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25 places to stand in the SCV

Posted: August 14, 2009 10:36 a.m.
Updated: August 14, 2009 11:00 a.m.

Escape presents 25 locations in the SCV where your family can stand and enjoy the ambiance. (Top center) Vasquez Rocks Natural Area, (right) Main Street, Cowboy Festival, (bottom) Whitney Canyon waterfall, (left) Castaic Lake, (center) a yucca in bloom.

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Where is your favorite place to stand in the Santa Clarita Valley? Escape asked that question of readers and we received several thoughtful replies. The inspiration for this week's cover story comes from the Web site www.stoodthere.com, where visitors are encouraged to post photos and share the "greatest place on Earth" with others. Currently the Web site is holding a contest to find (in their words) "100 of the most wondrous, inspiring, or thought-provoking locations" in the United States. Visitors to the site can vote for the Greatest Place to Stand in the United States 2009. Here is Escape's homage to the 25 best places to stand in the SCV.

1. Barnyard, William S. Hart Park, Newhall
One of my favorite places to stand in the valley - I'm not sure I could name an absolute favorite - is the barnyard at William S. Hart Park. It is such a delightful mix of visitors and animals, along with workers and volunteers who are kindly and helpful. It's a great place to people watch: Children who have never seen a goose or a donkey coming face to face with the animals; parents proudly sharing the experience; grandparents looking on.
The barnyard sounds and smells take me back to when I was a child. Every summer I spent a week or two on my aunt and uncle's ranch (actually a cattle feedlot) near Shafter in the San Joaquin Valley; the hot summer smell of hay, the lowing of cattle, the astringent smell of manure as we mucked out the stables; being warned to stay away from the two-story-tall towers of grain because they could tumble on us and suffocate us, then jumping in when no one was looking; the crack of a rifle from the back of a pickup truck; the stink of the pig pens; the delicious smell of the pit barbecues when they were finally opened, sides of beef smoking in them since the evening before.
Find the barnyard at Hart Park adjacent to Hart Hall and the William S. Hart Ranch House in Hart Park on Newhall Avenue in Newhall. Lila Littlejohn
Managing Editor, The Signal

2. West wing dike St. Francis Dam, San Francisquito Canyon Road
Atop the remains of the west wing dike of the failed St. Francis Dam the view is worth the grueling hike up the side of the steeply sloping hill. When you reach the top of the west wing dike you appreciate the size and scale of the dam that once stood on that spot barricading the canyon. Looking at the view behind where the dam once stood it is easy to picture the vast reservoir of water that once covered the area. Looking downstream, one can imagine the mighty cascade of water that swept away everything in its path after the dam failed three minutes before midnight on March 12, 1928. The failure of the St. Francis dam and the loss of nearly 600 lives was the second worst disaster in California history after the 1908 San Francisco earthquake.
Find the remains of the St. Francis Dam approximately 7.2 miles from the intersection of Copper Hill Road and San Francisquito Canyon Road.
Michele E. Buttelman
Signal Features and Entertainment Editor

3. Valley Street, Newhall
Stand or drive at the beginning of Valley Street. As you look down the street there are two parallel rows of enormous overgrown trees with huge roots. It's a very well-kept neighborhood and travelling under those trees makes you feel so small.
Find Valley Street off of Lyons Avenue in Newhall.
Melissa Gasca, Signal staff writer

4. A youth soccer game, anywhere in the Santa Clarita Valley
I never knew anything about soccer until my daughters each joined AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) when they were about 5. Then it took over my life for the next decade-plus. Now I absolutely love the sport, especially as it is played by enthusiastic children at our local parks and school ball fields. There is no better place to stand than on the sidelines of a youth soccer game (preferably in the shade), watching the players' skills grow right before your eyes.
Where and when? There are several AYSO "regions" in the SCV but, having had my girls thrive in the Canyon Country branch, I'm partial to Region 677. AYSO Region 677 kicks off things this year with its first game day on Saturday, Sept. 12. For information visit http://ayso677.org.
Jim Walker, Escape Editor

