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Frank Ferry: Live from City Hall

Posted: April 20, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 20, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

In Santa Clarita you know you can shop for the latest styles or eat at a terrific restaurant, but did you also know that you can enjoy some of the best hiking in the region on oak-shaded trails with creeks and waterfalls?

You may be surprised to learn that few communities have as much open space, trails and hiking/biking paths as ours.

Santa Clarita is a unique place to live, work and enjoy the good life, especially when it comes to the great outdoors. Over the last several years, the city has helped to bring thousands of acres of land into public ownership for the purpose of preserving it.

In 2007, by a vote of city property owners, we created the Open Space Preservation District to help fund this land-preservation effort, which has conserved nearly 8,000 acres.

The local mountain ranges that surround our city are not only scenic, but also act as a natural buffer for our community. That is why it is so important that we preserve this land and assure a greenbelt buffer around our city is put into place.

With thousands of acres of open space, there’s plenty of beginner, intermediate and advanced trails for enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels to enjoy and explore the great outdoors.

Whether you are planning a family hike with the kids, or a more difficult climb, you will find your new favorite spot right here.

Santa Clarita’s open space belongs to our community members, and we would like to encourage you to visit it. That’s why we launched an interactive website, HikeSantaClarita.com, so that you and your family know where to go, what to expect and can enjoy the city’s wide open spaces.

Here are a few recommendations for a variety of local hiking adventures, which can be found online at HikeSantaClarita.com.

Best trail for kids

Elsmere Canyon’s Creek Trail is a great, tree-shaded trail that’s perfect for beginner hikers to explore. Located in the Newhall Pass, adjacent to the Angeles National Forest, Elsmere Canyon is a popular scenic spot for local hikers and equestrians because it has areas that are relatively flat. This land was an important area that the city acquired in October of 2010, which provides connectivity to existing wildlife corridors and increases the city’s greenbelt of protected open space.

Best trail for runners

The city’s 130-acre "crown jewel," Central Park, is home to a variety of recreation offerings, including: playing fields, baseball and softball diamonds, a community garden, Central Bark Dog Park, and a 3.1-mile regional cross country course.

The city of Santa Clarita worked with local running clubs, coaches and athletes to design a versatile cross country trail to provide a variety of options, or "loops," that individuals and groups can use to create a circuit that suits their preference.

Now it’s a popular location for Santa Clarita high school and college athletes to train and compete, as well as a great spot to enjoy casual day hiking, dog walking and bike riding.

Since the trail opened, not a day goes by that it’s not in use. We regularly see residents walking their dogs, runners training for an event or families taking a leisurely stroll through the varied topography in the hills surrounding Central Park.

The abundance of parking at Central Park and the fantastic views make this trail a local favorite.

Best trails for

experienced hikers

For those looking for steeper slopes and panoramic Santa Clarita Valley views, check out the city’s more advanced trails at Golden Valley Ranch, East Walker Ranch, Haskell Canyon Open Space and Quigley Canyon.

More than 900 acres of oak woodlands have been preserved at Golden Valley Ranch, which offers rolling hiking terrains and sweeping panoramas from the Placerita Trail.

Several lookout points located along the trail provide exceptional viewing and rest opportunities. Horse Peak, at 2,391 feet above sea level, lies just south of the trail and is the highest point in Santa Clarita.

For those looking for a longer, more challenging outing, the Nadeau Trail drops you down into the future residential community of Golden Valley Ranch.

The city of Santa Clarita has a variety of hikes residents can explore locally, including trails at Agua Dulce Canyon, Central Park, East Walker Ranch, Elsmere Canyon, Golden Valley Ranch, Haskell Canyon Open Space, Quigley Canyon and Wildwood Canyon.

As the weather warms up, I hope you will "take a hike" and enjoy Santa Clarita’s nearly 8,000 acres of open space.

For more information about recent city land acquisitions, trail heads, trails, local hikes, nature walks or upcoming open space special events, visit www.HikeSantaClarita.com.

Frank Ferry is a Santa Clarita City Council member and can be reached at fferry@santa-clarita.com.

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