Category Archives: Hike! So. Cal

Hidden Valley Nature Walk- Joshua Tree NP


Directions:  Take the 10 freeway to the 62 – head North, pass through Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley and the town of Joshua Tree. You will see signs that say Joshua Tree National Park. Turn right on Park Avenue, there is a sign and a stoplight. Follow the road for 6 miles to the entrance gate. Pay your entrance fee ($15 for 7 days) and continue, drive for about ten miles. The turn off for Hidden Valley Picnic Area comes up on your right. Park. Pee. Hike!


Distance: 1 mile (seemed longer to me)

Difficultly: Easy-ish (Lots of rock-stairs. I HATE stairs.)

Wheelchair Friendly? No

Dog Friendly? No

Kid Friendly? Yes!

Cell Phone Signal: None



Make sure someone knows where you are at all times!

The Lowdown:

This was #2 of the 2 or 3 hikes I wanted to do while I was visiting Joshua Tree. I thought that I’d do 2 or 3 short hikes instead of one big one. I was actually planning a longer adventure but the road I needed to drive down to get to the trailhead was washed out (by the snow) so a quick change of plans was in order.

I have a feeling that this trail is ALWAYS crowded so if you’re hiking alone- this path would be good for your safety. SOMEONE will come across you eventually!

The trail starts out with rock-stairs-


and then some more rock-stairs-


(huff-puff-huff-puff) I hate stairs…They ARE worth it though cuz you get to the see THIS (see pic below) when you get to the top!


Hidden Valley! This is where Cattle Rustlers used to hide out! Oh how criminal!!!

I grabbed myself some quiet time over here…


If you go just slightly off trail, you be able to get in a little meditation!

Like a lizard,I enjoy a nice, smooth, warm rock to rest upon where I can imagine the Cowboys chasing the Rustlers and Robbers through the narrow passages of the canyon. Yes! I do have quite an imagination… Thanks for noticing!

I also enjoy just sitting and taking in the natural beauty of the area. There is nothing like a cool gust of wind in your face to energize you! Joshua Tree is so tranquil and relaxing that I find myself wanting to visit again and again…

Off I go on my final leg of this mini journey…


I know, I know…Wow!

Uphill and UP THE STAIRS we go! Ugh….Maybe THIS is why I thought this hike felt longer then the other?!


The Wrap Up: If you’re a beginning hiker and new to the Joshua Tree Experience- you’ll love this mini adventure. I enjoyed myself completely and was a bit tired but very satisfied after my little journey. If your ass has done nothing but eat cheesecake, watch DVDS and play video games for the past few months- I highly recommend that you get out there- if not HERE, ANYWHERE and get yourself moving!


Barker Dam Loop- Joshua Tree NP


Just A Note: I had to cancel my BIRTHDAY TRIP because of various issues this year. I was VERY disappointed because it’s the ONE THING I look forward to all year long. I was able to scrape some money together and make it out to Joshua Tree just so I could grab some ME time. I’m glad I did- at least it appeased the Adventurous side of me…for the moment!



Distance: 1.5 miles

Difficultly: Easy-ish

Wheelchair Friendly? No

Dog Friendly? No

Kid Friendly? Yes!

Cell Phone Signal: None



Make sure someone knows where you are at all times!

Where to go: Trailhead: Take the 10 freeway to the 62 – head North, pass through Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley and the town of Joshua Tree. You will see signs that say Joshua Tree National Park. Turn right on Park Avenue, there is a sign and a stoplight. Follow the road for 6 miles to the entrance gate. Pay your entrance fee and continue, drive for about ten miles, until you see the sign for Barker Dam, turn left and follow this road to the parking lot.

Speaking of The Parking Lot, here was the view when I pulled in. OMG! What is that white stuff in the middle of the DESERT?!?!? Yup…You Mid-Westerners should recognize it.


The Lowdown: Look for the Information Sign and you’ll see the beginning of the trail. This is a fun but WELL USED loop with little elevation. I actually went on Presidents Weekend for a reason. The reason being that I would be visiting the park alone andI felt I needed to give up a little solitude for safety and believe me- I did. The trail was PACKED! If I would have sprained or broken ANYTHING trust me there were plenty of people who would have helped me outta there!

