Monday, November 28, 2016

Castle Peak, El Escorpion Park High Point

Hiked: 11/27/2016
Distance: 3.3 miles round trip on trail and cross country
Summit Elevation: 1639' (High Point), 1550' (Castle)
Elevation Gain: 1090'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 0.87
Round trip time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Recommended water: 32 oz.
Parking/Fees: Free on Woodglade Lane (or Vanowen Street)
Difficulty: Easy

Castle Peak is a popular scramble in El Escorpion Park in Los Angeles. I chose it as a bonus hike on the way back from Cachuma Mountain. The park is also home to the Cave of Munits, but I didn't make it to the cave on this trip. The main entrance to the park is on Vanowen Street. I drove right by it having done almost no prep for this hike. I drove around the neighborhood and asked someone how to get to the park. I was directed to a back entrance trail, resulting in a unique approach to Castle Peak. I recommend sticking with the main entrance.

I started down the trail behind the park, finding a museum of rock graffiti. I continued down the trail looking for a way up in the direction of Castle Peak. I found a use trail heading up a gully and took it. Past the gully, the trail faded, leaving a short bushwhack to a clearing below the rocks on the north side of the park. I climbed a 15' section of conglomerate rock, breaking off large chunks along the way. The rocks on the north side were rotten. At the top, I could see Castle Peak and the park high point along the next ridge over. There was a good use trail that got me to the correct ridge and since the high point was closest, I stopped there first.

Castle Peak from my parking spot

Back door trail to the park

Graffiti spot

Use trail up the gully

Crumbly north side rocks and ascent line

View west from the high point

From the high point, it was about a quarter mile to Castle Peak. The formation looked like a giant termite mound. The summit can be reached with a couple of easy class 3 moves. On top, I started thinking about the best way back to my car. I could descend the south side of Castle Peak, then walk along the road or try to find a better way down the north side of the park. I saw a trail winding to the north and gave that a go. It went around the north side but then angled west. I ran into a graffiti coated arch and a private property sign warning hikers and bikers of prosecution. I could see the road and thought in the worst case I could bail out onto the road. Seeing no fence, I marched ahead passing another park area. I followed a trail that curled back along the road in the direction I needed to go. I jogged this section and sure enough, it merged with the public trail past another private property sign. Lack of preparation rarely leads to the best outcome and this was no exception.

Approaching Castle Peak

Looking down the north side toward my car

Looking back at the high point

On the way back to the north side trail

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