Haskell Canyon Open Space (Santa Clarita)
- Location: north of Santa Clarita. From I-5, take the Valencia Blvd. exit. Turn right and go 2.5 miles on Valencia Blvd. to Bouquet Canyon Road. Turn left and go 2.2 miles to Haskell Canyon Road. Turn left and go 1.2 miles to Copper Hill Drive. Turn right and look for a dirt turnout on the left side of the road after 0.6 miles. From the 14 Freeway, take the Sand Canyon exit. Turn left on Soledad Canyon Road and make a quick right onto Sand Canyon. Go 1.8 miles and turn right on Sierra Highway. Go 0.4 miles and turn left on Vasquez Canyon Road. Go 3.6 miles and turn left on Bouquet Canyon Road. Go 1.9 miles and turn right on David Way. Make a quick left on Copper Hill Drive and go 0.6 miles to the turnout on the right side of the road.
- Agency: City of Santa Clarita
- Distance: 3.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 600 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
Like nearby Quigley Canyon, the Haskell Canyon Open Space is one of Santa Clarita’s newest outdoor areas. The trail is exposed, so if it’s a hot day, plan accordingly. The area can also get very windy, which is something to keep in mind–especially since the loop described here involves an extremely steep descent along a knife-like ridge. The hike would probably score higher if it wasn’t for the presence of power lines, and an unfortunate amount of trash near the end, but nevertheless, it’s a good resource for outdoor enthusiasts in the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley areas. According to the city’s website, development of the park is still underway.
There are several possible routes to take here. The loop described in this post is a moderate hike, which can easily be shortened or extended. Doing the route counter-clockwise is recommended, as it will spare you a steep ascent, and will allow you to walk facing traffic on the last 0.4 miles, which is on the street.
From the trailhead on Copper Hill Road, head north into the canyon. The trail is popular with mountain bike riders, as evidenced by the multiple wooden ramps and side-trails that cyclists have blazed. However, the main route is pretty obvious. At 0.4 miles, look for a small cave on the left.
You continue making your way up into the canyon, passing under towering walls with sandstone outcrops similar to Towsley Canyon and O’Melveny Park. The walls start pinching in, and at about 1.1 miles, you’ll come to a split. Both trails lead up to the fire road; the route on the right isn’t quite as steep.
At the fire road, you get a nice view north toward the Sierra Pelona area of the Angeles National Forest. (Try to ignore the landfill immediately in front of you.) Turn left and continue your ascent, taking in some more panoramic views.
At 1.6 miles, the trail takes a sharp turn left. If you’re feeling brave, you can peer over the side and see a nearly straight drop of several hundred feet.
The trail starts heading south, downhill, reaching a junction at 1.8 miles. Turn right and begin a steep descent on a ridge, with sharp drops on both sides. (If you brought hiking poles, you’ll be glad you did.) You drop 350 feet in 0.3 miles, arriving a giant metal pole supporting the power lines. The trail makes an “S” curve, reaching the Haskell Canyon Wash (2.4 miles.)
Here, you can extend your hike by heading right, uphill into the canyon. The trail continues for a pleasant, if not terribly exciting, mile before reaching private property. However, to complete the loop, turn left and head back toward Copper Hill Drive. At 3 miles, you reach the street. Turn left and complete the route, heading uphill to the parking area.
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 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.