5. Rancho Camulos, Highway 126, Piru
Rancho Camulos is a national historic landmark that technically might be considered outside the SCV. Yet, it is so close, only 20 minutes from Valencia along Highway 126 near Piru, it is worthy of a place on this list. The best time to stand in Rancho Camulos is in the spring and early summer, when the gardens are in full bloom. It is the best remaining example of a Spanish-Mexican rancho in its original rural environment and is noted for its literary significance as setting for Helen Hunt Jackson's novel "Ramona." It is a place to experience and learn about the "Californio" lifestyle.
To find Rancho Camulos take Highway 126 toward Ventura. Watch for Rancho Camulos on the left side of the road after approximately nine miles.
Michele E. Buttelman

6. Sandy Point, Pico Canyon
Sandy Point is at the end of Minnie-Lotta Canyon in Pico Canyon. To find Sandy Point drive west on Lyons and look up - you can see the big sandstone outcrop.
Darryl Manzer, former SCV resident

7. Any fire road or trail at dusk
Stand quietly in the sagebrush on any fire road or trail at dusk... birds and bunnies all are settling in for the night. It's cool and quiet save for the animal commute. Find your quiet place at the edges of the SCV.
Maria Gutzeit, Santa Clarita


8. Fountain Glen Senior Apartments in Valencia at 9:30 on Saturday mornings
Check out the lobby of Fountain Glen in Valencia at 9:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning when the oldsters get together for coffee and donuts.
Katherine Lench Meyering, Valencia

9. Overlooking Castaic Lake
It is the watery wonderland of the SCV. Castaic Lake offers boating, swimming, camping, fishing and hiking. To stand and watch from a vantage point high overhead is to feel as if you are watching a postcard come to life.
For maps of Castaic Lake visit www.castaiclake.com.
Ginger Mac Donald, Santa Clarita

10. Upper Bouquet Canyon
Next to the slowly meandering stream that runs alongside upper Bouquet Canyon Road you'll find pockets of shade and an oasis waiting for you to stop, stand and reflect. Take a garbage bag and help clean up the creek from the insulting actions of the barbarians who frequent its banks.
Find the stream on the left side of the road as you travel north on Bouquet Canyon Road past the Vasquez Canyon Road intersection.
Michele E. Buttelman

11. Westfield Valencia Town Center
Stand anywhere in "the mall" during the holidays to watch people hustle to and fro. It's not a bad place to catch the holiday spirit. The mall isn't a bad place at any time of year to stand, watch people and soak in the energy of our vibrant community.
Find Valencia Town Center in the middle of Valencia bordered on one side by McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard.
Michele E. Buttelman

12. Cowboy Festival Main Street
On Main Street, in the early morning of the first day of Cowboy Festival (late April) at Melody Motion Picture Ranch in Placerita Canyon, there is a sweetness of anticipation. I love to stand in the middle of the street flanked by the Western storefronts before the hordes of attendees have arrived. After exiting the street the smell of cowboy coffee and biscuits and gravy calls to me from the Cowboy Cultural Committee's outpost in the food court. Later, cowboy cobbler and a tritip sandwich will be required... in that order. To find the Cowboy Festival visit www.cowboyfestival.org.
Michele E. Buttelman

13. The fountain on Town Center Drive in front of the Edwards Valencia
As any teen who grew up in Santa Clarita Valley will tell you: There's only place to stand (or loiter, if you want to slip into legalese) and that place is the fountain in front of the Edwards Valencia 12 movie theater. To most teens and pre-teens, if you weren't milling around, basking beneath the neon lights with your friends on a Friday night, then you really didn't have a reason to show up at school on Monday. Other than, y'know, that education stuff. The patrons of the movie theater and its surrounding shops and restaurants have come to represent the veritable hodge-podge that is today's youth. Stand anywhere at peak hours (usually around 7 or 8) and be treated to the skinny tweeners texting and gabbing about who said what; note the hipster crowds of boys, hands firmly in pockets and eyes forever rolled to the sky; or just take a look at the cuddling couples, with arms around each other, sharing a yogurt. There's a kind of absolute serenity in knowing that youth, for better or worse, will always be around.
Find the fountain in the courtyard in front of the fire pit at Salt Creek Grille, 24415 Town Center Drive, Valencia.
Rory Kelly, Signal intern

