Difficulty PG13 Distance 5.1 to 10 miles General information: Dogs allowed Rating: 7-8 Santa Clarita Valley and Desert Gateway Season: Fall/Early Winter Season: Late Winter/Spring

Towsley Canyon Loop


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Geology in the Narrows, Towsley Canyon Loop
View from the top of the Towsley Canyon Trail

Towsley Canyon Loop

      • Location: Ed Davis Park, 24335 The Old Road, Newhall.  From the San Fernando Valley, take I-5 to Calgrove Blvd.  Turn left on Calgrove and drive a total of 0.3 miles to the park entrance.  (Calgrove becomes The Old Road).  From the north, take I-5 to Calgrove Blvd, turn right at the bottom of the ramp and drive 0.2 miles to the park entrance.  You can park for free on the street or in the outer lot, or for $7 per vehicle in the inner lot.  (Considering that Disneyland just raised their adult one-day admission price to $87, hikers at Ed Davis Park get off pretty easily at $7).
      • Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
      • Distance: 5.6 miles
      • Elevation gain: 1,450 feet
      • Suggested time: 3 hours
      • Difficulty rating: PG-13 (steepness, elevation gain)
      • Best season: October – June
      • USGS topo map: Oat Mountain
      • Recommended gear: Hiking Poles; Sun Hat
      • Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
      • More information: here; Local Hikes report here; Everytrail report here
      • Rating: 8

This loop has something for everyone – interesting geology, shaded canyons and panoramic views of the Santa Clarita Valley. Veterans will probably find it to be a worthy challenge, but it’s easy enough that anyone who lives a reasonably active lifestyle should be able to do it without much difficulty.

The route can be hiked in either direction, but when done clockwise, as described here, it saves the Narrows, arguably the most interesting part of the trip, for last. From the inner parking lot, look for the Towsley View Loop Trail. It heads uphill on a moderate grade, passing by the Canyon Loop (an option for a shorter hike) at 0.8 miles. Continue uphill into Wiley Canyon, enjoying some shade and the trickle of a seasonal stream. The tight walls of the canyon block out virtually all sights and sounds of civilization.

At about 1.5 miles, you’ll come to a clearing where a bench will allow you a place to rest before beginning a steep climb. The trail makes a sharp turn to the right and starts the ascent, climbing 700 feet in the next mile. For your efforts, you are rewarded with nice views into Towsley Canyon, and when the trail levels out, you get great views of Valencia. The trail splits a couple of times, but rejoins quickly.

The trail reaches its highest point (2,450 feet) and follows a ridge, with great views on both sides, including Oat Mountain and its various antennas on the left and Six Flags Magic Mountain on the right. Then you begin a steep descent along a series of switchbacks, dropping about 900 feet in a mile and a half. You enter the Narrows, where the creek flows through pinched in canyon walls with some outlandish geology. The terrain here may be a little tricky for some.  According to “Afoot and Afield”, natives used to use the tar that occurs naturally in this area for medicinal purposes (not to be confused with another substance often used for medicinal purposes.)

After the Narrows, the trail emerges on a fire road, which begins a gradual descent.  Stay on the road as a single-track trail branches off to the left.   The Canyon Loop trail rejoins at this point, and the road becomes paved. Follow it back to the main parking lots.

Text and photography copyright 2012 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.  By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail.  Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

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