Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hiking Castro "Peak"

It has occurred to me that in my travels around LA, I have hit a lot of "little guy" parks but not a lot of the "big boys". Last weekend in an attempt to rectify that a little, I spent some time in the Cleveland National Forest. This week, I decided to hit up Malibu Creek State Park and check out Castro "Peak".

Why is "Peak" in quotes you might ask? Well it so happens that out of the hundreds of miles that one can traverse in the Santa Monica Mountains, .60 of a mile are closed because the peak is privately owned and not opened to us lessers. I wanted to hike it anyway (or at least to as far as I could go) and hike it I did.

You pull into Malibu Creek and are asked to pay a hefty entrance fee of $12 which isn't a problem if you are a CSPF member. A docent pointed me in the right direction but there is only 1 real direction to go and soon you are on a nice tree-lined canoe path.

Walking about a mile into the park you come to a split in the road where you can wander off to the visitor center or keep going to the MASH set. For those looking to go on to Castro, you must make a pilgrimage to Hawkeye and Hot Lips land.

When I started off of my trek, I was one of the only mammals on the trail except these guys.

The trail then starts trekking upward and brings you onto this flat plain that has a decided Colorado feel to it. Having never been to Colorado, I feel supremely qualified to make this assessment.

This broad swath of country doesn't last long because if you want to get jiggy with the guys and gals from the 4077 you have to go through a swamp.

A swamp that got swampier because of the rain in SoCal the previous week.

Here is a quick hint. If you want to go hiking, don't go to a place with "Creek" in the title just after a rainstorm.

Eventually you do in fact get to the MASH set. Some guy I met along the trail asked "is it worth it". I have no idea random man, what do you think?

Then, you press on to the West eventually coming upon the aptly named "Bulldog Trail". The trail is so named because it tenaciously goes upward through the canyons searching for a ridgeline and eventually finding it only after beating you up a bit because of its relentlessness.

The trail was muddy but dried out nicely at the higher elevations.

Of course, higher elevations mean better views and on a clear day, this hike has it in spades. Here is just a sampling.

Eventually after 3.4 miles (or thereabouts) you reach the crest of the trail and Castro Peak. True to its word, the Peak is still closed off with appropriate signage.

Still you can tromp around up there with amazing views of various mountain ranges and the Pacific Ocean.

And some man made ones as well.

After that, you can do a huge loop that treks East and back over the mountains or go back down the way you came. Considering it took about 6 miles to get to that point, it was time to head down the way I came.

I seem to have some weird 6th sense about when to leave a summit or high point because I intuit that people are coming and come they did. I met at least 7 people on the Bulldog and hiking past MASH I must have passed 50+ people. This is a POPULAR park although most people tend to stick near the parking lot it seems so if you get their earlier and/or go deep in the park, it will just be you and the deer...and the mud.

Of course my hitting up the "little" parks isn't over. Stay tuned for a special Thursday edition of EWH for a real doozy of a little park.


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