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Victory to Las Virgenes

The Upper Las Virgenes Open Space Preserve (former Ahmanson Ranch) in the Simi Hills contains some great examples of oak-studded hilly terrain symbolic of coastal California. Right now these hills have lost their green sheen, and golden wild oats and other grasses carpet the spaces between the trees. Furthermore, the summer ­sun’s furnace breath at midday makes hiking or biking here not very desirable. Early or late in the day, though, ­it’s a different story. Cool air hunkers down in the long shadows cast by the high ridges, and refreshing breezes ­stir.

Summer mornings or evenings can be fine times for an easy, 2.8-mile, one-way traverse across the middle of the preserve — made possible by someone willing to drop you off at one trailhead (Victory Boulevard) and later pick you up at another trailhead (Las Virgenes Road). This east-to-west direction is preferred, since you gain only 50 feet of elevation and enjoy a steady loss of 450 feet of elevation along the ­way.

With that plan in mind, start at the Victory trailhead, which lies at the westernmost end of Victory Boulevard (a major San Fernando Valley thoroughfare), north and west of Highway 101 at Valley Circle Boulevard. Some 60 to 90 minutes walking time later, ­you’ll arrive at the Las Virgenes trailhead, at the northernmost end of Las Virgenes Road, 1.4 miles north of Highway 101. Mountain biking is allowed on the Victory-to-Las Virgenes route, and rapid travel by that method could actually beat your chase ­vehicle’s travel time between the two ends. The driving distance from one trailhead to the other measures eight miles by way of Victory Boulevard, Valley Circle Boulevard, Highway 101, and Las Virgenes ­Road.

From the Victory Trailhead, descend 0.1 mile to a trail junction and veer right. ­You’re on the East Las Virgenes Canyon Trail, which twists and turns a bit as it swoops into a shallow, tributary of Las Virgenes Canyon. ­You’re also on the signed Juan Bautista de Anza National Historical Trail, which rather closely traces the famed overland route of the 1775–76 Spanish expedition. On that expedition, some 30 families traveled from southern Arizona into California. Most settled in the San Francisco Bay ­Area.

On your gradually descending route, stay on the East Las Virgenes Canyon Trail as two other trails intersect on the left and the right. Enjoy the spacious vistas of wide-open grassland, highlighted here and there by valley and live oaks, willows, and sycamores. The scene is most impressive when the sun is low, and long shadows drape across the ­landscape.

After traveling for a total of 2.5 miles you arrive at the “confluence” of Las Virgenes ­Canyon’s east and main branches. Turn left there on the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Trail and complete the remaining short distance over to the Las Virgenes ­Trailhead.

This article contains information about a publicly owned recreation or wilderness area. Trails and pathways are not necessarily marked. Conditions can change rapidly. Hikers should be properly equipped and have safety and navigational skills. The Reader and Jerry Schad assume no responsibility for any adverse ­experience.

VICTORY TO LAS VIRGENES
Follow an easy point-to-point route through the rolling Simi Hills west of the San Fernando Valley.
Distance from downtown San Diego: 145 miles
Hiking/biking length: 2.8 miles
Difficulty: Easy

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The Upper Las Virgenes Open Space Preserve (former Ahmanson Ranch) in the Simi Hills contains some great examples of oak-studded hilly terrain symbolic of coastal California. Right now these hills have lost their green sheen, and golden wild oats and other grasses carpet the spaces between the trees. Furthermore, the summer ­sun’s furnace breath at midday makes hiking or biking here not very desirable. Early or late in the day, though, ­it’s a different story. Cool air hunkers down in the long shadows cast by the high ridges, and refreshing breezes ­stir.

Summer mornings or evenings can be fine times for an easy, 2.8-mile, one-way traverse across the middle of the preserve — made possible by someone willing to drop you off at one trailhead (Victory Boulevard) and later pick you up at another trailhead (Las Virgenes Road). This east-to-west direction is preferred, since you gain only 50 feet of elevation and enjoy a steady loss of 450 feet of elevation along the ­way.

With that plan in mind, start at the Victory trailhead, which lies at the westernmost end of Victory Boulevard (a major San Fernando Valley thoroughfare), north and west of Highway 101 at Valley Circle Boulevard. Some 60 to 90 minutes walking time later, ­you’ll arrive at the Las Virgenes trailhead, at the northernmost end of Las Virgenes Road, 1.4 miles north of Highway 101. Mountain biking is allowed on the Victory-to-Las Virgenes route, and rapid travel by that method could actually beat your chase ­vehicle’s travel time between the two ends. The driving distance from one trailhead to the other measures eight miles by way of Victory Boulevard, Valley Circle Boulevard, Highway 101, and Las Virgenes ­Road.

From the Victory Trailhead, descend 0.1 mile to a trail junction and veer right. ­You’re on the East Las Virgenes Canyon Trail, which twists and turns a bit as it swoops into a shallow, tributary of Las Virgenes Canyon. ­You’re also on the signed Juan Bautista de Anza National Historical Trail, which rather closely traces the famed overland route of the 1775–76 Spanish expedition. On that expedition, some 30 families traveled from southern Arizona into California. Most settled in the San Francisco Bay ­Area.

On your gradually descending route, stay on the East Las Virgenes Canyon Trail as two other trails intersect on the left and the right. Enjoy the spacious vistas of wide-open grassland, highlighted here and there by valley and live oaks, willows, and sycamores. The scene is most impressive when the sun is low, and long shadows drape across the ­landscape.

After traveling for a total of 2.5 miles you arrive at the “confluence” of Las Virgenes ­Canyon’s east and main branches. Turn left there on the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Trail and complete the remaining short distance over to the Las Virgenes ­Trailhead.

This article contains information about a publicly owned recreation or wilderness area. Trails and pathways are not necessarily marked. Conditions can change rapidly. Hikers should be properly equipped and have safety and navigational skills. The Reader and Jerry Schad assume no responsibility for any adverse ­experience.

VICTORY TO LAS VIRGENES
Follow an easy point-to-point route through the rolling Simi Hills west of the San Fernando Valley.
Distance from downtown San Diego: 145 miles
Hiking/biking length: 2.8 miles
Difficulty: Easy

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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