Posts Tagged ‘hikingwithdogs’

Another Orange County hike: West Ridge Trail to Top of the World

May 25, 2021

Name: West Ridge Trail to Top of the World

Length: 5 miles out and back

Exposure: Sunny, minimal shade

Scenery: Seasonal wildflowers, panoramic views of the ocean and urban sprawl

Traffic: Expect lots of mountain bikers and people on weekends. Weekdays are generally quiet.

Three time’s the charm. It took three visits and three different starting points to understand the allure of the trails at Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. The first time I hiked the Aliso Summit Trail and parked in a residential neighborhood off Highlands Avenue. It was pleasant and dog-friendly with great ocean vistas, but more of an urban walk than a real hike. The second time I parked at the fee lot off Awma Road and took Aliso Creek trail up to Mathis Canyon. The flat part of the trail was too long, in my opinion, and looking up at the cliffside beige cookie-cutter homes was uninspiring. Also, no dogs are allowed in this part of the park and rangers are strict about enforcing it.

The view from Top of the World.

The third time, we parked at Canyon View Park. Its manicured green lawn and paved walkway quickly gives way to wilderness, or at least the feeling that you’re in the middle of it. I hiked half a mile up the Lynx Trail to West Ridge and followed it to Top of the World for a moderate five-mile roundtrip hike.

If you have a dog, you can take the surface streets from the park to Hollyleaf Road and access West Ridge Trail that way. Leashed dogs are allowed on West Ridge Trail, but not on the steep trails that connect to it or pretty much anywhere else within Aliso and Wood Canyons.

Canyon View Park — this path leads to a network of wilderness trails.

O’Melveny Park: Griffith Park without the tourists

May 3, 2021

I am ashamed to admit that until recently I had never even heard of O’Melveny Park in Granada Hills, let alone hiked its trails. It is L.A.’s second largest park behind Griffith, its flashier, better-known neighbor to the south. There’s no observatory at O’Melveny, but there are groves of lemon trees, fewer crowds and sweeping views that will take your breath away on a clear day.

Name: Top of O’Melveny

Length: 4 miles, moderate with bursts of steep elevation gain

Exposure: Sunny, minimal shade

Scenery: Sweeping views of San Fernando and Simi Valleys and the Santa Susana Mountains.

Traffic: Busy on weekends, though crowds thin out after the first mile. The lot fills up quickly, but there is plenty of free street parking.

Comments: There are very few signs marking the backcountry trails. It’s hard to get lost, but it’s worth studying a map before you go if you have a specific destination like Mission Point in mind. I followed the main path right through a picnic area then turned left when it ended and headed uphill.

Tip: Try to time your hike for a cool, overcast day, especially if you bring dogs; this trail would be tough to stomach in the summer heat.

Surprise discovery: A fragrant grove of citrus (mostly grapefruit) trees on the main path leading to the trails. There is a sad, faded sign at a kiosk advertising a u-pick event from a few years ago, but one gets the sense that those organized events are a thing of the past. Signs around the grove warn visitors not to pick the fruit.

Discovering wildflowers and rock snakes on an Orange County hike

April 29, 2021

I’m all about moderate hikes these days. My dog loves hiking but she can’t handle the heat or any sharp elevation gains, so I’m always on the lookout for a three-to-five mile trail that offers a decent workout and some features that keep it interesting for me. I found a good one in Irvine Regional Park recently. Here are the details:

Name: Horseshoe Trail to Puma Ridge

Length: 3 miles (you can add another mile by doing a figure-eight loop that combines the Horseshoe and Puma Ridge trails)

Exposure: Sunny, minimal shade

Scenery: Seasonal wildflowers, rolling hills, views of suburban development

Traffic: Busy on weekends with mountain bikers and park-goers

Comments: Leashed dogs are allowed, unlike many trails in Orange County. High temps and wildfire season make this a tough area to hike in summer: I recommend visiting in winter or spring.

Tip: There is an In ‘n Out Burger a few miles away on Chapman Blvd., a nice way to cap a morning of hiking.

Details: Irvine Regional Park is a big manicured park with playgrounds, a zoo and a Tuesday farmers’ market. But like Griffith Park, its more famous neighbor to the north, it has a network of wilderness trails that range from very easy to moderately difficult. (Unlike Griffith Park, it is also a very popular mountain biking destination.) We started off on the Willows trail near Parking Lot B, but I wasn’t loving the flat terrain or the ridgeline view of cookie-cutter homes, so we turned around and took the Horseshoe Trail south. This trail follows a three-mile loop around the whole park, but we cut off at the Puma Ridge trail, which gained a little more elevation and was more desolate and peaceful.

Why I loved this hike: It was easy to navigate and quickly leaves the hubbub of the park’s activities. Finding a rock snake at the top of Puma Ridge was a fun bonus.

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