Cheseboro Canyon is part of the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational area, and part of a larger network of clearly marked trails in an open space surrounded by suburban sprawl. You can find a good map of Cheeseboro Canyon here. The area is popular with mountain bikers and equestrians. It is likely to be a speedway on a sunny weekend.
I hiked to Shepherd’s Flat late Sunday evening, sharing the trail with a handful of cyclists and trail runners. The first part of the hike, Cheseboro Canyon Trail, follows the valley floor northwards. The trail is smooth and quite wide with stands of shady oaks.
At about 3.5 miles you come to Sulphur Springs. Here the trail narrows and the topography gets much more interesting. The soil takes on a reddish iron-rich hue and the hills are covered with boulders. You leave the live oak habitat for scrub oak, much of it scarred from the Topanga fire of 2005.
From Shepherd’s Flat I headed back by way of Cheseboro Ridge. There are nice views of the Santa Monica mountains to the South West and the Las Virgenes Open Space immediately to the East. But at this point the trail itself is a hot, dusty trudge along a service road for the high tension power lines. There are at least three stiff climbs, not something I wanted to see after pounding out six miles.
Next time I might hike in on Cheseboro Ridge and hike out on the canyon trail.
There are a good number of geochaches stashed in this region. I popped coordinates for three geocaches into my GPS, but without a decent map of the area–in my pre-trip planning I did a Google search for variety of misspellings: “hike Cheesebro canyon” and “hiking trails Cheseboro canyon.” I found hits. But no maps.
Suffice it to say that the geocaches I was looking for were not in Cheseboro canyon, but in the next canyon over in the Las Virgenes area. So I came up empty handed.
Because I misunderestimated how long the 10 plus mile “round trip would” take me, I wound up getting back to the trailhead well after dusk. Aside from my general unease about Dementors stalking me in the darkness there was a heart-bursting moment when I stopped under a live oak to glance at my GPS. A murder of crows exploded from the branches above me.