The weather hasn’t been accommodating over this holiday season: cold, wet and unpredictable. No one enjoys slogging through a muddy and slippery trail just for the fun of it.
The good news is that there are some great alternative walks that can get you outside and keep your proverbial motor running. You can usually sense an hour or two of rainless time – and if you are wrong you won’t get into too much trouble.
First, don’t worry about the temperature. It’s not really cold, and once you get moving you’ll appreciate the cooler air. Dress in layers, ideally with a wicking t-shirt, a sweatshirt and a water repellent lightweight jacket. You’ll probably only wear the jacket on the way to the trailhead and be very comfortable without it. Hats keep you warm and keep the drizzle off your head. A decent pair of waterproof boots and you’ll be ready for just about anything short of a torrent. In fact, a day hike in winter is preferable to sweating in the summer sun.
Where to go? An aggressive pace up and down San Vicente is about as safe as it gets. Add a spin around the Brentwood Country Club golf course and your heart will be better for it.
The paved fire road on Capri, in the Pacific Palisades, is another great route for a potential rainy day. It’s one of the few canyon roads that provides sweeping views, a sense of adventure and a virtually mud-free experience. Snuggled against the hillsides, much of the route is protected from wind and light rain.
If it hasn’t rained for at least a couple of hours, parts of Will Rogers Park are ideal. The Inspiration Point trail as well as the main trail up to the Bridge are so well engineered and so nicely surfaced and maintained that there’s virtually no pooling, little mud and the soft compacted soil is a pleasure to walk on. Definitely avoid the lower canyon trails, like Rustic Canyon or the connecting route to Temescal – unless you are prepared for rushing water. I’d also pass on any other steep trek, like Wirebreak, Wirebreak Two, as well as other canyon floor trails like Sullivan or the Santa Ynez.
Providing that the rain isn’t falling while you’re hiking, most of the upper ridgeline hikes are suitable for the moderately skilled. Wide fire roads, like Trailer Canyon in the Palisades Highlands, the top of Westridge and the top of Kenter are relatively easy with gentle grades and good run-off to protect the integrity of the road.
If it does come down while you are out there, your hat, boots and jacket will become your best friends. All of the trails I’ve mentioned are benign and practically impossible to get lost on. Just head back and brave it – you’ll still have a great time.
Fearless readers interested in free Monday and Wednesday night hikes should contact Scott Regberg at (310) 475-5735.