Monthly Archives: January 2012

Chumash Trail to Rocky Peak

This is a great moderate hike with excellent views on a clear day. The juntion to Rocky Peak is 2.6 miles from the Trailhead and the entire hike is an ascencion on a ridge. The views on this ridge are towards the Pacific Ocean in Oxnard, the Santa Monica Mountains, the Los Padres Mountains, and the San Fernando Valley(Angeles Forest) as well. The trail is in a great shape and it is very rocky in some areas, but, very well maintained. You will also see some great rock formations and boulders as well that have very interesting geology. You have the option to take the Chumash Trail to the Rocky Peak Fire Road and come back, or take it all the way to Rocky Peak as well. This hike is moderately steep and you will get a pretty good workout. This is nothing compared to a strenuous hike like Cucamonga Peak or Mt. Baldy, but it is a good hike to do if you would like to condition yourself for the big summit hikes. The Chumash Trail is out on the open, so, on a hot day, make sure you bring the essentials; water, sunblock, and a hat.

Rock formation near Rocky Peak.

From the Trailhead, head North and you will have the option to go straight(which is the regular trail), or take a right(shortcut) that is quite steep if you want to cut a little time off the hike. The rest of the trail is very easy to follow, and the mileage is shown by a lot of rocks piled up together that are marked. Once you reach the junction with the Rocky Peak fire road at 2.6 miles, take a right(South), and there is an additional 1.3 miles to reach Rocky Peak, but, it will all be on the fire road, as I said. You also have the option to go left at that junction if you would like to explore the surrounding area. There is about an extra 350 feet or so of gain from the junction to Rocky Peak. Once you reach Rocky Peak, there are a few rocks that you can sit on to enjoy the views and take a little rest. Come back the same way you came up, or you have the option to stay on the trail and head down to the parking lot off the Rocky Peak exit. This could be a good option if you come with two cars; park one at the Rocky Peak exit off the 118 West, and then take the other car to the Chumash Trail Trailhead. However you plan this hike, it will be a great trek that will offer great views, interesting rock formations/geology, and provide a pretty good workout.

Danilo & Gyorgyi on a boulder off the Chumash Trail.

Chumash Trail to Rocky Peak Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 1350 feet
  • Round Trip – 7.8 miles
  • Suggested Time – 4 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Best Season – Any

Gyorgyi with a view of Simi Valley and Beyond from Rocky Peak.

Chumash Trail is in Simi Valley; From Highway 118 West/Simi Valley Freeway in Simi Valley, exit on Yosemite Avenue and make a right(North), and drive 0.4 miles to Flanagan Drive and then turn right. Continue 0.8 miles to the Trailhead at the end of the road. Parking is free.

If you have any questions about this hike, feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

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Saddle Peak via Backbone Trail(from Piuma Road)

Saddle Peak is the second highest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains next to Sandstone Peak. This is a great hike as you climb a ridge and get great views as you are ascending. I picked up the Backbone Trail from Piuma Road, and to get to SaddlePeak, it is about 4.4 miles with an elevation gain of about 1750 feet; thus making the round trip about 8.8 miles. The views from Saddle Peak are just as nice, if not, nicer than Sandstone Peak. You get a 360 degree view towards the Pacific Ocean, Ventura County, Downtown LA, and the San Fernando Valley. I was also able to see Mt. Baldy as well. This is a good moderate hike and it will give you a workout, so, make sure you wear a hat, sunblock and have enough water if you do this on a hot day as the first part of this hike is the switchback ascension with exposure to the Sun. You will, though, cross a very shaded creek(Cold Creek), prior to the switchbacks.

View from Saddle Peak towards the Pacific Ocean covered by clouds.

Once you reach the top of the switchbacks, it will be come very flat and you will go through a saddle; then, the trail gradually ascends and will take you to a shaded area with brush and chaparral; this section will give you the feeling that you are in the woods with a sense of isolation. This whole area, beginning from the flat section is a great area to take pictures, and, you will begin to see Saddle Peak from there; take notice of the rocky formations at the distance from the peak. Continue hiking further and you will then come to a junction; if you go straight it will take to you to Stunt Road in 0.3 miles; to get to Saddle Peak, though, take a right at the junction and head up 1.3 miles via switchbacks to the peak. This last part will also be a nice little climb. Once you get to the peak, you will be greeted by a canyon wall(where I saw some people rappelling); and you will notice some caves and big holes in the rocks with different shapes; this is a very interesting rock formation and geology; as I said. You can continue going a bit further on an incline and that will take you to the highest point where you will get dramatic views in any direction. This will be a great area to relax and enjoy your surroundings. Go back the same way you came to Piuma Road, and that will complete the 8.8 mile round trip.

