Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Hiking The Chumash Trail
Simi Valley rarely gets the love from the SoCal hiking blogs. Sure its not the Santa Monica Mountains or the Angeles National Forest but damnit, there are some good hikes to be had 40 minutes from Hollywood. Come with me, won't you on one of those hikes, the hike on the Chumash Trail.
There are 2 ways to attack this trail as a loop but as you know by now, I almost always (and always inadvertently) choose the harder trail which for our purposes is the Chumash. The Chumash is 2.7 miles of pretty much uphill hiking. The trail does go up some great hillsides though that really give you the flavor of hiking in Simi Valley.
There are a lot of side trails leading off into the great unknown on this trail but I stuck to the Chumush Trail proper for this hike which was very well signed.
You will be gaining elevation with this puppy. I clocked the crest at about 2500 feet with about a 1200 starting point so you will definitely get your exercise going uphill. Plus I hiked this on a hot day and had to stop about every 1/2 mile to hydrate, something to consider before doing this trail. Not to scare you off, if you start hiking in the morning, the trail skirts the north of several hills which provides shade but hiking in the Valley is HOT so just be prepared with H2O is all I am saying.
As most hikers know though, as you increase elevation, you increase the views and boy was I impressed by the Simi views. Sure, its not Sierras but they have their own swale-grass charm.
You will know you are finally reaching the trail crest when you start going much more uphill with rocky features.
Don't worry, you really aren't doing any scrambling in this part, its just exposed rock as the trail.
There are a bunch of bikers on this trail but all of them were courteous and there were no bombers going downhill.
Once you reach the crest, you can either trek North to make this into a loop or go back the way you came. I decided to trek North and although I keep saying "crest" there are still several uphill sections to tackle.
If you want to head North, the trails from here on out are unsigned but as you can see below, the first part of the trail heading North is pretty obvious as it dips through the wide expanse of the Valley.
As you are hiking along this trail, I recommend you take a slight side trip and head up this side trail
and you will find a memorial for a fallen ICE officer.
It is a fitting memorial as the views from that spot are pretty nice.
The trail you are looking for to complete the loop is the Las Llajas trail and you know you are getting close when you see the trees come into view.
Once you reach the trees first, there is blessed shade and secondly you will see the Llajas trail clearly going to the West/Left.
Take that Llajas trail and start your glorious descent downward. All that elevation you gained in the first 4.5 miles? You are basically losing it over the next mile. There are no signs on this trail but you can be rest assured you are going the right way when you see this little symbol of humanity pop up:
Once you get onto flat territory, the hike back is a little uninspiring as you make your way in the notch between two hillsides.
Still, there is some beauty to be had here and there.
The land toward the end of the trail is a mixture of private ranch land and Santa Monica Conservancy land, the demarcation of which is helpfully pointed out by this weirdly busty sign.
Once you see the huge houses, you know your trip is near and end.
One of the things to be mindful of is to complete the loop you need to take a left from the trail and walk through a residential neighborhood (on Evening Sky Way) and eventually you will get to a gate
which lead you back on the trail which intersects with the Chumash, thus completing the loop.
Overall thoughts? Simi Valley is underrated, this loop trail (clocking in at about 9.6 miles) is a bit of a tester, a bit of a sweater and some great views. Definitely worth your time to go on the 118 to Yosemite (!?!) Drive to check this out. Plus, I can't possibly review any trail negatively when you parking on this street ;).