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GREAT HIKES: New Westside Adventures:

Despite the changing weather, there are a host of new hiking opportunities being offered to local westsiders, including some unique, professionally-guided theme tours.

The Malibu Creek Docents will lead a free two hour hike on October 22 at 9:30 a.m. that focuses on landmark historical sites, as well as offering insights about our native plants. Meet in the lower parking lot of Malibu Creek State Park for this easy-to-moderate trek.

At the very same time, a qualified geologist will be leading a Runyon Canyon Park hike, providing two hours of professional tidbits about the “five geologic formations and over 100 million years of history.” Call Friends of Runyon Canyon at (323) 666-5004 for more details about this info-packed educational adventure.

Here’s one that I never imagined I’d be writing about: visit the “Gourd Garden” at Headwaters Corner (Mulholland Dr. to Volmer Rd., and then to Mulholland Hwy.). Yes, that’s right, Halloween will be over by November 5, but if you show up at 11 a.m., these folks will tell you everything there is to know about our friends, the gourds. You’ll even be invited to adopt a baby gourd and take it home with you, to raise as your own family gourd! This wild and crazy adventure is two hours of eccentric fun, provided by the official San Fernando Valley Gourd Patch (for real). Call (818) 715-9473 for details about getting into gourds.

One standing group that deserves special mention is the Twilight’s Hikers. Every Friday evening (for 30 years!) these experienced folks have been meeting at Stoner Park at 6:30 pm for a variety of different hikes. I’ve never hiked with them, but one of their group recently called and extended an open invitation to all readers of this little column. From Stoner, they caravan to an array of local trails, and after 30 years have the routes pretty well figured out. Tagging along with savvy hikers like this is a great way to get familiar with our many local trails! Call (310) 370-7395 for more specifics.

Similarly, our Monday-Wednesday night hiking group has been chugging along for about ten years, departing at 6:30 p.m. for what is usually a two hour trek. We don’t have an official name (although we once toyed with the Mountain Lions, mostly to differentiate ourselves from another group called the Tigers), or anything else official. But we do know 21 different trails fairly well and only occasionally get lost, or loose a newbie. If that doesn’t entice you to join along, I don’t know what other carrots (or gourds) to offer.Fearless readers interested in free Monday and Wednesday night hikes should contact Scott Regberg at (310) 475-5735.

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