Saturday, February 1, 2014

Moulton Peak

Hiked: 2/1/2014
Distance: 0.9 miles round trip on trail and road
Summit Elevation: 887'
Prominence: 317'
Elevation Gain: 292'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.23
Round trip time: 20 minutes
Recommended water: 0 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free on Sprucewood
Difficulty: Easy

I continued sweeping up the small, trivial peaks around Orange County listed in Peakbagger. Moulton Peak was only a couple of miles from my house and made for a nice morning wake up cruise. A dirt trail leaves from the top of Canyon View Park, winds around two water towers, then you're done. There is a nice view into Wood Canyon, and I found a wooden cross at the north end with the initials JKL and a mountain biker helmet. A web search didn't turn up any info on who it was. This must be a popular destination for local bikers as I counted six in my 20 minute trip, but no other hikers. There was a biker who started up the trail just ahead of me and I passed him about half way up. A nice bonus. Out of my way, slow poke!

Saddleback over the top of a water tower on Moulton Peak

Comm tower on Moulton Peak

Memorial to an unknown mountain biker on Moulton Peak overlooking Aliso Viejo

Update 3/31/2017: Loop route from Soka University

I decided to try a new route to Moulton Peak, this time using a use trail to drop into Wood Canyon instead of the boring 1.5 mile paved entry from the OC Parks parking lot. This route is 4.6 miles with about 800' of gain and took me just over an hour. I sometimes run laps at the Soka track and noticed the use trail at the east end of the track. I jogged up the street, down to the track, around to the use trail, then started down. As I got to the bottom, I found the connecting segment of the use trail to the main Wood Canyon trail completely overgrown with ankle high grass. This was somewhat concerning considering a recent warning about rattlesnake activity in the canyon. I've seen a fair number of snakes on my trips into Wood Canyon. I moved cautiously through the field, not always able to see where I was stepping, and was relieved to reach the main trail. From there, I headed about a mile into the canyon before reaching the 5 oaks trail junction. The 5 oaks trail does indeed have a number of large oaks on display but I didn't verify there were five. It is a nice trail that wanders slowly up the ridge line and has small bit of shade and some poison oak along the sides of the trail. I climbed up to an intersection with a dirt road and continued to the top of Moulton Peak. I decided to follow the paved road down which was a mistake. The road ends between two gated communities. I could have bushwhacked through the manicured shrubbery down to Pacific Park, but I would have been exposed for a long time in an obviously unusual location and wanted to avoid unnecessary police attention. Instead, I climbed the locked gate to the north, hoping to jog out to Pacific Park. Unfortunately, I was now locked inside the gated community with a 10' steel gate blocking my way out. I waited a minute or two for a car to come or go and open the gate with no luck. A homeowner was out washing his car in the driveway a few houses away but paying me no mind. I considered asking him to open the gate for me but how would I explain being inside his walled garden? Instead, I pulled myself up enough to get my foot on the lock, then moved quickly over the gate. I jogged casually out to the street and back to complete my loop, looking over my shoulder occasionally to make sure I was not going to be stopped. I recommend returning on the trails from the summit.

Dropping into super green Wood Canyon from the Soka track

5 Oaks trail junction

Two of the five oaks

Wooden bridge in a shady area

Moulton Peak summit

A well disguised cell tower near the top

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