Los Liones (Leones) Canyon

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Where: Topanga State Park

Distance: A little over 7 miles

Elevation Gain: Roughly 1300 ft.

Difficulty Level: Easy-Moderate

Parking: There are multiple free parking lots (and restrooms) right off of Los Liones Dr. You can get here by taking the PCH to Sunset Blvd, hopping a right on Sunset and then a left onto Los Liones Dr. sign

One of the best things about Los Liones is that the trail is very clearly marked and easy to navigate. The hike begins with very mild elevation and never exceeds a moderate climb. You’ll definitely feel it in your legs the next day, but the hike itself shouldn’t take too much strenuous effort!

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Unfortunately, we are in the midst of June gloom in the Los Angeles area, so though this hike gives amazing views overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it wasn’t at its pinnacle of clear beauty on this specific day. Still, the Parker Mesa overlook provides a wonderful place to sit and contemplate life; to meditate on the present and take in the vastness of the ocean.

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Once you climb up past the look out point, you will curve up and around the mountain and the view will just become more and more stunning, with the lush greenery, and the water below.56

This is a lovely hike, good for beginnings and experts alike! Beware the sun during the non June gloom days! There are a few shaded areas down below the look out point, but everything about that is out in the plain view of those rays!

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And don’t forget, if you’ve hiked your little booty off, and you’re on the Pacific coast, you absolutely obligated to treat yourself to fish and beer in a little fish shack off the coast!

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Happy Hiking!!!!

 

Switzer Falls and Bear Canyon

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Where: Angeles National Forest, Altadena, CA.

Distance: About 7 miles. Roughly 3-3.5 hours depending on how long you linger at the falls!

Elevation Gain: About 700 ft.

Parking: One you get to the Angeles Crest Highway, you will wind up the mountain for a while. You will eventually see a sign for Switzer Falls Picnic area, and there, you will turn right and follow down a narrow road (Switzer Truck Trail). This leads to an open parking lot, restroom, and picnic area, where you will need an Adventure Pass to park. You can pick this up at any sporting goods store for $5.

Difficulty Level: Easy-Moderate

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This has quickly become one of my favorite hikes! In fact, The Angeles National Forest/San Gabriel Mountains, in general, has become my favorite area to go on an adventure. Unlike the Santa Monica Mountains, the San Gabriel Mountains, offer hikes with a wide terrain change. One minute you’re walking by the water under the trees, and the next minute you’re standing amidst an open mountain range that seems to diminish all material existence. It’s truly a thrill with every turn.

Once you park, there is a bridge that leads to the trail. From there the trail is pretty clear to follow! You will find yourself hopping over the Arroyo Seco a few times, so make sure you pack an extra pair of socks and shoes!

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Eventually you will come to a fork, on the left side there is a sign that says “Danger Ahead.” I don’t think people really pay attention to this sign, seeing as it’s extremely old and been vandalized. However, we played it safe and took the right fork which goes up a ramp, and leads around a bend.

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Follow the bend around and this is what you will see… And it will take your breath away.

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The next part of the hike walks through the mountains, if you’re desperately afraid of heights, this might not be great for you, but generally there’s plenty of walking room. It is however, close to the edge! For me, this was my favorite part. The feeling you get while walking out in the open air, looking at these immense, and gorgeous mountains, is truly one of the most humbling feelings I’ve ever had the honor of experiencing. Everyone loves it apparently..

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The hike will then lead you back down and into the woods and to another fork. To your left you will see a post for Switzer Falls…

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…and to the right, you will see a post for Bear Canyon.

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We went left to Switzer Falls first. This is a great spot to cool down, especially if it’s a hot and sunny day! It’s also the perfect area to throw down your bags and have a little picnic! The sound of the waterfall is as soothing as you can imagine, and tends to just draw you in and beg you to stay. But eventually…. it was time to move on.

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We then back tracked and went toward Bear Canyon. I can’t figure out if we did all of Bear Canyon or simply got dead ended, but either way, we saw a couple small swimming pools along the way, which I believe used to be swimmable back in the pre-drought days. Sadly, this is no longer the case. After this we back tracked and went toward to the trailhead the way we came.

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If you’re looking for a versatile and fun hike to do, this is the one! It’s easy, it’s gorgeous, and there’s a little bit of everything… mountains, woods, and waterfalls! Does it get much better than that!?

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Happy Hiking!

Runyon Canyon

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Distance: About a 3.5 mile hike on the West fork, and a 2.3 mile hike up the East fork, or the main middle path. You can hike this in less than an hour if you hustle and work yourself out!

Elevation Gain: About 700 ft. on the West fork, which is the highest it will get!

