Category Archives: landscape

Trippet Ranch Loop Plus Temescal Peak

View toward the Hub from Temescal Peak

On recent weekends I’ve enjoyed running some of the less-used trails in Angeles National Forest. With trails reopening in the Santa Monica Mountains, this weekend I decided to do an old favorite — the out and back run from the Top of Reseda to Trippet Ranch.

Path to the top of Temescal Peak overgrown with bush monkeyflower, deerweed and buckwheat
Overgrown path to the top of Temescal Peak.

Even with an early start, more cars than usual were parked at Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park. After hiking up the hill to the trailhead, I took the single-track connector to dirt Mulholland, and then ran a quarter-mile west and turned left (south) onto Fire Road #30.

The fire road starts with a warm-up downhill and then over about 1.5 miles ascends to the Hub, ending the stretch with a strenuous hill. The distance from the trailhead to the Hub by this route is about 2.5 miles. (On May 17, the pit toilet at the Hub was closed.)

View toward Eagle Rock from Temescal Peak
View toward Eagle Rock from Temescal Peak

At the Hub, I took a quick detour over to Temescal Peak, the little peak with a big view. The path to its summit is on the south side of the peak. It takes off from the Rogers Road segment of the Backbone Trail, just east of Temescal Ridge Fire Road. Usually a well-defined path, today it was totally overgrown with monkeyflower and deerweed. The morning was a bit hazy, but there were still good views toward Eagle Rock, the Hub, and other areas of the Santa Monica Mountains.

The side trip to Temescal Peak added about 1.6 miles to the run. After returning to the Hub, I turned left onto Eagle Springs Fire Road and continued (mostly downhill) to Trippet Ranch.

Farewell-to-Spring along the Garapito Trail
Farewell-to-Spring along the Garapito Trail

The return from Trippet Ranch was mainly on single-track trails. There were maybe a dozen hikers on the Musch Trail and a couple of hikers on each of the Garapito and Bent Arrow Trails. I had my InknBurn mask handy for when I passed others on the trail. As might be expected, the trails were a little overgrown. (On May 17, water was available from the spigot at Musch Camp.)

Right from the start of the run, it was evident that several species of wildflowers were blooming in a big way. Some of the most prolific were monkeyflower, yarrow, deerweed, and canyon sunflower. There were several large patches of farewell-to-spring along the Garapito Trail. Plus, there was a trickle of water in Garapito Creek.

Here’s a 3D interactive view of my GPS track from the “Top of Reseda” to Temescal Peak, Trippet Ranch, and back. The view can be zoomed, tilted, rotated, and panned. Placemark and track locations are approximate and subject to errors.

Some related posts: Garapito Trail Runs, The Heavenly Ranch in the Hills, Trippet Ranch Wildflower Run

Condor Peak Out and Back Adventure Run

East Ridge of Condor Peak

“Condor Peak-Elevation 5430 ft. – 1 Day
By Vogel Canyon Trail.
Drive Big Tujunga Canyon road to Vogel Flat
Ranger Station and park auto. Hike trail starting
opposite station for short distance up Vogel Canyon,
then around mountain slope west of Big Tujunga
Dam to summit of Condor Peak. Return by
same route. Carry water and cold lunch. No fires
permitted. Total hiking distance, 12 miles.”

— Trails Magazine, VOL 1 NO. 4, Trail Trips, Autumn 1934

The relocation of Big Tujunga Canyon Road in the 1950s shifted the starting point, and some other details have been updated, but the route from Vogel Flat to Condor Peak is pretty much the same as it was in 1934.

It’s telling that hikers of that era would have estimated the round-trip distance to Condor Peak at 12 miles. This was probably a “feels like” estimate of distance, based on time. The mileage in the description is far less than the presently accepted distance of 15.5-16.0 miles. Back then, the trail would have been relatively new and in better condition than it is now. Even so, they must have been fit and fast!

The “Vogel Flat” trailhead for the Condor Peak Trail is now a little to the east and above its original location, and is not obvious. If traveling up-canyon on Big Tujunga Canyon Road, it is just past Vogel Flat Road, directly across the highway from the second turnout on the right.

Note: Even in the best of circumstances, hiking, running, or riding a mountain trail involves risks. The nature of the terrain this trail navigates is such that the risk from falling while running, hiking or riding, crossing washouts, and from heat-related illness is high. There are some sketchy sections with large drop-offs. In particular, below Fox Mountain there was a very exposed washout at the top of a steep sandy chute that required extra care to cross.

