December 01, 2011

Photo Essay: Placerita Canyon

I'd been wanting to visit Placerita Canyon, a parcel of land surrounded by the Angeles National Forest but under the jurisdiction of LA County, for a while, but in LA traffic, it's a full day trip to get there, hike it, and get back home.

And I never seem to leave home early enough. As soon as I'm up on the weekends, it seems the sun is going down.

At least in the winter.

So last weekend I skipped the nature center and its family-friendly attractions (including an oak tree where apparently some people once struck gold) to save time and headed straight to the more remote Walker Ranch area, taking the footpath down into the canyon along the appropriately-named Canyon Trail....

...whose long shadows threatened the end of day.

The trail guides said to allow an hour and a half to hike the 2.35 miles along the Los Pinetos trail up to the Wilson Saddle peak. But as usual, I was in a rush. And according to my friends, I hike at a pretty fast clip these days...

The soft trail was surrounded by lots of lush, green grass. It's hard to believe this is winter hiking.

Soon the wide open spaces close in on you, and you technically traverse the border of Placerita Canyon, taking you into Angeles National Forest...

...where horseshoes have left prints, who knows how long ago...

...and you have left the desert-like climate of Santa Clarita and Newhall behind, trading it for the chill, shady woods.

The trail then opens back up...

...into the peak, Wilson Saddle.

I skipped the picnic and headed back down, skipping the waterfall trail in favor of turning the heat on in my car.

There weren't as many obvious indications of historical significance in Placerita as in nearby Pico and Towsley Canyons, but when it comes down to it, every trail in the LA area is different - whether it's within the same canyon (like Runyon), park (like Griffith), mountain range or forest.

For a person with a short attention span, always looking for something new, what a treat to live in a place whose outdoor attractions warrant repeat visits.

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