Parking: Parking is a b*tch around these parts. It’s all street parking, and it’s very congested during peak hours. There is also street cleaning Mondays and Tuesdays 11-2 or 12-3 depending on the street, which makes for an even worse parking experience if you go on one of these days!

Difficulty Level: Easy (on the main path), and Moderate-Difficult on the West fork.

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Runyon Canyon usually gets the eye roll when you say you’re going to hike it. It’s like pop music. Everyone pretends like they hate it, but deep down they can’t resist what it has to offer. Sure, it is busy, congested during the weekends, and you often find yourself dodging puppies and strollers. However, it lends the most amazing views of the city of Los Angeles, allowing you to see all the way west to the ocean, and east to the Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Sign, and downtown LA. No wonder this hike is a tourist MUST.

The reason I love Runyon Canyon is because, for me, it is the most accessible hike, being right in my immediate neighborhood. It has become my home away from home, and I take it with all its pros and cons!  It also allows me to get my hiking fill, while being able to act as my main daily source of exercise. No gyms for me, thank goodness!

Now there are three main paths you may take. The middle and main path is a wide dirt road that you can access directly from the Gardner St. entrance, or through the Fuller St. entrance by taking a left at the first fork. The main path is where you’ll find all the strollers and puppies… so beware! This is the most popular option, as it is easy to navigate and climb. With the exception of the last final hill, it is an easy level hike, that will get your heart beating hard, but won’t totally make you want to drop dead. The hike reaches its pinnacle at the famous Hollywood overlook where there will surely be a ton of people taking pictures of the view!

Starting up the main path

Starting up the main path

View of the main path from the famous overlook

View of the main path from the famous overlook

View of the West Fork Trail from the East Trail

View of the West Fork Trail from the East Trail

If you want to take the East Fork path, you can enter on Fuller St. and walk straight at the first main fork. This will take you up and around to a steep stairwell. This is a shorter distance of a hike, but with a more shocking steep incline in the beginning, and then a nice calm evening out of the land. This also leads to the famous overlook, and then you can exit down the way you came, or down the main middle path (or make your way right toward where the west fork dumps out, and take the hard hike down, but I will warn you, it’s not an easy down climb, so be prepared!)

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stairwell up the East Fork trail

stairwell up the East Fork trail

More stairs...

More stairs…

Make a promise to yourself? A lifelong bond with someone? Lock it up!

Make a promise to yourself? A lifelong bond with someone? Lock it up!

Almost to the top!

Almost to the top!

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View from the overlook!

View from the overlook!

 

The west fork trail is absolutely the most challenging, with a constant uphill climb that is sure to give your legs and lungs a major workout. If you start up the main middle path, after walking through the iron doorway, you’ll see a path that breaks off to the left. Head up this path and from there on, it’s up, up, up. The consolation for this intense work out is that with each rest stop, the view gets better and better, leading to the top of the highest peak, which allows the most gorgeous and clear view of the entire city. This trail also includes a short down climb, that tends to be a little frightening to some. My advice is to take it slow, don’t be afraid to use your hands to climb down, and don’t look over the edge!

Starting up the side path toward the West Fork

Starting up the side path toward the West Fork

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The last final huge climb!

The last final huge climb!

View from the  top!

View from the top!

The scary downhill part! It steeper than it looks!

The scary downhill part! It steeper than it looks!

After the down climb, you will walk out toward an old abandoned mansion, and head right down a path leading to 3 flights of wooden stairs. One last cardio workout! After the stairs, the path will wind around and dump you out by a house that houses horses and goats. No lie! From there, you can take a right, and it will filter you out to meet where all three paths collide. You can then choose your way down!

3 flights of stairs!

3 flights of stairs!

Uphill climb done!

Uphill climb done!

Coming around the bend toward the intersection of all of the paths!

Coming around the bend toward the intersection of all of the paths!

Runyon Canyon has something for everyone! It is a great workout, it’s a great tourist attraction with excellent views of the city, it’s a place you can take your puppy out for a walk or your baby out for a stroll in the fresh air. There is free yoga in the park here. It’s not too long of a hike, and there is also a little stand outside of the main gate with that plenty of water and snacks to purchase! All in all… great stuff! Go check it out!

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Also, if you are a Friend of Runyon Canyon like I am, then check out http://www.friendsofrunyoncanyon.com to help contribute to the maintenance and protection of this iconic Los Angeles park! #loverunyoncanyon

 

Happy Hiking!

 

 

Solstice Canyon

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Where: Malibu, CA- Take the PCH to Corral Canyon Rd, and then continue straight on Solstice Canyon Rd. Keep left at the first fork, which leads right to the parking area.

