Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hiking Cheeseboro Canyon- Simi Peak Bonus!

I have to admit, I have been burned out on hiking in SoCal recently. This stems directly from the heaping hot heat we have had here in SoCal over the last few weeks. It makes hiking pretty taxing and I have limited myself to hiking more parkland-type tracks to cut down on the heat and increase the possibility for shade. While I have continued to rack up the miles in 2012, the trails themselves have provided less than desirable eye candy.

That all changed last weekend when I discovered a little trod section of the Santa Monica Mountains called Cheeseboro Canyon which has now become one of my MUST hikes for y'all.

The hike didn't start out that way. The first part of the hike is through parkland

and I just thought, well this is more of the same. However, I learned that this neck of the woods has numerous ecosystems and there are some spectacular sections of the trail which make it worth your while.

There are two way to attack the loop, you either head Northeast on the Cheeseboro Trail or you head Northwest on the Modelo Trail which hooks up with the Palo Comado Trail. Even though the Modelo-Northwest trail has a lot of incline,

I HIGHLY suggest you head Northwest because the beauty of this place can really be only experienced hiking to the Northwest portion of the park.

This is not meant as a dis against all things parkland. That landscape does contain nice vistas

(and some deer without fear)

but do yourself a favor and head toward China Flat because as you head uphill the terrain gets rocky, the views get long and you slow to a turtles pace to check out the awesomesauceness.

If you go the other way on the Cheeseboro Trail and loop around to the West, you lose the approach views of these valleys so no reason to do a loop trail that way.

The only downside of hiking Northwest is takes about 5-6 miles to reach this point. You have a choice whether to loop around the Sheep Corral Trail or to head to Simi Peak. I also recommend putting in the time and mileage to hike this peak.

The peak is accessible through China Flat and while the map of the park gets a little wonky in this section of the park, just follow the signs for the Simi Peak trail and you will make it out aight. (side note, the trails are really well marked here

so don't worry if the map doesn't exactly synch up with the topography in this section of the park)

The trail up the peak is a little claustrophobic, you will be in the brush for most of your hike to the peak (about a 500 foot elevation gain over .80 of a mile).

However, once you reach the peak, the views really open up (as they should) and you are rewarded with some pretty killer views.

You then backtrack down the peak, back down the trail until you get to the Sheep Corral Trail.

Now there are places named on this trail like sheep corral and shepherd flat which makes you think that people ran sheep in these canyons at some point but they must have been some stupid shepherds because this area is nothing but desert (yet another ecosystem in this park!).

I guess they thought they wanted to feed the coyotes or mountain lions or something, seriously, who would raise livestock here?

One tip I will send your way, this trail, before it intersects with the Cheeseboro splits and you can either head a little South or a little North (it eventually joins together again) so I suggest going a little South because that trail heads past a huge oak tree with lots of good shade a sitting rock! You have to sit on the sitting rock!

Then you head down the Cheeseboro trail which you can tell isn't really my favorite of the whole park. The first part of the trail follows a wash and then flattens out into the aforementioned park land. However, there is a lot to recommend for this portion of the hike, namely the Baleen Wall.

This was an impressive piece of nature, no question. Unfortunately, the park ranger wasn't there at the end of my hike to tell me the genesis of the choice of the unusual name but it sure was purty to look at.

This park is also known for its very old and big oak trees and they also put on a nice display in this section of the hike.

The way I hiked this park, I ended up doing about 13.7 miles. While you can definitely do less miles, this park makes you hike for the views but they are well worth your effort. The Northwest portion of the park is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in awhile but every section has something different that will make any section you do a cool experience.

As it gets chillier here in SoCal, this will be even a better hike, so get on out to it!

A great map, much utilized by me. http://www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/upload/Cheeseboro-PaloComado8-09.pdf


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