Sunday, July 1, 2012
Hike 2012.039 -- King Gillette Ranch and Paramount Ranch, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Inside the visitor center are scads of staff and exhibits. It's an interagency visitor center, with NPS, CA state parks, Santa Monica Mountains and Mountains and Recreation conservancies, and possibly one or two other groups represented. The bookstore offers maps and, uh, books, for sale. There were also some clothes, water bottles, sunscreen, and assorted other knick-knacks. I bought several maps and picked up the free handouts of several areas within Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
I think I had pretty much every plant, every lizard, and every bird we passed interpreted for me, which is kind of cool. I also learned why woodpeckers, which are bug-eaters, "plant" acorns in tree trunks and telephone poles: They're basically leaving some "bait" for insects. Then they come back in a few months and eat the little buggers that are munching on the acorn they planted.
The walk took me around King Gillette's mansion, out of NPS land and across Conservancy land, then (I think) into state park land, all within the one mile from the visitor center to Inspiration Point. Apparently, they shoot "The Biggest Loser" down on the ranch, too.
After I got back to the visitor center, I gathered the material mentioned above and decided to visit the Paramount Ranch. That's about three miles west of here. Huell Howser visited there when he came through, so I decided I ought to see it, too.
Walked through Western Town, the entrance for which is across a bridge from the ranger station. I don't get the idea that the ranger station is a visitor center, but there are flush toilets and running water adjacent to the ranger station. Even better, there are drinking fountains attached to the restrooms. And they're *refrigerated* drinking fountains!
Without even having seen one before, I concluded this must be an assassin bug. Nasty. And yuck, again.
Worked my way across the Backdrop Trail, which weaved some more among the rolling grass-covered, oak-speckled hills. Then the trail dropped a bit, to a crossing of Medea Creek. A couple of 2x8 boards provided a bridge across the water. A tree canopy hung low over the water.
Ray LaMontagne's "You are the best thing". I only know the song because it appeared in an episode of "Eli Stone," one of a long series of television shows that I liked but apparently few others watched. Incidentally, when listening to more of Ray LaMontagne, I later learned he also sings the song, "Trouble," which plays in a tv ad for an insurance company that features a dog worried about keeping his bone secure.
I'm guessing 2 1/2 to 3 miles total on these trails here. Add to that the mile or mile and a half on the Inspiration Point Trail, and I'll say 3 to 4 miles total for the day. Not much, but I did get to combine it with a trip to a local telescope store, where I picked up a new mount.
All of these trails are short enough to be pretty easy, with multiple options for cutting the trip short if you get tired. Dogs are permitted on NPS trails, but not on Conservancy or state park trails.