Kuehner Drive. The trail head is at the bottom of the freeway ramp to the right.  The entire area around the trailhead has recently been fenced off and “No Parking” signs erected everywhere on the street. Access is reduced to a small Parks and Rec Trail entrance (and a breach in the fence)!  We will need to park a few hundred yards away in the strip mall parking just South of the freeway.  Therefore, exit the freeway and turn left under the ramp and immediately right into the strip mall on the right.  Your leader will meet you there at approx. 7:45AM, we will then walk 200 yards to the trailhead for a 8:00AM SHARP departure up the trail.

Bring:  Lots of water, a hat, sunscreen, a snack and hiking poles if you have them.  Camera.  Good shoes with tread are a must – no flip flops or tennis shoes please. Likely the day will be cool and windy, so bring an extra layer to avoid a chill at the top.

Adventure Pass:  Not required

Dogs: OK, if on a leash and well-behaved with other dogs / people carrying poles.

Leader: Steve I, or Lise M.


October 29, 2016 – A nice local Hike, before getting ready for Halloween

Spooky Looking (well sorta….) but very photogenic, VASQUEZ ROCKS, the creek trail, Pacific Crest Trail and the Animal Corridor Tunnel

(A spooky evening view of The Spires at Vasquez rocks)

Distance:  No more than 5 miles

Gain:  A little coming back up from the creek bed

Rating:  Easy to Moderate family hike. (If you are a hard core hiker this hike may be a little too laid back for you!)

Description: We will take you on an easy family/ nature  hike through some of the most beautiful and well known areas of Vasquez Rocks. You may recognize many of the features from television and feature films (e.g. Star Trek, The Flintstones, Planet of the Apes, etc.). You will pass the most prominent rock (the Spires above), just before you get to the parking area (see details below).

We will hike some of the many trails in the park at a fairly leisurely pace for about 5 miles.  The trails have many of the plants clearly marked so you can work on your identifications!

Definitely a hike to bring the camera on!

Directions:  Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is located near Agua Dulce Springs, north of the 14 -Palmdale freeway. The park is about midway between Santa Clarita and Palmdale.

From Valencia, take the SR-14 North to the Aqua Dulce Canyon Road exit. Exit and turn left. Continue on this road.  It will take a sharp curve to the right. It will become Escondido Canyon Road. Continue straight through the stop sign. Look for the Vasquez Rocks Park entrance on the right.

When you enter the driveway for Vasquez Rocks, do NOT go to the visitor’s center but make a left hand turn on the rock chips/dirt road. Follow this road all the way to the far side of the furthest dirt parking lot (the one surrounded by a green tubular metal fence).  Look for the group here.

Bring: A snack and water (2-3 liters recommended), electrolytes if it is a hot day, sunscreen, hat, hiking poles if you have them.  This is definitely a hike for you to bring a camera on, especially if you like geology, wild flowers, unusual rock formations and animal tracks. Wear layered clothing in case it gets hot or cold and boots with tread. No flip flops or tennis shoes.

Adventure Pass: Not required.

Dogs: OK, if on leash and well-behaved around people with hiking poles and other dogs.

Kids: If adventurous and say > 10 are welcome.

Meet your leader: Meet in the Vasquez Rocks parking lot, East of the large rock spires at 7:30AM for an 7:45AM SHARP departure.

Leader: Steve i. or Lise M.