Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thar's Gold

Precious Hike: Placerita Canyon

For years, Placerita Canyon, on the northwest edge of the San Gabriel Mountains, has been on my list of places to go. On a windy day late this fall, we finally made the trip.

Gold was discovered here in 1842--six years before Sutter's Mill. The gold rush didn't last, but Placerita later became a popular location for film and TV shoots.

Placerita is a lovely sycamore-filled canyon. This time of year, the gold is in the yellowing leaves of the trees.

To hike the canyon, take the main trail (on the right if you're facing the nature center). When you come to a fork, keep left to stay in the canyon. If you turn right, you'll loop back to the nature center--up a small hill with views of the Santa Clarita Valley.

I mention this because, strangely, the nature center offers descriptions of trails, but no trail map.

My son and his friend enjoyed observing a captive great-horned owl at the nature center. But otherwise the center itself was a bit of a disappointment: Few interesting exhibits; the staff was lurking in an office instead of with the exhibits or some place the public gathered.

Still, according to its website, the park offers family nature walks and live animal presentations.

Our son still naps, so for longer trips like this, we break up the return with a lunch stop. This keeps him from cat-napping in the car and missing a longer nap in his bed. For this trip, we lunched in downtown Montrose.

Getting There
From the intersection of the 5 and 14 Freeways, head east a few miles to the Placerita Canyon Exit. Turn right on Placerita Canyon Road and travel 1.5 miles to the park entrance.


  1. The nature center itself is being rebuilt; I don't know if it was finished. They used to have plenty of exhibits, but not a lot of staff.

    The nature walks and the animal show, though, are great. I did them several times with my kids and various scout troops.

    They even do birthday parties where the staff gave an animal show, led the kids through a nature craft, and went on a nature walk. Followed up by a picnic (parent supplied) in the shaded picnic area made for a great party.

    The creek probably wasn't running when you went at this time of year, but go in the springtime when the creek teems with life and frogs will serenade you as you hike up to the waterfall.

  2. Chris,
    Thanks for your comments. I'd love to hear the frogs and look forward to returning.


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