The family was taking two vehicles to SoCal for the holiday this year
because there were more folks to carry back with us on the return. Jackie
and I went down a day earlier than Mom and Ryan so I could spend an
evening with my sister and Jackie could go on a date with her boyfriend
who lived down that way. I would insist of course that we leave San Jose
early enough to give us time to hit up a few peaks on our way to Santa
Clarita. Three of the four peaks we tagged were in the Liebre Range
around the Castaic Lake area off
Interstate 5, all them short outings. Despite heavy holiday traffic
enroute, we managed to get the four peaks in with time to spare before we
were due at my sister's home at 4p.
Our first stop had us exiting I-5 below Pyramid Lake and driving a portion
of the Old Ridge Route that predates Interstate 5 and the Golden State
Hwy as a means to get between SoCal and the Central
Valley. Hiway BM is
found a few hundred yards off this weakly maintained
paved road. Washouts have closed the road to through traffic for decades
now, but other sections north and south are still driveable by the
adventurous. We parked off the road to the west and hiked the short distance
to the summit on an old, mildly overgrown use trail.
There was a register at the top left in 2016.
Laura Newman was the last to sign in, no great surprise. Curses!
These two unnamed summits are located
east of Castaic Lake. A paved road goes from Lake Castaic up Lake Elizabeth
Canyon to the small community of Lake Hughes. Both of these are found off
this road. Peak 2,356ft is perhaps a quarter mile
from the road, the area
having recently burned off the brush though the use trail leading to the
peak is easily discerned. The summit is a large rock outcrop,
with no route easier than class 3, easily the most fun we had on the day.
Once at the rock outcrop, Jackie took the easier
class 3 route up the north side
while I followed a more sporting climb on
the west side. It was funny to scramble past several bolts
that had been placed on the relatively easy granite face. Our routes
converged about 2/3 of the way up the 40 to 50-foot high outcrop. Here we
took another sporty route up the west side
(easier route continues on the
north side). We took the easiest options down
the north side on our
return. Fun scrambling on this one.
Found about 3/4mi to the east of Peak 2,356ft across a small canyon, there
is a dirt road from the north that can be used to get quite close to the
summit. A sign indicates the Forest Service road is closed to the public
due to the fire, but this had been routinely ignored and an alternate
track has been established around the locked gate. We drove up to a
saddle on the SE side
of the summit where a short walk leads to the top.
Parking at the gate makes the route about a mile and a quarter each way.
Del Valle Benchmark
This minor summit is located west of the I-5/SR126 interchange at the
northwest end of Santa Clarita. The paved road that runs east of the
summit is inconveniently signed for No Parking on both sides of the road.
We explored other parking options, but eventually settled on an unsigned,
ungated spur road immediately adjacent to the
water tower access road we
planned to hike. This spur road goes only a short distance down from the
main road to a dry catch basin where we parked. The water tower road is
gated, but a use trail can be found going
around the gate and fence. We walked the road
up to the tower where it was necessary to climb some
above the tower to gain the summit. Jackie decided this
was a bit too brushy for her liking and waited at the top of the tower
for my return. I found the route hardly brushy at all, but still a bit
steep. Above the culverts, a use trail leads to the summit with a cool
view overlooking the broad (and dry)
Santa Clara River flood plain along
which SR126 follows west to Oxnard. A generic, undated, unstamped
is found at the small summit. I collected my daughter on the
way back down to end the day. Time to meet up with Sis, shower, and
then ... sushi!