(Platanus racemosa) silhoetted
against sedimentary rock outcrop
|Circle X Ranch:|
Santa Monica Mtns.
National Recreation Area
January 16, 2002
Circle X is one of my favorite areas to hike in the Santa Monica
Mountains. Located on Yerba
Buena Road in the western section of the Santa Monica
Mountains National Recreation Area,
Circle X is centrally located to some of the most
spectacular scenic vistas in the Santa Monicas.
Several trails lead off from this area,
including the Backbone trail and the Mishe Mokwa trail.
Despite the occasional cluster of ever invasive residential developments, this section of
Monicas imparts an inspiring "backcountry" feel....even so close to the city
of Los Angeles.
Stellar sedimentary rock outcrops, remote valleys and gorges, and some
plant communities makes this a must see for anyone
interested in the outdoor environment.
Redshanks (aka. ribbonwood) (Adenostoma sparsifolium) and Ceanothus
front the long
range view of Sandstone Peak and Boney Mountain. This photo was taken
near Triunfo Pass
about one mile from the Circle X trailhead (and ranger station) parking area.
Formerly, Circle X (currently owned by the National Park Service)
had a campground associated
with it. Long since shut down, the service road remained a useful hiking trail. Thinking this had
not changed, I brought my very good friend and
hiking/plant buddy, Suzanne Guldimann, down
the beautiful (but steep!) Grotto trail with
the expectation that we could loop around to the
campground access road and back to
our car. Ha! The park service had destroyed the road. Not
wanting to return the way we came, we
foolishly decided the churned up road couldn't be that
bad. One of our bigger mistakes.
Indeed, Mother Nature could not have reclaimed the road
Moral of the story: stay on real trails, and never mess with park
service "restoration" projects!
The ultimate destination is the "Grotto" springs area. Dropping
about 800 feet in one mile, the
trail leading here is steep, following the west fork of Arroyo
Sequit. Below the Grotto, the
canyon drops off at a more harrowing angle that clearly
few have risked investigating.
Impressive (volcanic?) boulders and spring-fed seeps (that surely had
salamanders peering at us
from the leaves?!) were very picturesque. Fragrant bay laurels
(Umbellularia californica) and
western sycamores crowded
over the grotto, enhancing the quiet and
intimate feel of the area.
Revised: June 21, 2004
This site ©2004 Ann Dittmer.