Towsley Canyon – Wiley Canyon Loop

I planned to hike several of these short canyon trails in the Santa Susana Mountains.  The weather was hot but the hikes are short enough that I could get on and off the trail without spending too much time in the Sun.  These canyons are right across from Oat Mountain, but it didn’t seem like it because the drive to get to the trailhead was a lot longer.  This hike is pretty typical for this area – beautiful, unusual but a bit too crowded for my taste.

1     2   The trailhead is right off the 5 Freeway.  There are several parking areas.  The lot right near the road is free.  To park in the lots closer to the upper trailhead you will have to feed $7 to the Iron Ranger.  I parked near the main road and began hiking on a paved road toward the upper trailhead.  There are three main trails here.  Wiley Canyon is the first trailhead I passed on the left and is where I would exit as the hike ends (it’s signed as Towsley Canyon Loop).  Towsley Canyon Trail begins at the end the paved/gravel road (it’s also signed Towsley Canyon Loop).  There is a third trail in the park, I think it’s called Canyon View Trail.  Right before Towsley Canyon Trail (the upper trailhead) the main road breaks to the left and, in just a few yards, brings you to a shady area with picnic tables, a restroom and a nature center.  Canyon View Trail starts here, cuts across the park 1.1 miles and intersects with Wiley Canyon Trail, giving an option for a hike that is probably only half as long as the short hike I did on this day.  Good for kids, I think.

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I hiked through Towsley Canyon surrounded by towering walls of earth.

5     6     7   Photo 1 – Cave above the trail  Photos 2 and 3 – I approach “The Narrows”, where the canyon walls squeeze close together.  This made for beautiful hiking – the highlight of this park for me.


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Photo 1 – Looking straight up the rock wall next to the trail.  Photo 2 – Reeds next to the trail.  I think during the rainy season this hike might be pretty wet as the trail cross a streambed several times.  Today it was all dry.

11     13     12   Photo 3 – Looking back as I exit the narrows.


The trail now climbs out of the canyon.

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Right across the way – Orbtenna at the top of Oat Mountain.

19     17     18   A fascinating natural feature of this land are tar seeps – natural tar that bubbles up from the cracks in the ground.  Native people used this tar as a sealant for baskets, etc.  Some seeps smell like sulphur.


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The bottom of these fallen trees have interesting shapes.

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Once I got to the top the trail I curved to the left and started downhill.  When I got to the top, to the right I found a trail that took me up to a couple of nice overlooks.  Getting to the overlook in Photo 3 was bit dangerous.  The trail is very steep and the dirt is loose.  Be careful.

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Views in the direction of the San Gabriel Mountains and Simi Valley.

29     30   On the way down I passed these twin oaks.

31     33   Now at the bottom of Wiley Canyon – more tar.

VIDEO: Bubblin’ crude by the side of the trail

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End of the day.

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