Saturday May 7, 2016  – Sierra Madre to Orchard Camp

Distance:  9 miles,  In and Out

Gain: ~ 2000 – 2200′

Duration: 4 – 5 hours

Rating:   Moderate / Strenuous, due to substantial elevation gain.  Suitable for experienced hikers in good physical condition.

Description:  Following an old Indian trail, Benjamin Wilson built a trail in an effort to obtain timber from the top of what is now called Mt. Wilson.  Harvard University telescope was carried up this trail to occupy the first observatory on Mt. Wilson.  As the trail, and later the observatory, was being built a construction camp was built in a secluded glen called Halfway House. After the observatory was built Halfway House was homesteaded by two mountaineers named George Aiken and George Islip.  They planted a small grove of apple, cherry, plum and chestnut trees and the location became known as Orchard Camp.

Later Orchard Camp became a trail resort for 50 years.  Today the buildings and tents are gone, but the enchanting stream side spot still holds appeal for day hikers.  Our hike will follow this historic footpath from Sierra Madre to Orchard Camp and back.

Information about the trail:  Our hike starts at the junction of Mira Monte Avenue and Mt. Wilson Trail Drive a private road in Sierra Madre.  We will walk a short distance up Mt. Wilson Trail Drive and turn left onto a well marked trail.  In a short distance the trail becomes a dirt road and later a single track trail.  The first 1.5 miles are in the sun and steep, a great workout.  Then we come upon a trail junction, we go straight until after a short distance we stop for a rest at Quarterway House or First Water as it was once called.  In a short distance we will welcome the shade of a live-oak forest and a enjoyable hike from Quarterway House to Orchard Camp.

NOTE: Remember we are climbing a mountain so there are drop offs on the downhill side of the trail.  If heights or drop offs are an issue for you, you may want to give this hike a miss.

Carpooling from Santa Clarita Valley:  Meet in the front parking lot at Towsley Canyon in the front parking lot at 7:30 AM for a 7:40AM SHARP departure, arrangements for carpooling will be made there.

The hike leader will meet you at the meeting spot at 08:30 A.M.

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 the meeting spot/trail head:  From the 5 Freeway take the 210 FRWY East.   In Arcidia, exit the 210 at Baldwin Ave and drive 1.5 miles towards the mountains.  Turn right on Mira Monte Ave.  Go two blocks east on Mira Monte until you reach the intersection with Mount Wilson Trail Drive.  Park on the street, and meet your leader at 8:30AM, at Lizzie’s House (Museum), located at this intersection.




Hike Leader Notes:  There are no restrooms at trail head but there is a park with restrooms close to Lizzie’s House. This is a popular trail, so allow time to park and walk to Lizzie’s House to meet your leader.

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.  Bring a BUG NET just in case.

Adventure Pass:  Not required

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

Leader:  Dave



Saturday, May 14 – Boy Scout (Oak Flat) Trail to Whitaker Peak – Woodlands, Views and Solitude …. so close to SCV!

Distance:  ~ 9 miles, out and back.

Gain: About 1400′ (most of it at the beginning)

Rated: Easy++ to Moderate (due to gain at start and overall distance)

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

Description:  The trail departs the mellow Oak Flat Campground and climbs along switchbacks through woodlands and a geologically fascinating area to a ridge-top viewpoint. The hiker’s reward for this short but stiff climb is a bird’s-eye view of some of the Southland’s great public works projects (Pyramid Lake, old Highway 99 and Interstate 5) and inspiring natural wonders: the dramatic gorge sculpted by Piru Creek and the mountains fractured by the San Gabriel Fault.

Along the fire road at the top, outcrops are visible (see below) — these are pudding-type conglomerate of fragmented brown rock filled with embedded stone.  These enable geologists to trace displacements that occurred along the San Gabriel Fault, an early and active member of the San Andreas Fault system.

We will continue along the fire road and turn West to Whitaker Peak.

The first part of this hike is on single track, and then we proceed on fire roads.

Meet:   At Towsley Canyon Gate, 24255 The Old Road, Newhall, CA.  Be there at 7.30AM for an 7:45AM SHARP  departure to the trailhead.  If you carpool from Towsley, be so good as to share the cost of gas with your driver.

Want to Meet at the Trail head?   Oak Flat Fire Station:  Lat: 34.598538  Lon:  -118.719182. (About 25 mins North of Towsley Canyon).

