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GREAT HIKES: Santa Monica Mts. Exploration:

I remember many years ago, hiking off of Mulholland when, quite unexpectedly, the terrain seemed oddly familiar. Too familiar. It took a few minutes to digest what I was looking at: the set for the television series “MASH.”

The rolling terrain, a tent, an abandoned camouflage green jeep – this was my sole image of Korea, and it was right here in our local hills.

Today, the Paramount Ranch boasts not only the forever familiar “MASH” opening sequence, but the “Colorado” home of “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and scores of other movie sets and scenes. And you can visit these great Hollywood sites anytime – or hook-up with a hiking tour guided by the National Park Service.

On Saturday, November 26, 9:30 a.m., go to the Paramount Ranch “bulletin board” and you’ll be escorted on a four-hour, six-mile tour de force of the Ranch’s movie highlights. Get there by taking the Ventura Freeway to Kanaan Dune Road, go left on Cornell Way and veer to the right. The entrance is 2.5 miles on the right. You can also take PCH north to Kanaan and head inland.

Another upcoming hike/exploration will be presented Saturday December 3, by the Sierra Club. It’s called the Zuma Canyon Exploratory, and includes natural waterfalls and deep canyon trails. This is a nine-mile, five hour adventure, considered strenuous, but more for the time than the difficulty. Bring water, lunch and good boots! Meet at the end of Busch Drive and the group will car shuttle to the trailhead. Call the Sierra Club folks at (310) 391-5004 for more info, but all Sierra Club supervised treks are well-organized, with sign-in sheets and highly qualified leaders and “sweeps” to ensure that even the slowest of pokes remain a part of the group.

If having an experienced leader helps to make you feel secure, the pros from the California State Parks are offering “Adventures With A Ranger,” also on December 3, 9 a.m. at Point Mugu State Park. A CSP Ranger will lead a small group of hikers for an introductory, one-hour tour of Sycamore Canyon. It’s not a big hike, but a great way to get acquainted with the area and be reassured that you won’t get lost! Call (805) 488-1827 for more details.

Alternatively, if you are not afraid of the dark or getting lost, and don’t mind an unofficial, leaderless hike, then join us on any Monday or Wednesday night for a 6:30 p.m. departure, exploring 21 different westside routes. No Rangers, nada. Just folks hiking and exploring our local trails for about two hours.Fearless readers interested in free Monday and Wednesday night hikes may call Scott Regberg at (310) 475-5735.

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