Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Run Forrest, Run! (Santa Ynez Canyon Trail)

What's great about it: This loop trail takes you through all the wonderful terrain that Southern California has to offer, from scrub land to shady woods. Be ready to jump over streams and duck under fallen branches. But the payoff to this run comes when you reach the summit and get a view of the Pacific Ocean, with Catalina Island in the distance.

What to expect:: This 9.5-mile loop has a 1,400-foot elevation gain in Topanga State Park. It's a moderately difficult run with a rugged climb near the start and a three-mile descent at the end. The loop goes along the Trailer Canyon Fire Road to the Temescal Ridge Fire Road to the Eagle Road Fire Road and ends on the Santa Ynez Canyon Trail.

Directions: From Sunset Boulevard, drive east on Palisades Drive, turn left on Vereda de la Montura and look for the trail head on the right.

For more details go towww.trailrunnersclub.com.

(photo credit: MTB Trail Review)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Get lost in these tide pools (Portugues Bend, Palos Verdes)


What's great about it? These wonderful tide pools are in the Abalone Cove Ecological Reserve off Portuguese Bend. A great tide pool is an attraction for the whole family and requires almost no skills to enjoy. Just watch your footing when stepping around the tiny critters in the water.
What you'll see: Hermit crabs, anemones, star fish, shells, sea weed and lots of other crawling, darting, swimming creatures.
Address: 5970 Palos Verdes Drive South, Rancho Palos Verdes.
For more details go to the city of Rancho Palos Verdes web site.
Fees: $5 parking fee per car.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Star gazing in the desert (Joshua Tree)

What's so great about it: Joshua Tree is about as far from civilization as you can get in Southern California. And that means city lights won't ruin your view of the night sky. But more than that, Joshua Tree is also a wonderland of boulders, cacti and shrubs. No need to worry about trees blocking your view of the heavens. Telescopes and binoculars will bring the stars and planets to life but you can get a great view with the naked eye.

Where to go? Try to be there on a night for a scheduled star party, hosted by the Andromeda Society, the local astronomy group. The group holds their parties at Happy Valley picnic area. The gatherings are free to the public. The amateur astronomers allow visitors to peek through their telescopes. For details on the parties, go to the Joshua Tree web sites.

A note of warning: Joshua Tree can get extremely hot during the summer. Spring and fall are better times to visit.

Directions: Go to the Joshua Tree web site for directions.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Los Angeles, ranked 18th and moving up.

For those of you who still doubt that Los Angeles has anything to offer society other than police chases, tabloid fodder and movies based on old 1970's TV shows, here is a Forbes article that ranks Los Angeles in the top 20 of outdoor towns.

(Photo: The city skyline of Los Angeles.)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bird watching in the big city (Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve)

What's so great about it? This 225-acre reserve, only a few miles from shopping malls and busy freeway interchanges, is home to a menagerie of glorious birds, such as egrets, cormorants, hawks and dozens of song birds. No need to drive miles up a winding mountain road to snap photos of wonderful feathered creatures. Once in the reserve, follow the smooth dirt paths to Wildlife Lake, where you will see an amazing variety of birds. (OK, so this is not the beautiful Bosque Del Apache, but where else can you see so many birds so close to a smoggy, traffic-choked megalopolis?) Bring water, a camera and binoculars.

A note to visitors: Volunteers with the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society lead tours on the first Sunday of every month from 8am-11:30 am, year-round. There is also a Bird Walk on the second Saturday of winter months between October and March starting at 8:30 A.M. and ending around 11:00 A.M.

Address: 6350 Woodley Ave. Van Nuys, CA 91406
For more info go to the reserve website.
(Photo by the Los Angeles Times)