During the hottest, driest summer months, this trek to Ed Davis Park in Newhall’s Towsley Canyon might not be such a special walk, but this spring — wow!
Go when the hills are still green from the rain and wildflowers are showing themselves; it’s a great Santa Clarita Valley workout.
On a wet day, bring good shoes, as parts of the trail may be slippery. If it’s a hot day, bring water and sunscreen, as there is little shade.
1. Begin this hike from the no-fee lower parking lot at Ed Davis Park in the Santa Clarita Valley, so named for the polarizing former Los Angeles police chief and state senator. Walk straight up a wide paved road, officially Towsley Canyon Road, headed for the hills.
2. Continue past a fee parking lot (you may drive this far, and even farther, if you’re willing to shell out $7) as the road winds along. When you get to a final fee parking lot and can see the Rivendale Ranch buildings on your left, slow down.
3. Cross a narrow pedestrian bridge off to the far left. Just above this, find the beginning of the Don Mullally Trail, a narrow dirt path that climbs uphill above Rivendale Ranch.
4. This narrow trail will climb quite a bit, at times steeply, until it finally flattens out. Below are grand views of Newhall and the busy Golden State Freeway. And all around are stunning live oak trees. In late February there were California poppies beginning to appear.
5. The trail will begin a series of sharp switchback drops, until it flattens out at the bottom. Note a right-hand turn for the Towsley View Loop Trail, a five-mile hike that can be accessed from where you left the paved road at Rivendale Ranch.
6. If it’s a wet or rainy day, use the big stones to carefully cross a narrow creek. Dead ahead you’ll find the parking lot.
Distance: 2.5-mile round trip
Difficulty: 4 on a scale of 1 to 5
Duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Details: Free parking, plus pay parking. OK for pets on leashes and bicycles.
Fleming is the author of “Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles” and “Secret Walks: A Walking Guide to the Hidden Trails of Los Angeles.” Each month, he leads a free walk at one of his favorite spots in Southern California. Find out more at his Facebook page, Secret Stairs. He is on Twitter @misterfleming