The Grotto

I return to the Circle X Ranch area, home of the Sandstone Peak and Triunfo Peak trails I hiked previously.  I think this is the most beautiful area in the Santa Monica Mountains.  This is a shorter outing, around five miles, but is loaded with spectacular scenery.

1   Shot of Sandstone Peak and the windy Yerba Buena Road.  I parked in the same lot I used for my Sandstone Peak hike.

2     3   This time I headed in the opposite direction, across the road and down Canyon View Trail.  This hike has the uphill on the way back.

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Huge mountains fill the eyes.  I took quite a few photos on Canyon View Trail but found better views of the same sights on the Grotto Trail.

5     6     7   The Grotto Trail begins with a set of stairs.  Photo 2You pass over the top a waterfall, about 25 feet tall I would guess, which was dry today.  Photo 3 – And then rose up through this meadow.  Turn around for the view of Sandstone Peak.

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11   Circle X Ranch sits at the foot of the mountain.

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16     18     17   Near the bottom of the canyon, oaks begin to appear. Strange and twisted.

19     21     22   I began to hear running water and arrived at a creek.   Sometimes it was difficult to tell exactly from where it was coming as creek frequently runs underground – you can hear it but not see it.

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To continue on you must climb down these boulders.  Honestly, it was a bit more dangerous than I had anticipated.

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Boulders upon boulders

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These two shots look back up at the boulders I had scrambled down, to give an idea of the level of difficulty.

29     32     30   Photo 1 – There are also a lot of great holes to fall into, if that’s your thing.  Photo 2 – Surrounded by walls of rock.  Photo 3 – All the while the water flows through these big boulders, about 12 to 15 feet below, and you can catch glimpses of it through the cracks.

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Don’t fall in.

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I came upon a small opening that led back under the boulders.  I took off my boots and crawled inside.  I would say the water was about knee high.  I’d advise some kind of foot protection.

35     36   I am sure there was something much better, like a bigger cave, right below, but the only way to move forward that I could see was straight up this crumbling rock and then along side a ledge.  I felt I had pushed my limits as far as I wanted on this solo hike and turned around here.  I’ll mark this down as yet another trail with which I have unfinished business.

 

 

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