Hidden Pond Trail

It’s fun to hike in the rain when you plan and prepare ahead.  This week brought the first storms of the vaunted El Nino weather system.  I grabbed my new poncho and headed over to Point Mugu State Park.  I had planned to hike Hidden Pond Trail several times but changed my mind right before.  This trail is not well known, it’s in none of my hiking books and online reviews seem to think it is kind of a bore.  Worst, the “hidden” pond rarely holds any water.  With the rain, this seemed like the ideal day to give it a go.

1     2   I parked at the end of Wendy Dr. and began my day from there.  There is a closer parking lot but the last time I tried to park there the gate was locked.  I believe it opens at 8 a.m., too late for me.  I headed over in the direction of Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa Park.  I was on the trail for about three minutes when the rain started to fall.  It rained (or seemed to rain) about 90% of the time I was on the trail.

3     4   Please forgive the water droplets that obscure many of these photos.  They were simply unavoidable on this day.  I broke right and made my way down to the Indian Culture Center.  I stopped under a shelter area for a few moments.  I can’t lie.  I asked myself the question, “What the hell am I doing out here?”

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I began into the heart of the park, down the paved road to the bottom where Hidden Pond Trail begins.

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The bony rocks atop Boney Mountain are a highlight of this area.

9     10     11   After a couple of miles I finally reached the trailhead.  The trail is narrow and was slick today but not completely horrible.

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A splash of color on a gray day.

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The trail, basically runs parallel to the road, sometimes right next to it.  In photo 1 you can see the road at the bottom.  Adding to the dreariness of the day, this area is still recovering from the massive fire which swept through here 2 1/2 years ago.  Many plants remain blackened.

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In places, it looked like a wasteland, barren but not without beauty.

16     17   Eventually the trail changed from slick mud to a more sandy soil which better absorbs the rain.  This was a pleasure to hike on.

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After 1.2 miles on Hidden Pond Trail, the trail briefly returns to the road.  Just across the road is one end of Sin Nombre Trail.  I had originally planned to hike both Sin Nombre and Sage Trails after Hidden Pond Trail, but the bad weather made me change my plans.  Now the goal became finding the pond and returning from there.

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After another mile or so, I really don’t recall, I came to a split in the trail which formed a circle.  The main trail keeps running straight ahead but seemed to be fenced off.  Trails broke both to the right and left away from the circle.  These breakaway trails were not on the map I carried so my old friend confusion paid me a visit once again.

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I decided to take the trail that went left toward the road, climbing a hill.  Although there was no water, looking at the circle in the trail leads me to believe this is the location of the pond.  I say this for two reasons.  First, on my map (Harrison – Point Mugu State Park) the trail splits and forms a small circle around the pond.  Second, also on my map, Sage Trail is right across from this circle but over the hill and across the road. This also fit with what I saw in real life.  Photo 2 – It was absolutely pouring now and as I gained elevation the wind began to howl, smashing raindrops against my body an filling my boots with water.  I trudged down to the road, Ranch Center Road.  A utilities truck slowed to make sure I was okay and I gave him a thumbs up as he rolled past.

25     26     27   The rest of my day would be spent on paved road, either Ranch Center Road or Big Sycamore Canyon Road. Photo 3 – The junction between Ranch Center and Big Sycamore Canyon Road.

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Now all I had to do was hike back up the paved road to the upper park area and then over to my car.  The skies showed me no mercy.  Here are a couple of videos of the rain during my hike:  Video 1 – Rainy Point Mugu State Park

Video 2 – More Rain in Point Mugu State Park

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Hard Rain Falling

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33   Every once in awhile the rain would stop and I’d pull out my camera.  Photo 3 – Upper Big Sycamore Canyon

34     35   I decided to take the streets back to my car.  My boots were clean after hiking a few miles on pavement and I didn’t want to mess them up again hiking in the mud back to my car. As expected, this was one of my more memorable hikes and good practice for future rain hikes.

 

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