Quigley Canyon Open Space
- Location: Santa Clarita. From the 14 Freeway, take the Newhall Ave. exit and head west for 1.8 miles. Take a slight right on Railroad Avenue, go 0.8 miles and turn right on 13th St. Make a quick right onto Arch St., which becomes Placerita Canyon. Go a total of 0.7 miles and turn left on Quigley Canyon. Go 0.4 miles and turn right on Cleardale. Go 0.3 miles and park in the dirt area at the end of Cleardale. From I-5, take the Pico Canyon/Lyons Ave. exit and head east for 2.1 miles to downtown Newhall. Turn left on Railroad Avenue, go 0.2 miles and turn right on 13th St., right on Arch to Placerita Canyon, left on Quigley Canyon and right on Cleardale.
- Agency: City of Santa Clarita
- Distance: 3.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 650 feet
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Difficulty rating: PG
- Best season: October – June
- USGS topo map: Newhall
- Recommended gear: Hiking Poles; Sun Hat
- More information: here; Everytrail report here; trip report here
- Rating: 6
In the years I’ve started this blog, I’ve written about Baldy, Sandstone Peak, Sturtevant Falls and many other hikes that are well-known throughout the Southland, and I’ve also come across a few unexpected destinations as well. Quigley Canyon, the existence of which I was not aware when I woke up this morning, belongs in that second category.
Quigley is a 160-acre pocket of open space, recently acquired by the city of Santa Clarita with newly renovated trails that welcome hikers and equestrians alike. While it lacks the pleasantly secluded feel (and shade) of nearby Placerita Canyon or the interesting geology of Vasquez Rocks, it’s still well worth a visit if you’re in the area, especially if feel as if you’ve tapped out the Antelope Valley and the Santa Susanas for trails.
There are a variety of trails in this park, and it’s possible to do routes of varying difficulty and distances. The route described here is a loop around the perimeter of the park, with two spurs to lookout points. Most of it is pretty easy – except for one brutal stretch which climbs 300 feet in less than a quarter mile. But we’ll worry about that later.
From the parking area at the end of Cleardale, head into the park on a fire road (Oro Fino Motorway). Soon, you’ll come to a junction where there are a few benches and an information board. Head right on the Coyote Trail, and almost immediately turn right onto the City Loop. You briefly enter a pleasant grove of oaks before climbing up to a ridge. At a four-way intersection (0.4 miles), turn left and begin a short but steep ascent to another junction. On your way, you’re rewarded for your troubles with views of the Angeles National Forest past the 14 Freeway.
At the junction, head left (west) and follow a ridge for a quarter mile to the first lookout point, where you can get a nice view of the Santa Clarita Valley and the Santa Susana Mountains. Upon returning to the junction, continue your route on the short but steep Rawlins Loop. You quickly climb 100 feet before leveling out on another ridge, and beginning a descent into the bottom of the canyon, where you rejoin the City Loop Trail (1.5 miles from the start.)
Head right, through another grove of oaks, and you’ll enter a pasture. Turn right again onto the Coyote Trail, heading toward the mountains. Another quick right brings you to the Fox’s Loop, a pleasant, flat walk in the shade. At 1.8 miles, you’ll make a decisive turn to the left, continuing on the trail while the road ahead leads to a private petroleum field.
At 2.1 miles, you reach a junction with the Coyote Loop. This is where the business end of the hike begins. No matter how much you love hiking, there is a chance that your attitude may be tested on this next stretch. At least you have some nice views to see when you stop to catch your breath. The brutal ascent becomes more gradual near the top of the ridge, finally leveling out and reaching a junction at 2.5 miles.
Here, you turn right and soon reach another split, turning right again and heading south to the second overlook (2.7 miles). The views here include the Santa Clarita Valley to the south and west, the San Gabriels to the east and the Sierra Pelona range to the north. The signs of development in the area are obvious, but on clear days, it’s an impressive view.
After enjoying the view, retrace your steps to the junction with the Coyote Loop, and continue to a steep descent back down into the canyon. At the bottom of the hill, the trail rejoins the Oro Fino Motorway. Head left and return to your starting point, passing by some abandoned farm buildings.
If you enjoyed this hike, make sure you check out some of the other trails in the open spaces in and around Santa Clarita.
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.