This hike is located in Castaic, CA. I was looking for a 6-8 mile moderate hike to get us back in shape, and this hike fit the bill. This trail is open year-round.
In early March, the temperature was perfect. It was Saturday, and there were only three cars at the trailhead around 9 AM. There were more people, though, toward the end of our hike.
Go around the gate and begin hiking downhill on pavement. From the trailhead, you can see Castaic Lake.
After hiking 0.5 miles on Templin Hwy, we arrived at this bridge.
At the end of the bridge, Castaic Canyon Road begins. Go right on this fire road. When the fire road splits, take Forest Route 6N32 on your left. There is no sign.
Soon, we hiked through a canyon that offered shade, and the terrain changed between dirt and rocky multiple times. Some sections are all rocks. Proper hiking shoes are recommended.
A gradual elevation change made this hike pretty easy, and a few stream crossings kept us interested until we reached the old Cienaga Campground.
At this point, you can turn around and head back. It’s an out-and-back hike. If you turn back here, the roundtrip will be 5.5 miles.
If you can handle the longer distance, I recommend continuing to the Fish Canyon Narrows (another name for the hike is Pianobox Prospect). Continue hiking past the campground. Very soon, when the trail splits, take the trail on the left. Forest Route 6N32 continues to the right. There is no sign.
When you leave Forest Route 6N32, the best part of the hike awaits.
Our trek was more fun now, with added challenges like fallen trees. We like obstacles! Overcoming obstacles make hiking a real adventure. For some reason, Xena seems to find an easier way to go about it more often than I.
And more stream crossing!
After 1.0 mile, we reached the Fish Canyon Narrows.
Good place for lunch, ya?
We didn’t see anyone on the trail until we were on the way back. It was exactly what the doctor ordered! The trail was still partly shaded until the last mile or so.
We ran into a rude snake in the last mile, but we went our separate ways, and it was all good at the end. The snake was curled up by the edge of the trail, and it didn’t like that I was walking by, so it began hissing. Well then, why don’t you move away from the edge of the trail. I quickly moved away, and we left the mad snake behind us. It wasn’t a rattlesnake.
The “hardest” part of the hike was the last 0.3-mile uphill on pavement. The heat from the pavement was getting to Xena by mid-day. For this reason alone, I would only hike here in cooler months.
Overall, it’s a true moderate hike, and we enjoyed it. Narrows make a good destination for lunch. Xena especially liked the stream crossings!
Good to Know:
- Hike Date: 3.6.21
- Distance: 8 miles RT
- Elevation Gain: 837 ft.
- Difficulty Level: Moderate
- Fee/Permit: None
- Trailhead/Parking coordinates: 34.602383, -118.670416
- Notable: partly shade, canyon, narrows, lightly trafficked, stream crossing, old campground