Pico Canyon

A good hike in the Santa Clarita area with several interesting things to see.  The one issue I have is that approximately 70% of this hike is on paved road.  The feel of the hike is typical for this area, that is it has a sort of industrial feel with it’s history of ranching and oil production.

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There is a $5 parking fee, self paid.  The parking lot is right next to Mentryville, a now deserted little town that once housed families who worked in the oil business.  There are several structures and lots of old rusted equipment.  I started down the paved road.  This section is in very good shape and must have been newly paved within the last decade.  After about a mile I arrived at Johnson Park, a picnic area that was once used by the oil company families.  Today there are lots of sturdy looking picnic tables and a couple of BBQ grills.  Looks like a good place for a family reunion.

5   Also at Johnson Park is this replica of an old oil derrick.

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I heard something fall from the derrick and looked up to see this squirrel checking me out.  I think he tried to drop an acorn on my head.

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11   On the left of the road is a creek, which was almost dry today, and on the right are tall canyon walls.

12     15     13   At the end of the nicely paved road are a couple of plaques marking Pico #4, the west coast’s first commercially productive and longest pumping oil well.  The well was active between the years of 1876 – 1990.

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16     17     18   Right after Pico #4 the road makes a hairpin turn and heads up the mountain on a road that is about 50% paved, 50% dirt.  However, there is also a rough, abandoned paved road that breaks off to the right which I took time to explore.  The spur trail is quite overgrown and the pavement is in pretty bad shape.  Watch out for poison oak growing across the trail.

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The trail lifted me up above the canyon.

21     22     23   I saw this little tree standing alone on the cliffside and figured the trail might lead over to it.  Things got a bit sketchy in places.

24     25   Although the trail is overgrown it’s easy to follow – just stick to the pavement.  Soon I reached what looked like the end of the spur.

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From above the canyon, I love the look of that ridge on the left, like serrated knife edge.

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29   I found myself right above the little tree I spotted coming up the trail.  You can see the nicely paved road running down the middle and the 50/50 dirt to pavement road running up into the hills on the right.

30   I made my way back down to the main road and headed up the sometimes paved service road.

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From elevation I spotted the twisted steel of Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park.  The tallest structure is the 400+ foot Superman roller coaster.

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38   The antennae on Oat Mountain comes into view, marking the tallest point in the Santa Susana Mountains.

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The road ends at a flat spot.  There’s this trailer – I assume a weather station.  Also, an old sign marking another oil well.  At the far end of this flat area is a single picnic table which I used to rest and eat lunch.  There is a narrow trail that continues on from this point another two miles, or so.  I wandered out for a ways before turning around.  It looks kind of scary but it felt solid.

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Photo 1 – Orb-tenna on top of Oat Mountain  Photo 2 – I began my hike back.  Take note, the trails here have little shade during the mid-afternoon hours.

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Thank you, Pico Canyon

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