Danilo standing on a rock formation at Saddle Peak.

Saddle Peak(Backbone Trail via Piuma Road) Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain- 1750 feet
  • Round Trip – 8.8 miles
  • Suggested Time – 4 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Best Season – Any

Nice view towards the sky from Saddle Peak.

Backbone Trail to Saddle Peak is on Piuma Road, near Malibu Creek State Park.  From Pacific Coast Highway, you can take Malibu Canyon Road North for about 4.6 miles, and then take a right on Piuma. In about 1.2 miles, at a sharp turn in the road, look for a small dirt turnout on the left (next to a driveway at the address 25575 Piuma Road.) I parked just before this address at a dirt pullout on the right, and then took the trailhead that started on the left just before the left dirt pullout. From Highway 101, drive South on Las Virgenes for about five miles and turn left on Piuma, and follow the same directions from listed above.

If you have any questions about this hike, feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

Tar Creek Falls

Tar Creek Falls is a very interesting Trek with many deep pools and waterfalls; including a very intriguing one, but, to get to the bottom of it, you will need Special equipment: 190ft rope, 190ft recovery cord, rappelling equipment, 40ft webbing, 2 rappel rings and rock descending and ascending skills. I am just writing about the hike to the end of the line where the only way to go further is to rappel. There are no signs to trailhead, so, it is not the easiest to find, but, I will list directions at the end of this post that will hopefully get you there without getting lost. The actual trailhead is not marked either, but, you will see a wired metal gate just past the trailhead, and that wil indicate that you are going the right way. As you pass the gate, just a little bit further up, you will reach a junction where you will make a left and start a descent to a creek about 2.5 miles down. The very last part of this will be a very steep descent to the creek. Once you reach the creek, head left, but the trail is pretty much gone after that as you will be boulder hopping to reach a few deep pools that you can jump into if you wish. If you do, please do so at your own risk. If you wish to reach the canyon with the main waterfall, continue forward scaling down/up canyon walls and boulders for another mile or so to reach the very end. This part of the trek is very adventurous, and if there is a big rain beforehand, you will probably be swimming. Please use caution and please do this at your own risk and remember that you will have to return the same way you came, so, try to conserve your energy by pacing yourself. The only way from here to get to the bottom of the waterfall is to rappel(which I did not do on this trek, the hike alone was fine for me).

One of the pools in Tar Creek.

I do not recommend this hike during the Summer or when it is very hot. If you do do this on a hot day, make sure you wear a hat, sunblock and bring plenty of water. This is about a 10 mile round trip and just about all of the elevation gain will be hiking back up to the parking lot. This is a great place if you want to take a dip in the pool and do a little backpacking as the creek is very nice, and, like I said, after a good rain, this is a place that you need to see. The only thing about this hike is that once you get to the creek from the trailhead, the trail is pretty much done and it is just a matter of boulder hopping from there on out, so, it is not a type of hike that you will be on a trail the whole time, but, that does not mean that this will not be one heck of an adventure. I really enjoyed it and I plan to go back again after there is more rain. Enjoy Tar Creek, be safe and watch your steps when you begin boulder hopping.

Gyorgyi with a nice view in the background.

Tar Creek Falls Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 1800 feet
  • Round Trip – 10 miles
  • Suggested Time – 5 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Best Season – Fall to Spring

Danilo and Gyorgyi with Sespe Creek in the background.

Tar Creek Falls is located in the Los Padres National Forest. From the town of Fillmore in Ventura County, take A Street about a mile North to Goodenough Road. Turn right and continue 2.7 miles to Squaw Flat Road on the right (its marked as the Dough Flat Turnoff). Turn right and drive 4.8 miles up the winding mostly dirt mountain road to the unsigned parking pullout on the left. It’s located 1.5 miles beyond the Oak Flat Guard Station. Park in the pullout, display your adventure pass, and take the wide path to the northwest through the metal gate to begin the hike.

