Red Rock Canyon in Nevada

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is 17 miles west of Las Vegas.

I made a PB&J sandwich for lunch from the room then packed our food for the day as I planned on spending all day at Red Rock Canyon. I picked up a soy latte from Starbucks at the hotel on my way out. I could have eaten my breakfast in the room I guess but I was too eager to start the day.

When we entered the Conservation Area, I let Xena out of the car for a quick photo. At first she was happy but that changed quickly when we heard shotguns. There must have been a shooting range very close by. Xena could not get back in the car fast enough.

Red Rock Canyon is managed by the Bureau of Land Management as part of its National Landscape Conservation System and it accepts the America the Beautiful annual pass. Although all the trails were open, the ranger warned me about the soft condition of the trails due to the recent rain storm. The park had to close midday the day before due to the heavy rain and strong wind.

I planned only one day for the Red Rock so I picked a couple trails to get a taste of the park. It was overcast and the temperature was in the upper 50s. As long as the wind doesn’t pick up more, it was a great condition for hikes.

Hike #1:  Moenkopi Loop

  • Total distance:  2.1 miles
  • Elevation gain:  149 ft (starting elevation:  3,698 ft)

Park at the visitor center. This easy 2-mile round trip hike is kid-friendly, educational and a great way to see the entire park. If you like natural history and geology like me, you will enjoy this little hike. The trailhead is at the west of the visitor center at the end of the 911 Memorial.



When the trail splits, we went straight and did the loop clockwise. But you can go to either direction since it’s a loop. There will be signs to guide you and the trail is wide open. What a view, right?




Is it lunch time yet?

Hike #2:  White Rock

  • Total distance:  6.7 miles
  • Elevation gain:  963 ft (starting elevation:  4,529 ft)

I planned on checking out the Calico Tank Trail on our way to White Rock trail but the parking area was packed and overflowing to the Scenic Loop Drive. There is no better Jamie repellent than the crowd. 😉 So I kept on driving and reached the White Rock lower parking lot off the Scenic Drive. You know how sometimes unexpected detours happen and make the hike better than if your plan wasn’t interrupted? That didn’t happened on that day. I parked further than I needed to and missed a critical turn so we ended up walking on the Scenic Loop Drive 2nd half of the hike. I saw parked cars at the lower parking lot and assumed that the upper parking lot near the trailhead was full so I parked at the lower parking. Wrong. This parking area was for people who just wanted to stop and take photos and move on to the next viewpoint spot. It does have a great view.


We began our hike on White Rock Mountain Rd. I planned on doing the White Rock out and back but I saw the sign for White Rock Loop 6 miles at the trailhead. Instantly, I decided to do the loop. Who doesn’t like a loop, right? I followed the sign for Keystone Thrust and White Rock Loop. If you want to do this clockwise, look for a trailhead to the west of the information board.

The trail was busy in the beginning with tourists but after we passed the split to the Keystone Thrust, we were alone and it felt remote. The trail began on an incline. There was no steep incline or decline to mention though. I loved the rugged sandstone of Red Rock Canyon.



We would go for like 30 minutes and see no one. I don’t need to see people for hours or even days but as soon as I don’t have the cell phone reception, I feel uneasy. Yes, I am one of those people who get anxious when my cell phone battery level drops below 65%. When I started to wonder if we were still on the trail, someone would come from the other direction.



The terrain became more rocky and there were many big cacti along the trail.


After this hike, I had to remove 4 half inch long cactus thorns from the top of her paws with a tweezer. 🤕 First I tried it with my fingers and it kept cutting off. The tweezer pulled those stinkers out with no problem.

At the La Madre Spring trail junction, we turn left. In hindsight, I should’ve turned us around and returned to the trailhead (out and back) at this point because the best part of this hike was over for us. La Madre Spring trail had more traffic and Xena did not like the gravel road. It was hard for her to walk. I felt bad for her.


We left the La Madre Spring Wilderness and got on Rocky Gap Road. Walking on the pavement and looking out for oncoming traffic isn’t hiking! Long story short, I missed a trail that we were supposed to pick up after the Willow Spring Picnic area. I looked around but didn’t see it. I should have created a route on and loaded to my phone. I thought there would be signs. So we ended up walking back to the car via roads, Rocky Gap Road then Scenic Loop Drive. At least Scenic Loop Drive is one way road and I only had to watch out for the oncoming traffic. I saw some people walking on Rocky Gap Road but no one was as lost as we were to walk on Scenic Loop Drive. LOL. Sigh..


