Johnson Motorway – Rocky Peak Trail Loop

With temperatures forecast in the low 60’s this was the perfect day to go hiking in the Simi Valley/Chatsworth area. This place is simply amazing if you love sandstone formations, reddish rocks stacked and balanced on one another, worn down by time and the elements into weird shapes and caves.
Hiking Distance: about 8 1/2 miles

Driving Directions:From the 118 Fwy. in Simi Valley, exit on Kuehner Drive. Go right (south) on Kuehner.  At a left bend the road becomes Santa Susana Pass Rd.  After three total miles come to an overpass.  Cross over the 118 and immediately pull into the parking lot for Rocky Peak Park.

                 

I started the loop by crossing over the 118 Freeway and hiking east (left) on Santa Susana Pass Road for a couple of miles. While this is necessary to complete the loop, walking down a paved road sounded like a boring task. Not so! Santa Susana Pass Rd. is actually quite beautiful in it’s own right.

              

Right off the bat there are nice rocks.

        Photo 1 – I noticed a fire road on the right and hiked over to explore.  Not sure where it goes but it looks like a fun hike, the trail clinging to the side of a canyon wall.  Photo 2 – Down the hillside, a wrecked truck.

               

Views from the mystery fire road.

              

              

More awesome rocks beside Santa Susana Pass Rd.

                  

   Photo 1 – In places the shoulder does get a bit narrow. I crossed from side to side, whichever was safest.  Photo 2 – After about a mile and a half I went left up Iverson Rd.  Photos 3 and 4 – I passed by the Church at Rocky Peak. On a hill right next to the freeway, the church has placed a large white cross which is lit up at night. This is a very familiar landmark to those who travel the 118.

              

I looked over my shoulder and was greeted with a spectacular sight – in the foreground, the massive sandstone boulders at Garden of the Gods. Just beyond, the legendary rock climbing site Stoney Point.

                  

        Iverson passes under the freeway. A few yards beyond is a gated community known as Indian Springs. A trail runs through the private community and one must pass through locked gates to gain access. As I approached the guardhouse, the guard opened one of the heavy metal gates and allowed me to enter.  The beautiful little trail passes by large and lavish looking homes.  Some streets are marked with “No Trespassing” signs so people won’t wander off on their own.

        I came to a point where the trail makes a sharp right turn and is marked as Santa Susana Pass Trail. Breaking left is a paved road.  The trail continues for over two miles, dropping down into Devil Canyon and ending near Stoney Point. Sounds like a great day.

Looking down into Devil Canyon.

                

I knew that Santa Susana Pass trail was not the one I wanted, but where was the turn-off for Johnson Motorway? I checked my GPS and followed Johnson Motorway from Rocky Peak Park all the way down to where the trail goes right and the paved road goes left. This road is signed as Indian Hills Rd.  I needed to take this road to get to Johnson Motorway.  Although I was certain I was following the correct route, there are two “No Hiker, No Trespassing” signs standing along the road. When I researched this hike I read that an owner (or someone) had put up signs and even blocked the trailhead with a car to discourage hikers and bikers from using the trail.  I emailed the company that manages Indian Springs HOA and was told, “There is a trail that goes up Iverson Road around the communities that is open to the public.  Hikers, bikers and horses are not permitting(sic) off the path.  I don’t know where Johnson Motorway is“.  I also contacted the office of 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger to try to get some clarification concerning the public easement that leads to Johnson Motorway.  As of this writing I have not heard back.  I will update should there be any change.  Photo 3 – In a short distance I reached the entrance to dirt road, posted with another “No Trespassing” sign and blocked by what appeared to be an old cop car bought at auction.  Photo 4 – Somebody affixed a trail sign sticker on the bumper of the car.

   I hiked passed the car. To the west is Rocky Peak Park.

        Sections of the road are solid sandstone, worn down and smooth.

            Photos 1 and 2 – Looking south, I spotted the cross.  Photo 3 – After a short while I reached an open gate which I assume is the official start to Johnson Motorway.

              

The hills were so green today, even the Santa Susana Mountains highest point Oat Mountain. When I hiked here years ago it was all dry and yellow.  On top of Oat Mountain is what I call the Orbtenna, I believe a Doppler weather radar unit. On a clear day it’s a very visible landmark.

   Just off the road stands the ruins of a house.

                 

   I took a right turn and headed toward the ruins.  Photo 2 – What is it? Maybe something people burned trash in?  Photo 3 – A little pond right below.  Photo 4 – Burnt palms give a clue as to the fate of the house.

              

   I enjoy exploring the ruins of old cabins and houses and imagining what once was.

              

Looking up and then down the canyon.

   And again over to Oat Mountain, the Orbtenna now hidden by a passing cloud.

                

         Back on Johnson Motorway – as I hiked on I passed many interesting rocks.

Rocky Peak is shown in the center of this photo. It’s the last high point on the ridge.

   Close-up of the very top

              

Beneath is an impressive field of boulders and caves.

   Can’t decide, a robot or an ape?

                

   This cave looks like a screaming face.

            Photo 2 – Giant Sloth Rock  Photo 3 – Ghost in the Sandstone

              

              

Looking at the screaming face cave head on.  Zooming in revealed honeycomb-like erosion patterns. Fascinating.

            Photo 3 – After a little more than five total miles of hiking I came to Rocky Peak Trail.

                

Photo 2 – Another close up of the Orbtenna, miles away on Oat Mountain.

Panoramic views of Simi Valley

              

              

Life and Death
The sky became dark and threatening. Funny how the rain clouds, which have enabled these hillsides to come alive with greenery, also brought to mind death and destruction and the end of the World.

            Photo 1 – Long section of sandstone trail  Photo 3 – Looking back up at Rocky Peak.

A view of the San Fernando Valley opens between hillsides.

                

              

I passed a nice size cave with more honeycomb shapes decorating the walls.

              

With about a mile to go, I rested on a bench and took in the views.

              

On the top of a nearby ridge sits Sage Ranch Park, another location with excellent rocks.

   Super day of hiking.

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