Tapo Canyon – Chivos Canyon

I hiked this area in early January but bailed out after only about a mile in.  I returned to complete what I started and had a surprisingly fun time.  Glad to know there’s still some good places to hike in Simi Valley that are new to me.  The 70% chance of rain forecast was helpful as I only saw two people all day (it only sprinkled for a few minutes at the end of my hike).

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5   To get to the trailhead take the 118 Freeway to Tapo Canyon Road.  Head north for a mile and a half.  The trailhead signs are off the road and out of sight.  Look for a post with two yellow street signs on the right side of the road.  One says “35 MPH” and the other “DIP”.  Just a few feet after these signs is a turn-out on the right – a small dirt lot.  Park here or on the street if it’s full.  The hike is made up of two loops connected by a couple of straight trails.  I started out going to the left, following a dirt road through a dry canyon.  Electrical towers stand above the trail but disappear soon enough.

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The first junction is right next to the pointy peak in photo 1.  This is where I turned around last time.  The last half a mile or so to the base of the peak is a nice climb.  Photo 3 – Looking back toward Tapo Canyon Road.  Photo 4 – And now in the opposite direction.  The views were really nice for such a cloudy day.


The first loop starts at the first junction.  You can go up the hill to the left and then gradually down into the canyon, as shown here.  (I took this photo on my first hike when it was sunny.  I use it now because I somehow failed to take a photo of this view on my more recent hike.)


Or you can go down the steep hill to the right and get to the bottom much quicker.  I chose to do the steep part first so I wouldn’t have to climb it at the end of the hike.

12     13     14   After the first loop intersects, I continued down the road for about 1/4 to 1/2 mile to complete the second straight part.  Photo 2At some point the directions I was following stopped making sense, but now that I know what to do and it’s easy to explain.  This honey bee sanctuary is an important landmark.  A spur trail breaks sharply to the right and continues on for about a half mile to a paved road.  I did this first.  Photo 3 – There are a few interesting things to see on this spur trail – this wreckage for instance.  Someday all cars will look like this.

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The are a few of these tar seeps next to the trail.  They smell just like roofers’ tar.

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Nearing the end of the spur.  In photo 2 I look back and then backtracked to the honey bee sanctuary.


At the honey bee sanctuary, I went straight a few yards and then left on a single track trail.  Nice views.

24   The second loop begins off of this single track trail.  Notice the trail that breaks somewhat steeply up to the right.

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Instead of starting the loop I continued on the single track trail for a ways more.  I turned around when it looked like the trail was heading back down into the canyon.

27   I backtracked and started the second loop.


The Sun Battles The Clouds

29   The second loop trail took me up and parallel with the single track trail.  It then took me higher, made a U-turn and took me on top of the ridge going parallel to but in the opposite direction of the single track.

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Photo 1 – Looking back from the ridgeline – if you look closely in this photo, you can see the second loops U-turn.

32   This hill seemed to be the high point.  I ate lunch here.

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35   Views from the top, including the drop into the canyon shown in photo 3.


37     38     39   Now to complete the second loop I had to get back down to the single track trail.  This rusted old water tank is what to look for.  I took the trail on the right that headed down to the tank.  Then I just kept following the trail past the water tank and was back on the single track in no time.

40     41     42   Photo 1 – Here is where I got spit out, back on to the single track from that water tank trail.  I don’t think I noticed this trail on the way up.  Photo 2 – A quick look back up at the trail starts the loop, the one that breaks steeply up to the right.

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Photo 1 – Ants Awaiting Instructions  Photo 2 – Instructions Received!  Scramble!

45     46     47   After passing by the honey bee sanctuary and heading back up the road, I came to the junction where the first loop ends. This time I went to the right to complete the first loop.  The trail took me through Chivos Canyon.

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The trail climbs steadily but is only moderately steep.  This mountain is half hidden when hiking on the other half of this loop trail.  Now I got to see it from the ground up.


Just a bit further to complete the first loop and then it was straight back to the parking lot.  Good day and it didn’t rain.


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