Go north of Santa Clarita on the I-5, North of Castaic, exit at Templin Hwy. At the bottom of the off ramp, turn left. Go under the 5 freeway and turn right on the road immediately past the freeway, proceed for approximately 3 miles. Watch the potholes!  Stay on this road until you see a brown forest sign on the left side that says Oak Flat (be sure to ignore the Whitaker Peak sign that precedes it).  Turn in to Oak Flat and carefully go up the driveway.  Park on the gravel lot on the left in front of the Fire Station.    If you meet at the trail head, please be there at 8:15AM as we will be heading up the trail at 8:30AM SHARP.

Bring:   Lots of water (2 – 3 liters), some electrolytes, and a lunch/snack. There is not much shade on the second half of this hike, so sunscreen and a hat are essential.  Poles are helpful on this hike, especially the first 1/2, when we are climbing. Bring your camera.

NOTE: There may be small biting flies out and about, so please wear long sleeves/ bring insect repellent.

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

Dogs: OK, if well behaved around other dogs and people and on a leash.

Leader:   Steve I.



Sunday, May 15, 2016 – HISTORICAL HIKE TO THE ST. FRANCIS DAM DISASTER SITE, followed by an Optional 5 Mile Hike

  1. Interpretive walk with narration by Historian/ visit to dam site:

Distance:  < 1 mile (RT)

Time:         1.75 hours

Gain:         Almost none

Difficulty: Easy

  1. Optional Hike:

Distance:  ~ 5 mile (it is a one way)

Time:         Additional 2.5 hours

Gain:          ~ 1000′  (if hiking)

Difficulty: Moderate  (most is on old asphalt with some gain at the start, and a tricky downhill at the end.  See Note below!)

Description:   At two and a half minutes before midnight, on March 12, 1928, William Mulholland’s St. Francis Dam crumbled, sending an immense wall of water crashing down San Francisquito Canyon, turning west at the Santa Clara River. It did not stop until it reached the Pacific Ocean five and a half hours later. Towns across Los Angeles and Ventura Counties — Saugus, Castaic, Piru, Fillmore, Santa Paula, Saticoy, Montalvo — were decimated.  431 Men, women, children – citizens, immigrants, landowners, laborers lost their lives ….. the floodwaters did not discriminate.

The collapse of the St. Francis Dam is considered to be one of the worst American civil engineering disasters of the 20th century and remains the second-greatest loss of life in California’s history, after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and fire.

Interpretive Walk to Dam:  We will begin our day at California Historical Landmark# 919, located on the grounds of Powerhouse No. 2 , 33967 San Francisquito Canyon Road.

CHC Board Member and President, SCV Historical Society (Dr. Alan Pollack), will share his in-depth knowledge of the circumstances and events surrounding the disaster.  At Powerhouse# 2  Alan will review the management of LA water supply at that time and the role the St Francis Dam was intended to play.  We will then drive up San Francisquito Canyon Road and park again near the dam before walking to the actual dam site.  Those who intend to do the optional hike should leave their cars at / near Power Station #2 and carpool with the rest of the group the 1.5 mile drive to the dam.

At the dam site:  Alan will point out the parts of the dam that are still visible and recount the events of that ill-fated night and the aftermath that met citizens of SCV and beyond, as the sun rose the following morning.  Alan will conclude his talk by ~ 10:30AM and head back to the cars.

Anyone who does not to wish to participate in the 5 mile hike option can leave at this point. Those who have carpooled hikers are asked to help by driving an additional mile up the busy road to drop hikers off at a white gate, we will point out, on the right.

Add the 5 Mile Hike Option:

NOTE: If you are uncomfortable with heights, a narrow trail with adjacent drop off, sections with loose scree (rock chips)  or similar, this hike will not be for you.

We have added a hike on an old service road along the EAST side of the canyon. The road rises gradually from the river basin, eventually leveling out, after a mile, close to what would have been the water level at the surface of the old reservoir. After about 2.5 miles hiking, we will be directly above the point where the dam ruptured and have a unique vantage point from which to view the curved dam ruins below.  We then continue South along this road, enjoying spectacular views of the entire canyon and many large rock conglomerate outcroppings stretching off to the West side of the canyon.

We finally arrive at the pipes carrying water up and down to the turbines of Powerhouse #2, far below.  At this point we will slowly descend down a narrow service trail (with many small wooden steps pinned in the ground) and return to our cars at Powerhouse #2.   Hiking poles are HIGHLY recommended for this section.

