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Saturday, November 4, 2017 – Annual Fall Colors Hike and ONE OF OUR BEST HIKES – Fish Canyon to Piano Box Canyon

Distance:  ~ 8 Miles total (out and back style)

Gain: ~ 500′

Hiking Time:  ~ 4 hours

Rating:   Moderate  (mainly for the uphill at the end returning to trailhead).  Note – You need to be in good general condition to enjoy this hike

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 the 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/ Rivendale park (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 (Trailhead address):  37773 Templin Highway, Angeles National Forest, Castaic, CA 91384

Trailhead GPS coordinates: 34.6022, -118.670726 (34° 36′ 07.9″N 118° 40′ 14.6″W)

Directions to Trail head from SCV / SFV areas:  Take the I-5 Freeway North from Santa Clarita. About 6 miles north of Lake Hughes/Castaic, exit at Templin Highway East. Turn right at bottom of ramp. Follow this curvy road straight (i.e. do not turn off it), about 10 mins max, all the way until it ends at a closed white gate/ concrete barrier. You can park along the road beside it, leave nothing showing in your vehicle.

Meet you Leader: Meet at the white gate at the trail head at 8:00AM for an 8:15AM SHARP departure down the trail.

Bring:  Lunch/ snack, lots of water (2 – 3 liters), and a camera.

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

There are 24 water crossings we may encounter.  We will let you know if there has been rain and if we should expect a decent amount of water in the creek.

Adventure Pass: Not required.

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

Leader:  Dianne

Saturday November 11, 2017 –  GREAT PANORAMIC VIEWS and no other hikers – Five Deer trail from Artesian Springs Camp to Martindale Ridge Road and back

Distance:  10 Miles, RT (lollipop style)

Gain: 1200′ Approx.

Hiking Time:  4.5 hours

Rating: Moderate ++ , for distance / effort (a couple of steep hills early – going up/ and a few hills later – coming down), poles will definitely help !

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.


For those of you who have been with me on this trail before, I am trying a slightly different route. It makes a lollipop style hike, rather than a straight out and back. The main advantage of this new route will be we do most of the climbing earlier in the hike. Another bonus is we get to see more trail variety and spend more time hiking along the ridgeline looking down on the Sierra Pelona below. We’ll see if you like this route better?

After a 30 minute drive from Santa Clarita, up the curvaceous Bouquet Canyon, we kick the adrenaline up a notch by going off-road and 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 and Grass Mountains.

We will still stop for a 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.  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.   This time we pass the “Unusual layered rock outcrops”, only on the way back.

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 Joe’s, at 7:15AM for a 7:30AM SHARP departure to the trail head.

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 the lot between the Best Buy store entrance and Jack in the Box, 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.

We expect to arrive about 8.05AM at the entrance to 6N08.  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 AWD vehicle” and can help contribute to this special carpool, please let me know (by messaging) ahead of time, so I can ensure we have get enough space for everyone (it usually works out…).   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.

NOTE:  RSVP closes 2 days before (due to need to check #s – for special carpool arrangements)!!

Heading down the trail:  We expect to get to the Artesian Springs trailhead about 8:15AM and start heading down the trail at 8:30AM SHARP .

We should be back at Artesian Springs campground by about 1:45PM and Best Buy by ~ 2:15PM.

Dogs:  Not recommended – this is a fairly narrow, chaparral constrained, single-track; there also are a lot of prickly grasses (paw ouchies) throughout this trail.

Adventure Pass:  No.

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/ tennies!  Check forecast and bring an extra layer (windbreaker) if it looks cooler. Bug Net is strongly advised, if they bug you :-), there are a couple of shadier parts with small flies.  I have limited extra nets –  $5, if you do not have one.   I recommend you wear Gaiters, if you have them.  If you are interested, you can get them from REI, ~$25.  They are also good for keeping pebbles, snow and rain out of your boots.   However, I will try to flatten a trail in the grass, as best I can wherever this can be an issue….. but no guarantees.

Saturday, November 18, 2017 – Slide Mountain Fire Lookout Tower (4,631′) , above Pyramid Lake

Distance: ~ 12 miles total , RT – Out and back style

Gain: ~2400 feet

RATING: Strenuous / Difficult (for Distance and Gain). This hike is not for Beginners!  You need to be in very good condition to enjoy this one.

Description: Today we are hiking one of the more challenging hikes in our area, to the lookout tower at the top of Slide Mountain.  Our day starts and ends with a ~ 1.5 mile hike along the old Route 99 (below), the predecessor to the 5 Hwy). We follow Piru Creek, a Native California Fishery until we reach the actual trailhead.  From the trailhead, we catch our first glimpse of the lookout tower, more than 2000 feet above.   Next comes a “butt kicker”, as we start from the trailhead up the steepest part of the hike (~ 2 miles), until we eventually reach the saddle and can enjoy a panorama toward Piru creek and the Sespe Wilderness to the West.   After catching our breath, we move on and approach the peak via a series of fairly shallow switchbacks on the East side and then on the West side of the mountain, gradually approaching the peak.

Eventually the tower comes into view and after we round the bend, we break out at the summit for some incredible views of Pyramid Lake.   Here we enjoy a snack/ lunch and a 360 degree view from the catwalk around the tower, of just about every major peak around the North LA area.