I was going to stay at the park until the sunset but that didn’t happen. When we got back to the car around 3:30 pm, we were cold, thirsty and tired. After sharing a coconut water and some snacks, Xena wanted to go in the car. While I was loading the car, she was already dozing off.


I thought to plan better for the next day. I was really excited about visiting Valley of Fire State Park and didn’t want to cut that trip short.

Red Rock Canyon is beautiful! Next time, I will definitely plan a longer trip to explore the parts of the park we didn’t get to see on this trip. Already can’t wait! For videos from this day, go to our Facebook page!

Good to Know:

Never stop exploring! Xo

Mt Waterman Loop

First time I hiked here, I tried the loop counter-clockwise and got us lost. There was no sign and it gets confusing when you get to the ski lift area. The second time I went back, I did the loop clockwise and loved it! So, I am going to show you how to do the loop clockwise.

I got us out of the house before the sunrise to get to the trail around 7 am. I was coming up from the west so the actual sunrise was blocked by the mountains but I was still able to enjoy the soft glow while driving up on Angeles Crest Highway (CA-2).


The parking area was on my left and the area was empty when we arrived. It’s right before the Buckhorn Day Use Area sign. There is a picnic area and a toilet if needed.

There are two trailheads – Fire road trailhead is across from the Buckhorn Day Use Area sign and a single trek trailhead with the “Trail” sign is across from the other end of the parking area. The single trek is the one Modern Hiker trail guide starts from and that’s where we began. Either way, you need to cross the street.

Follow the “Trail” sign until you meet the fire road. Here, you will see a sign for Mt Waterman Loop to your left. See below. Follow this sign and you will avoid the fire road until later and you will do the loop clockwise.


It was a lovely trail with lots of shade.


We were surrounded by pine trees and pine cones were everywhere.


We continued to climb and enjoyed the view.


Once the trail leveled out a little, I found a place to set up my hammock. It’s my first hammock and I was super excited to put it to use. On the other hand, Xena was unsure about this new floppy thing so she practically laid on me and held on to her dear life in the hammock. You should see her now though. She loves snuggling in the hammock.


We shared mini carrots and apple slices and hung out in the hammock for a while. When I had a fill, I packed up our gear and continued on. The view from this side of the trail was stunning.


The trail steadily climbed up then eventually, we came to this sign. Go to right toward Trail Summit. You are 3/4 mile away from the Mt Waterman Summit from here.


When you see the summit to your left, go up, check it out then come back down to the trail. You will eventually come to the sign below. You are at the half way mark at this point. Soon, you will come to the fire road.


You will pass by ski lifts. This picture was taken when we hiked here first time and I got us lost. I kept taking us to different ski lifts. We went to all three of them! She was on to me by this time. Her look though. Haha.


This rock formation was right off the fire road, she found herself a nook and wanted to stay there so we took a break here.


From here on, there are no signs to guide you. Just stay on the fire road when in doubt, it will take you back to the trailhead.

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  9.17.16
  • Distance:  6.4 miles
  • Elevation gain:  1,350 ft
  • Trailhead:  34.346761, -117.921113 (copy/paste to your GPS app)
  • Aventure Pass ($5/day or $30/annual) is required for parking
  • Restroom available at Buckhorn Day Use Area
  • You will climb up to 8,000 elevation. You may feel mild altitude sickness or also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS) if it’s your first time hiking at that elevation. Everyone is different. Some people are more sensitive to it than others. Just listen to your body and take it easy if you do.

Happy Hiking!


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Solstice Canyon: Summer Favorite

Though last week’s heat wave made it feel like the summer was not over yet, this is the last trail write-up for the summer hikes we did this year. Last year, I wrote 3 mile loop hike in Solstice Canyon. This time we will show you a new and longer route in the canyon which is my absolute summer favorite!

In August, an automated gate was installed and now it opens at 7 am automatically. You no longer have to wait for a ranger to show up and open the gate to the parking lot. I think the best way to do the Solstice Canyon is to take the side trails every chance you get. Eventually they all come back out to the Solstice Canyon trail which is mostly paved.


