Monday, June 27, 2011

#191: Paradise Falls in Wildwood Park

Photo by Shimage

This one's for both the hiking over-achiever and under-achiever in all of us. Your over-achieving side will love the fact that at Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks, you can trek to a cave, a waterfall and a teepee. Three hikes in one! Your under-achieving side will be happy to know that all of this sight-seeing requires less than 3 miles of walking. Sweet!

The first thing to do once you park in the free lot is to grab a trail map. They're in a little plexiglass container at the trail sign. Next, choose your adventure. There are so many trails here, but most people start off on the Moonridge Trail; the trailhead is located on the left side of the parking lot.

this sign is on the left side of the lot

My friend Mike and I were initially going to follow the right arrow toward Moonridge, but the alluring name "Indian Creek Trail" beckoned us to the left. For the first five minutes we were doubting our choice as the winding path took us past houses and dead brush. However, soon we came across a three way junction, marked by a metal stake in the path. We took the trail on the right, descending to the river bank. Bingo. This was the perfect trail--we didn't see anyone the entire way, it was shady from all the oak trees, and we even saw a couple of small waterfalls.

There's one easy river crossing on the Indian Creek Trail

Down the way you'll see a bridge on the right. Just past the bridge there's a fork in the road. Go to the right and in a few yards you'll see a sign for the Indian Cave. Take some time to explore this cave:

Indian Cave

Next, backtrack and take the left fork to the gorgeous Paradise Falls:

Photo by Shimage

From Paradise Falls, take the Teepee Trail:

and then connect to the Moonridge Trail back to the parking lot. Easy!

You can tell that people love Wildwood Park; it's extremely well-maintained. Dogs on leashes are allowed, just be sure to pick up after them.

Have you been to Paradise Falls? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

Friday, June 24, 2011

#190: The Wildlife Learning Center

Up the 405 on the outskirts of a sleepy Sylmar suburb are six of the most adorable porcupines you will ever meet. Adorable? Porcupines? You heard me. In my opinion, porcupines have gotten a bad rap. I think it stems from the rumor that they can shoot out their quills (False, by the way). One trip to the Wildlife Learning Center, though, and I guarantee that you will fall head over heels in love with the prickly little critters. Aww, just look at this guy:

wax on, wax off

The WLC is an animal lover's dream come true. Here are some of the things you can do during your visit:

pet a darling fennec fox

feel the cool scales of a snake around your shoulders

come face to face with a sleepy-eyed sloth

feed a porcupine (his name is Walter, and he will melt your heart)

hold a tawny owl

pet a nervous prairie dog

get up close and personal with a serval wildcat

The Wildlife Learning Center offers three tours. We opted for the 1-on-1 Animal Experience, a 1.5 hour tour which was led by a friendly WLC biologist. The tour costs $100 for the whole group and can accommodate up to four people. We brought along our friends Christine and Adam, which made it an even $25 per person.

The center also sells general admission tickets for $6 ($5 for children and seniors, kids under 2 free), but I would highly recommend paying the extra money for a tour, which ranges from $10 to $25 per person. With general admission, you can only admire the animals outside of their cages, whereas on the tours you can go into their enclosures.

The WLC houses over 70 different species of rescued and zoo-born wildlife and provides outreach programs for the public. They are even available for birthday parties!

Have you been to the Wildlife Learning Center? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

#189: The Pasadena Chalk Festival

This past weekend, Angelenos treaded lightly on the streets of Pasadena as over 600 artists took part in the world's largest display of chalk art: the Pasadena Chalk Festival.

Over 25,000 pieces of chalk are used up in this yearly event, which takes place on the sidewalks of Old Pasadena. We went on Sunday afternoon just as artists were finishing their creations. It was amazing seeing how something like this:

could be reinterpreted as this:

Artists competed in various categories, including Best 3D Effect, Most Humorous, Best Rendering of a Masterpiece, and People's Choice. The First Place Best of Festival winner was this beauty:

The Pasadena Chalk Festival is free, and both garage and street parking are available nearby. Click here to see a gallery of this year's winners.

Friday, June 17, 2011

#188: The Super Serious Show

photo by Wei Shi (

As if Westsiders aren't spoiled enough, now we've got gut-busting comedy, free booze and gourmet desserts every third Thursday of the month for only $10. Yep, you better mark your calendars now for The Super Serious Show in Culver City. Thank you to Facebook fan Marshall C. for the awesome tip.

