T on October 12th, 2009

img_3159Kudos again to Casey over at Modern Hiker. His vivid descriptions and photos of local hiking destinations have provided the inspiration for many of the hikes I’ve taken this past year.  And with a special page of “Best Hikes in Los Angeles“, how could he make it any easier?

So his rave reviews of the Mishe Mokwa Trail to Sandstone Peak earned it a place on my list of must-do hikes. Columbus Day provided a day off and therefore the perfect opportunity to check it off the list and explore some wonderful scenery at the same time.  Joined by friends A & P, we set out from Hollywood shortly after 8AM and after a bit of traffic on the 101 Freeway, we exited at Westlake Blvd.  Within a few short miles were in the winding-road wilderness of the Santa Monica Mountains.

img_31671It takes a while to drive to the trailhead, but we easily found the parking lot off of Little Sycamore Canyon.  We were the only car in the lot as we set off on the trail.  I’ll leave the description to Casey, but it’s just as he described – to a “T”.  I can see why he’s a fan of this hike – it’s a well-marked trail that takes you through some varied terrain in a short distance, and offers some phenomenal views around just about every corner.  One especially nice aspect of it is that you barely notice the elevation gain as you do most of the hike around to the peak.  And then once you’ve ascended it, it’s all downhill back to the car.

As we exited the car, I was immediately aware of the stillness all around.  At times when the birds were silent, it was hard to hear anything else – a rarity in the urban sprawl of LA.  We saw several interesting sights, including Balanced Rock, and Split Rock.  The lone picnic table at Split Rock is in the perfect secluded location for a longer break, but after playing on the rocks, we continued on.

img_31771The weather was gray, but it made for a comfortable temperature as we hiked.  We didn’t take the spur trails to Tri-Peaks or Inspiration Point; those will have to wait for another day.  But we turned off to climb to the top of Sandstone Peak (Mount Allen) and were afforded amazing 360-degree views of the ocean and Conejo Valley.  It was at that time that I vowed to come back on a clear day in the upcoming winter months to do the hike prior to sunset (as suggested by another helpful trail blogger).  The trail back down to the car is pretty wide and clear and shouldn’t be a problem at dusk with a good headlamp.

All in all, we did a leisurely 6 miles and a 1400 feet climb. A perfect way to enjoy a day off with friends.

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