China Flat in Oak Park

Back to a local dog-friendly trail guide

It was Mother’s Day. I assumed most of the people would be busy with Mother’s Day brunch that morning. Great time for us to be on the trail! There are two trailheads. We began the hike from Lindero Canyon Rd. The trailhead was easy to spot and there was a plenty of street parking available.

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It was quiet and peaceful. We had the trail to ourselves. I could only hear birds singing. It was a delightful morning.

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The rocky terrain was fun to climb and the early morning’s gentle sunrays generated an inspiring and creative energy.

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After 1.5 miles, the trail came to a split. The trail on the left leads to Simi Peak. It was clear that the trail to Simi Peak was not maintained. It was hiding under outgrown shrubs. I didn’t want to risk a snake bite so I turned us around and took the short rocky trail on the right to China Flat instead.

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This was a quick fun hike with a rewarding view at the top. Be sure to check out the video I posted on Instagram.

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Good To Know:

  • Hike date:  5.8.16
  • Trailhead: 34.193600, -118.775292 (copy/paste to your GPS app)
  • Distance (RT):  3.1 miles (5 km)
  • Elevation gain:  965 ft
  • Free street parking, no shade, no restroom


Happy Hiking!

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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.

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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. 

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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!

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

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Here she is again, grazing

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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?

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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!! 💚

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

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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!

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Photo credit:  My Sister

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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.

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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!

La Tuna Canyon to Vital Link

The trailhead is right off La Tuna Canyon Road in La Crescenta, CA. There is a small dirt strip on the side with a picnic table. Park there and walk to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Parkland trailhead sign. There is a use trail behind the parking area but ignore it.

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The single track quickly takes you away from the road and in to the wilderness. We absolutely loved exploring La Tuna Canyon with my sister. It’s hard to believe this secluded off the beaten path is part of Verdugo Mountain. We never saw anyone on this trail until we reached Verdugo Mtwy.

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Such a cute picture of my sister and Xena

For the first mile, we were exposed and the trail was dry. Then, somewhere in the mile two, it started to get green and I felt the moisture in the air. Soon, we were greeted with tall trees and shades. Rocks were covered with multiple shades of green lichens and wild mushrooms were growing out of fallen trees. Did you know Lichens obtain their water and nutrients from the atmosphere? The hike became very interesting!

Without obstacles and challenges, it wouldn’t be an adventure.

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The trail was blocked by fallen branches.

The trail was pretty easy to follow. Overall, the trail had a steady incline. Some parts were steeper than others but just for a short distance.

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Eventually, we were out of the shaded area and were exposed again. At about 1.8 mile mark, you will come to a split. Turn left here towards the Verdugo Mountain. The trail ended when it met up with Verdugo Mtwy in 0.4 miles and there was a chair waiting for us. So we sat and enjoyed the incredible views from the top. 🙂

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Mountain kisses are the best!

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La Tuna Canyon

We knew we were pretty close to the top of the Vital Link trail we did in November, just weren’t sure how close. We decided to hike to it and “connect the dot” so to speak. It didn’t look that far from the map. As we climbed further up on Verdugo Mtwy, the weather started to shift. It was foggy and rain clouds were visible. Here are some pictures I took on the way. Fog made the views dramatic.

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Burbank and Wildwood Canyon Park below and Griffith Park ahead

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View of Vital Link Trail (first ridge)

By the time we reached the top of Vital Link, it was misty and cold. It made my sister happy to “connect the dot” though. Vital Link is in her backyard practically so she often hikes this. She enjoyed arriving to the top from a different trail. We were at 2,949 feet and we gained 1,784 feet.

We took a short break then started back. We didn’t want to get rained on. I don’t know how but we missed this old abandoned pickup truck on our way up on La Tuna Canyon Trail but we spotted it before the shaded area when we were going down. Interesting trail!

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Good to Know:

  • Hike date:  1.18.16
  • Trailhead:  34°13’59.5″N 118°18’40.9″W (copy and paste this to your GPS app)
  • Distance (RT):  7.5 miles (La Tuna Canyon only 4.4 miles)
  • Elevation gain:  1784 ft (La Tuna Canyon only 925 ft)
  • No restroom

 

Happy Hiking!