If you have any questions about this hike, please feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

Sandstone Peak via Mishe Mokwa Trail

The Sandstone Peak hike via the Mishe Mokwa Trail is another intriguing trek with great views and interesting rock formations(Balance Rock and Split Rock). This is a 6 mile loop with an elevation gain of about 1400 feet. The trail is in good condition and offers quite a bit of shade and great places to take pictures and to just relax(Split Rock). Sandstone Peak is the tallest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains at an elevation of 3,111 feet. The peak has an excellent 360 degree view towards the Pacific Ocean, Ventura County, the San Fernando Valley and the Los Angeles area. This is a very popular spot so parking can be a little difficult and the drive up there is not easy as the road does twist and turn a lot and can get very narrow in certain parts. Once you get to the Trailhead, the signs are very clear and it is very easy to follow the trail to the peak. There is another way to get to Sandstone Peak via the Sandstone Peak Trail, but, that is only about a 1.3 miles to the top and steeper. My recommendation for the best experience to the Sandstone Peak is to take the Mishe Mokwa Trail.

Danilo and Gyorgyi in the Split Rock.

When you begin your hike on the Mishe Mokwa Trail, you will come to a junction about half a mile into it; stay straight on the trail, do not turn left. In 1.3 miles, you will reach Split Rock, this is a very shaded area with picnic tables where you can enjoy snacks and/or drinks with a very peaceful sense. The trail from Split Rock picks up, and at the point, you have 2.4 miles to get to the Sandstone Peak. Once you proceed on the trail, you will reach a junction, turn left. If you go straight, you can reach Balance Rock, but it is not a maintained trail. After you turn left, you will ascend quite a bit more and then it will level out. You will then reach a sign that lists a trail to the Tri-Peaks towards the right, if you wish to go that way. If you do not wish to go towards the Tri-Peaks, then continue on the trail and you will reach a sign that lists the Sandstone Peak at .9 miles away. You will then ascend more and reach a sign to Inspiration Point, which is a great area to relax and get great views. After stopping at Inspiration Point, head back down and continue towards Sandstone Peak; which at this point is about half a mile away, but you will gain about 300 feet in elevation to reach the top. The last part is pretty steep. Once you get to the top, you will have the greatest views in the Santa Monica Mountains, and just like Inspiration Point, there is plaque there as well. There is also a register that you can sign in the plaque. To finish the loop, descend from the peak and connect to the trail. Make a right and go about 2 miles back to the parking lot.

Danilo and the Plaque at the Sandstone Peak.

Sandstone Peak Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 1400 feet
  • Round Trip – 6 miles
  • Suggested Time – 3 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Best Season – Any Season

View from Sandstone Peak.

Sandstone Peak is in the Santa Monica Mountains. From Westlake Village, exit Westlake Blvd from the 101 North, and make a left(23 South) for several miles as it merges with Mulholland Highway. Contine on the 23 South and then head West(right on Mulholland Highway). Do not go straight to Decker Road. Continue for a about a mile or so on Mulholland Highway and turn right onto Little Sycamore Canyon and it will become Yerba Buena Road as you cross the county line. Continue on Yerba Buena Road for about 4 miles to Trailhead (about a mile before you hit the Circle X Ranch Ranger Station).

If you have any questions about this hike, please leave a comment on this page and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

Methuselah Trail

The Methuselah Trail is located high in the White Mountains across from the Sierra Nevada’s at an elevation of just over 10,000 feet. The gain/loss in this trail is about 800 feet, so, you will be hiking at nearly 11,000 feet above sea level during some point of this trek. This trail is part of the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest(the oldest living pine forest which is home to the oldest living tree named Methuselah; which is over 4,600 years old and is still producing new offspring). The loop is about 4.5 miles or so, but, this is the most amazing hike I have ever done and you do get a mystical feeling as you are hiking through this forest. The trail is in excellent shape and it has 24 posts; with each post describing a certain section of the hike. You can pick up a guide brochure at the Trailhead sign.

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Tree.

