Category Archives: running

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

Street View: Running to Ahmanson

Victory Blvd. hill near the (locked) Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve Trailhead gate

Sometimes when I’ve driven to the Ahmanson Trailhead to do a run, I’ve wondered what it would be like to run there (and back) from home. Now I know.

It’s a good run. Roundtrip, it was about 8.2 miles, with an elevation gain of about 600′.

The highlight of the run is the climb up Victory Blvd from Valley Circle. There’s a nice view of the San Gabriels from the hill, but not quite as nice as the view from Lasky Mesa!

Street View: Lupine Along Valley Circle Blvd.

Arroyo lupine (Lupinus succulentus) blooming along Valley Circle Blvd. in the West San Fernando Valley.

Arroyo lupine (Lupinus succulentus) is one of the first lupines to bloom in the local grasslands and open areas of chaparral. Here it’s blooming along Valley Circle Blvd. in the West San Fernando Valley.

Another early bloomer is miniature lupine (Lupinus bicolor), a tiny lupine that is best viewed on your hands and knees. On Lasky Mesa it typically begins to bloom in mid to late February, about the same time as goldfields.

From this morning’s out and back run to check out a local trailhead.