ROTV will provide better and more access to recreational opportunities for all residents of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

Upcoming Historical Hikes: 

Saturday March 5, 2016 – Historical Hike : Ye Olde Alpine Tavern and Mt Lowe Railway

Distance:  ~ 7 miles total (out and back).

Gain: ~ 500′

Rated: Easy to Moderate

Description:  Once everyone has arrived at Ye Alpine Tavern ruins, Club Historian, Alan Pollack, from the Santa Clarita Historical Society, will tell us the brief history of the tavern and the Mt. Lowe electric Railroad. The Railroad brought people to the tavern.

The Mt. Lowe Railway operated from 1893-1936. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, as of 1993. The train crossed 18 bridges between Echo Mountain and the Alpine Tavern. The one in front of the tavern was a large “S” shaped bridge. Both end foundations are still visible. The Tavern was built in 1895, destroyed by fire in 1936, and dynamited in 1959 to allow for the construction of the trail camp, as you will see it today.

NOTE: THERE ARE RESTROOMS in the tavern area for your convenience.  (Bring TP…it is not always stocked).

Lunch, after the hike,?  If you would like to visit Newcomb’s Ranch for lunch, a lite snack or a refreshing drink, bring money.   It is about 10 miles farther up Highway 2. You can follow Dianne and Alan to this interesting Motorcycle Hangout.

Carpooling from Santa Clarita Valley: 

Meet at Towsley Canyon parking area in front of the green gate at 9:00AM to arrange carpools.  We will leave at 9:15AM SHARP for the trailhead.

(Please be respectful of your driver’s support by contributing something at the end of your carpool to help defray the cost of gas – THX).

Directions to Carpool meeting spot in Santa Clarita Valley:  Exit the I-5 freeway in Santa Clarita Valley at Calgrove Blvd. Turn West and follow Calgrove around a curve and through one light. You will now see the gate to Towsley Canyon on your right.   Park and look for a group of hikers/ leader.

Directions to the Hike starting point:  From Santa Clarita, take the I-5 South to the 210 East.  Exit the 210 at Hwy 2 Angeles Crest Hwy, North, into the mountains/ forest. Take Hwy 2 all the way to Mt Wilson/ Red Box Road. Turn Right.

You will immediately see the Native American Indian Cultural Center (Haramonkngna) on your right.  Continue traveling on this road approximately 2.3 miles.  There will be a turn out on the right AND the left side. Park on the right side, if there is space to park. To be sure you are in the correct location, look for a locked forest gate on the right, with the number 2N50 on the gate. This is where we will meet to start the hike at ~ 10:15AM (those going direct take note).

Bring:   Water (3 liters is recommended), electrolytes if it is a hot day, sunscreen, hat, lunch/ snacks, hiking poles which can be helpful on the climb, and of course your camera. Wear layered clothing in case it gets hot or cold. Wear good boots with tread.

Historian: Alan Pollack

Hike Leader: Dianne



Saturday March 26, 2016 – “Figure of 8”: Elsmere Canyon, New Elsmere, the Waterfall, and Beale’s Cut – Hike and History

Distance: ~ 8.5 miles

Gain: ~1,000 ft.

Rating:   Moderate +++++ /Somewhat difficult (for total mileage and gain)

Description:   This hike can be done in a number of ways but this time we are going to try a new one!

We will go up the center of the canyon and go see the waterfall.   Then it is back on to the main trail and a zig-zag back through the center of Elsmere, past an interesting “peek a boo” rock, Then it is down and across under the 14 Hwy to Beale’s cut where we will meet Alan and learn the history of Beale’s Cut.  Then we will leave Beale’s Cut and head back to the trail where it is up up up into New Elsmere, down to overlook the I-5 and SR-14 interchange, then back to the beautiful higher meadowed regions of New Elsmere, the laneways at the back of New Elsmere, and eventually to Old Elsmere and the parking lot.

Along the way Alan Pollack, CHC Board member and local historian, will share interesting anecdotes and tales of the area, including the importance of the early Oil industry to area around Elsmere and how Beale’s cut was created and got its name.

This is a new way to do Elsmere Canyon. You will see the entire Canyon, the new Elsmere purchase, Beale’s Cut, and the new waterfall trail. (There will not be any water in the waterfall unless we’ve had rain).  Elsmere is usually rated easy, but this particular route has some added hills, and is much longer, so plan time accordingly!

