Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hiking Santa Susana SP

Despite being only a half hour from Los Angeles, Simi Valley is not often talked about as a hiking destination. Still, I really enjoyed my time at Rocky Peak and decided to head back and check out Santa Susana State Park on the other side of the 118.

There are several ways to attack the park either on the West side or East side but I chose to start at the beginning of the 'ol stagecoach trail in the southern end of the park. As you enter the park, you cant help but notice the rocky mountains you will be climbing into.

As you start to make your way North, you encounter the stagecoach trail.

Now I don't think too much about the people who have hiked a trail before me. However, you can't help but think about all the people using this trail to get over the mountains in the 1800s. The ground is worn down to bedrock and creased with wagon wheel scars. It really gives you an appreciation for the people making this trek almost 150 years ago!

Hewing to this early pioneer spirit, this park is wild. There are trails to be sure but all are unmarked and since you start out on low ground, you can't get a sense of where they wind up. Your best bet is to print out the map (linked below) and bring some common sense and orienteering skills to the park.

Case in point, is the main trail in the park, the stagecoach trail. The trail meanders along in the grasslands

but then you start to see other trails branching off. Are they the loop trails on the map? Are they some of the one way trails? Who knows! My suggestion is to go on wide rather than narrow trails to bear right rather than left and to go up rather than down. Other than that, you are on your own.

Well...not quite. I will let you in on a secret. As you make your way on the stagecoach trail and want to continue to follow it up the rocks, look for this little stone with spray paint on the trail

Once you see that stone, head left/West and up and you will be going on the right trail.

This trail heads up and really gets you in the pioneer spirit. Lots of slick rock (which also seems to have had a few adventurous biking souls take to its trails)

and cool views of the park abound.

After awhile on the rock, you reach this cool sign that was erected in the 1930s commemorating the pass for its work in the 1860s.

Yes, its not exactly a "small" plaque or anything but aside from the historical "hmmm" factor, this sign tells you that you have almost made it to the junction of the upper part of the Santa Susana trails.

At the junction, you have several trails to explore. I decided to hike up the hillside

and check out Rocky Peak to the North and the rest of the rather hazy Simi Valley.

Be forewarned, there is little to no shade at SS (as the pictures can attest) so make sure to bring your sun protection and water. Counter-intuitively, I saw more people starting the hike later in the day then at the beginning (I started off around 9am) so they might know something I don't. Still, it was hot and will probably stay that way through the Summer months.

There is no way I found to cut across to the Eastern side of the park once you are in the Western portion so I just ambled back down the stagecoach trail rather than trying to do some grand loop. There are some mini-loops you can try as you make your way around the swale grass and waterfalls (I was dubious so I din't explore but allegedly there is a waterfall trail), here look at a picture.

that doesn't exactly give you a sense of the loopiness but in any event, there are other places to explore is what I am saying.

There are also really interesting flowers

and rocks

along the way so I suggest slowing down and take in this old West feeling park rather than trying to complete any particular mileage goals.

Overall I was impressed by this park and while I am not a fan of the lack of signage, it does add an element of the old West by trudging along these trails as our pioneer forefathers (and foremothers) did. Is it sexist that my spell check is fine with forefathers but not foremothers?

In any event, if you want a wilder-type of hike that puts you into the pioneer spirit, get thyself to Simi Valley!

Here is the map you will need to complete your journey! http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/611/files/SantaSusanaPassSHPFinalWebLayout2010.pdf


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