100 Hikes In The San Gabriels: #56 Chilao to Devils Canyon

September 28, 2014 1 comment

Recently, me and one of my hiking buddies decided we were bored with the Santa Monica Mountains so we’ve started doing hikes from one of her many hiking books, Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels by John W. Robinson.

#56 Chilao to Devils Canyon
7 miles roundtrip reverse hike
1500′ loss/gain

I was uneasy about this hike because every review I read talked about how climbing back out of the canyon was difficult because the trail is steep. Um, no, it is not. I would describe it as long, gentle switchbacks. Not steep inclines or whatever. I did have to stop and rest several times coming back up, but that was mostly because I sit at a desk all week so my legs were tired.

Definitely have good treads on your shoes or hiking boots and I recommend a trekking pole. That being said, a family hiked all the way down and back up with their 4 & 5-yo boys who were wearing basic sneakers. Go figure.

I was worried about bears and mountain lions. We saw bear scat, but no animals or snakes. There are areas with really annoying bugs that want to land on your face so insect repellant is highly recommended. I wish I’d had some.

The trail was hard to find in some spots and coming back up we somehow found ourselves off the trail and sliding our way down a hill into the riverbed. My friend was able to climb up the loose hill to the trail on the other side but I wasn’t, so she came back down and we bushwacked our way to a more rocky area where I was able to climb out.

This is one of my favorite hikes ever so I hope you’ll check it out sometime.




100 Hikes In The San Gabriels: Switzer Falls

Recently, me and one of my hiking buddies decided we were bored with the Santa Monica Mountains so we’ve started doing hikes from one of her many hiking books, Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels by John W. Robinson.

#17 Switzer Falls
4 miles out and back
‘600 gain

This was one of the best days ever. A lovely hike in cool mountain air with my favorite hiking buddies. Beautiful light and scenery. A bit of adventure, but not too strenuous for those of us who have been sitting our butts for 3 weeks during the heatwave.

Oh, you may wonder where the pictures of the water falls are. Their aren’t any falls. We’re in a drought. We actually walked 1/4 mile past where they would’ve been, trying to find them!


Shout out to the helpful Park Ranger who saved us a long, steep, nasty walk back up the road at the end of the day by telling us we should move our car down to the lower (3rd) parking lot down at the trail head.

Urban Adventure: Train to Santa Barbara – Walk to Butterfly Beach – Coast Village Road

On August 2nd, 2014, my friend, Lori, and I went on another Urban Adventure with The Valencia Hiking Crew. This time our destination was Santa Barbara, which I had only passed through on my way to Solvang with my parents. I apologize in advance for my crappy photos. The marine layer was pretty thick and my phone camera doesn’t have a flash.

Since we had people boarding the train at practically every station on Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner route, the plan was for everyone to be in the last car. However, at our station there was a large group hanging out on the platform where we guessed the last car would stop so we were plotting and planning how to jump on ahead of them. Luckily, the conductor asked each of us if we were with the Senior Group or the Hiking Group and showed us which train car to get on.

I’m glad I didn’t have time to eat breakfast because Jackie had stopped at Porto’s and had pastries for everyone and John had made quiche!

Our first stop after arrival was the 1916 Allan Herschell 3-abreast carousel in Chase Palm Park. What a treat! If you bring kids, be sure to stop there. They have a playground that looked like a lot of fun.

Next, we walked a path that went around what I thought was the Zoo, but was actually the Andree Park Bird Refuge. A book has been written about the interesting recluse who donated the money to create the refuge and a movie about her is also in the works.Can’t wait to tour her 1930s estate one fine day!

The bicycle path turns by the Santa Barbara Cemetery. A short walk past that, we arrived at 1001 Fairway Road where we all ran up to the gates to see where Ty Warner (Beanie Babies) lives in a 18,000 square foot, $200 million, “palatial estate dominated by an Italianate mansion“.  All I could get a picture of was the beautiful entrance inside the gates.

We continued along Channel Drive and turned up Butterfly Lane, which should probably be renamed Pig Lane after seeing one particular yard. We crossed under the 101 freeway via an art tunnel to reach Coast Village Road where some of us branched off to have lunch at Cava.

On the way back to the train station, we passed two beautiful hotels, The Montecito Inn and the Biltmore (both of which, I believe, are now owned by Ty Warner!!!) before heading down to the sand.

Lori and I got in a couple extra hours and a few extra miles since we decided to take the later train back to Los Angeles. We walked up State Street, stopping for an iced coffee at The French Press and taking a tour of the amazing Arlington Theatre.

Back on the train, as we oooed and ahhhed over the gorgeous sunset, we couldn’t figure out why we were so exhausted. It turns out the original mileage calculation was off by about 3 miles so we ended up walking almost 11 miles!


