Difficulty PG Distance 2.1 to 5 miles General information: Dogs allowed General information: Hikes with free parking Rating: 4-6 Santa Clarita Valley and Desert Gateway Season: Fall/Early Winter Season: Late Winter/Spring

Golden Valley Ranch: Mitchell and Nadeau Trails (Santa Clarita)


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Descending the Nadeau Trail
Descending the Nadeau Trail
Dusk on the Nadeau Trail, Golden Valley Ranch
Dusk on the Nadeau Trail, Golden Valley Ranch

Golden Valley Ranch: Mitchell and Nadeau Trails (Santa Clarita)

        • Location: Santa Clarita, Placerita Canyon.  From L.A., take the 14 Freeway north to Placerita Canyon Road.  Turn right and go 3.4 miles and look for a dirt turnout on the left side of the road.  From Lancaster, take the 14 Freeway south to the Sand Canyon Road exit.  Turn left on Soledad Canyon Road and make a quick left on Sand Canyon.  Go 3.3 miles and turn right on Placerita Canyon.  Go 1.5 miles and park in the turnout on the right side of the road.
        • Agency: City of Santa Clarita
        • Distance: 4 miles
        • Elevation gain: 900 feet
        • Suggested time: 2 hours
        • Difficulty rating: PG
        • Best season: October – June
        • USGS topo maps: Mint Canyon, Newhall
        • Recommended gear:  Sun Hat
        • More information: here
        • Rating: 6
0:00 - Beginning of the Mitchell Trail (click thumbnails to see the full-sized version)
0:00 – Beginning of the Mitchell Trail (click thumbnails to see the full-sized version)

Located across the road from the famous Placerita Canyon Natural Area, Golden Valley Ranch features several fire roads that provide good workouts and nice views of the Santa Clarita area and the western San Gabriels. While the destination of this hike – a metal gate at the bottom of the Nadeau Trail near a residential neighborhood – might be a little anti-climatic, the journey itself is enjoyable. There’s no authorized access to the lower end of the Nadeau trail, so one must access it from the ridge that runs through the park. The route described here features about twice as much climbing on the return as on the way out.

0:06 - View from the Mitchell Trail (times are approximate)
0:06 – View from the Mitchell Trail (times are approximate)

To climb to the ridge, follow the Mitchell Trail (Nadeau Motorway on some maps) out of the parking area. It ascends steeply, following a winding course 0.6 miles to the Placerita Trail. Along the way, you get some good views across a green field toward some tall peaks with sandstone outcrops.

0:18 - View from the top of the ridge at the Placerita Trail
0:18 – View from the top of the ridge at the Placerita Trail

At the Placerita Trail, bear right and almost immediately, head left on the Nadeau Trail. For 1.4 miles, the Nadeau Trail makes a curving descent, with panoramic views of Santa Clarita. After dropping sharply, the trail levels out, heading briefly into a canyon, and toward a residential area.

0:19 - Head left on the Nadeau Trail
0:19 – Head left on the Nadeau Trail

At 2 miles from the start, the trail ends unceremoniously at a white metal gate. A few rocks make a nice place to sit and rest before returning. The dirt road does continue, soon reaching a tunnel that heads under Via Princessa, but this area is not under the park’s jurisdiction, so the gate makes a good turnaround point.

0:37 - Descending the switchbacks on the Nadeau Trail
0:37 – Descending the switchbacks on the Nadeau Trail

Text and photography copyright 2013 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

0:52 - "You shall not pass!" Gate at the bottom of the Nadeau Trail (turnaround point)
0:52 – “You shall not pass!” Gate at the bottom of the Nadeau Trail (turnaround point)

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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