Essential California: Where to hike in SoCal

A family coming down a hiking trail with a dog
The Nicholas Flat trail starts at Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu and travels inland and uphill to a ridge in the Santa Monica Mountains.
(Mary Forgione / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, March 15, and here’s a quick look at the week ahead:

Millions more Californians will become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine Monday, when the state extends eligibility to people ages 16 to 64 who are disabled or at high risk for dying of COVID-19.

Also Monday: Nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards will be announced well before dawn. You can read the full list of 2021 Oscar nominations here. (An FYI for our earliest-rising readers: The nominee page will be updated live as names are announced, beginning at 5:30 a.m. Pacific time.)

The first virtual edition of Austin, Texas’ South by Southwest festival kicks off Tuesday online. Last year’s SXSW was canceled as the pandemic took hold.

Wednesday is St. Patrick’s Day. Please don’t throw a giant, mask-less “Saint Fratty’s Day” party like these Cal Poly students.

The first round of NCAA March Madness begins Friday. USC and UCLA both received at-large bids into the 68-team field, which was announced Sunday. The entire tournament will be played in Indiana.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:


A guide to hiking in Southern California: Looking to get outside? My colleagues have put together a comprehensive guide to local trails — hikes that take you to the edge of the ocean or to an abandoned bridge to nowhere, deep in the mountains. Los Angeles Times

With her win for best R&B performance at the 2021 Grammy Awards, Beyoncé broke the record for the most Grammys won by a female artist. Other major wins during Sunday’s show included Taylor Swift’s “Folklore” for album of the year, H.E.R.’s protest track “I Can’t Breathe” for song of the year and Billie Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted” for record of the year. Los Angeles Times

[See also: “Here’s the full list of 2021 Grammy winners” in the Los Angeles Times]

San Bernardino and Orange counties on Sunday exited the purple tier, the most restrictive of California’s color-coded reopening blueprint, clearing the way for restaurants to resume indoor dining at 25% capacity. Los Angeles County will join them Monday in permitting additional reopenings. About 45% of the state’s population will now be able to grab a bite to eat inside a restaurant, visit a museum or take a yoga class indoors. Los Angeles Times

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From a tiny Canoga Park desk, a newspaper editor opens a window into chaotic Myanmar. Thakhin Kai Bwor, a web security specialist by day, moonlights as the editor of the Myanmar Gazette, the only Burmese-language newspaper in the U.S. Los Angeles Times

A man opens a door holding a large stack of newspapers
Thakhin Kai Bwor delivers the Myanmar Gazette to a San Gabriel Valley dental office. About a third of Burmese Americans live in California, with a large concentration in the San Gabriel Valley.
(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

How an Echo Park encampment became a flashpoint in L.A.’s homelessness crisis: All parties agree that the only viable solution is for all those living in the park to be provided acceptable housing. What constitutes “acceptable” and how it would be achieved is the wedge that continues to drive both sides apart. Los Angeles Times

What was it like to get lunch at Morton’s with now-embattled power lawyer Tom Girardi back in the day? A local reporter revisits his “dates” with Girardi. Debaser

[Previously: “Vegas parties, celebrities and boozy lunches: How legal titan Tom Girardi seduced the State Bar” in the Los Angeles Times]

Hundreds rallied against anti-Asian attacks on Saturday in Los Angeles. The rally was organized by 10 local Asian American organizations and hosted in the courtyard of the Japanese American National Museum. LAist

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L.A. Councilman Joe Buscaino says he’s running for mayor in 2022. Mayor Eric Garcetti will be termed out in 2022, leaving the field wide open. Buscaino is the first City Council member to enter the race, though fellow council members Kevin De León and Mark Ridley-Thomas are also believed to be giving it serious consideration. Los Angeles Times


“It’s like the post-Rodney King environment.” The Los Angeles Police Department faces growing scrutiny over its handling of last summer’s mass protests against police abuses. For a department largely defined by its history of seesawing between failure and reform, it will be yet another period of forced change brought on by more investigations and a still-mounting pile of lawsuits. Los Angeles Times


A corporation wants to mine for gold near Death Valley. Native tribes are fighting it. Los Angeles Times

Their East San Jose neighbors were dying. So frustrated community leaders formed their own COVID task force. Mercury News


Should Cabrillo College change its name? Amid a broader national reckoning, a Santa Cruz County community college is reexamining the legacy of Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. Lookout Santa Cruz

Confessions of an influencer whisperer: “There is a playbook for success as an influencer and I believe it is a skill that can be taught,” according to Amber Venz Box and her “Harvard of Influencing.” Town & Country


Is Silicon Valley really that progressive? Political observers say the truth lies in the details. San Jose Spotlight

A poem to start your week: “why i feed the birds” by Richard Vargas. The Writer’s Almanac

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Los Angeles: rain, 55. San Diego: morning rain, 57. San Francisco: windy, 54. San Jose: windy, 54. Fresno: might rain a little, 52. Sacramento: partly sunny, 52.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

Actress Eva Longoria (March 15, 1975), L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin (March 19, 1967), Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw (March 19, 1988), former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown (March 20, 1934) and filmmaker Spike Lee (March 20, 1957)

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.