Distance: The trail we took was about 4.8 miles; roughly 2 hours if you hang around the ruins for a while.

Elevation: up to 800 ft.

Parking: There is a free lot off of Corral Canyon, which leads right to the trail head at the Solstice Canyon Education Center

Difficulty Level: Easy
Last week I headed to Malibu to check out Solstice Canyon with my girlfriend Leah. This hike resides right off Corral Canyon, and provides gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean, as well as a haunting walk through the ruins of ranch houses that lost the battle to a great fire in 1982.

Solstice Canyon Education Center

Solstice Canyon Education Center

Map of all the trails

Map of all the trails

The trail begins at the Solstice Canyon Education Center, where there is ample free parking, a restroom, and a guide for all of the trails. We decided to take the main path (Solstice Canyon trail), and curve back around (east) through the Rising Sun trail. For a longer and more strenuous hike I would suggest taking the main trail to the Sostomo trail (westward), and from there you can choose to branch off onto the Deer Valley Loop if so desired. Regardless of which trail you choose, the paths are very well defined and easy to navigate.

The beginning of the Solstice Canyon Trail

The beginning of the Solstice Canyon Trail

creepy treeeee

creepy treeeee

On the Solstice Canyon trail, you will first pass the ruins of the Keller House on the right, which burned down in the Corral Canyon fire in 2007. Farther up and road, and where the Solstice Canyon trail ends, you’ll find the ruins of Fred Robert’s house, which burned down from the Dayton Canyon fire in 1982. You can walk through the entire floor plan, and get a feeling for the layout of the entire house. There are old stoves, fireplaces, and charred appliances, that remain as a reminder for the lives once lived there. Directly, past the house and up the stairwell, you will find a wooded area that houses a small waterfall.

The Keller House

The Keller House

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If you look close my name was written under the window by a previous hiker!

If you look close my name was written under the window by a previous hiker!

A picture of the old Roberts house

A picture of the old Roberts house

Fred Robert's house

Fred Robert’s house

Ruins of the Roberts' house

Ruins of the Roberts’ house

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There is another almost hidden area that takes a little bit of rock climbing, but leads to another small waterfall, and a statuary, where a collection of statues and dolls (clearly from more present time), stand offering a nice place for prayer and meditation. From here you can choose to go west on the Sostomo trail, or east down the Rising Sun trail.

stairwell leading to the first little waterfall

stairwell leading to the first little waterfall

Leah Shmea

Leah Shmea

we gotta pray just to make it today - MC hammer

we gotta pray just to make it today – MC hammer

Once we hit the Rising sun trail we were lifted out of the woods over all the rubble. This hike was definitely more strenous than the Solstice Canyon part of the hike, but it’s definitely manageable and easy hiking. We happened to hike during a cloudy day, so it’s important to note that this trail is mostly all in the sun, so on a normal sunny day, be sure to have lots of water and some sunglasses or a hat for protection!stone well 2

Me and my whore friend Christina Walters!

Me and my whore friend Christina Walters!

What the ruins look like from above

What the ruins look like from above

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The rest of this hike winds around above the rest of the world, giving you an open and clear view of the ocean below, whose undeniable beauty will surely give you a feeling of peace and serenity.

Just a gorgeous view of the ocean

Just a gorgeous view of the ocean

And if you’re smart, like me and my dear friend Leah…. You will treat yourself to a margarita and some Mexican food afterward! AHHHHH… suki suki!

WE DID IT!

WE DID IT!

best way to finish a hike is with mexican food and fancy cocktails. DUH

best way to finish a hike is with mexican food and fancy cocktails. DUH

Deep Creek Hot Springs

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Where: Apple Valley, CA 92308. Located by Hesperia in San Bernadino County in the northern part of the Mojave Desert

Distance: 6 miles out and back, roughly 2-2.5 hours, although the return trip definitely takes a little longer.

Elevation: The trail drops over 1000 ft to the hot springs (at least on the path we took!), and is a reverse hike.  It’s a steep climb back, so get your legs ready!

Parking: The main entrance to the trail we took is a Bowen Ranch. At the little house, you pay $5/person to enter, and $10/person for overnight. There you will find a fun little map, and a parking lot down the way!

Difficult Level: Difficult. The difficulty level pertains to the steepness of the drop/incline mixed with how sandy the terrain is. For every step up, it felt like you were sliding 3 feet back in the sand. It’s definitely a difficult hike, and especially in the sun, it makes it a slightly grueling one.

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So… during this trip, we climbed a freakin mountain, swam with catfish, had a chat with naked Jesus, saw a jack rabbit, braved a crazy dirt road, and transported ourselves back to the 60s. No lie. If you’re looking for adventure, then here it is.

