Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Day 479: Happy Valley Loop - Rancho Conejo Open Space - 400 Year Old Oak

Abandoned Car, first seen on Day 81: Rancho Conejo Open Space
(Looks like someone gave it a car wash since then)

Day #479 Hike #540 * New Track #485Wednesday March 7, 2012
Happy Valley Loop - Newbury Park, California

Rancho Conejo Open Space
400 Year Old Oak
My Tripometer: 1 Hour * 3.75 Miles * +575 Feet

Trailhead: "Gateway to the Arroyo" Rancho Conejo Map

From the 101 Freeway in Newbury Park exit on Ranch Conejo and drive past Amgen.  Drive toward the end of Rancho Conejo and turn left on Conejo Center Road.  Drive about 500 feet and look for this opening on the right.  Park your car and begin the journey.  Follow the road down hill for a couple hundred feet...

At the bottom of the hill you will reach this intersection as seen in the pic above.  Looking back at the split: The Abandoned Car Trail traverses to the left through the lower forest; The Achilles Heel Trail climbs insanely toward Racnsho Conejo Road; and The Gateway to the Arroyo Conejo Trail is what I came down and walks up the picture to the upper right.

The Rancho Conejo Open Space was once an area that I vigourously explored.  I also got somewhat lost in the process and I made a map of this area to help eliminate the guessing.  About a year ago I published an incomplete map and today I will be looping the Happy Valley area.  --I will tell you that I hiked back in this area since then and did not add to the map but today's adventure will be another new one for the records. 

At the bottom of the hill from the Trailhead I noticed that things were changed.  Before, there was a fence covering the Abandoned Car Trail.  Today, there was no fence and the trail was clear as day to see.  I remained on the main road and did not recall seeing the next part of the Achilles Heel Trail which should have been on the left.  Also, before there was a cut through option that went straight as an option to cut the switchback in the road.  It was obvious that some construction crews built a retaining wall to block this route.  So, continue following the main road up and around.  It's a bit of a climb...

 Happy Valley Junction, turn right

 Cutting across the green grassy route

 Found another abandoned car in the thick off the road

Looking across; you can tell from here where the Arroyo Conejo truly begins.  The canyon between the open valleys identifies the Abandoned Car Trail which follows the creek.  This is truly a remarkable area and most people don't know about this little secret.  There are many single track possibilities that spur off the main trails but I remained on the road.

 Wildwood Park and Lizard Peak rises above to the left

 At this fork, I cut right in effort to loop it

 Another hidden paradise lives below

 The road heads lower to Hill Canyon Water Treatment Plant

 I cut right down this steep hill

 Turned right at the bottom to follow the floor

 Some old oaks trees

 From here, turn left off the main road to follow the single track
(This is the 400 Year Old Oak Tree Trail)

I think this is the same tree from Day 205: 400 Year Old Oak Tree
-Different angle and season, but same old oak...

Cross the creek and rejoin the Abandoned Car trail: Turn right

The abandoned car will be up nearly immediately on your right.  If you follow the trail to the left you can loop back toward Baxter but knowing where I was, I followed the creek to the end and looped back to my car.  The trail was in great condition all the way through.  I jogged most of it with exception of the nasty uphills.  I honestly cannot wait to visit this area again...

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