Hiking L.A.

Blogged: August 16, 2006

Devil Canyon

Hiked: August 12, 2006

I'm not sure why, but I'm really feeling a strong aversion to writing this blog post. Maybe its because all the events surrounding the hike were relatively infuriating, or perhaps it's because the hike itself wasn't particularly eventful. Regardless, I shall push on and write. Here goes nothing.

BF and I weren't sure if we'd get to hike this weekend. On Friday, we were supposed to be contestants on a new game show—the name of which shall not be mentioned because the network can sue me for a million dollars for just about anything at this point. The release form was pretty hefty, and I'd rather not violate its terms. Hell, even talking about the release form probably violates its terms. I better stop while I'm ahead. Regardless, Friday morning was our call time, but they told us to keep the whole weekend clear. Well, after about 10 hours of sitting around on Friday, we never became contestants on said game show. They told us to come back Sunday afternoon, so we had all day Saturday to hike.

I also was able to go to flute choir, which was a nice bonus. Of course, by the time I had come back from the music center, eaten lunch, and sat around watching TV for a while, BF and I still hadn't chosen a hike. We wanted to do a relatively easy hike, and because it was a very hazy day, I vetoed anything that had a "good view." Nothing could have had a good view on Saturday. Finally, we decided on Devil Canyon (not to be confused with Devil's Canyon) in Chatsworth. It was supposed to be a 5-mile hike with only 500 feet of elevation gain—exactly what I wanted. I used Google maps to find our trailhead's longitude and latitude, printed out the directions and the trail map, and we jumped in the car.

It was already 4p.m. by the time we left the apartment, but the freeways were clear and we arrived at our destination by 4:30. Unfortunately, our destination did not seem to exist. We consulted the map, and we were certainly in the right place. But where was the trailhead? All we saw were some massive ravens picking at roadside garbage. BF and I drove around for about a half hour looking for the trail. We went up a nearby side street only to find ourselves in the middle of a huge construction zone. We drove around some private streets and found nothing. Finally, we returned to where we started and explored a little on foot.

There was nothing to be found. Finally, a local resident called out to us from his passing car. He informed us that you can't get to the trail anymore because of the aforementioned construction. In order to find the trail, we'd have to get creative.

We drove around the corner to a large apartment complex where the guy had told us we could find the trail. BF got out of the car and hiked around for a while without finding anything. Finally, I consulted my handy Thomas Guide and saw that there was supposed to be a creek off to our North. We drove deep into the apartment complex and found a parking spot that seemed unreserved. Ducking under a wire fence, we saw our trail down the hill below. We quickly suited up, me wearing the camera bag and BF carrying the heavy backpack, and boogied out of the parking lot before a resident reported us for trespassing.

We descended along a small hill on the back side of the construction. Here's why you can't find the trailhead anymore:


With all those sprinklers and backhoes in the way, there's no real way to get to the trail without committing a minor misdemeanor. Of course, after all these delays, it was almost five o'clock by the time we started hiking.

Heading down the trail, you pass a rusted-out, wrecked car on your left:


This was my first indication that we were in the right place, because I remember it being mentioned in the Los Angeles times article about this trail. We pushed on and found a fork in the road where a dirt trail went off to the right and a gravel path continued straight. Here's a bit of advice: take the gravel path. BF and I took the dirt path about 300 feet up a hill before realizing we weren't in the right place.

Back on the right trail, we found our way along the mostly dry creek with ease. The main features of this hike are all the interesting sandstone formations along the canyon walls. For your consideration:




The trail follows a seasonal creek, which was pretty dry in this season. There were a few puddles of stagnant water to be found that were less-than appetizing:


The only real obstacle on our hike was a lovely tree that had fallen right across the trail. However, it was an easily-overcome foe:


Supposedly, you're only supposed to hike to a locked gate, but when BF and I found the gate, it was wide open. We decided we hadn't gone far enough, and we just kept going. We found these cool flowers and BF got artistic with the ye old camera:



Just past the gate is an old concrete dam:


We kept hiking until we realized that it was getting dark and it was time to go home. Turning back around, it got dark very quickly. But compared to our crazy night-hiking experience the week before, this was like walking down a multi-lane highway. We both had flashlights, and we just cruised along, enjoying the sounds of owls, frogs, and crickets. Speaking of frogs:


Also, the flowers we enjoyed earlier must have been night-bloomers, 'cause they were opening up:


We got back to our car, which, thankfully, hadn't been towed and headed on our way home. See? Nothing dramatic happened on this hike. It was just pleasant, like most hikes should be! And we only lost our way once. What's happening to BF and I? It's almost like we're becoming responsible outdoorspeople or something.

Check back next week for my report on the Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park. I know it's not near L.A., but it'll be a great hike!


At 10:17 PM, Blogger tom said...

Panorama Trail is totally awesome ... I did it last year and got tons o' great pictures.

At 8:49 AM, Blogger Shanna said...

Love that flower! The rusty car is awesome too.

At 10:11 AM, Anonymous Dean said...

If you ask the site super in the trailer he will let you pass. But there are many other ways to get to Devil's canyon. One is from the North end of Canoga via the Highlands; another couple of ways is from Brown's Canyon Rd. I like doing the Devil/Ybarra Canyon loop. If anyone wants to check it out I am willing to lead.

At 2:39 PM, Anonymous Randy said...

datura, that's the flower.


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