I began walking up the trail and instead of going in the direction of the arrows, I hung a left at the first information plaque and went up these rock-stairs:


After passing a few MILLION other hikers, I came around a bend and discovered a site I was VERY surprised to see…


I actually became GIDDY when I saw the snow which lead me to do THIS-  Image

A snowman in the DESERT…that was a first for me AND a first for the other hikers who stumbled upon him.

About half way to the dam, I came across a sign that said “Petrographs” with an arrow pointing the way. I was thinking to myself, “Oy! How many miles do I and my frozen head have to walk to see them?!?!” Ummm- they were *like* 10 feet from the sign…


From here, the path was peaceful and I only ran into a handful of people.Throughout the trail were signs explaining the terrain, vegetation and wildlife. They were a good excuse to stop and rest! Eventually, I climbed up another long flight of rock-stairs and landed on top of the dam. It was a very pretty view but AGAIN, very crowded. There were people picnicking up on the rocks and it’s hard to grab a quiet minute when you hear “Can you pass the ketcup, please?”

Below, you can see what the dam is daming…


This is where I finally grabbed some quiet time. Ahhhh Serenity….


The pathway back to the parking lot…

This was my first of 2 hikes for the day. Stay tuned for the next update!

Placerita Canyon in Santa Clarita, Ca.- Nature Center to Waterfall Hike

This hike has always been a favorite of mine and I’m surprised that I have never posted it before!

For directions and information:

I’ll save you the suspense by telling you that I didn’t make it all the way to the waterfall this time. Why?


My Co-Host got tired…Do you believe this little BULLDOG walked 2 miles?! I KNOW, right?!?!?

If you want to visit the Waterfall, you’ll walk through Walker Ranch which is the ruins of the old homestead once owned by- THE WALKERS- between 1900-1950. So….you hit 2 destinations! Kewl! The Waterfall usually has water running in the Winter/Early Spring and it IS really pretty and peaceful up there. I’m looking forward to hitting this trail again WITHOUT Little Mister. I’d like to spend some quiet time on my own- just taking in the natural energy. I want to just sit there and BE…


I think Caiden used up the majority of his energy at the beginning of the hike. By the time we got here-

He stop listening to me and then had a huge breakdown. Eventually, he calmed down and we continued along the trail until we found some terrific rocks to climb!

Adventure Boy is SO CUTE!


We crossed over the stream on that crazy, metal bridge and continued onward…

Until we made it here and decided to have some lunch and talk to the other hikers going by. Adventure Boy turned into “My Feet Hurt” Boy and then “I’m Tired” boy…so we turned back.

We HAD TO STOP and look at the stream again on our way back…

Right before we made it off the trail, we came across the Scariest Tree on Earth aka THE MONSTER TREE! Don’t worry, Caiden growled at it and scared it so EVERYONE IS SAFE- I PROMISE!

Even though I had to deal with Caiden’s breakdown, I still had a great time getting out into the woods! He fell asleep 2 seconds after I put him in the car so the fresh air and exercise did him some good too!

Length: We went 2 miles total. See picture of trail sign for accurate mileage.

Exercise Level: Not too easy, Not too hard.

Cell Friendly: In Places

Dog Friendly: YES

Kid Friendly: Yes, if they listen well

Wheelchair Friendly: No. There is another trail that might be- check it out on their website.

Bring:  Water and a snack. Maybe a light jacket too.

Wear: Good Sneakers or Hiking Boots, Sunscreen, a hat if you’re fair, layers if you have a tendency to get cold.

Franklin Canyon- Beverly Hills, Ca.

Address: 2600 Franklin Canyon Dr- Beverly Hills, Ca.

Open: Sun Up to Sun Down

Inside Info: Make sure you make a COMPLETE STOP at both Stop Signs in the park. You WILL get a PHOTO Enforced Ticket!

Directions: Taking Coldwater Canyon (S)- When you get to Mulholland, make a right (NOT UP Mulholland but a R into the residential area). Look for the teeny, tiny little sign…                        

Taking Coldwater Canyon (N)- When you get to Mulholland, make a LEFT (NOT UP Mulholland but a L into the residential area). Look for the teeny, tiny little sign…


Franklin Canyon is a  Beautiful OASIS between the Valley of the Damned (SFV) and Beverly (Hills- that is)…

Trivia: They filmed the opening scenes from The Andy Griffith Show there! Kewl stuff!

Official Site:

Length of Hike: Hastings Heavenly Pond Trail- I don’t have the mileage, but I’m gonna say around 1.8 miles roundtrip. Wodoc Nature Trail is like walking around the block.

