Join Great Outdoors LA on an easy, low-elevation hike that takes in lots of interesting geology and vegetation, in a part of the Angeles National Forest that few people ever visit. The highlight of the hike is getting into the bottom of the extremely narrow Fish Canyon, where we'll walk in the dry creek bed as far as folks want. Traveling a mile up the canyon and then turning around would result in about a 10-mile hike.
To get there: drive north up I-5 to the Templin Highway exit. Turn right (east) onto Templin Highway and follow the road about 4 miles as it twists down to Castaic Canyon. Ignore all possible turns, and keep your eyes open when you see a sign that warns that the road ends in 700 feet. We'll park on the shoulder at the large barrier and gate across Templin at the intersection with the road to the right that goes to the hydroelectric plant.
Don't take that right turn - a large sign offers the same warning.
Location: 37775 Templin Hwy, Castaic, CA 91384
We begin our trek by hiking down the 6N32 road to the old (decommissioned) Cienega Campground. Along the way you'll see why the road is closed to vehicles - a previous flood washed out a large section of the pavement, making it safe only for pedestrians and bicycles.
The geology here is a fascinating mix of sandstone strata and igneous conglomerate. Keep your eyes open the entire hike for the relatively rare Chalk Dudleya (Dudleya pulverulenta) that sprout on the canyon walls. Cienega Campground sits within a long narrow valley where multiple canyons converge, and the vegetation here changes from a typical riparian community to oak savannah. After getting to the end of this valley the trail ends and we'll enter the rock-strewn bed of Fish Creek as it emerges out of the extremely narrow Fish Canyon.
This is the best part of the hike, with weathered sandstone walls so close you'll feel like you can reach out and touch them while traveling over multi-colored granite and other igneous rocks in the streambed. We can travel as far up Fish Canyon as folks want. The total hike if we travel a mile up the canyon before turning around would be about 10 miles.
This is a practically flat hike, with only about 550 feet of elevation gain in the first 4 miles.
Be sure to bring plenty of water as Fish Creek is mostly dry this time of year. The first half of the hike will be cool as the sun hasn't yet gotten over the top of the eastern wall of the canyon and it's likely that a cool breeze will be blowing down the canyon as higher-elevation air sinks in the face of the rising sun. But the return hike out will likely be hotter. Sunblock is a necessity and bug spray is recommended as the shadier areas can get a bit buggy. There are patches of poison oak along the trail that are easy to see and avoid. This is rattlesnake country so high boots are also recommended. The trail is in overall great shape with only a few short stretches where it's a bit overgrown. Bring plenty of snacks and a light lunch.
Where: Templin Highway, 4 miles northeast of the exit from I-5.
Contact: Matthew Bokach, email@example.com
We recommend you read our suggested 10 essential items to bring.
Pets: Pets are permitted if they are properly restrained and under the control of the owner. Dogs must be licensed, restrained on a leash not longer than six feet, and attended at all times. Dogs are not allowed in cabins or on trails. Please bring doggie bags and clean up any of their waste. Please be aware there are snakes and scorpions at this location.
Health Problems/allergies: It is the responsibility of participants to carry on their person a record of significant allergies, medications and medical history in the event of a medical emergency. Discuss any medical concerns with the hike leader if you wish.