Bring: A snack/lunch, water (3 liters is recommended), including 1L electrolytes if it is a hot day, sunscreen, hat, hiking poles if you have them.  !!! Wear layered clothing in case it gets hot and pack a windbreaker as it may turn windy / cold at the top.  Good boots with tread are a given.

Carpooling from Santa Clarita:  We will meet at Towsley Canyon (Rivendale) at 7:00AM for a 7:15AM SHARP departure to the trail head (see below).  We will be carpooling to the trailhead above Castaic on I-5, about 25 minutes away.

Directions to Towsley Canyon / Rivendale Park Carpooling spot:

From (North) Valencia –  take the I-5 South to the Calgrove Exit (the one after Lyons Avenue). Turn right at bottom of ramp

From (South) SFV etc. – take the I-5 North. After I-5/ I-14 split, stay in the right lane of the I-5 until the next exit – Calgrove Blvd. Turn left at the bottom of ramp, then go under freeway.

Both – Then, go through the traffic signal and immediately after, turn right into a driveway/ parking lot outside Towsley Canyon.  Park OUTSIDE the gate and look for club members and leader 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.

Alternatively, meet at the Frenchman’s Flat trail head – Directions:   Go north on the I-5, past Castaic and exit at Templin Hwy.  Turn left at the bottom of ramp, go under the freeway, and turn right. Follow this (watch it!) bumpy road (it is Old Hwy 99) 5 miles until it ends at a white forest service gate where there is parking (this is Frenchman’s Flat). Display your Adventure Pass in your windshield.

Meet us here, at the white gate, at ~7:45AM.  We will start up the road toward the trailhead at 8:00AM SHARP.  FYI, there is a basic bathroom near the trailhead.

Adventure Pass:  YES.  Required for parking in the Angeles National Forest.  1/car for those who drive. These can be obtained at any BIG 5 Sporting Goods store; $5 for a day pass, $30 for a year pass.

Dogs: OK , if on leash and well behaved.  Please bear the distance, lack of shade, and your dog’s stamina in mind (if you do not wish to carry your dog).

Leader(s):  Steve i.

Saturday 25 November, 2017 –  NEW Hike – Strawberry Peak from Red Box trailhead

Distance: ~ 7 miles total , out and back

Gain: ~ 1800′

Rating:  Moderate ++ (you need to be in good general condition to enjoy this hike)

Note: If you have an issue with heights!  There are one or two narrow trail portions during this hike.

View of West of Josephine peak from Strawberry Peak summit

Description:  From the shady Red Box trailhead, we climb 2 miles along the Strawberry Peak Trail, gaining 800′ to reach Strawberry Saddle.  After catching our breath and enjoying the views of Mt Wilson and neighboring peaks, we take the trail to Strawberry Peak.  It is a tough 1.5 mile route, with many false peaks and elevation losses / gains again (up/down/up/ down etc.).  We net another 1000′ gain.  It will take us about 1 hour to reach the summit. Here we will enjoy the views and a snack.   It will take us ~ 35 minutes to retrace our steps back to the saddle.   We travel back along the gently sloping trail back around the valley before descending back to the Red Box trailhead.  Here you can visit the Haramokngna Indian Cutural center.

BRING:  Hiking poles are highly recommended to help you get to the top; an extra layer in case it gets hot/cold, lunch/snack, 3L liquids (2L water/ 1L Gatorade), hat, bandana, camera and sunscreen.  Hiking boots with good tread are a must as the route has a lot of rocks with sand on them, etc.  Also there are many yucca plants along the way so long pants are recommended.


Adventure Pass:  YES.  As the Red Box trailhead has services (bathrooms / water), you will definitely need one.  They are available at Big 5 Sporting Goods or any Ranger station (annual pass is $30/ day pass $5).

Dogs: OK, on leash and if well behaved around people / other dogs but the climb up to Strawberry peak is rocky / has a lot of Yuccas, so it might be a little intense for Fido.  If you bring a dog, you will need to drive yourself.

Carpool:  Meet at 6:45AM outside Towsley Canyon/ Rivendale in the outside Parking lot, for a 7:00AM SHARP departure from Santa Clarita.

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 Carpool – Towsley Canyon/ Rivendale  (24335 The Old Rd, Newhall, CA 91321) carpool 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. Park OUTSIDE the gate. Look for the hiking club members and leader there. Please be on time.

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. Park OUTSIDE the gate. Look for the hiking club members and leader there.

Directions from Towsley Canyon/ Rivendale carpool spot to Red Box trail head:

GPS: 34°15’30.0″N 118°06’18.2″W  / 34.258344, -118.105043

Take the 5 South to the 210 Hwy East toward Pasadena, for 19 miles.  !!  Be careful of road construction as you approach the junctions with 2 Hwy. The 210 splits and you need to stay to the left to avoid being routed to LA.

After passing the 2 Hwy South to Glendale, watch for the Hwy 2 exit, toward  Angeles Crest Highway / La Canada Flintridge.

Continue up the mountains East/ North on CA-2 for 14 miles. You will pass Switzer Falls and about 10 mins later see a sign for Mt Wilson on the right.  The junction with Red Box Road and a picnic area / parking lot is on the right. Park in the leftmost lot, near the bathrooms or wherever you can. Leave nothing showing in your car except your Adventure pass.

Meet your leader at Red Box Trailhead at 7.45AM, for an ~8:00AM departure up the trail.   GPS coordinatee are above.

Leader: Steve i.