An End of Year Boney Mountain Adventure

Runners on Boney Mountain's western ridge
Boney Mountain's western ridge from the Old Boney Trail in Pt. Mugu State Park. The 'Mountaineer's' route more or less follows the skyline. There is a 1500' - 2000' escarpment on the other side of the ridge. (Click arrow to advance slide.)
The Boney Mountain escarpment from the Chamberlain segment of the Backbone Trail. The Mountaineer's route follows along the top of the escarpment.
The run/hike/climb started at the Wendy Drive trailhead on Potrero Road in Newbury Park. The dirt road is Danielson Road, which leads to the Old Boney Trail.
A closer view of the Mountaineer's route on Boney Mountain's western ridge. See the runners?
View west toward Sycamore Canyon from Boney Mountain's western ridge.
The erosion-resistant rock along the western ridge of Boney Mountain is part of a volcanic sequence known as the Conejo Volcanics. According to the Dibblee geologic map of the area the material of which the rock is composed was probably deposited as a lahar (volcanic debris-flow) about 16.1 to 13.1 m.y. ago.
View down Boney Mountain's western ridge from near the top.
Silhouetted Tri Peaks from the crest of Boney Mountain. My route continued over to Tri Peaks, skirting it on the left.
View southwest from the south side of Tri Peaks in Pt. Mugu State Park.
Next stop, Sandstone Peak (3111'), the highest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains.
The summit of Sandstone Peak was a busy place on the last day of 2017.
The summit of Sandstone Peak (3111'), the highest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Balance Rock and Echo Cliffs from the Mishe Mokwa Trail.
Running up the Mishe Mokwa Trail.
Tri Peaks from the Mishe Mokwa Trail.
Chamberlain Rock from the Chamberlain segment of the Backbone Trail.
Looking up at the general route of the Chamberlain segment of the Backbone Trail. From the western edge of the Boney Mountain massif the Chamberlain Trail drops about 1500' in 2.5 miles.

The last day of 2017 had been a near perfect day for a trail run. I’d started my adventure with an ascent of Boney Mountain’s western ridge — joining the Trail Runners Club on their annual scramble — and then continued to Tri Peaks and Sandstone Peak, the highest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains. A circuit of the Mishe Mokwa loop had added a few scenic miles and put me on the Chamberlain segment of the Backbone Trail, headed west.

About a half-mile past the Backbone Trail’s western junction with the Tri Peaks Trail, the Backbone Trail begins a 4.7 mile, 2400′ descent to Sycamore Canyon. I had started this descent and was nearly down to Chamberlain Rock, when I heard voices on the trail ahead. They sounded like they were just around the next switchback. Slowing to a walk, I rounded the sharp corner. Three smiling hikers said hello, and I wished them a Happy New Year.

It’s a little unusual to see a group of hikers on this section and for a moment I wondered if they might be doing the full length of the 68 mile Backbone Trail. I asked how they were doing and one of them casually replied, “Doing great — we’re just headed down to the Sandstone Peak parking lot…”

What?? Surprised by the answer, I blurted out something like, “You’re kidding, right?” They were miles from where they thought they were and headed in the opposite direction they should be. Every step down the trail was taking them farther and farther away from their intended destination. They looked fit, experienced and well-prepared, but somewhere along the way, they had taken a very wrong turn.

From what I could determine they had intended to do the Mishe Mokwa – Sandstone Peak loop counterclockwise or a variation that involved Tri Peaks. Apparently, at the top of the Mishe Mokwa Trail instead of continuing toward Sandstone Peak on the Backbone Trail, the hikers decided to take the Tri Peaks Trail. They followed the Tri Peaks Trail until it ended at the Chamberlain/Backbone Trail, about two miles west of Sandstone Peak.

At this junction, to get back to Sandstone Peak (and their car), they needed to turn left (east). Instead, they turned right and headed down the Chamberlain Trail.

The good news is they only had gone about a mile down Chamberlain from the Tri Peaks Trail junction. This put them about 2.5 miles from Sandstone Peak and about 4 miles from their car. It was around noon and the weather was good. If they had no route-finding issues on the way back they would probably still have time to do Sandstone Peak. They just would be doing more of an End of the Year adventure than they planned.

Some related posts: Boney Mountain Western Ridge & Loop, Balance Rock, Misplaced on Mt. Wilson

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Some Fall Color to Bring in the New Year

Some Fall Color to Bring in the New Year. Photography by Gary Valle'.

While much of the country shivers in the cold climes of Winter, the muted colors of the changing season have finally reached the lower elevation areas of Southern California.

Turning leaves of a willow in East Las Virgenes Canyon. December 28, 2017.
Willow in East Las Virgenes Canyon

In this area the leaves of Valley Oaks usually begin to turn around mid-December and the trees lose their leaves around the beginning of the new year. About a month and a half later trees begin to sprout new leaves, usually in mid to late February. From year to year the time frame can vary by as much as 2-3 weeks.

The photo of Valley Oak leaves was taken December 28, 2017 in Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve (formerly Ahmanson Ranch). This willow in East Las Virgenes Canyon was also showing some nice color.

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Bulldog Loop Near Corral Canyon

Backbone Trail near Corral Canyon.

The high point of the 14+ mile Bulldog Loop in Malibu Creek State Park is near the center of the skyline in the photo above. The Bulldog fire road can be seen cutting across the peaks on the right. Bulldog tops out at the Castro Peak fire road, which is the fire road leading up from the Corral Canyon Road parking area. Castro Peak (privately owned) is the peak on the left with the antennae.

Top of the Bulldog climb in Malibu Creek State Park.
Top of the Bulldog climb in Malibu Creek State Park.

From Crags Road to Castro Peak fire road, the Bulldog fire road gains about 1727 feet in 3.4 miles. The steepest mile starts at mile 2.0 of the climb and gains about 732 feet.

Today I was running the loop clockwise, so got to run down Bulldog for a change!

Some related posts: Best Trailhead to Start the Bulldog Loop?, Malibu Creek State Park Scenic Loop, Vertical Relief, M*A*S*H Sunrise

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