Nov 24, 2017
|Photos / Slideshow
In order to alleviate some of the overindulgence guilt that comes with a Thanksgiving feast, the extended family made plans to go hiking the next day in the local hills at 7a. I got up the next morning at 6:30a and waited until 7:30a, but there wasn't another soul stirring in the house. So I went out on my own, taking my bike for a ride around a portion of the Upper Las Virgenes Open Space Preserve. Around 9a I got a text from my brother, "Where you at?" After a few exchanges, it became clear that I had gone to bed before the group had changed plans to meet at 9:30a. "Guess I missed the memo," was my last reply.
The Ahmanson Ranch was a huge acreage in eastern Ventura County abutting LA and the San Fernando Valley. Developers planned a billion dollar effort with 3000+ homes, two schools, golf courses, a 300-room hotel and 400,000 sq.ft. of commercial space. The controversial project was scooped up by Washington Mutual back in 1998 when it acquired the H.F. Ahmanson Company, but they gave up on the project five years later when faced with overwhelming public and political opposition and little progress to show for their time and money invested. Another five years later, WaMu was one of the first casualties of the 2008 financial crisis, a bit karmic to those that fought against them and the Ahmanson development. Today the ranch is part of the Upper Las Virgenes OSP. It consists of oak woodlands and coastal chaparral, with ample grasslands and seasonal creeks. At this time of year the hills are all brown with dry grasses and thistles gone to seed, but it still holds a charm that is uniquely Californian.
There are several trailheads accessing the park. I chose the nearest, Victory Trailhead, found at the end of the boulevard by the same name. There is a $3 charge to park your vehicle in the dusty gravel lot but most folks seem to simply park on Victory Blvd and walk in. The trails are a mix of old ranch roads, single track cow and other use trails beaten into the hard clay soils. The previous winter's rain brought a bumper crop of brush which is doing its best to reclaim some of the old, unmaintained trails. Laskey Mesa, which I visited first, is the large flatish area where the Ahmanson development was to take place. It is serviced by several roads that are popular walking trails. The highpoint is at or near a large out-of-place section of pavement that may have served as a helipad at one time. After dropping northwest into East Las Virgenes Canyon, I started up a steep ridgeline to Peak 1,842ft, pushing the bike for about half the distance. Near the top the trail becomes more overgrown. The peak overlooks Bell Canyon to the north and looks to have access from that development leading to the peak from the west. An old fence runs across the summit east to west. A register can be found in a small cairn just north of the fence. The "trail" going east and down from the peak was quite overgrown, having seen little traffic this year, and I picked up a ton of thistles and thorns on the ride down. It was a bit dangerous and sketchy to boot, so I guess I was glad I didn't take a spill and nosedive into the worst of it. My descent route brought me back out El Escorpion Park in LA County, just north of the OSP. The highlight of this smaller park is Castle Peak, the local point we used to climb often as kids.
Before returning to my sister's house in West Hills, I paid a visit to a minor summit found on PB, but not quite qualifying for LoJ status. It is located at the western end of Roscoe Blvd, above a small undeveloped park called, unimaginatively, Roscoe-Valley Circle Park. There are no signs of any sort for the park, one has to know where to go. There is a bridal path on the east side of Quiet Hills Ct that leads to a trail going up to the highpoint with nice views of the valley. I found dozens of Coors cans that had been crushed and then tossed off one side near the summit, someone's favorite drinking spot from the looks of it. I collected these up as my part in cleaning up the old neighborhood before heading back down. Now - where are those turkey leftovers?
This page last updated: Wed Nov 29 08:03:37 2017
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