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October 19
1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]
Acton hotel fire

Commentary by Paul A. Levine
| Thursday, Mar 27, 2014

paullevineThis is a beautiful time of the year. The recent rains, although we need more, were the stimulus for many plants to start flowering.

In Santa Clarita, we are surrounded by hills that are outfitted with hiking trails maintained by the city of Santa Clarita, by the various parks such as Placerita Canyon Natural Area, and even social trails made by individuals when walking their dogs or just hiking alone in the hills surrounding their neighborhoods.

Good sources for information about the local hiking trails include http://hikesantaclarita.com, the website for the city of Santa Clarita’s Open Space program; www.placerita.org, devoted to the trails and activities of the Placerita Canyon Natural Area; and www.lamountains.com, which covers many sites in Santa Clarita, the San Fernando Valley and Simi Valley managed by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

Filaree | Photo: Paul A. Levine

Filaree | Photo: Paul A. Levine

There is a wealth of different venues, and while one can go to a different trail virtually every day, it is often fun to return to the same area on multiple occasions because one simply cannot see everything on a single visit. Returning at different times of the year enables the hiker to appreciate seasonal changes. The flowers you see on one hike may no longer be present a week or two later, but there will be different flowers that were not present on the first visit.

These websites often include information about specific activities at various sites such as bird and flower walks with knowledgeable docents, all of whom love to teach and introduce their love of the outdoors to others.

At present, the spring flowers are out, and whether in large masses or even individually, they are beautiful. Most people have heard the adage, stop to smell the roses. The same can apply to hiking.

Silvery blue | Photo: Paul A. Levine

Silvery blue | Photo: Paul A. Levine

While some people enjoy hiking from point A to point B, either as part of the hike or at a more leisurely pace, stop to appreciate the beauty of the flowers and the animals. If you stand quietly in one spot, the animals begin to come out. The bird songs are music to the ears of many while you may see butterflies looking for nectar sources or lizards either sunning themselves or the males trying to impress the ladies with their strength and virility by doing push-ups.

A “hike” doesn’t need to be an all day affair. It might last only an hour, but in this time, it can recharge the spirit and the soul as well as promote your physical health.

Prickly phlox | Photo: Paul A. Levine

Prickly phlox | Photo: Paul A. Levine

Some of the sights seen in recent hikes include the silvery blue, a small butterfly which, with its wings closed, is about the size of a fingernail; filaree, a small purple flower growing close to the ground; and Prickly Phlox, a small bush with beautiful pink flowers. It looks like it has thorns over its branches and stems, but these are actually tiny leaves when one looks close. Then there are various reptiles and birds, as well as other insects – all of which make their home in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Western skink | Photo: Paul A. Levine

Western skink | Photo: Paul A. Levine

One can hike in virtually any footwear, but good shoes or sneakers are recommended, and if you are going on some of the local trails, hiking boots would be best. Also, always take some water, and if you are follicularly challenged, as is this writer, a hat is strongly recommended.

If you plan to be out for any length of time, it is recommended that you let someone know both where you will be hiking as well as when you anticipate being back.

Hiking is also more fun – and safer – if done with one or more friends or associates. It is fun to share your finds with others if you don’t have a camera, and if you do, the pictures can be shared with an even wider range of family and friends either directly or via social media sites.


Paul A. Levine is a docent-naturalist at Placerita Canyon Nature Center and an avid butterflier.


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1 Comment

  1. Annette Uthe says:

    Thank you, Paul. We took a hike and saw Sticky Monkey and Filaree up a shady East Trail. Strange to soothe the soul while challenging the body.

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