I had all my stuff ready the night before, so I packed up and headed out.
I arrived at the trail around 7:20, about 5 minutes later than I had wanted to. I parked outside the park gate, took my key fob off my keys to take along with me, and finished putting my stuff together. I went to get out of the car and... my key fob was gone. I looked around for it, couldn't find it. I dumped out my purse, looked under every seat multiple times, and inside the glove box. I patted myself down head to toe. Nowhere. This continued for 20 minutes. I was convinced I was either losing my mind or that the black hole my mom always told me "lost" things disappeared to was actually real. I got in the backseat for a second time to check under the front seats from all angles. I used the flashlight on my phone. I couldn't get all the way under there so I took my hat off. Clank, clank on the pavement went my key fob, OUT OF MY HAT. What. The. Hell.
This is a true story. It's why I started my run in a crap mood and didn't get in as many miles as I wanted. It why I froze for the first hour of my run, because my adrenaline originally had me really warm so I left my arm warmers in the car. But all was not lost. Here's how it went.
Good morning, hills.
This is a really popular trail head for a few reasons I'm going to guess right now. It's not far from where people live. The trails are well maintained. The hills aren't very steep. But most of all - it's freakin' gorgeous. I had been to the trail head before when I volunteered for the Ahmanson 12k. At the time, my foot was in a lot of pain...but I thought I was still going to run the LA Marathon which was the next weekend.... (HA) so I didn't do any running.
It was 50º at the trail head at 7:45 but it felt more like 60 to me since I was in a panic only moments earlier. I had on just a t-shirt and running shorts, but with calf compression sleeves. I also had with me my UltrAspire vest packed with water, a clif bar, a clif shot block in black cherry (mmm), and my phone. I had no idea where I was going and had only briefly played with gmap-pedometer the day before and not really prepped by saving any directions, but I had my phone for a map and I started off down what could be assumed to be the "main trail," E Las Virgenes Canyon Trail.
East Las Virgenes Canyon Trail
Less than a mile-and-a-half in, three trails converge: E Las Virgenes Canyon Trail, Laskey Mesa Trail, and a cut through to Ahmanson Ranch Trail and Mary Weisbrock Loop. I stayed on E Las Virgenes, which hits its southern-most point at around 2.5 miles from the trail head before cutting north and connecting with/becoming Upper Las Virgenes. Upper Las Virgenes starts at the (north) end of Las Virgenes Rd in Calabasas. On Strava, "Upper Las Virgenes" continues to Albertson Motorway in Simi Valley, but per Google/Garmin, it splits off into "Bell Canyon Fire Rd" at about mile 3.5 heading towards Simi. It was a little washed out and narrow in places to be much of a fire road, but who knows.
Bell Canyon Fire Road
I like hiking. I like hiking fast. Saturday was not my day for hiking. I was just totally exhausted and I'm not really sure why. I kept hiking anyway because my mind is well-trained to not tell my body that I should quit. It was just as good a mental exercise as a physical one. In addition to Lincoln, I have the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon #2 coming up in about 4 weeks. My trail race strategy is to excel at hiking and running downhill. I can't run the flats as a fast enough pace to be competitive, but I can run downhill fairly well and I can pass people on the hikes as well.
I hiked until I thought I was at the top. I was rewarded with a spectacular view.
I turned around to run down and my energy picked up. It was a fun downhill run. I love running downhill! It's my favorite! I got back down to 1000' and the sun came out which was lovely for a bit, but it wasn't long before it disappeared again.
There hadn't been a soul in sight for my descent down Bell Canyon, and I had only passed a couple of stopped mountain-bikers on my way up. But as I got back towards the main loop, fellow runners and people doing other weird stuff emerged. I came across a couple doing yoga. Maybe you don't think this is weird, but they had separated themselves from each other by at least 50 yards and each onto a small hill in the trail. I found it very odd that they were doing like, serious yoga poses on the side of the trail and not together. I saw a runner turn onto a single track. At my mile 7.2 I made sharp right and headed northwest down the single track as well.
Sheep Corral Trail
According to Strava, this trail is Sheep Corral Trail. According to Garmin it is "Las Virgines Canyon," yes with an "i." I'm pressed to believe Strava on this one. On the Strava map, Sheep Corral Trail stretches east to connect first to Cheeseboro Ridge Trail /Edison Rd. and then to Palo Comado Canyon Trail, which further heads east to connect to China Flat Trail and Simi Peak Trail. Basically if you want to get to Simi Peak from the SFV, you would take this route. It was flat and nice for a while before becoming rocky, washed out and technical. There were several mountain-bikers coming down it anyway, and in some places I was surprised they could get through.
At some point I paused my Garmin to check to make sure I was still headed towards the trail head... it's not obvious. At least to me, I felt like I was going south, but I wasn't. Anyway, after my pause I forgot to start my Garmin again, so I lost half a mile which is one of the most annoying things ever.
I definitely love this spot. Here's a recap of why I love it.
- Gentle hills, very runnable. Option for steeper climbing nearby.
- Green and scenic, different than other trail running arenas in the Valley.
- So many different trails converge, you could run a different route every weekend.
- Lots of trails and loops means trail-goers aren't forced to take the same path and so it doesn't feel crowded.
- Come early. Just come early enough to get a decent parking spot, or if you don't care, it matters less.
- Go before you go. There aren't bathrooms anywhere nearby but there are port-a-potties, I think, in some sort of wooden wall structure. I dare not enter there.
- Know your route ahead of time for best results. Unless you are an accomplished orienteer, navigating these trails without a map, and even sometimes with a map, could prove difficult. I think if I were to go back in the near future I would be okay to do a route similar to the one I did, but over time this would fade from my memory. There are just so many different path options.