Safe Adventure: The Canyons of Northern Malibu and Southern Ventura County.
Updated: May 21, 2020
Much to Steve's relief, I like to get out of the house and do a bit exploring on my own once in awhile. I learned to love the solitary, "lose yourself" journey while I was living in Vermont many years ago. In that post college, pre-GPS era, picking a backroad and following it as far as it would go was a cheap and exciting get away, and taught me that all roads lead to something familiar...eventually.
Last Monday I headed into the pre-June gloom to get lost in the canyons that cut through the Santa Monica Mountains (https://www.nps.gov/samo/index.htm) in Malibu and Southern Ventura County. I took Santa Monica Blvd west to one of my favorite SoCal arteries, the California Incline (https://www.smgov.net/bebp/project.aspx?id=26686). This cool piece of drivable history first opened in 1896 as a footpath that beachgoers hiked from Ocean Avenue to the surf below. In 1932 it became a motorway and is my favorite route to the Pacific Coast Highway. As I headed north on the PCH, the coast was pretty socked in with clouds that grew into thick fog as I ascended Las Flores Canyon Road. Winding my way up toward Rancho Miramar the mist was so thick that at moments it felt like the Scottish highlands.
While driving along Piuma Road toward Malibu Canyon the fog started breaking up and suddenly the gloom was mixed up with some pretty brilliant sunlight (shades out). From Malibu Canyon, I took the Mulholland Highway to one of my favorite drives, Little Sycamore Canyon Road/Yerba Buena Road, which winds through the awesome beauty of Malibu Springs. As I passed closed trails like God's Seat, Mishe Mokwa and Sandstone, there were some solitary stretches where I felt like the only person in the world.
Along the way I saw many signs of the terrible Wolsey fire that swept through these hills and canyons in 2018. Despite the fact that over 96,000 acre we’re charred a mere year and a half ago, the land has made great strides in healing itself and I was reminded once again of nature’s amazing resilience.
By the time I got back to the PCH, the sun and the surf were working their magic and making the journey home a true stunner.