Runkle Canyon

A last minute decision to hike in Simi Valley paid off nicely. The fire roads I hiked have very little shade but a cool wind kept things comfortable all day. The views just keep getting bigger as I went.  I hiked around 8 or 9 miles and felt strong.

Driving Directions: From the 118 Freeway, exit on Sycamore Dr.  Drive 0.4 miles to Cochran St.  Take a left. Drive 0.8 miles to Sequoia Ave. Take a right. Drive 0.6 mile to Chicory Leaf Pl. turn left and park on the street next to the park – photo 1.

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There was a lot of confusion to begin the day. My guidebook said to park at the Arroyo Simi Equestrian Center at the end of Chicory Leaf Pl. and start the hike through a gate at the end of the parking lot. It was dark and difficult to understand exactly where to park. A worker told me that there was no access through the far gate.  I returned to the street and parked next to Vista Del Arroyo Park.  I went searching for the trail. I walked back to Sequoia Ave. to a bridge. On the far side side of the bridge is the Arroyo Simi Greenway, not the trail I wanted. I went east (right) and followed the fenced path running behind the park and the Equestrian Center. On the other side is a wash.  A better way might be to head directly down into the wash beneath the bridge.  I needed to get over to those power lines, but the trail I was on seemed to dead end at a flat area (Photo 3).  I could see a trail running through the wash below but I couldn’t get down there either.  Photo 4 – I spotted a well-worn path and headed steeply up the side of the hill.

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Now at the top of the hill, I joined a fire road, but the one I wanted, Edison Road a.k.a. Rim of the Valley Trail, is across the canyon. I headed downhill to a junction where these roads converge.  There was a third trail running straight through the bottom of the canyon. I took the easy path last week so I wanted more of a challenge. Up I went.

7     8   Photo 2 – Old wreck on the bottom of the canyon.

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This area looks like Tapo Canyon, just a few miles east.

10   I believe this mountain is called Whiteface.

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The first part of the Edison Road is sheltered from the morning Sun, which I enjoyed. There’s one saddle between hills that offers views to the east.  Photo 2 – Oat Mountain in the distance, the Santa Susanna Mountains highest point.

13     14     15   Photo 2 – I paused to observe a millipede crossing the trail.  Photo 3 – I reached the crest of the trail and came to a gate. I walked through the gap on the right and continued down the road.

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18   I came to a water tank, the first indication of what was to come. The road turned from dirt to asphalt.  The map I have of the area, published in 2007, shows nothing but fire roads running above and through Runkle Canyon.  But it also states that the area is scheduled for development “in the near future”.  The future is now as Runkle Canyon is and continues to be developed.

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I was heading straight down into one of the new neighborhoods, a mix of completed and occupied houses and construction sites. The paved road looked like it went back quite a long way.  Edison Road picked up again next to the paved road, so I hopped over a couple of sprinkler lines and got back on it.  Photo 4 – Dead bird – poor little guy.

23   Industrial Symmetry

24     25     27   I pass the neighborhood and then leave it far behind.  Photo 3 – Below, the dry reservoir in Runkle Canyon.

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Views north and south

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I reached a closed but unlocked gate, which matched with what I saw on my map. I opened it and then closed it behind being sure to refasten the clip that keeps it secure.  I assume the gate is there to keep cattle from wandering where they shouldn’t.  I saw no cows today but plenty of evidence they are in the area (Photo 4).

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35   As I continued to climb I noticed some interesting rock formations to the east, and some buildings, I’m not sure what they are.

36     37     37a   I came to a second closed gate. This too aligned with what I saw on my map. Going through the gate would lead me down to Runkle Fire Road and then up to my planned turnaround point, Albertson Motorway. First I went left to check out those rocks.  The rocks weren’t as close as they appeared but I made it over to them soon enough. I had to exit the road I was on, which leads down into the canyon east of Runkle Canyon, and cut across a field to get to the road where the rocks are.  Photo 2 – Looking across a field at Runkle Fire Road.

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There’s a turn-off leading up to a locked gate. Through the gate, I assume, is the road that leads to those buildings I spotted a few minutes before.

39     40   Photo 2 – Straw wattle curled into a spiral.  I saw several of these lying around.

41   I hiked by a string of sandstone boulders. I really like the one with the hole on top, peering like an open eye.

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44   I stuck with the road another 1/4 of a mile or so as it curved to a dead ended in front of several interesting rocks.

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Crazy Black Buffalo rock art

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54   I then noticed I was right in front of the “eye” rock. I scrambled up a few yards to reach it.

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51   I climbed atop a flat rock to survey the area.

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I sat down and slowed my mind.  I focused on the moment to fully appreciate the amazing view.  When I let go it’s like slipping into another plane.  My existence, the entirety, is what I see before me.  My mind stops thinking about all my troubles and all the troubles of the world.  My shoulders drop.  I let out a huge sigh, exhaling stress.  Calm embraces me.

55     56     57   I headed back to the second gate.  Photo 3 – Grasshopper hiding in plain sight

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I reached the second gate and repeated the opening and securing which I had done with the first gate. I was led down to a T-junction with Runkle Fire Road.  I went up to the left.

59   I was very thankful to find a little shade as I reached Albertson Motorway, a half mile from the T-junction. I sat by the side of the road, rested and ate lunch.

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View from Albertson Motorway. You can see Runkle Fire Road curving into to the bottom of the canyon.

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66   I took a bit of a gamble sticking with Runkle Fire Road instead of retracing my steps.  With all the new development I didn’t know what I would find at the end, maybe a locked gate with no access.  That would mean hiking all the way back to the top and adding another three miles to my day.  I passed an excavator and the operator assured me that if I stuck with the road I would soon come to Sequoia Ave.  Photos 3 and 4 – I came to a fork.  The right fork leads to Sequoia Ave.  The left fork leads to the dry reservoir, which I decided to explore.  Photo 5 – I climbed up a drain and out of the reservoir. At the base of the drain were these odd looking “mudcones”.

67     68     69   The fire road petered out and I reached a construction zone at end of Sequoia Ave.  I made the long walk through neighborhood streets along Seqouia. It was strange to see a half dozen refrigerators sitting together in the middle of the street, ready to be installed in these new houses.  I kept hiking up the road until I reached Chicory Leaf Pl. and my car. I had a very peaceful day.

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