Hiking in Sycamore Canyon, Malibu, CA - November 2014

In November I visited Sycamore Canyon in Malibu with my friend J. I'd been there around the same time of year back in 2010 looking for migrating monarchs and I knew there had been a large fire in May of 2013 (the Springs Fire burned over 24,000 acres!) so I was curious to see how different it looked.

Also, as most of you probably know, we're in a terrible drought right now (it was even worse back in November) so I wondered how the canyon would fare. Here's where we were:

Sycamore Canyon is within Point Mugu State Park which contains over 70 miles of hiking trails. It's pretty much as far west as you can go in Malibu before you're in Oxnard. We parked at the entrance close to the campground and the Sycamore Canyon trailhead. There is a parking fee, but I get free passes as part of my parks membership so I was able to use one to park for free. You can get a trail map here.

At the beginning of the trail the fire damage was obvious, but there was also a fair amount of color. The fresh, bright green against the black of the charred trees is always striking.

Our planned route was Big Sycamore Canyon Trail for about a mile until we reached the Backbone trail which would take us west to Overlook Trail and then back down to where we'd started. The turn-off at Backbone Trail wasn't well marked, but a cyclist coming down assured us it would take us up and over to the Overlook Trail.

I don't think we realized how far we'd climbed in such a short time, but suddenly we were high above looking into the canyon and it was so desolate . . . and windy! He may have been the last person we saw on that hike.

Here's a photo from my trip back in 2010, but we didn't hike up high that time so it's a bit hard to compare.

We didn't see much wildlife at all, probably owing to the wind and the fire damage. I'd say it was nice to have such quiet, but the wind was so fierce that it howled in our ears. At some points it was hard to press on, but we did and as the sun set, the colors in the canyon were beautiful.

Towards the end of the hike we had to hustle a bit not to be caught in the dark canyon after sunset.

Even though we're both busy with work and life, it was nice to get out and just be in the world. I never regret spending a day outdoors.

You can see more of my photos from this site in the Flickr set.