Further Reading:
Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune
The Best Last Place: a history of the Santa Barbara Cemetery

Categories: Adventures

Nothing Like Climbing Stairs In A Sauna

L.A. was like a sauna the day author Charles Fleming took us on a variation of one of his Secret Stairs walks in Echo Park. Luckily he went at a leisurely pace so no one died. I, however, almost died when one of these fig eater beetles


Fig Eater photo from fireflyforest.net

was flying around our table at breakfast! In the process of screeching and swatting at the beast with my menu, I bumped the table, splashing coffee everywhere.


Categories: Adventures

Temescal Canyon and Malibu

Temescal Canyon is one of my favorite hikes so when my friend Lori and I couldn’t find any organized hikes that interested us last weekend, I suggested Temescal.

If you go, make sure you take the trail to the right, unless you like steep hills with no shade. The one on the right is a nice, one-man trail that winds it’s way up the mountain more gradually and has more shade. On the way down we passed a lot of inexperienced hikers on their way up the Ridge trail who were sweaty, red-faced, and gasping for breath. I hope they made it to the top to experience the amazing views.

Just remember: Temescal Canyon Trail is to your right. Temescal Ridge Trail is to your left. Canyon Trail = shade. Ridge Trail = direct sun…hot…bad.

After a delicious lunch at Malibu Seafood, we strolled the beach, which was dotted with these, by-the-wind sailors, poor things,

By-The-Wind Sailor

By-The-Wind Sailor – Photo from realmonstrosities.com

and then drove down to check out the progress of Malibu Lagoon. Where are the pictures of the Lagoon? I didn’t take any so that should tell you just how impressed we were with the progress. We walked to the pier and then back to the car, planning to grab an iced coffee or some ice cream at Malibu Country Mart before heading home.

Unfortunately, Lori’s key fob malfunctioned and her car thought we were trying to steal it so it was honking and wouldn’t let her start the engine. Luckily, AAA showed up less than 10 minutes after she called them. The guy wasn’t in the best mood and got frustrated easily. When he finally stopped the horrible honking and got the engine started, he told Lori she should only use the key for the doors until she could have the alarm and key fob looked at.

I wish I had a picture of the look he gave her when she asked him if he thought we could stop to get a coffee! He advised us to go straight home and not stop anywhere, so that’s what we did.

Traffic was such a mess that it took us two hours to go the 12 miles over Kanan Dume Road, but we had had such a fun day that we didn’t mind.

Categories: Adventures

Santa Cruz Island

On March 29, 2014, I went with my friend, Lori, and The Valencia Hiking Crew to Santa Cruz Island for a day of hiking. Santa Cruz is the largest of the eight Channel Islands and one of five islands that make up Channel Islands National Park. Once privately owned, it is now 24% National Park and 76% Nature Conservancy.

We met up with our fellow VHC friends at Island Packers in Ventura, securing a spot on the upper deck, outside, for the one hour boat ride to the island. So far in my boating experience, I’ve never gotten seasick (knock on wood), but from what I gather, it’s something that can happen to you at any time, so I debated over whether or not I should take any preventive measures. Since I’ve never had a problem with boats, roller coasters, or other topsy-turvey, spinning carnival rides (knock on wood again), I decided I’d be ok. And I was, thank God. What I wish I had done was pack long pants and gloves. That wind was more bitter-cold than I had anticipated. On the return trip we warmed our hands with cups of hot chocolate, which you can buy onboard, as well as other food and beverages.

It was very warm on the inland trails. I wasn’t able to keep up with the pace of the group, so I ended up spending the day hiking alone on the cooler cliffside trails.  Normally I would never recommend hiking alone, but I had a trail map and too much plenty of water with me. I also knew my friend wouldn’t take off on the return boat without me (would she???), so it was really a wonderful experience, hiking in solitude.

If you’re not into hiking, sea kayaking, or camping, there is nothing for you here.


Cal-Earth Superadobes

(1) shelter is a basic human right, (2) every human being should be able to build a house for him or herself, and (3) the best way to provide shelter for the exponentially increasing human population is by building with earth. — The three principles in Cal-Earth’s mission.

This place was nothing like I imagined, thank God. It was amazing! I highly recommend checking out one of their open houses, especially if you have kids. They can climb all over the superadobes, even up onto the roofs. Yes, of course, I tried it out myself!

The open house is the first Saturday of the month (except August). You can either bring a pot luck item or a minimum donation of $7.00. While you’re exploring the superadobes and taking in a lecture, the Cal-Earth people are setting up the potluck.

The superadobes are made out of sandbags and barbed wire. The structures have passed California’s high-seismic building codes, making them resistant to earthquakes, fires, floods and hurricanes. But even more imporantly (ha ha) they are cuuuuuuuuuuuuute!

Read about the founder Nader Khalili here, and about his inspiration, the poet Rumi, here.

Thanks to The Valencia Hiking Crew for organizing another amazing event!






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