This trail has lots of history. There are ruins to explore along the way. The Keller House in the picture below is fenced and you cannot walk through it


but Tropical Terrace (a.k.a., Roberts Home) isn’t and you can walk around. We spent some time at Tropical Terrace and explored.




Pictures are collected from multiple hikes from this summer. In case you are wondering about different clothes and gear. 🙂 After exploring the ruins, we traced back to meet up with the Sosmoto trail. There is a sign on your right immediately after the ruins. Take the single track uphill.





More ruins on Sosmoto Trail.


When you see this sign, go left and stay on Sostomo Trail. Initially it is a downhill but you will eventually climb up and will have an ocean view.




You are where the green marker is in the map below. Turn right and do the Deep Valley Loop Trail to meet up with Sostomo Trail and get back down to Solstice Canyon Trail.


When you reach Solstice Canyon Trail, turn right and trace back to the trailhead. Check out the video from this hike on Instagram.

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  July/August of 2016
  • Distance (RT):  6.7 miles
  • Elevation gain:  1,148 ft
  • Trailhead:  34.037814, -118.747579 (copy/paste to your GPS app)
  • Difficulty:  Moderate/Challenging
  • Free parking
  • Restroom available near the trailhead.

Happy Hiking!




O’Melveny Park to Mission Point

The trailhead is in O’Melveny Park located in Granada Hills. This 672-acre park is the second largest public park in L.A. after Griffith Park. We met up with my friend and his pups at the parking lot at 7:15 am. There were lots of spaces to choose from. You can also park on the street if the lot is full.

Take the main large path from the parking lot to begin the hike. Stay on your right and stay on the main road. You will pass through a picnic area and a restroom facility on your right. The park is clean and well maintained. Enjoy the nice stroll through the park because it will be all uphill soon. 🙂

I’d like to point out two things about this picture.


You can’t tell from this picture but it was muddy. It rained the day before so I expected a bit of muddy condition but oh boy! I was in for a surprise. And the second thing is, as I was going through the pictures for this write-up, I found Xena in most of the pictures with her head down like this one. No wonder she got sick! She must have eaten a ton of grass that day! She was sick for days. A serious case of identity crisis that day.

I got stuck at one point and couldn’t move forward. My hiking shoes felt like 30 lbs each. I’ve noticed that in muddy conditions my trail running shoes have better traction than my hiking shoes. I have the same issue with both Keen and Salomon. Does anyone else experience this too or are my hiking shoes just really bad in mud? Xena doesn’t have any problem walking in the mud. My friend had to pull me out. From that point on, I tried to just walk on the grass. Where are my poles when I need them. Oh, they are in the car. 


Taking a break from grazing and rolling around on dewy grass. “What’s the matter, Ma. Your paws don’t work?”

As we gained elevation and the sun rose, the trail condition got better. So I took some photos of the beautiful surrounding. So green!




When you can’t decide if you want to eat the grass or roll on it




Here she is again, grazing


Stay on the main trail and it will take you to Mission Point. The last part is a steep uphill but it’s short. I found the view from Mission Point anticlimactic. It was nice but nothing we haven’t seen so far. We came across unexpected horseback riders though. That was kind of cool.


We took a short water break and came down. I had another friend and her group to meet up with. They were hiking there too and they spotted us from a hill. With my bucket hat and bright pink backpack, we are hard to be missed. 😉 They had a perfect picnic spot on the top of a hill. Five adults with 6 dogs. Pups had a wonderful time running around with each other. In Xena’s case, she enjoyed playing fetch in tall grass. What an awesome place to hike with dogs!



Impromptu How to Drink from a Camelbek demonstration     (photo credit: Katherine @robinventures)


Fun Fact:

Originally this park was known as the “C.J. Ranch”. It was purchased in 1941 by attorney John O’Melveny of the respected large law firm O’Melveny and Meyers and used to grow citrus and graze cattle.

Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  3.12.16
  • Address:  17300 Sesnon Blvd., Granada Hills, CA 91344
  • Distance (RT) and type:  5.1 miles, out and back
  • Elevation gain:  1,337 ft
  • Restroom available near the trailhead


Happy Hiking!

Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space

This is our new favorite spring time hike! When we first time visited in January, the entire place was brown and baldy as you can see in the  photo below. Oh, by the way, we parked on the street outside of the park and walked under the Victory Trailhead sign. Around 7:30 am, only few cars were on the street. The neighborhood was still asleep.

