April 05, 2011

Hiking Cheeseboro Canyon

Last Saturday (April 2) I went for a hike in Cheeseboro Canyon, part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.  I picked this location for a hike because of its close proximity to Burbank, where I was meeting my friend David who went with me. 
Cheeseboro Canyon is more well-known among mountain bikers than hikers.  The area is very popular with mountain bikers, and some hikers, I suspect, avoid the area as a result.  David and I encountered numerous cycling groups and individuals, but still had an enjoyable day.  The cyclists we met were courteous toward us, even if they were at times a bit loud.  I guess cycling is, by nature, a louder activity than hiking.  One person we met even asked us, "Where's your bike?"  And we even saw someone riding a mountain unicycle! But if we had been riding bikes instead of hiking, it would have been much harder to hear the numerous birdsongs that were constant throughout the day. 
We made a loop by hiking up Cheeseboro Canyon, across the Sheep Corral Trail, then back down to the trailhead on the Palo Comado Canyon Trail.  An excellent trail map can be found here.
Near the trailhead, the trails are wide fireroads through grassy meadows and oak forests.  Farther up the canyons, along and near the Sheep Corral Trail, the landscape opens up into coastal scrub set against rocky hills, and the trails narrow somewhat.  The area is full of wildlife; besides hearing the chorus of birds, David and I saw hawks, rabbits, squirrels, and a coyote.

One of the many cycling groups we encountered.  This is at the location marked "Shepherd's Flat" on the trail map.

An intriguing tree in Palo Comado Canyon
Despite what the official trail write-up says, the Palo Comado Trail does include some hills near the trailhead.  Here the trail passes an oak tree which includes a hawk's nest (see close-up photo below).

A cave in Cheeseboro Canyon, not far beyond where the oak forest ends.

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