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GREAT HIKES: Where The Parks Are:

One of the most frequent questions readers ask is where a particular trailhead or park area is, and how do they get there?  Fortunately, westsiders are virtually surrounded by a vast network of hiking areas, most of which have easy access, available parking, and many provide supervised tours.

The closest trailheads to Santa Monica include a nearly continuous row of routes north of Sunset Boulevard, including Los Liones at Pacific Coast Highway, Palisades Drive in the Highlands, Bienvenida, Temescal Canyon, Chatauqua, Will Rogers, Westridge, Mandeville and more.  However, with minimal driving time, there are a host of entire park areas, each with its own network of trailheads, that folks simply don’t know how to access.  Here’s an abbreviated list of a few of the areas, and the contact numbers to find out more information.

Point Mogu State Park: the furthest drive north I’ll describe, but well worth the effort.  Take PCH north about six miles beyond Kanaan Dune Rd. Enter the park at Sycamore Canyon Campground. The California State Parks manage the site. Call (818) 880-0350 for details about periodic tours, parking and trail maps.

Arroyo Sequit: You don’t hear much about this small treasure but it is right in the heart of the Santa Monicas, just off the Mulholland Highway, in the inland area of Malibu.  Just take PCH to Mulholland, turn east and, after six winding miles. you’ll see the park entrance on the right.  Go online to www.nps.gov/samo for maps and details, or call the National Park Service at (805) 370-2301.

• Cold Creek Canyon/Valley Preserve: It is hard to tell exactly where Stunt Ranch, Red Rock Canyon and Cold Creek begin and end as they are contiguous in the central Santa Monicas off of Mulholland Highway.  Take Topanga Canyon Boulevard to Mulholland Drive and go west 1/2 mile to Mulholland Highway and five miles to Stunt Road.  There are four major trail options, each with its own rugged characteristics.  The general terrain is rocky — California native scrub brush with clusters of tree growth – in contrast to the verdant flora you’d see in Rustic Canyon, for example. Call the NPS number above or visit them on line for more details about the many options.

These are only a few of the literally dozens of park areas, and hundreds of great trails, ideally just waiting for your footsteps.  I’ll periodically write about others in hopes that you’ll start exploring at least a few of our thousands of acres of wilderness, all right here in town!

Fearless readers interested in free Monday – Wednesday night hikes should call Scott Regberg at (310) 475-5735

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