One of my co-workers had told me about this hike, and when I heard the words “hot springs,” I was completely sold, but I had no idea all the goodies that this hike actually had in store! It was a bit of a trek from the Los Angeles area; it is a 2 hour car ride toward the Las Vegas direction up Rte.15, but with the right crew, it’s simply part of the adventure! And of course, I had the right crew!

The best way to access this hike is through Bowen Ranch, located at 6100 Bowen Ranch Road. You should note that once you turn onto Arrowhead Lake Road, the road will turn from pavement into dirt, and it will be an 8 mile drive up an extremely rocky terrain with a few big abrupt dips in the road. I drove my poor little Hyundai Accent, and we made it without popping a tire; however, next time I will certainly take a car with 4 wheel drive instead.

As I said before, this is a reverse hike, so it’s almost all downhill to the springs. The path gets a little bit hard to figure out, so you may find yourself asking someone to point you in the right direction. The trail is also extremely sandy, and in some parts steep, so you might find yourself sliding down through the sand instead of walking. Go slow and give yourself some distance between people, and you’ll be okay!

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Now for the fun part! I had read about how nudists usually visit this area, but didn’t realize that they would ABSOLUTELY be there, and that there would be a ton of them! I give total props to nudists. I personally, am not that free (at least not yet). But I will also tell you that they are some of the most personable and kind people I’ve ever met. Each person was definitely a hippie-type person, free in spirit, and just content chilling out and enjoying the fresh air.

The minute we made our way down to the hot springs, we were greeted by naked Jesus doing yoga on top of a giant boulder. At first we were embarrassed and didn’t want to make eye contact, but he wasn’t at all phased and simply started up a conversation inquiring about who we were and where we came from. After he pointed us in the direction of the main beach we began to relax and enjoy the environment. We quickly adjusted to all the nudity and decided it was time to join in the fun and take a swim!

Don't forget your SAMwiches!

Don’t forget your SAMwiches!

There is one main pool for swimming, which is regular temperature cool water. It contains little baby catfish and some other little water critters, but it is also really refreshing and a great way to cool off after being in the desert heat. Surrounding this body of water are all the hot springs. There are multiple springs that all sit at different temperatures in different secluded locations. We jumped from spring to spring to get a feel for what each had to offer.

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my girls!

my girls!

I'm a shark!

I’m a shark!

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Angela being swanky in the hot springs

Angela being swanky in the hot springs

Naked man tight rope walking! that's skill!

Naked man tight rope walking! that’s skill!

Regardless of where you sit, you will be stunned by the beauty of these springs that seem to just exist in the middle of nowhere. You are surrounded by blue skies, giant rocks, and smiling people. It is truly an oasis. There is a tight rope over the water that many people try to conquer (without much success), and there is a fresh water tap that runs out of the rocks that is readily available for you to fill your water bottle with.

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Deep Creek is also a site stop for thru hikers that are hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, which you can see from the hot springs. This was extremely thrilling for me. I spoke to one man who was hiking the PCT, and hearing about his trip certainly inspired me to keep my dream of doing the same next year.

After spending a good amount of time at the springs, we decided to head back, and let me tell you, we were not mentally prepared for the uphill climb. The hike back was definitely a challenge. It was sandy, hot, and a killer on your hamstrings and quads! It is important to make sure you have plenty of water before the climb, and good enough shoes to keep you from completely sliding backward down the mountain.

We did it though! We pushed through, kept the hiking morale as high as possible, and killed it! The physical sense of accomplishment easily equated the spiritual and aesthetic rewards from earlier. Once we got to the car, we made our way back down that crazy dirty road, and B-lined toward the first gas station in sight, in order to grab some Gatorade and chug our way back to complete hydration! I was very sore for a couple days after, so I highly recommend a nice stretch session!

All in all, this hike was difficult, but the rewards were well worth the climb! If you’re afraid of naked people, I’d probably stay away, but if you can roll with it, I think the trip out to the desert is one that everyone should experience! Make some (nude) friends, have some fun, and get a great workout! It’s an all win situation!

Happy hiking!

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Eaton Canyon

Distance: Approx. 3.8 miles, roughly 1.5 hours

Elevation Gain: 400 ft.

Parking: There is a lot at 1750 N. Altadena Dr. Pasadena, CA 91107. You will see a large sign at the entrance on your right hand side. Parking is free!

Difficulty Level: Easy

sign

Last week I took my Audrey girl to Eaton Canyon!

