Five Little Mulholland Hikes

A new and different adventure this week.  Usually when I plan a hike I look for a trail or series of connected trails that add up to about ten miles.  I have noticed, however, that there are many shorter, unconnected trails that beckon for exploration.  On this day I hiked five of these trails, all between one and three miles long, and all accessed from Mulholland Highway.  The trails were 1) Arroyo Sequit  2) Clark Ranch Road – Backbone Trail Loop  3) Rocky Oaks Park  4) Peter Strauss Ranch  and 5) Cistern and Lookout Trails in Malibu Creek State Park.  This was a really fun day, working out as well as I had hoped.  Each hike had it’s own unique and memorable character.  I look forward to more days of short hikes in the future.

1   Early morning, about to head up Mulholland Highway from Pacific Coast Highway near Leo Carrillo Beach.

2  3  4  5     6   The Moon was still high in the sky when I started my hike at Arroyo Sequit.  Near the beginning of the trail are Park Ranger living quarters, a barn and an observation spot somehow connected to Santa Monica College.  The trail, marked “Nature Trail”, is pretty well maintained.

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This is as close as you can get to AT&T Earth Station and it’s enormous satellite dishes.  The mature trees growing next to (and being dwarfed by) these dishes give an idea of the scale.

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Arroyo Sequit is just up the road from where I hiked last week and has the same mountain views.

11     10   There’s not much parking on the Mulholland side of Clark Ranch Road (there is parking at the other end on Encinal Canyon Road but I wanted to stay true to the experiment).  I  parked in the grass off the road and across from a ranch. home to these two burros (mules? donkeys?  asses?)  One of them loudly snorted his disapproval at my approach.

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I took an unmarked side trail off of the dirt fire road.  It led out to a peak where a building once stood, now just a crumbling foundation.  I headed back to the main trail and down toward Encinal Canyon Road.

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In September I hiked up to Encinal Canyon Road from Kanan Dume Road and saw the sign in photo 1.  “State Prison Grounds” it reads.  I had no idea what it was and a search for Morris Ranch came up empty.  On this day, as I approached Encinal on Clark Ranch Road, I noticed what appeared to be about a hundred female inmates running along the ridge across the street.  They then crossed over and started running up the mountain on my side, not the main trail which loops around but rather straight up the hill.  I crossed paths with two inmates on the trail, one helping the other who had sprained her ankle.  They called up to their “Boss” (their words), the supervisor holding a walkie talkie.  After a search I learned that this is Malibu Conservation Camp #13, run jointly by the California Dept. of Corrections and the Los Angeles County Fire Dept.  These all female inmates work at fire related duties, such as clearing brush, in exchange for reduced time.

14     15     16   Flora along Clark Ranch Road

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22   An added bonus to the day was stopping and checking out the scenery along Mulholland – giant boulders and a statue of an Indian scout looking out to infinity.

23     24     25   The parking lot at Rocky Oaks is large and shady and has a restroom.  It was pleasant being able to eat lunch in my car.  This is a neat little area with many crisscrossing trails.  Pick up a map at the trailhead.

26   Sitting across the road, sticking out like a sore thumb at the top of a hill, is the house that has a 50 million dollar asking price.

27     29   The pond at Rocky Oaks.  I saw several different animal prints around the edge.

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30     32   The trail winds up and around giving a panoramic view of the pond.

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35   From Overlook Trail – Rocky Oaks Park.  These rocks are a prominent landmark along Kanan Dume Road.  I had recently thought that I’d like to hike to these rocks.  Little did I know that Rocky Oaks take you close to right under them.

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Crazy, curvy Mulholland.  Photo 2 was taken between Rocky Oaks and Peter Strauss Ranch, from a viewing area off the road.

38   “Castle” tower at the entrance to Peter Strauss Ranch.  This pleasant little area has several things to see.

39     40     41   There’s a cactus garden…

42     49     43  …an historic pool, amphitheater and stone steps…

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…and an aviary, sans birds.

46     48     47   The hike at Strauss Ranch is a short and shady loop, a few switchbacks up and down, covered by leaves.  These oak trees look like they’re covered with frost.

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The last hike of the day began above Malibu Creek State Park.

52   Screaming Man, Turned to Stone

53     54     55   As I experienced a few weeks ago when I hiked in this park, the trail markings are confusing and incomplete.  The trail became overgrown but somehow I made it down to the road below.  On the way there is a nice view of the park’s redwood trees.

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The first photo shows Century Lake from Lookout Trail.  I decided to walk all the way down and watch the ducks swim around for awhile.

56   Love the rocks in this area!

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