2016-01-16 13.46.23

This place has many little use trails and most of them don’t show up on your phone GPS so you can get confused. I did a clockwise loop and the total distance was 5.25 miles. I will guide you through it. Quickly after the trailhead, the trail splits. Stay on the current path and go straight. About 0.23 miles in, the trail splits again. Make a sharp left turn. You should be able to spot a sign for “Joe Bahar Trail”. You will pass by a white mansion on your left and the view of West Hills. Beautiful morning, isn’t it?


You are on a short (~0.25 miles) uphill and it will take you up to the open space. Now let me show you the pictures from our hike in February. What a difference a month makes! I couldn’t believe how green it was! It was so beautiful!! 💚


We spotted a group who was just finishing a Tai Chi session under a tree so we watched them for a little bit.


You will see a lot of use trails, stay on the main trail unless you purposely want to go off and explore. I don’t see how you can get lost here. But if you want to do this in a loop, follow my guide. At around 1.23 miles, the trail splits. Go straight. You should see a sign for “Mary Wiesbrock Loop Trail”. I don’t remember any side trails from here until Crummer Ranch Rd. There are old ranch items on your left. Turn right. This is my favorite section. Less traveled and mostly flat. The area was covered with dewy grass. A perfect place for zoomies and rolling around. Only Xena in case you are wondering. Next time, I will take a ball and play fetch with her here. What a lovely place! I felt so free!


Photo credit:  My Sister



At about 2.96 miles, turn right on to E Las Virgenes Canyon Trail. There is no sign but it will show up on GPS. It might say “Road” instead of “Trail”. I’ve seen both. Also, you will see more trail runners, bikers, hikers and dogs. Stay on this trail and it will take you back to the trailhead.



Good to Know:

  • Trailhead:  34.185503, -118.668500 (copy & paste to your GPS app)
  • Hike date:  2.21.16
  • Distance:  5.25 miles RT
  • Elevation gain:  476 ft
  • Difficulty:  Easy – Moderate
  • A somewhat maintained porta-potty available at the trailhead

Happy Hiking!

Jones Peak via Bailey Canyon

Hello everyone! Sorry for the late post. This is a hike I did end of November. I usually post a hike within a month but with holidays and all, I just got around to write about it.

The trailhead starts western side of the parking lot in Bailey Canyon Park (address provided below). Follow the footpath and pass through a turnstile then turn right. You will be on the pavement but do not worry, this part is short. Keep going until you see the Flash Flood Area sign. Trail changes to dirt behind the sign and things get better.

Jones peak 7

When you reach the first Bailey Canyon sign, go straight towards the waterfall.


When we came across the second sign, we went towards Bailey Canyon Trail. From here on, it was all uphill and we had fantastic views of San Gabriel and L.A. basin along the way. Soon, we reached at Indian Lookout Point. There are couple benches at this lookout. This could be a good turning point if you are a beginner.

Continue on Bailey Canyon Trail. I love everything about the next picture. Two of my favorite girls in the nature and the moon above on a clear blue sky. Let me translate the scene for you.  H: ‘”Are you coming?”  X: “Don’t you think we should wait for mama?”


Single track continued all the way to the peak. This area was so green! Just lovely. Some parts of the trail was shaded like here but most of the trail is exposed and it reminded me of Sam Merrill Trail in Altadena very much except it wasn’t crowded.


After hiking uphill for 3.2 miles, we reached at Jones Peak at 3,386 feet. There is no sign for the actual peak on the trail so you have to look for a footpath that goes up the hill on your right away from Bailey Canyon Trail. There is a bench to sit and enjoy the view. We had the whole place to ourselves for 10 minutes or so until a group of about 10 hikers – maybe a meetup group – came up and took over the place. I got distracted and forgot to take photos there. Sorry.. We had our water/snack break and left the peak leaving the place to the group. It was around 10:15 AM and we wanted to get down before it gets too warm.




Good to Know:

  • Hike Date:  11.29.2015
  • Distance:  6.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain:  2,240 ft
  • Restroom at the trailhead / Free parking
  • Trailhead:  451 W Carter Ave, Sierra Madre, CA 91024
  • Rated moderate – difficult


I just got back from my annual after holidays desert trip. I can’t wait to share the trip with you! I had a wonderful time in Joshua Tree National Park. But before then, I have another hike to share. This one is from December. Stay tuned. 🙂

Happy Hiking!