As was the case last week on the Stone Canyon Trail, it looked like some sections of the Condor Peak Trail had been trimmed in the last year or two. And like the Stone Canyon Trail, the trailwork ended partway to the peak. In this case, it ended about two-thirds of the way to Condor Peak, as the trail turns northwest and contours around Fox Mountain. The bushwhacking wasn’t nearly as bad as on the Stone Canyon Trail, and things improved once up on Fox Divide.

Prior to this outing, I’d only attempted to do the peak in December and January. There is almost no shade, and the trail traverses several south and south-east facing canyons that act like solar ovens. The last time I did Condor Peak, in December 2007, the overnight low at Clear Creek had been 34 degrees and the high 52. That day was chilly in the shade, but about right in the sun. Today, the overnight low at Clear Creek was 63 degrees and the high 75. It was warm, but with an early morning start, was OK.

It was a relief to finally reach Fox Divide. In 2007 we climbed Fox Mountain from this point. Today I was running alone and thought the ascent of Fox, as short as it is, might result in me running short of water. I didn’t do Fox, and as things worked out, I finished the last of my water about a half-mile from the end of the run. (There is a spring, but the flow was just a trickle.)

I had not reread my notes from 2007 and had conveniently forgotten the nature of the final 1.5 miles between Fox Mountain and Condor Peak. I won’t spoil the adventure here.

There was a fairly well-defined path up the steep, east ridge of Condor Peak. As in 2007, the red register container was on the western summit. The eastern summit, marked by a robust yucca, is about the same height. Viewed from the summit of Condor Peak (5440+’), Mt. Lukens (5074′) was clearly lower in elevation.

Like last Sunday on the Stone Canyon Trail, I did not see anyone on the way up or down the Condor Peak Trail. Ironically, just a couple miles away, there were over a hundred cars parked along Big Tujunga Canyon Road at the Gold Canyon/Trail Canyon access.

Here’s a 3D Cesium interactive view that shows a GPS track of my route up and down the Condor Peak Trail to Condor Peak. The view can be zoomed, tilted, rotated, and panned. Placemark and track locations are approximate and subject to errors.

And here are a few photos taken along the way.

Some related posts: Condor Peak Trail Run, Back to the Stone Canyon Trail

Back to the Stone Canyon Trail

Top of the Stone Canyon Trail on Mt. Lukens

At the deepest part of the creek, the cold water reached mid-thigh. I’d futzed around looking for a way to rock hop across Big Tujunga Creek, but didn’t find one.

With squishy shoes, I followed the trail eastward along the creek. A little past Stone Canyon wash, the trail turned toward Mt. Lukens and started to climb.

Chaparral whitethorn along the Stone Canyon Trail
Chaparral whitethorn

The Stone Canyon Trail is one of the trails on my list of trails less-traveled. Today, the trail choice had been between the Stone Canyon Trail and Condor Peak Trail. Recalling the difficulty of the Condor Peak Trail, I thought it would be better to do Mt. Lukens first, and save Condor Peak for later.

As I worked up the trail, I marveled at its condition. It was in surprisingly good shape! It had been groomed relatively recently, and I mentally thanked the person or group that had taken care of the trail. With a clear trail and cool morning temperature, it felt good to push the pace up the steep trail.

Stone Canyon from the Stone Canyon Trail
Stone Canyon

The last time I’d done this route was in November 2016. That outing followed five years of drought. With growth suppressed, the upper half of the trail was only moderately overgrown, and I did not see any poison oak. Ever the optimist, I thought today’s conditions might be even better.

Remnants of scrub oak burned in the 2009 Station Fire
Remnants of scrub oak burned in the 2009 Station Fire

Not this time. I don’t know if Winter rains or the pandemic had intervened, but about halfway up the peak, the trailwork abruptly ended. The upper half of the trail was badly overgrown, and at inconvenient times Spring-green poison oak lined the trail. In a few places, fallen scrub oak trees — burned in the Station Fire — were mixed in with the brush. Where the 2016 ascent had been after a drought, today’s followed a wet period in which three out of the past four years have had normal or above-normal rainfall.

Prickly phlox along the Stone Canyon Trail
Prickly phlox

With care, patience, and a bit of bushwhacking, I eventually reached the top of the Stone Canyon Trail and the old dirt road on the west side of the peak. A few minutes later I stood alone on the summit of Mt. Lukens. I had not seen anyone on the ascent and would not encounter anyone on the way down.

Here’s a 3D Cesium interactive view that shows a GPS track of the route up and down the Stone Canyon Trail on Mt. Lukens. The view can be zoomed, tilted, rotated, and panned. Placemark and track locations are approximate and subject to errors.

Related post: Mt. Lukens, Then and Now