Last Thursday's show was hosted by Natasha Leggero and featured Greg Fitzsimmons, Rob Delaney, Andrew Donnelly and Kielly & Roeters. Doors opened at 7, and by 7:45 Smashbox Studios was packed, standing room only. (btw, Smashbox Studios deserves a special mention--the cleanest comedy joint ever. Westsiiiide!) The crowd was great, the setting fantastic, and the comedians top-notch. Energy drinks and candied popcorn passed out like party favors as we were leaving made it feel like Hanukkah in Culver City and sealed the deal that I'll be back for more next month.

Next show is July 21st. Check it out!

Daniel Tosh at May's Super Serious Show
photo by Wei Shi (

#187: Full Moon Hikes with TreePeople

I can't think of a better way to kick start summer vacation than howling at the moon. On my first full moon hike with TreePeople, about forty of us did just that in Beverly Hill's Coldwater Canyon Park. Our faces lit in moonlight, we all took a deep collective breath as our hiking guide slowly counted: 1... 2... 3! A chorus of awooooooos echoed long and loud against the foggy canyon walls. "Sounds more like one-too-many-tequila-shots than howling," our guide joked.

There are so many awesome things about this full moon hike. First, there's the group TreePeople. What a rad name. I want to join this group just so I can say that I'm a "TreePerson".

TreePeople is a nonprofit group whose focus is "helping nature heal our cities." Besides inspiring people to plant and care for trees, they also host a full moon hike in Coldwater Canyon once a month.

Whether you're a seasoned hiker, a casual walker, or a slow stroller, TreePeople's got you covered with three full moon hikes at varying exertion levels. All three hikes are 45 minutes long. The first hike has a lot of stops and is meant for kids and families. There was only one family there doing this hike! The second hike has a few stops, and attracted about 20 people. The third hike has no stops and was the crowd favorite--this is the one that Mike, Michelle and I went on.

Our hike started at sunset, and within ten minutes the full moon glowed so brightly, it almost looked like the sun:

Pretty soon, the fog started rolling in. The waves of fog blanketing the canyon took my breath away. Or maybe it was the brisk pace our guide set as she took us up, down and around the canyon.

Although our hike was supposed to have no stops, we actually had quite a few: twice to let people catch up, once for the guide to show us a glow worm, and once to howl at the moon. The crowd was about half college aged kids and half older folk. Registration is required and costs $5 for non-members. I had a blast on this hike and look forward to the next one!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

#186: Hike to the Hollywood Sign

Ah the Hollywood Sign. Nothing else has sparked and subsequently crushed as many dreams as you. A beacon for our vast city, and as impenetrable as the Presidential bunker due to 24-hour surveillance, the sign sits high on a hillside in Griffith Park with a view to die for.

24-hour surveillance?? Yes, sadly you can't actually touch the sign. But you can get pretty darn close to the back of it. See:

Believe it or not, some ninjas have actually been able to outwit the cameras, motion detectors and helicopters which protect the sign. You may have seen these stealth artists posting photos of themselves on the internet touching the sign. I don't recommend trying this, due to threat of a fine. Instead, why don't you take one of the photos of these guys off the internet and photoshop your head onto him? Brilliant!

The hike to the sign and back is only 3 miles (1.5 hours), but getting there is a tad tricky. First you have to find parking in the small lot at the end of Beechwood Drive and follow the sign on the right for the Hollyridge Trail. Next, dodge all the horse poop from the Sunset Ranch Stables (remember #13: Sunset Ranch Horseback Riding?). Down the road, you're gonna come across two junctions. Take a hairpin left at the first one and a right at the second. After that, you're home free.

view of Griffith Observatory and Downtown

If those directions are confusing, check out this awesome website that gives you pictorial directions. Click here for the driving directions and here for the hiking directions.

view of Glendale

Your hard work is worth it. In 45 minutes, you'll find yourself high above L.A.. To the right of the sign is the Hollywood Reservoir. To the left is Griffith Observatory and Downtown. Behind you is Glendale. When you reach the radio tower, climb the hill to get an even better view.

Radio Tower

After you've done this hike, be sure to check out the Bat Caves (#185) nearby!

Have you been to the Hollywood Sign? What did you think of it? Leave me a comment below!