For hikers in Greater L.A. looking for new areas to explore, Santa Clarita Valley offers an ever-increasing number of world-class hiking trails. While this summer's wildfires have affected some of the most scenic canyons in the SCV, fortunately one of the best is still largely intact: Towsley Canyon. The first half of the 5.3-mile loop trail in the canyon's Ed Davis Park heads west along a stream that trickles through some of California's most ancient rock formations. Thousands of shell fossils, some over 5 million years old, speckle the low cliffs of the recently scorched Elder Loop trail on your right, while the bulbous outcroppings of the Towsley formation signal your arrival to the mysterious Towsley Gorge. In this exposed section of the Pico Anticline, marine mammal fossils have been discovered since the 1930s. The trail circles over the mountain into Wiley Canyon, passing oil seeps and remnants of 1920s-era oil wells. Bears, coyotes and deer can be seen in this steep, heavily forested habitat, along with mountain lions, bobcats, foxes and unusual birds. Whether your interest is in wildlife, water-weathered boulders or just working out, Towsley Canyon is an outdoor treasure everyone can enjoy.
Credit: Suzy Beal