Directions: From Valencia, take the I-5 south to the SR-14 North. Exit the first exit, which is Newhall Avenue. The exit splits left and right. Take the right lane and when you get to the stop sign, turn right. That will take you to the Park and Ride where you will park. Parking is free but get there early because this area is often used by high school running teams, and they can take all the parking.  If this happens, there is an adjacent parking lot down the hill.

Meet:    At the Park and Ride at the end of Newhall Avenue, just east of the SR-14 freeway at 8:00AM for an 8:15AM SHARP departure.  Please be prompt.

Bring:  A minimum of 2 liters water, preferably 3, lunch/snacks, hiking poles if you have them, hat and Sunscreen and wear good boots with lots of tread.

Adventure Pass:  Not needed

Dogs: OK, if on a leash and well behaved around other dogs and people with poles.

Historian: Alan Pollack

Hike Leader: Dianne



Saturday April 16, 2016 – Historical Hike along The Old Ridge Route – From Sandberg’s Summit Hotel to the Tumble Inn

Distance: ~ 7 miles total, out and back (not including some stomping around at each site).

Gain: Negligible

Rated: Easy + (distance)

Pace: This is a Historical Hike.  We will stop at each site, listen to the historian explain the history of the area, show us some old photos, etc.  Then we can stomp around for a short while, take some photos, and check out the surrounding views at our own pace, at each site.  We will be hiking between each stop at a Moderate hiking pace.  It is 7 miles, so this is not a beginners’ first hike, you need to be reasonably fit for this hike.

Background:  The Ridge Route, officially the Castaic-Tejon Route, was a two-lane highway between Los Angeles and Kern counties, California. Opened in 1915, much of the old road runs through the Angeles National Forest, and passes by many historical landmarks, including the National Forest Inn, Reservoir Summit, Kelly’s Half Way Inn, Tumble Inn, and Sandberg’s Summit Hotel.   Tumble Inn and Sandberg’s Summit Hotel have the only remaining ruins. The other establishments were completely bulldozed over the cliffs by the Forest Service.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the new route was “one of the most remarkable engineering feats accomplished by the State Highway Commission.

Hike Description:  We will hike from the ruins of Sandberg’s Summit Hotel, to Liebre Summit which is the highest point on the road (4,233ft), then to the Granite Gate, Horseshoe Bend, and finally to Tumble Inn.   At Horseshoe Bend we will try to find the prints (human, animal and vehicle) in the original cement surface. There is also supposed to be a horseshoe embedded somewhere in the cement.

Carpooling from Santa Clarita Valley:  If you wish to carpool, meet at Towsley Cyn outside the entrance gate at 8:00AM for an 8:15 AM SHARP departure to the hike starting point.

Please be respectful of your driver’s support by contributing something at the end of your carpool to help defray the cost of gas – THX.

Directions to Santa Clarita (Towsley Canyon) Carpooling spot: Exit the I-5 freeway in Santa Clarita Valley at Calgrove Blvd. Turn West and follow Calgrove around a curve and through one light. You will now see the gate to Towsley Canyon on your right. Park and look for a group of hikers.

Directions to hike starting point from Towsley Canyon, Santa Clarita: Take the I-5 North to Highway 138. Exit, going East. Turn Right at the Ridge Route and follow it South.   Immediately after the intersection of Pine Canyon Road (on left) and the Ridge Route, you will see the following Angeles National Forest sign on your right side.

You might like to stop and take a photo of the sign before proceeding straight South (still on the Ridge Route) a short distance. Look for a wide part of the road with river rock boulder ruins of the Sandberg Inn on your right side (If you go too fast, you will miss it). Allow at least 1 hour to get there from Santa Clarita.

We will park our vehicles at this wide spot (see photo above) and adventure around the Sandberg Ruins with our historian Alan before we begin hiking down the road.

Meet at the Sandberg Inn, ready to leave at 9:30 AM.

Sandberg’s Summit Hotel 

This link takes you to a virtual tour of Sandberg’s Summit Hotel with photos of the ruins as well as historical photos.

Bring: Lunch/ snacks, water (2 – 3 L), hat, sunscreen and of course your camera.

Wear: Comfortable shoes (you will be walking on a cement and asphalt road with some sections in poor repair). Hiking boots are not required, but would be acceptable, as would tennis shoes. No sandals or flip flops please.