Exercise Level: By yourself- you can make it as hard or easy as you’d like. Having a kid in tow makes it a lot slower but you’ll still get something out of it.

Cell Service: Sort of

Kid Friendly: ALL AGES. Only stroller friendly around the duck pond (Wodoc Nature Trail) and on the actual road.

Wheelchair Friendly: Around the little duck pond (Wodoc Nature Trail) and if you stay on the actual road…

Food/Water:  Bring it with you

What to wear/ bring: SUNSCREEN is a must no matter what time of the year, clothes to keep you comfortable in hot temperatures or warm in cool temperatures, WATER- WATER-WATER, a snack for energy, bug spray and VERY sturdy tennis shoes for mini hikes or Hiking Boots (for anything “off trail.”)

My Favorite Co-Host Joined me for my (our) Mini Hike:

My 2 year Old Grandson, Caiden

The Low Down

This was the 1st “official” Grandma/Grandson hike for my Co-Host and Myself. He’s 2 so it was a short hike but a hike just the same. Caiden did very well! He actually listened to me, didn’t run too far ahead and didn’t fall off a mountain or anything- so that’s a plus! We went on the trail closest to the “Big” pond- walking through some tall grass and over some small hills. There are some wooden stairs providing access from the parking areas to the trails and they were quite a drop but Caiden held my hand and navigated them like a champ! Later, we collected leaves and duck feathers for a little art project that we were going to present to him Mom later that evening…

After checking out the “Big” trail, we walked down the fire road to the Wodoc Nature Trail (aka The Duck Pond) where we spent a good 30 minutes watching the ducks, fish and turtles. This is a GREAT place for a well behaved 2 year old (or above) to get close to animals in their natural habitat. I LOVED the fact that there were NO GEESE! Geese can be really mean and I didn’t want Caiden to get scared during his first “hiking/nature” experience.

Here is Caiden at the Duck Pond

…and some more gorgeous pictures for your viewing pleasure:


You know you’re waiting for Opie to come running outta the trees yelling, “Pa! Pa!”

The Wrap Up

If the smell of PINE is what you seek in an otherwise desert-ish land, c’mon down to Franklin Canyon. You can almost hear Andy Taylor whistling down the lane while Aunt Bee puts pies (mmmm- pie) on the windowsill to cool for dinner. This is a much-needed escape destination in the middle of  congested, 90210 Urban Sprawl and I KNOW y’ll will feel country-fied by the experience!

Salt Creek- Hwy 127- in the Mojave Preserve

  I had the pleasure of seeing this GORGEOUS sunrise prior to my hike. Glorious!

Directions: From Baker, Ca- Exit Interstate 15 (N) at Baker (exit 246). Make a left and then a quick right onto Hwy 127. Take it for a LONG ASS TIME until you see the Salt Creek Trail turn-off. Slowly head down to the parking area.

Length of Hike: I don’t have the mileage, but I’m gonna say around 2 miles roundtrip

Cell Service: None

Kid Friendly: Big kids- over 6 years of age

Wheelchair Friendly: No Way

Food/Water: None for 40 miles- so bring sustenance

What to wear/ bring: SUNSCREEN is a must no matter what time of the year, clothes to keep you comfortable in hot temperatures or warm in cool temperatures, WATER- WATER-WATER, a snack for energy, bug spray, HIKE BOOTS or VERY sturdy tennis shoes.

The Low Down: I was on my way to Vegas and as always, I took a side trip into the desert to see the sites. I spied this hiking trail about 25 miles from Baker, Ca. and I had to check it out. The beginning of the trail features a sign depicting the unusual wetlands existing in an otherwise dry and barren desert. The explanation of Salt Creek and how it currently exists was just fascinating!

The trail is sandy and rocky at the same time and can be a little challenging at times….

It was very well defined and easy to follow in most places.

Following the signs, I was lead to a adorable, little bridge that crossed over the tiny creek. 


There was a point were I had to do some rock scrambling (as you can see).

The rock scrambling lead to a really cool, little canyon….

 Which lead up to the Salt Beds at the top of the mountain.

If you look at that speck of white on the center- right hand side of the picture, you can see the parking area from which I started.

