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GREAT HIKES: Local Mountains Offer Daily Events:

The local Santa Monica Mountains are laced with an abundance of hiking trails, and they’re also host to programs that most of us are unaware of.

In many cases, you don’t need to make special arrangements – just show up at the site and enjoy the remarkably well-organized, usually free, outdoor opportunities.

For example, the Circle X Ranch in Malibu is open every day and offers 15 miles of well groomed paths and easy fireroads. (Guided walks are also available – just call ahead to 805-370-2301). The Coldwater Canyon Park is home to the well-known TreePeople. The informative nursery is open Wednesdays 10 a.m. to noon and Saturdays 2 to 4 p.m.. You can also enjoy this little park any day – or visit with the folks from TreePeople for some valuable tidbits about your own garden plantings.

Two of the more popular local hiking sites with daily activities are Will Rogers Park and Temescal Canyon. Both of these great resources have clearly marked trails, free maps for the asking and Rangers are usually available to help with whatever you need. If you’re willing to drive a few more minutes, head up Topanga Canyon to Trippet Ranch, pick up a walking map and explore one of the more pastoral hikes on the Westside. The slightly more adventurous can take the connecting trail from Topanga, over the hill and into the Santa Ynez in the Palisades. It sounds farther than it is — in two to three hours you can cover a lot of ground on self-guided trails that are virtually impossible to get lost on.

Although the Sierra Club’s overall activities have become much broader than its original hiking roots, the organization is still a great resource for discovering and enjoying our local trails. One of the more interesting treks offered is “Fossil Ridge.” an eight-mile hike for moderate skills. You’ll explore a recently groomed ridgeline trail with surprise fossil rock formations along the way. The Sierra Club also offers virtually daily hiking events open to all levels of enthusiasts. Call 213-387-4287 for the monthly calendar of activities, including the long-standing Friday night hike to the Paseo Overlook near PCH and Sunset Boulevard.

There simply are too many organized hikes to describe in this one column, but I will give you a few additional phone numbers to help get you started. Coastwalk can be reached at 800-550-6854; the under utilized William O. Douglas Outdoor Classroom is at 310-858-7272; and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council is at 818-222-4531. Do just a little homework and you’ll find the perfect hike for your interests and abilities.Fearless readers interested in free Monday and Wednesday night hikes may contact Scott Regberg at (310) 475-5735.

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