Now first off, I cannot stress enough how much I love hikes that include water of any kind! The sound of it, the messiness of walking through it, the coolness of swimming in it…. I’m a total geek for water hikes, and so this was definitely on the top of my LA hike list. With a limited time frame, a more beginner hiker friend in tow, and a desire to frolic through a waterfall, I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity!

This hike is located in Altadena as part of the San Gabriel Mountains, however, the location remains “in the city,” as opposed to up a long winding road that goes into the mountains and leaves you without any cell service. For these reasons, this hike is extremely accessible, and so it tends to get very congested. We hiked on a Wednesday, and the waterfall was crowded with a lot of other people. I can only imagine that on the weekends, it’s pretty jam packed.

The trail itself is clearly marked, and mostly flat with a mild incline. There is a part that requires walking through a very low level of water, but besides that, it’s a pretty easy commute to the waterfall. There are plenty of shaded patches, and the trail is short, so there’s not much need to pack too much to carry either (which is always nice).

Once you get to the waterfall you can wade in the water, where there are stepping stones that lead directly under the falls. It’s perfect for a hot day, and the water, though a little chilly, feels amazing! There are also lots of large rocks around the waterfall that make great table tops if you want to relax and eat some lunch.

After taking in the falls, you just head back the way you came! Easy.

Also, if you like to pretend you’re a monkey and climb trees, there are a ton on the trail that are just begging to be lived in, so…monkey away!

I highly recommend this hike for anyone who has visitors in town, who want to showcase LA’s natural beauty, yet doesn’t want to be too “Hollywood” by going to Runyon Canyon, nor send their visitors into a physical commitment beyond their ability or liking. It’s really a nice, simple, and gorgeous hike through the woods! And seriously…. who doesn’t love a waterfall???!

Trailhead

Trailhead

rocks me rey waterfall me rey 2 me drinking water me rey walking off rocks

Look at this perfect sitting tree! AH!

Look at this perfect sitting tree! AH!

Side Note:
I had read about Eaton Canyon hikers that have gotten seriously injured or killed during their visit, and wondered, ‘HOW!?” Please note that there is in fact, a trail that goes beyond the waterfall, that is extremely dangerous and should only be attempted by those with extensive/professional skills. Stick to the main path!

Keep on Digging!

Mia

Mishe Mokwa Trail to Sandstone Peak

Distance: Approx. 7-8 Miles (Depending on how many stops you make!) Roughly 3 hours.

Elevation Gain: 1,081 ft.

Parking: Free lot at Circle X Ranch.  14041 Yerba Buena Rd. Malibu, CA 90265

Difficulty Level: Moderate-Difficult. The difficult parts include the climb up the actual Sandstone Peak,  and the distance in general. But this trail is great for the beginner and the advanced hiker, with opportunities to challenge oneself and adjust the hike according to your level!

sign

I have spent many a days on the west side of Los Angeles, but had no idea the beauty that hid in the Santa Monica Mountains. Mishe Mokwa Trail is a loop that starts at Circle X Ranch and hooks into Backbone Trail half way around. The best part of this trail is that there are multiple natural “monuments” to stop and marvel at throughout the trip, giving you time to rest, enjoy, and drink in the scenery. The first part of the hike is a slightly steep incline up rocky dirt road, and most of it is in the sun, so make sure to bring a hat and wear sunscreen during those hot weather days!

beginning uphill

All the landmarks are clearly marked, letting you know when to turn off the trail. Sandstone Peak was the first stop for us. This peak is the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains, and though the climb up to the top is a bit steep and a little scary (for those of you afraid of heights), the view from the peak is priceless! From here you can see the San Fernando Valleys, as well as the Pacific Coast. There is also a record log kept up top for climbers to sign and leave their mark in!

View from Sandstone Peak

View from Sandstone Peak

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Record Log at the top of the peak!

Record Log at the top of the peak!

Other landmarks along the way include Inspiration Point, Split Rock, and Balanced Rock. Split rock has a nice picnic area to sit and have lunch at, and it’s in a nice shaded area! It’s also fun to step in between and climb up like a spider! Sadly, we didn’t quite make it to Balanced Rock, because the trail went a bit off the grid, but we got some great shots from the terrain that lies across the way.

My unicorn princess at Inspiration Point!

My unicorn princess at Inspiration Point!

Split Rock

Split Rock

me split orck

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock

Another great feature of this trail is that the terrain constantly changes. One minute you’re in the sun walking up dirt road, the next minute you’re in lush shaded greenery looking across at a gorgeous mountainside. It’s a truly a wonderful hike with a little bit of everything to see and do!

terrain

big rock walking through trees

wild flowers

We DID IT!

We DID IT!

Happy Hiking!