Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hiking Happy Camp Canyon

There are many hiking options here in SoCal. Despite Hollywood's instance that LA is either Beach, Beverly Hills or South Central, in reality the mountains surround and define this town. One of the under-hiked spots in Los Angeles is not even in Los Angeles but I am lumping it in anyway, the Valley of Simi.

Sure the hills are brown, not your classic mountain green but there is beauty in them thar hills waiting for you.

A few thoughts about the hike itself (just in case you are into that sort of thing). As it starts out, there are several trails that branch off the main trail. When in doubt, bear right. This hike starts in the Eastern Hills and if you use the Broadway parking lot (mandatory jazz hands when I type that), then you are heading West to East.

Secondly, the hike itself doesn't start until 1 mile in at the actual gated start to the Park.

So when you are planning your travels to Happy Camp Canyon (hurry, tickets are going fast!), make sure to tack on an extra 2 miles roundtrip. My rule of thumb holds true here, bear to the right to start climbing some switchbacks to get up to the ridgeline.

The hike has 2 distinct personalities (much like your uncle and your drunk uncle). The first part of the hike is a standard fire road climb to a ridegeline. The elevation gain for the first mile is about 500 feet and ultimately you go up another 300 feet over the next 3 miles, although it really is more like 500-600 feet more elevation gain as the ridge rollercoasters up and down. For most hikers in shape, this won't be a problem but it was a problem for me since I am decidedly not in hiking shape.

As you trundle upward, you get great views of the Santa Monica mountains.

Of course, it was a little smoggy the day I went but I think you get the point :)

Eventually after 4 miles, if you want to make this a loop (or not, you can keep hiking straight ahead to Six Flags if you like), then keep a weather eye out for these rock cairns:

and then start descending down an insanely steep section of chalk rock. Its a least 35 degrees and goes down about 400 feet in about .40 of a mile. Its no big deal but just go slow and you will make it fine (well I made it fine an I am terrible on these sections).

The second half of the hike is almost completely flat and brings you through lovely California Oak Trees (so lovely I capitalize with abandon).

10 miles, 2 different feeling hikes, almost no one else hiking/biking/horse riding at all, sounds pretty good to me.  Who wants to move to Simi Valley with me?

Want some more info on this hike? Check it out here: http://www.lamountains.com/maps/happyCamp.pdf


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