Let's do a loop around the northeastern regions of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and the Las Virgenes Open Space. This area is one of my favorite hikes, as it traverses many ecosystems, including riparian, chaparral, and Simi Valley rockscape.
Weather is forecast to be sunny and a high of 72 - perfect for a hike with varying amounts of shade. Even if Newbury Park and Camarillo are overcast, Oak Park is generally sunny.
The trailhead is where Sunnycrest turns into Doubletree, about a mile east of Kanan Road (34°10'56.67"N, 118°45'6.44"W). The area under the trees is shady all day long; get there early to get a good spot.
We'll be hiking a total of 6.75 miles over the course of 2 1/2 - 3 hours, and will traverse parts of Aspen Ridge, Palo Comado, Ranch Center, Cheseboro Canyon, Sheep Corral and Dead Horse trails. We'll see Sulphur Springs and the Baleen Wall, some rock caves and other evocative rock formations typical of the Simi Hills. The hike includes fire roads, single-tracks, a little scrambling up rocky parts of the trail, and an exhilarating wakeup call near the beginning, where we travel up and down 400' over the course of the 1 mile Ranch Center section of the trail.
It's a little late for the deer that fraternize under the valley oaks in the fall, but hawks, road runners, wildflowers are often visible on this hike most of the year. Yerba Santa, California Peony, and Wooly Blue Curls are particularly prominent on this loop. The drought has taken its toll, but some wildflowers were in bloom last weekend.
Bring sunscreen, plenty of water, and wear sturdy shoes and a sun hat. Please consider bringing the 10 essentials. (http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/ten-essentials.html)
Our departure time is 9:00. Please plan on arriving in time to get your boots and backpack on in time - perhaps 8:45.
Rain in the preceding 24 hours cancels this hike - much of the trail is adobe, and gets to be a sticky mess after a soaking.
• National Park Service trail map (http://www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/upload/Cheeseboro-PaloComado8-09.pdf)
• Current weather (http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=34.17090836352573&lon=-118.73611450195312&site=lox&smap=1&marine=0&unit=0&lg=en#.Udcfu_mG2So)
DISCLAIMER / RELEASE OF LIABILITY
IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ BELOW IN ITS ENTIRETY:
The hike host is a volunteer and not responsible for the group. Safety should be a priority for everyone in the group. Please treat this meet-up as hiking with a group of friends. If you become fatigued and unable to continue the hike, it is expected you will advise the hike host of this and return to our starting point on your own. If you are able to proceed, it is expected that you will maintain line of sight with other members of the group at all times and help to promote the group’s safety and fitness goals.
Outdoor sports and other events we plan can be inherently dangerous and accidents may happen. By participating in any posted event, you are taking responsibility for your own safety and well-being. The Weekday Trailblazers Meetup Group and its organizers are not trained leaders and we do not confirm the qualifications of any of its members to lead or participate in trips. All participants take full responsibility for their own actions.
If you choose to sign up for this or any Weekday Trailblazers Meetup event, you are releasing the Weekday Trailblazers Meetup Group and its organizers from all liability in case of possible injuries. Your personal safety depends on your own judgment and experience.
All participants must be 18 or older, or accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.