Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
- Location: Santa Clarita. From the 14 Freeway, take the Newhall Ave. exit. If you’re coming from the south, turn right; the north, left, and drive to the end of the street and park in the dirt lot. (If the lot is full, you may need to use the lower lot, where there is a $5 fee.)
- Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
- Distance: 2 miles
- Elevation gain: 100 feet
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Best season: Year round
- USGS topo maps: Oat Mountain, San Fernando
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
- More information: here
- Rating: 5
No, it’s not that Whitney.
Located just off the 14 freeway, Whitney Canyon in Santa Clarita is proof that residents of the San Fernando and Antelope Valleys need not travel far to escape the summer heat.
While the trail takes a little while to escape the noise of the freeway, before long, it’s going to be hard to believe you’re as close to civilization as you are. From the lower parking lot, follow the trail into Whitney Canyon. Stay left as the Santa Clarita Divide Road branches off, and stay left again as a smaller trail splits. The fire road becomes a single-track as you make your way east under the cover of oaks, accompanied by the sound of the seasonal Whitney Canyon Creek.
You cross two sets of power lines, and after the second, look for a crumbling stone wall on the right. Here, another canyon comes in, and you can get a look at a small marsh, and perhaps see (and smell) the sulfur spring within it.
At a mile in, this spot makes a good turnaround point. If you want to extend the hike, head left and continue along the creek, crossing it a few times. Passage becomes trickier the farther you go, so be your own judge.
If the weather is cool enough and you have time and energy, you can check out the Santa Clarita Divide Road, which ascends into the Angeles National Forest and hooks up with the Manzanita Mountain Loop–gaining almost 2,000 feet along the way.