Meet your Leader:  For this hike we recommend you go straight to the Meeting place.  We will meet in front of Powerhouse #2, 33967 San Francisquito Canyon Road at 8:00AM and start the program here at 8:15 AM SHARP).  Note, we will be moving up the road in our cars, after this portion, to be closer to the dam.

Directions to San Francisquito Canyon Interpretive Walk starting point:   Heading North on the I-5 South, through Santa Clarita Valley, exiting right at Route 126 East, Newhall Ranch Road. Turn left at the second light (with the Walmart on the left ) onto Copper Hill Drive.  Continue 2.8 miles on Copper Hill to the light at San Francisquito Canyon Road (crest of hill), turn left and continue on San Francisquito Canyon (watch for road bikers).  After 6 miles, you will see the DW&P Powerhouse#2 (33967 San Francisquito Canyon Road) on the right on a sharp bend.  Park anywhere on the side of the road in this area (we will move most of our cars in < 30 mins).  If you are planning to do the hike, arrive and park early.

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

Adventure Pass: No.

BRING:  A snack, at least 2-3 L of water and some electrolytes (if hiking), camera, hat and sunscreen.  Wear hiking shoes/boots with good tread – No flip-flops.


Historian: Alan Pollock

Leaders: Dianne and Steve



Saturday May 21st, 2016 – OCEAN BREEZES – Mugu Peak via the Chumash Trail; La Jolla Valley Grasslands and the Ray Miller trails

Distance:  ~10 mile loop

Gain: About 1500′, mostly in the first mile

Rated: Moderate ++ (significant gain at start and overall hike length)

Time: ~ 5 hours hike time

Description:  Let’s cool off by the ocean!  This 10 mile hike will take us to Mugu Peak (moist air, sea breezes and temperatures should be ~20 degrees cooler than Santa Clarita!).   Depending on the time of day, we may be immersed in sea fog (yum!), sunshine, or a mixture of both as it burns off.  I was there recently and the wind driven fog streaming over the peak and the sun breaking through was almost surreal….and refreshing!  We start on the Chumash trail and head straight up, up, up, to Mugu peak because the usual route, La Jolla Canyon, was badly damaged by floods and is now closed. After enjoying the highest point in the hike and completing most of the gain, we then head down a bit and turn East into the La Jolla Valley.  We traverse a large grassland area, with views of the Boney Mountains (below), the highest peaks in the Santa Monica Range.

Finally, we arrive at a burned out “Hike-In” campground.  We will stop near here to snack and rest up a little.  Then it is some more gain as we head back West and up on the Overlook fire road to meet the Ray Miller trail. This trail drops us back at the La Jolla Canyon parking area where we will have staged a few cars for a shuttle earlier.  Then it is a short distance back North on PCH to where we left most of our cars in the Chumash Trail parking lot.

Meet in Santa Clarita to Carpool:  Meet us at the WALMART parking lot (NOTE: this is not Towsley!!!!). Address is 27931 Kelly Johnson Pkwy, Santa Clarita, CA 91355.

The store is on the corner of the intersection of Copper Hill and Newhall Ranch Road.  Meet at at 6:45AM in the Southwest corner of the parking lot.  After we organize the carpools, we leave at 7:00AM SHARP and caravan to the Chumash Trail parking lot off Hwy 1 (PCH).  Directions to the trailhead are below, if you prefer to go directly.

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.

Meet your leader at the Trailhead:   Meet at the Chumash Trail parking lot trail head between 8:15 AM and 8:30AM. Wear bug spray!!  We will depart up the trail at 8:45 AM SHARP (after we have put some cars on PCH, near the La Jolla Canyon trailhead, about 2 miles south).

Directions from Santa Clarita to the Chumash Trail parking lot:   Take Newhall Ranch road for 2 miles West from the Walmart meeting place over the 5 Freeway, where it becomes CA-126 heading West toward Ventura.


Follow CA-126 W, 34.9 miles until Exit 5 from CA-126 W to merge on to CA-118 East, toward Saticoy. Continue until the road T’s .  Turn right on to Santa Clara Ave, which becomes Rice Ave and eventually merges into Route 1 (PCH) turning South.

Stay on PCH passing Point Mugu Naval base on the right, until you are by the ocean and see a SEABEES firing range in the sand dunes on the right – the parking lot is on the left. Turn left into the “Chumash Trail” parking lot – WATCH FOR CARS AND MOTORCYCLES AS YOU TURN ACROSS PCH INTO THE LOT.