The Wrap Up:  If I knew it was so rocky, I wouldn’t have done this hike by myself  just because of the chance of turning an ankle and no cell service. That can be dangerous. I also did this hike in June around 6am and by the time I was done (at around 7am) it was already 90 degrees out. I drank 3/4 of my Camel Pack on the way to the car so you can imagine how hot it was becoming! Use caution if going it alone and keep in mind 2 very important things besides having a ton of water with you- SUNSCREEN is a must and Rattlesnakes are EVERYWHERE so watch where you are going!

A side note: THE FLIES

As soon as I pulled into the parking are, the flies attacked my car. Not only where they the most annoying flies on earth, they brought a few other friends. Those other friends where the HUGEST flies I have EVER seen in my life. Seriously, they were mutants. The size of those really humongous, Black Honey Bees. Seriously, one landed on my hat and I thought a bird was perched on my head.

When I was done with my hike, I opened the car door and they all hopped in like they were hitching a ride to Woodstock! Ugh! So after some heavy-duty swatting, I finally just got into my car, opened the windows, headed to Hwy 127 and drove AS FAST AS I COULD so the wind would suck’em out of the car. Mission Accomplished!

As I headed to Vegas, I made additional stops in Tecopa, Ca.  and Shoshone, Ca. Tecopa was an armpit but Shoshone was VERY charming! Both places had the same fly problem…what the hell is THAT all about?!?!

Anyway- it was a very pleasant hike and I enjoyed the solitude and silence of the desert. If you are looking for relaxation dipped in seclusion, visit the gateway to Death Valley. It’ll free your mind and feed your soul…

This is me with mind being freed…bask in the glory of my fed soul! Lol!

Kelso Dunes- Mojave National Preserve

Directions:  About 42 miles southeast of Baker, Ca  (7 miles south of Kelso Depot) then 3 miles west on a graded dirt road. Take I-15 to Kelbaker, make a right and just keep going until you get to Kelso Dunes Rd.  You can also reach Kelso Dunes off  Hwy 40, follow Kelbaker thru the Preserve, make a left onto Kelso Dunes Rd (approx. 20 miles).

Everything you want to know about Kelso Dunes- . It’s fascinating trust me!

My Adventure: I saw the exit for Kelso Dunes on the I-40 heading toward Laughlin. I was on a 6 day vacation and made a mental note to hit this hike on my way back to Los Angeles. I am SO glad I did. The Mojave Preserve is absolutely gorgeous and listening to some smooth jazz while driving to my destination added just the right amount of atmosphere…

Turning on to the dusty, dirt road- I was a little concerned about my tires but drove the speed limit of 25 and found that I was able to take in all the beauty around me at that speed. Pulling into the parking area, I was happy to see a bathroom (yay!) and other hikers cars- so I was secure knowing that I wouldn’t be alone on this adventure!


The trail is well marked     and it starts out as a combination of sand and rock which is very easy to walk on.

Don’t let the the ease of the the beginning of the trail fool you- it gets a lot rougher. Why? Because you hit the finest, deepest sand in the universe about 1/4 mile into the hike! (*Huff-Puff*). It’s listed on many sites as a 2 hour hike. Since the sun was going down and the wind was blowing HARD, I decided to just walk on to the dunes for a 1/2 hour- rest for a bit, take some pictures and then take my happy ass back to the car. The wind was blowing against me but I trudged on. After a 1/2 hour of EXTREMELY HARD, SALMON SWIMMING UP STREAM AGAINST THE WIND CURRENT CARDIO- I was done and decided it was time to play in the sand!

Just in case you forgot what I look like…

When you climb up the dunes and then run back down, the wind hits your tracks and makes it sound like the Dunes are singing. Incredibly Haunting and amazingly beautiful…

The sand is so fine, it’s like dust. When you sift it through your fingers you can actually feel how soft it is. I wish you could touch it through the computer- you’d never believe it!


After taking these shots, I headed back to the car. Before I left, I sat on the hood for about 10 minutes and listened to the Dunes. If you’re looking for a Cathartic Experience, might I suggest a day at the Dunes? It did more for me than I could begin to explain…

The Facts:

Winter or Spring would be the best time to visit. It’s the DESERT- IT’S HOT– keep that in mind when planning your adventure!

Kid Friendly: Yes

Handicap access: No

Dog Friendly: Not Sure

Cell Service: No


  • Hiking boots or sturdy tennis shoes
  • Dress in layers. It maybe cold or hotter then where you started out from
  • Bring tons of water
  • A snack for after the hike is always nice