The Trailhead is right next to the Schulman Grove Station; which is closed right now due to a fire, but, we happened to run into a Ranger who had opened it when we had just  finished the hike. The Ranger was a very nice older gentlemen, and he gave us a brief background about the Forest. This is something that you need to see in your lifetime; it is a moderate hike and the elevation is around 10,000 and 11,000 feet, so, the air will be very thin(hiking around this area is good conditioning to acclimatize for a hike like Mt. Whitney; of course, the difficulty level here is NOTHING compared to Mt. Whitney(22 mile round trip and 6100 feet of elevation gain to a summit at just under 14,500 feet). Advise: take your time in the Methuselah Trail and take as many pictures as possible. This was a breathtaking experience and I am looking forward to coming back here again.

Gyorgyi and this amazing Bristlecone Pine Tree.

Methuselah Trail Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 800 feet
  • Round Trip – 4.5 miles
  • Suggested Time – 3 – 4 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Best Season – All Season(just be cautious if there is snow).

Dawn View Towards the Sierra Nevada's.

The Methuselah Trail is in the Inyo National Forest. From the US 395 North, Turn right on State Highway 168, one half mile North of the town of Big Pine, CA, which is about  15 miles South of Bishop, CA. Drive East on 168 about 12 miles until you reach the top of Westgard Pass. Turn left on the White Mountain Road, which will take you to the Bristlecone Pine Forest. Follow this paved road 10 miles until you find the turn off and parking lot to the Schulman Grove Visitor Center. You can park here.

If you have any questions about this hike, feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com

Cooper Canyon Falls

Cooper Canyon Falls is an intriguing 35 foot waterfall that can be reached via the Burkhart Trail in the Buckhorn Campgound. The hike to the waterfall is a moderate 3.8 mile round trip, and the majority of the elevation gain is hiking back up from the waterfall. The Burkhart Trail does connect with the Pacific Crest Trail if you choose to further explore the area. The trailhead is at an elevation of about 7200 feet and does descend to about 6400 feet at the waterfall. The trail is well maintained and offers lovely views of Cooper Canyon as you are descending down into the creek. There are several places where you can stop and enjoy a snack and/or drinks and since this is is very deep into the wilderness, you do get the sense of isolation. This waterfall is at it’s best in the Fall to the Spring(especially after a good rain). This area does get quite a bit of snow and can get cold, so, if you do go in the late Fall or Winter, make sure that you wear the appropriate clothing.

Gyorgyi with Cooper Canyon Falls in the Background.

To get to Cooper Canyon Falls, follow the trail descending gradually on the side of a canyon. At one point there is a trail leading down to the right; this trail leads to the Burkhart Waterfall, but, to get to Cooper Canyon Falls, do not go this way, instead, stay straight as the trail bends to the left and then switchbacks to the right. You’re now in the Cooper Canyon. The trail will then turn east down Upper Little Rock Creek, passing through a glen of pines and ferns. Continue along the creek, ascending and descending a little bit, to a marked junction with the Pacific Crest Trail. Turn right (more like straight ahead) and continue a little ways. On the left you should see the top of a waterfall. Continue a bit further up and on the left there is an unmarked steep trail leading down. (If you cross Little Rock Creek and reach the junction with the Rattlesnake Trail you’ve gone too far). The last 8 feet or so vertically requires a bit of care as it is wet and this part of the descent does have a rope tied to a tree that will help guide you down into bottom of the waterfall(with a nice pond).

Danilo along the trail to Cooper Canyon Falls.

Cooper Canyon Falls Statistics:

  • Elevation Gain – 800 feet
  • Round Trip – 3.8 miles
  • Suggested Time – 3 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Best Seasons – Fall to Spring

Nice View from Along the Trek to Cooper Canyon Falls.

Cooper Canyon Falls is in the Angeles National Forest. From the 210 Freeway in La Canada, head northeast on Angeles Crest Highway (CA 2) for 35 miles. You will pass the Mount Waterman Ski Area and turn left into Buckhorn Campground. Drive through the campground for about half a mile following signs for the day-use area. Be sure to display an adventure pass before starting down the Buckhart Trail.

If you plan to do this hike and have any additional questions, please feel free to leave a comment here and/or email me at 412cobrapower@gmail.com