I usually start the 2+ mile trail run to the peak by ascending the Hill Climb Trail — a short, steep hill a little west of the kiosk at the Victory Trailhead. A less steep trail can be found a little farther to the west.
Once at the top of this initial 120′ high hill, I try to run — without walking — all the way to the ridgeline just west of the peak. Whether I walk or not, it’s a fun run with excellent views of the area.
From the ridgeline at the top of the single-track trail, there is usually some sort of a use trail to the top of the peak. The location and clarity of the path varies from year to year. The area can be very overgrown. It’s worth taking the time to find and stay on a use trail. Earlier this December, I encountered a rattlesnake while trying to follow an old route through the brush.
While doing the Bulldog Loop earlier this year, I encountered an enthusiastic hiker who commented, “Aren’t the wildflowers amazing?”
He added, “There are so many, uh… What’s it called? You know, the one that smells like maple syrup.”
“Do you mean Everlasting?” I asked.
“Yea, that’s it! California Everlasting,” he exclaimed.
That’s what people remember about California Everlasting — the leaves smell like maple syrup.
The somewhat nondescript plant is especially abundant this year.
As suggested by its name, California Everlasting (Pseudognaphalium californicum) can be found along trails in Southern California chaparral and coastal sage-scrub just about any month of the year.
The plant looks like it is blooming in the title photo, but each “petal” is a botanical structure called a phyllary. The phyllaries form a protective covering around a disc of tiny flowers as they develop. Here is a closer view.