14. Wakefield Court in Saugus at Christmas
Wakefield Court during the weeks before Christmas is the SCV's own "Candy Cane Lane..." Traffic backs up, Christmas fun oozes from every inch of the neighborhood and toys are collected for the less fortunate. Stand on the sidewalk and watch the parade of passing cars. Feel the warmth of the neighborhood goodwill. Marvel at the sheer wattage of the lights and moving holiday décor. Now close your mouth. Find Wakefield Court in Saugus by taking Copper Hill Drive to Courtland Way to Wakefield Court.
Michele E. Buttelman

15. An empty lot
At the top of a hill, at the end of a cul-de-sac in a residential neighborhood in Saugus, there is an empty lot. I take walks after dark to stand at the top of the hill, overlooking the valley and the glistening lights. Here I can watch the moon rise, look for shooting stars and pick out my favorite constellations in the celestial landscape. It's quiet, except for the chirp of crickets and the hum of cars buzzing by on the streets below. Here I can hear myself think. Here it's just me and the night air. Here is a tiny escape in the middle of a busy world. Here is my favorite place to stand.
Find your own "empty lot" in neighborhoods throughout the SCV. They are a vanishing commodity to be sure, but if you look, you will find one.
Grace McConnell, Newhall

16. Bear Divide Ranger Station/Picnic Area
For a view overlooking the Santa Clarita Valley from east to west, it's hard to beat standing atop Bear Divide, between 2,500 and 3,000 above sea level, on the ridge separating the SCV from the San Fernando Valley.
It's usually very quiet. The only sound is the wind blowing and the crunch of your feet on the gravel. It's a great place to get away from whatever, or whoever, is bugging you to the extreme; a great place to think and sort things out. You'll always feel better on the drive down the mountain than you did on the way up.
From Highway 14, exit at Sand Canyon Road and head south. Past Placerita Canyon, Sand Canyon and Little Tujunga Canyon Road are one. Drive a few miles up the road to its intersection with the Santa Clarita Truck Trail, where you'll find the Bear Mountain Divide picnic area, the ranger station and a place to park to feast on the view.
Stephen K. Peeples
Signal Online Editor

17. The parking lot of the Gibbon Conservation Center
The Gibbon Conservation Center is the only facility in the world devoted exclusively to gibbons, an increasingly rare ape. The center houses nearly 40 gibbons, among them 5 of the 15 living species.
Stand in the parking lot of the Gibbon Conservation Center on Esquerra Road, (near Lombardi Ranch,) off of Bouquet Canyon in Saugus between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. any morning to hear the gibbon apes sing their territorial songs. Some are among the loudest land mammals on Earth. The center also hosts a Breakfast with the Gibbons fundraiser where guests can view the gibbons close-up. Visit the Web site for details.
Find the Gibbon Conservation Center, 19100 Esguerra (also spelled Esquerra) Road, Saugus. Info: www.gibboncenter.org.
Chris Roderick, Saugus

18. The top of Towsley View Loop Trail
Stand at the top of the Towsley View Loop Trail at Towsley Canyon Park. The exhilaration of reaching the top adds to the ambience. At about the 0.9 mile you will encounter a slot like canyon called the Narrows which contains layers of nearly vertical rock formations. After the passage through the narrows stay left, then after another 200 yards stay left again and climb the switchbacks. Topping out at 2,450 feet, the trail begins a steep winding descent and includes breathtaking views of lush hillsides and canyons.
Find the Towsley View Loop Trail at Ed Davis Towsley Canyon Park, 24255 The Old Road, Newhall. Visit www.lamountains.com/maps/towsley.pdf for park trail map.
Sue Saffir, Santa Clarita

