Ventura presents Southern California trails for climbing, biking

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This story is a part of our Final Information to Climbing Los Angeles

The Harmon Canyon Reserve, Southern California’s latest assortment of backcountry trails, is a quiet time machine in Ventura, taking us again to what the realm regarded like earlier than it was coated in farms, homes and highways.

The two,100-acre nature reserve opened in June, the jewel within the crown of the Ventura Land Belief, however throughout a time of a pandemic and widespread Black Lives Matter protests, the opening obtained little discover exterior of city. Nonetheless, the reserve has been occupied from the beginning, mentioned Derek Poultney, government director of the belief.

“Everybody was so hungry for out of doors recreation that we discovered the reserve to be immediately in style and far cherished,” he mentioned. “Earlier than Harmon Canyon opened, the folks of Ventura needed to journey 30 to 45 miles to Ojai or the Santa Monica Mountains to have this sort of expertise.”

A shadow-covered bench below an oak tree at Harmon Canyon Protect in Ventura.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Occasions)

The belief has developed 10 miles of trails for hikers and mountain bikers, with the aim of including not less than 20 extra miles extending to the northern fringe of the reserve.

For the formidable, the eight-mile hike on Lengthy Canyon Highway with an easterly view or the 10-mile drive to the highest of Harmon Canyon Highway includes steep, rocky trails lined with sage, large wild rye, and, within the springtime. , fields. of untamed flowers. On the prime on a transparent day you will discover panoramic views of the Ventura Coast, the Channel Islands, the Santa Monica Mountains, and farmland stretching east throughout the Santa Clara River Valley.

These are three to 5 hour spherical journeys, relying in your velocity. However in case you solely have an hour, the reserve has shorter, hidden trails by oak groves, stream beds, and meadows, the place the one sounds are birdsong, crickets, and the occasional ringing of miniature bells (necessary on all mountain bikes).

It’s a place of each reverie and energy: a father gently guiding his toddler in entrance of the aromatic sage and the dry brown grasses which dominate his head. Runners breathe laborious as they purpose for the ridges. Mountain bikers growl as they slowly ascend the steep slope. And their merry counterparts descend the path, their bicycle bells ringing madly.

Cyclists on a hill

The Goldenberg Overlook on the prime of Lengthy Canyon Highway within the Harmon Canyon Protect presents panoramic views of the coast and mountains.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Occasions)

At 4pm on a Wednesday, I selected path 107 by the oak groves, a spherical journey loop of about three miles from the parking zone. The big lot was filled with vehicles, however human encounters have been uncommon and transient.

It is a few mile to stroll on the principle path to the trailhead for trailhead 107 and the highway is broad sufficient to be socially straightforward to get away from.

On the narrower path 107, calm is omnipresent, virtually religious, due to the oaks, historic survivors clinging to the hillsides or to the meadows the place the bottom is as a lot rock as earth.

The timber all have blackened trunks, an indication of Thomas’ hearth in late 2017, however, miraculously, their branches are inexperienced. On a brief, steep climb, the path circles a stunted oak tree coated in char and lichen, with an enormous gap in its trunk – and it nonetheless lives.

A track marker

Trails are numbered at Ventura’s Harmon Canyon Protect; this marks the beginning of path 107 of the reserve.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Occasions)

This path follows the mattress of the stream. The stream crosses the most important path not less than 13 occasions, Poultney mentioned, so when the water is flowing, guests can anticipate to perform a little paddling.

Free for all

The paths are free and a part of the Ventura Land Belief’s mandate to carry this land in perpetuity for public use and keep it in its pure state, Poultney mentioned.

The belief was born in 2003, after a controversial election in 2002 when builders wished to construct 1,200 homes within the hills above Ventura. The measure was rejected when 72% of voters voted no, however the election and debate spawned the thought of ​​making a belief to protect the undeveloped lands of Ventura.

Many believed the stress to construct houses within the Ventura Hills wouldn’t cease, mentioned Brooke Ashworth, founding chair of the belief and now senior conservation adviser. “These concerned within the in style marketing campaign realized that this battle could be fought again and again except an alternate concept prevails,” she mentioned. “So the thought got here to create a 501 (c) 3 non-profit group with a view to purchase land and forestall it from rising.”

A blackened oak tree with a huge hole in its trunk

A blackened oak tree with an enormous gap in its trunk on Path 107 within the Harmon Canyon Protect.

(Jeanette Marantos / Los Angeles Occasions)

Poultney spends loads of time asking landowners to promote their property to the belief. Thomas’ hearth helped argue that “our hillsides are usually not splendid locations to lodge” when it burned all the things in its wake, he mentioned.

The belief received three state grants, value $ 5.7 million, on the finish of 2019, to buy the reserve land, previously often known as Walker-Hearne Ranch. The $ 8.39 million sale closed in early 2020 when the house owners donated the remaining $ 2.69 million, he mentioned.

Since then, the belief has been busy constructing tracks. The reserve already had a most important grime highway within the hills, which is maintained by Southern California Edison to supply entry to energy strains, so the belief was capable of focus its sources on constructing and sustaining smaller trails. , Poultney mentioned.

There are 4 at present – the 101, 102, 105 and 107 – for these in search of quicker, much less strenuous rides. They nonetheless have so much to supply for repeat visits. The 107 follows the dry stream mattress, and I questioned what it will be like with dripping water after a heavy rain.

Be aware to self: return to 107 after a downpour and put on my wading sneakers.

If you will

Harmon Canyon Reserve, 7511 Foothill Highway, Ventura; venturalandtrust.org/harmoncanyon. Open every day from dawn to sundown. Free parking at first of the reserve path.

  • Put on sturdy climbing boots as these are wild trails, albeit effectively established.
  • Deliver water and a hat, particularly in case you plan to hike the excessive hills, the place shade is scarce.
  • Canine on a leash are solely allowed roughly 1½ mile on the principle highway to guard wildlife. Bobcats, black bears, mule deer and mountain lions have been noticed within the reserve.
  • When it is hotter, look ahead to rattlesnakes and hand-sized tarantulas, particularly on the finish of the day.
  • Wildflowers emerge till Could, however the peak viewing interval is in April.

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