Four Little Valley Hikes
Flying pigs, swastikas, a religious cult, a movie ranch, the Manson Family…and some amazing natural scenery including caves, massive rocks and mountains. A year ago I did a day of only short hikes, five of them, all off of Mulholland Highway. My plan this day called for four short hikes, located in the Valley. I completed in order: 1) Orcutt Ranch Horticulture Center 2) Corriganville Park 3) Spahn Ranch 4) Garden of the Gods. I actually spent many hours hiking around Corriganville and probably less than an hour at each of the other spots. I had bad vibes going in knowing I planned to explore the land on which Spahn Ranch once stood, former home to Charles Manson and his family of murderous followers. It was sunny but windy which only amped up the spookiness. I found when I hiked these places, however, that there wais nothing to fear. It’s too bad such spectacular natural beauty is tainted in people’s minds because of the humans who once lived here. I had an awesome day.
Orcutt Ranch is a tiny park, actually a working ranch with many citrus trees. This probably wasn’t the ideal time of year to visit. I believe this is citrus fruit season and there seemed to be a lot of people on the grounds connected to this. And the place was kind of a mess. All the roses were pruned way back, there was yellow caution tape strung up in a few places and there were piles of plant debris.
Sculptures at Orcutt Ranch
The trees here are tall and/or massive.
To get to my next stop I traveled through narrow and windy Box Canyon, stopping to get photos along the way. There aren’t many places to safely pull over. To have these rocks as a backyard view would be surreal.
I stopped to check out this house – home base for the Fountain of the World cult. I’d not heard of it until doing research for this hike but I guess there is some connection between this cult and Charles Manson. I decided to pop in and investigate. The words on the plank read, “Ye who enter here enter in upon holy ground”.
A woman on YouTube said “Charlie” used to hide out in the caves near the cult house.
I started straight ahead and soon came to a bridge crossing over the concrete pool, aka Jungle Jim Lake. I walked down into the pool. Photo 4 shows t
There’s also a tunnel. There seems to be a narrow trail that takes you out on top of it, which I didn’t try.
For the sake of clarity I’m going to list where I hiked by location in a kind of counter-clockwise direction. In truth I wandered back and forth, up and down and all around, retracing my steps in a couple areas two or three times. To the left of the railroad tracks is Wildlife Trail. It begins right next to the oak tree shown in photo 2, taken down to nothing but a stump but still alive and growing. This is one of two good climbs in the park.
The ranch once had a mock-up of an old western town, long ago destroyed by fire. Match the roads in photos 1 and 2 to see what it looks like now. Photos 3 and 4 – I more closely examine the ruins of the town.
Photo 1 – Lying down in the cave. Photo 2 – A
Finally I stopped at the micro park known as Garden of the Gods. It’s not that easy to find. From Santa Susana Pass go up Redmesa Road. The sign is hidden to the left. When you reach the condos at the top of the hill turn around and go back down the hill. You’ll see this sign and the park on the right. Park next to the curb.
Right across the street is the well-known climbing spot Stoney Point.