19. The porch of the William S. Hart Museum, Newhall
My favorite place to stand is on the front porch of the William S. Hart Museum looking out over the Santa Clarita Valley. It's even better at night. The museum was the former home of silent Western star William S. Hart and is home to his collection of memorabilia, Indian artifacts and Western fine art. Currently the museum is closed for renovation. For information on this little known jewel of the SCV visit www.hartmuseum.org. Find the Hart Mansion and Museum high on the hill overlooking Hart Park, 24151 Newhall Road, Newhall.
Janis Ashley, Canyon Country

20. The top of Waterfall Trail, Placerita Canyon Natural Area
The best place to stand in the SCV is at the top of the Waterfall Trail in Placerita Canyon Natural Area. The Waterfall Trail is a one-way, dead-end trail that begins out of the Lower Walker Ranch section of Placerita Canyon Natural Area, and leads up Los Pinetos Canyon to a vernal waterfall. The dead end of the trail is a 25-foot waterfall that runs from November to June in normal rain years.
Find Placerita Canyon Natural Area, 19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall, (between Sand Canyon and Sierra Highway) visit www.placerita.org for trail maps and more information.
Roger and Judy McClure, Santa Clarita

21. Vasquez Rocks Natural Area
Hundreds of films, commercials and television programs have been shot at Vasquez Rocks. The spectacular natural rock formations serve as a wondrous backdrop to the park's hiking trails.
Find Vasquez Rocks Natural Area, 10700 W. Escondido Canyon Road, Agua Dulce. Take Highway 14 north to Agua Dulce Canyon Road, turn left off the freeway and follow the signs. (661) 268-0840.
Michele E. Buttelman

22. Stonecrest Park, Canyon Country
At the top of Mammoth Lane in Canyon country in the small park, (Stonecrest Park, overlooking the eastern edge of Canyon Country are wonderful views of the 14 freeway and neighborhoods in Canyon Country. It can be especially beautiful on a cold January morning when the fog plays hide and seek in the nearby hills.
Find Stonecrest Park, 29765 Mammoth Lane, Canyon Country.
Michele E. Buttelman

23. Whitney Canyon waterfall
A friend took me on the short hike to discover this precious jewel in the SCV. What a precious gift to be given! The Whitney Canyon waterfall is best viewed after a substantial rain or in the spring. The beautiful 442-acre Whitney Canyon Park in the Rim of the Valley Trail Corridor provides outstanding examples of coastal sage scrub, oak woodland, chaparral and riparian corridor vegetation, with year-round springs and at least 10 sensitive species.
Find this unexpected treasure in Whitney Canyon Park off Highway 14 at 20303 Newhall Road, Newhall. Follow the trail that runs along Whitney Canyon Creek until you find the waterfall.
Michele E. Buttelman

24. Anywhere the yuccas bloom
When the yuccas are in bloom in the SCV they can bloom in profusion, dotting the landscape with their white, popcorn-like clusters of floral fireworks. They can usually be found blooming in May.
Find the yuccas while driving Placerita Canyon Road between Sierra Highway and Sand Canyon. There are many yuccas that also bloom along Highway 14 between the SCV and Palmdale.
Michele E. Buttelman

25. Castaic Lake Water Agency Conservatory Gardens
Stand on the steps of the Castaic Lake Water Agency Conservatory Gardens when the roses are in bloom. The steps are a great place to survey the gardens which offer the public an opportunity to see water-wise gardening in action. Learn what plants grow well in the SCV and learn about how to landscape your property for fire prevention. In addition, the gardens are one of the beautiful places of the SCV and the gardens offer instruction in a host of other landscaping options. Open to the public Thursdays through Sundays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit www.clwa.org/conservation/cgarden.cfm.
Find the CLWA Conservatory Garden up the hill from Central Park (turn left at the guarded gate), 27234 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. (661) 297-1600.
Michele E. Buttelman

 

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