Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hike 2014.025 -- Canyon Trail and Waterfall Trail, Placerita Canyon State Park

Hiked Saturday, April 12. Part of the justification for heading back to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve last weekend was because I could combine it with another hike where wildflowers had also been reported: Placerita Canyon State Park.

Well, on the one hand, yes, there's a good variety of wildflowers visible at Placerita Canyon. But there are no really thick stands like were found in Antelope Valley.

I'd been to Placerita Canyon once before. Did not realize until I wrote this how long it had been since then.
From CA-14, I took the Placerita Canyon exit and headed south. After about five miles, I reached a sign for Placerita Canyon, which I turned and parked at.

There's a large paved lot and large unpaved parking areas, and the place seemed pretty crowded as I pulled in. Yet, most of the cars were, I think, part of a Boy Scout visit to the nature center. So, while the trails were far from empty, neither were they as crowded as the lot made me fear.

I walked very briefly around the nature center. They've got a number of animals

From the visitor center, the main trailhead is a bit to the south and west. Big sign there, so it's hard to miss, once you're in the area.

Heading east from here is the Canyon Trail. It runs 1.85 miles, to the Walker Ranch. the trail winds parallel to Placerita Creek. Or, perhaps more frequently, you walk parallel to the dry creek bed of Placerita Canyon. Altitude gain is relatively modest, although there are some impressive cliffs around you.

Almost as soon as I started, I passed the pink flower, which I thought to myself, "Wow, that bush sure looks like a rose bush." A day or two later, poking through a wildflower guidebook, I discovered it was a wildrose. Perfectly logical!

The Canyon Trail runs parallel to the creek bed of Placerita Creek. Or, perhaps more frequently, it rusn parallel to the dry creek bed of Placerita Creek.

Despite the lack of water, the cliff faces are impressive.

Near the start of the trail, I noted a number of sycamore and willow, and imagined that this place must get pretty colorful in late fall/early winter.

Further along, the forest shifted to largely live oak.

Along various slopes, different species of flowers were concentrated. With the exception of the phacelia, which were everywhere, many other flowers I saw on only a single segment of trail.
For example, the blue larkspur were only on a segment about 100 feet long. Although I have no pictures of them here (because I had pictures of the species from my Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve hike), blue dicks were also only on a 100 foot or so segment of trail. And I saw the wild rose on an even shorter section of trail.

As noted previously, despite the wide variety of flowers, density was generally not high.

Still, having gotten my fill of wildflowers in the Antelope Valley, just having some different terrain to walk was quite sufficient.

Near the end of the Canyon Trail, just before I reached Walker Ranch, there were a couple of porta-potties. There were also fireplaces (not pictured) and a couple of informational signs. Had I been so inclined, I could have parked in the Walker Ranch area, then walked the other way.
From the Walker Ranch area, the Waterfall Trail branches to the south, off the Canyon Trail. It's marked by a large sign and the trail is easy to follow, with the possible exception of the branching near the end of the Waterfall Trail. When you reach that uncertain branch, turn right.

It's supposed to be 3/4 of a mile from the Canyon Trail to the Waterfall, meaning you've got just about 2 1/2 miles total from the Nature Center to the "waterfall," or a bit over five miles, roundtrip.

I've got "waterfall" in quotes because, on the day I hiked, it was more of a water seep. The last time I was here (linked above), there was an actual quantity of water falling down the chute.

Despite the lack of payoff at the end of the Waterfall Trail, the day overall went fine. I saw my wildflowers in the Antelope Valley, and I covered some new ground here in Placerita Canyon. I also saw some blue larkspur, which I hadn't seen in quite some time. And I got some good exercise.

Unfortunately, the current week was busy, and I've either gotten a cold or some sort of allergy going on. I haven't been feeling much like hiking.

This upcoming weekend, I may have time for a short hike on either Saturday or Sunday. Not sure where I'll go. If I hear of any amazing wildflower hikes, I'll probably head there. Otherwise, I kind of would like to get a little dark sky observing in. I may end up taking either Friday or Monday off so I can do that.

Still have a number of older hikes to blog, too. I'll have to work on that, as well.

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