Hiking in Serrano Canyon

Please note, this post is over 3 years old and may contain broken links, outdated views and cobwebs.

This past weekend I decided that I wanted to get out and do some hiking. I looked around on Meetup.com for a bit and found the “Hiking With Dean” group.

They had a loop hike planned in Serrano Canyon in Malibu. I’ve never done any hiking in that area, but I knew that it had recently been hit by a wildfire. I also knew that we’d be hiking out to an abandoned ranch, and I love that sort of thing, so I figured I’d go check it out.

I got up bright and early on Saturday morning and met up with the group at the Sycamore Campground in Point Mugu State Park, and after some quick introductions, we headed east on the Serrano Canyon trail.

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This area was affected by the Springs Fire in May, which burned over 24,000 acres, and that fact was very evident as we explored the area. Everything was burnt up pretty good.

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To go ahead and contradict what I just said about everything being burnt… I was pleasantly surprised to see some brightly colored leaves early on in the trip. This (having actual seasons, i.e. Fall) is one of the things I miss about living on the east coast, and you don’t see it much in LA.

Brightly colored leaves!

It also provided an interesting contrast to the areas that were charred black, with ash strewn about.

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Here’s some dried mud that I thought was cool looking. Man, this is pretty boring so far, isn’t it?

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Anyway, we entered the Serrano Valley and started to gain elevation. At this point, we could see Boney Mountain off in the distance.

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Dean, the leader of the group (hence the name “Hiking With Dean”) was calling the shots on this trip, and would routinely stop to check the map to see how we were doing.

Dean map

He also left markers at each junction for the stragglers that fell behind.

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As we made our way across the Serrano Valley…

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We came across all sorts of old old farming equipment. I’m actually not sure what this thing is – someone mentioned that it might have been a water pump.

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25-serrano-canyon-hiking-abandoned-rusty-stuffI’m also unsure of what this thing is…

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But at some point, someone managed to get a bed inside of it. Seems like a good spot for a first date, perhaps?

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Creepiness aside, we continued on through the charred fields.

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Stopping to take in the views along the way.

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Until we got close to an old homestead. Parts of the fence were still intact.

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And the main gate on the road is pretty much still standing.

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There used to be a large ranch here, but now all that remains is old farm equipment, household items, etc.

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I’m told that before the fire happened, you could only see the larger artifacts – the ones that were taller than the tall grass. Here’s an old car frame that I probably would have sprained my ankle over had I come before the fire.

Serrano ranch car frame

Oh, and a bathtub.

36-serrano-canyon-hiking-homesteadI thought that this was pretty cool… A bright pink flower rising from the ashes. Some might draw a parallel to a phoenix here. I wouldn’t.

Flower rises from ashesHere’s a shot of the Serrano family ranch from a bit further away.

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We spent a while checking out all of the burnt and rusty debris strewn about at the Serrano family ranch/home site, and then decided to keep moving.

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The Serrano Valley had no shortage of views to take in.

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As well as interesting sights.

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Pineapples from hell?Hell pineapples

As we made our way towards the east end of the Serrano Valley…

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We continued to come across old rusted stuff, miles away from the ranch.

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Certain parts of the trail felt like corridors from hell. These burnt branches were covered in soot, and they left black streaks all over anything that came into contact with them.

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We continued to gain elevation…

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Until we got to the highest point of our hike.

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And then made our way back down, and headed back to the campground where we started. Once we made it back to the campsite, my FitBit said that we had gone a little over 12 miles.

Over the course of our hike, we crossed the Valley from west to east, crisscrossing ranch roads and trails, and exploring some roads that were only accessible due to the fire.

It was very cool to see how quickly certain parts of the area were able to recover from the fire. I also learned that the remains of a tree that has otherwise been consumed by a fire is known as an “ash ghost”. Seems fitting, right?

Ash ghost serrano canyon

I had a blast exploring the area and taking pictures. It was a great hike with an awesome group of people, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do another outing with Hiking With Dean.

There are some additional photos, including a GPS track of the hike, over here on the event page: Serrano Canyon, Serrano Valley, Serrano Family Artifacts & Malibu Seafood – BYOB

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3 Responses to Hiking in Serrano Canyon

  1. Larry G
    October 25, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    Thank you for posting this venture! I have been intrigued with that area ever since I learned of it. I just never took the time to experience the real thing. I now live in Oregon.

    Reply

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