Comfortable layered clothing is recommended as it is often windy in this mountainous region.  It will probably be cooler due to elevation, so be prepared with a fleece or a wind breaker or heavier jacket.

Adventure Pass:  Not required.

Dogs: OK, if on leash and well behaved around other dogs and people with hiking poles. If you bring a dog, please drive yourself to the trailhead.

Historian: Alan Pollack

Hike Leader: Dianne



  • Sunday, May 15, 2016 – HISTORICAL HIKE TO THE ST. FRANCIS DAM DISASTER SITE, followed by an Optional 10 Mile Hike
  1. Interpretive walk with narration by Historian/ visit to dam site:

Distance:  < 1 mile (RT)

Time:         1.75 hours

Gain:         Almost none

Difficulty: Easy


  1. Additional Optional Hike:

Distance:  ~ 10  mile loop

Time:         Additional 4 hours

Gain:          600′  (if hiking)

Difficulty: Moderate + (some gain at the start, and for overall distance)


At two and a half minutes before midnight, on March 12, 1928, William Mulholland’s St. Francis Dam crumbled, sending an immense wall of water crashing down San Francisquito Canyon, turning west at the Santa Clara River. It did not stop until it reached the Pacific Ocean five and a half hours later. Towns across Los Angeles and Ventura Counties — Saugus, Castaic, Piru, Fillmore, Santa Paula, Saticoy, Montalvo — were decimated.  431 Men, women, children – citizens, immigrants, landowners, laborers lost their lives ….. the floodwaters did not discriminate.

The collapse of the St. Francis Dam is considered to be one of the worst American civil engineering disasters of the 20th century and remains the second-greatest loss of life in California’s history, after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and fire.

Interpretive Walk to Dam:

We will begin our day at California Historical Landmark# 919, located on the grounds of Powerhouse No. 2 (photo above), 33967 San Francisquito Canyon Road.

CHC Board Member and President, SCV Historical Society (Dr. Alan Pollack), will share his in-depth knowledge of the circumstances and events surrounding the disaster.

At Powerhouse# 2  Alan will review the management of LA water supply at that time and the role the St Francis Dam was intended to play.  We will then drive up San Francisquito Canyon Road and park again near the dam before walking to the actual dam site.

At the dam site:  Alan will point out the parts of the dam that are still visible and recount the events of that ill-fated night and the aftermath that met citizens of SCV and beyond, as the sun rose the following morning.  Alan will conclude his talk by ~ 10:30AM and head back to the cars.

Anyone who does not to wish to participate in the 10 mile hike option can leave at this point.


Additional Hike Option:

The remainder of the group will take a loop hike West and then South West on a ridge trail called the old San Francisquito Motorway.   High above San Francisquito Canyon, we will be able to see the dam ruins again and where the original reservoir water level had been above the dam.  We will continue South along the ridge, passing very large rock conglomerate outcroppings, enjoying views of the surrounding areas and the California aqueduct pipes carrying water to the Powerhouse #2 below.  We will return down Forest Route 5N16 to Powerhouse #2, and then along the old washed out San Francisquito Cyn road, by the river, to get back to our cars .

Meet your Leader:  For this hike we recommend you go straight to the Meeting place.  We will meet in front of Powerhouse #2, San Francisquito Road at 8:00AM and start the program here at 8:15 AM SHARP).  Note, we will be moving up the road in our cars, after this portion, to be closer to the dam.

Directions to San Francisquito Canyon Interpretive Walk starting point: Heading North on the I-5 South, through Santa Clarita Valley, exiting right at Route 126 East, Newhall Ranch Road. Turn left at the second light (with the Walmart on the left) onto Copper Hill Drive.  Continue 2.8 miles on Copper Hill to the light at San Francisquito Canyon (crest of hill), turn left and continue on San Francisquito Canyon (watch for road bikers).  After 6 miles, you will see the DW&P Powerhouse#2 on the right on a sharp bend.  Park anywhere on the side of the road in this area (we will move our cars in < 30 mins).

Dogs:  OK, must be on a leash and if well behaved around other dogs and people with hiking poles.

Adventure Pass: No.

BRING:  A snack, at least 2-3 L of water and some electrolytes (if hiking), camera, hat and sunscreen.  Wear hiking shoes/boots with good tread – No flip-flops

Historian: Alan Pollack


Hike Leader: Dianne