Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Malibu Creek State Park Redux - April 2011

My sis was in town and I was hoping to show her the amazing wildflowers in Antelope Valley but it was forecast to be windy that day and it's pretty much torture out there when the wind is high. Plus, the flowers bundle themselves up when it's overcast, cold or windy. I decided to take her to Malibu Creek State Park. I'd been there a month before but it was the weekend and crowded and we didn't have much time in the park so I wanted to give it another shot on a weekday with more time. Check out my previous post for the logistics (map, parking, etc.).

Right away when we arrived it felt different. The hills were covered in wildflowers of many different types and it was much quieter. Also, the creek's flow had changed a bit with some parts seeming dryer and others wider. There weren't nearly as many water birds (ducks and coots) as a month before.

We started off the same way as before, on the High Road to the right (east) of the creek and walked around towards the visitor center. We didn't cross the creek on the bridge (like we had before) but instead kept traveling along the right bank of the creek. Most of the trails in this part of the park are wide dirt fire roads and are not difficult to follow although some (marked as trails on the map below) are not as easy to keep track of.

As we continued on we came to an area where there were a ton of children jumping into the water from boulders and small cliffs. We didn't see a way past this area but we didn't want to be so close to screaming 12 year-olds (!) so we tried to cross over the creek. Much of this area was dry but there was one section where we jumped from rock to log to rock. There were small rapids in this area. Pretty fun!

Once we got to the other side we start back towards the Visitor's center and bridge area, walking on the dry creek bed since we didn't see a way to keep traveling west. Along the way we saw lizards, spiders and damselflies along with plenty of moss and succulent cactus plants growing out of crevices here and there.




Damselfly

I was hoping we would meet up with an area I'd explored a bit the time before, a small trail just west of the Visitor's center, and indeed it did. Impeccable sense of direction. ;) Once near this trail we spent some time by the creek bed and heard many, what sounded like humongous toads or frogs jumping into the creek. We even got a photo of this tiny one.

Pacific Chorus Frog
(Pseudacris regilla)

When we were on our way back west on this trail we caught a glimpse of a very brightly colored (yellow and black) garter snake traveling away from us very quickly. Startling but also beautiful.

If we would have continued west (somehow) we would have come across the area where M.A.S.H. was filmed and Century Lake. Maybe next time.

After we made it back to the bridge, we took Crags Road (on the SE side of the creek). Many people were crossing over the creek to get back to the High Road but we didn't feel like getting our feet wet so we continued onto Mott Road which we thought might take us back to the entrance. Not so lucky this time and after a while we turned back. Turns out Motts Road may take you to Tapia County Park. Another adventure for another time.

As I mentioned, we saw a lot of flowers. Here are some of them and a few other shots I got.

Probably Mournful duskywing
(Erynnis tristis)

Valley oak
(Quercus lobata)
Milk thistle
(Silybum marianum)
California mustard?
(Guillenia lasiophylla)
Purple Chinese houses
(Collinsia heterophylla)
Check out more of my photos from this location here.

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