Bring: Poles if you have them, lunch/ snacks, bug spray and bug net (just in case), 3 liters of water. SUN SCREEN/ lip balm as this trail has very little shade.  Depending on conditions, the views can be spectacular, so bring your camera.  There have been recent reports of mosquitos, so just in case, pack a bug screen for your face ($4 at Walmart) and some bug spray.

Adventure Pass:  Not required .

Dogs: Sorry, dogs are not allowed on this trail.

Leader:  Steve I.




Saturday, May 28 2016 – Grizzly Flat and the Big Tujunga Creek area – so beautiful and under appreciated, we just had to repeat it!

Distance:  7.6 Miles round trip, an in and out hike.

Gain: 1550′

Hiking Time:  4 hours

Difficulty: Moderate  (this is not one for Beginners, you need to be in good general condition to enjoy this hike). But if you are ready to try a moderate hike this trail would be a good to evaluate your hiking skills.

Description:  This hike had to be moved to a Sunday last time, due to weather, and we lost a lot of RSVP’s.   However, it was so popular with those lucky folks (including me) that made it, we decided to repeat it before it gets too hot so more of you can enjoy it.  See photos in the March 13 album.

Our hike starts next to the Angeles Crest Highway at the Dark Canyon Trail that has been restored and is maintained by volunteers (thank you guys!!).  About a 1/2 mile in, the trail crosses a dirt road and our trail continues on dirt road and single track down to Grizzly Flat.   We then hike the recently restored and lush Grizzly Flat Trail to Stonyvale Picnic Area.  Along the way we will enjoy views of Brown Mountain,  Mt. Lowe, and Strawberry Peak.  On our way down to Stonyvale we enjoy views of Mt. Lukens, Condor Pk, and Iron Mountain in the Big Tujunga area.

Grizzly Flat is a sloping bench on the mountain side of Big Tujunga, next to Vasquez Creek that is lined with trees.  It is named after the famous bandit Tiburcio Vasquez, who once used this route to escape a posse.  After a fire in 1959, the forest department planted trees at Grizzly Flat but the 2009 Station Fire burned a lot of this area.  Surprisingly, many of the trees includy eucalyptis and small pines are starting to grow back and the chapparal is getting pretty high. Expect to see lots of Spanish broom, bush poppy and Ceanothus.

We will drop down into the Big Tujunga canyon and follow the wash and cross a creek 5 times, before taking a break at the Stonyvale Picnic Area.  Here, there are basic restrooms and picnic tables.  After resting, we will hike back up to our cars.

Meet your Leader to Carpool from Santa Clarita Valley:   For those wishing to carpool , we will meet at Towsley Canyon SCV (address above, directions below) at 7:30AM for a 7:45 AM SHARP Departure .  Arrangements for the carpool will be made here at that time.

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, Santa Clarita, Carpool  meeting spot: From 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. Park OUTSIDE the gate. Look for the hiking club members and leader there.

Directions from Santa Clarita Valley to the Trailhead: Take 5 freeway South to 210 East.  Exit Interstate 210 at Route 2 – Angeles Crest Highway (ACH) in La Canada-Flintridge.  Drive 5.6 miles up the mountain and park on the left at mile marker 30.2, (mile markers are white posts along the side of ACH).  It is on a wide bend and the trail starts on the south end of the parking area.   There is only room for 6 cars at the trailhead; 100′ past the trailhead is a large parking lot on the right.   Sorry, there are no restrooms at the parking location, your last chance is after you exit Highway 210.

We will be heading up the trail at 8:30AM SHARP.

Dogs:  OK, on leash and if well behaved around people / other dogs.  If you bring a dog, please drive yourself.

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

BRING:  Hiking Poles to assist uphill stretches and with creek crossings.  However, if it has rained recently, there is a good chance you will get wet crossing Big Tujunga Creek.  Lunch/snacks, boots with good tread, lots of water (2 – 3L) and electrolytes, camera, hat and sunscreen.

Note: This is a beautiful hike, but because of the water, it may be buggy.  As the condition of the poison oak in areas with water is hard to predict and because of the flies, we recommend long pants and sleeves.   Bring a bug screen and insect repellent, just in case. We will have some extra bug screens at the trailhead if you need one ($5).

Leader:   Steve .i