Week 301: Vasquez Rocks, Santa Clarita

March 17, 2024

 AllTrails Vasquez Rocks Trail, 3.59 mile loop.

Star Trek fan Barbara and I boldly went back to Vazquez Rocks to hike the Apwinga Foot Trail, a section of the park we haven't gone before. Pardon the battered Star Trek quotes. The ancient and otherworldly feel of Vasquez Rocks, filming location for four original Star Trek TV episodes in the 1960s and two Star Trek movies, begged at least one reference. Photographs fail to capture the enormity of the sandstone rock formations around the trail. Rapid erosion of the San Gabriel Mountains 25 million years ago and activity by the San Andreas Fault formed the tilted hogback hills with their narrow crests and steep slopes, and the gigantic standalone rocks riddled with mysterious holes and cavelike dugouts. Sunshine and mild temps made for perfect hiking conditions—do not hike here in the heat, there is no shade anywhere. We started from the parking lot inside the park entrance at Escondido Road and walked to the Apwinga Foot Trail trailhead. From there, "Apwinga Foot Trail" signposts guided us south down the rocky dirt trail for the counterclockwise hike up the mountain to our turnaround point then turned north to hike down the trail for the second half of the loop. Throughout, the trail rose, fell, rose high, fell low, rose again, flattened out, rose up log steps and then continued in a slow rise until we reached the end. Steep but not ridiculous, and aside from a brief flat spot filled with chaparral, a lone tree or two, and dried yucca on the last leg of the hike, a staggering view of monstrous rocks surrounded us. Magnificent. Extraordinary. Outerspacey. Hollywood agrees—Vasquez Rocks has been a film location since the 1930s. In addition to Star Trek and Star Trek IV, the park appeared in films from The Lone Ranger Rides Again to Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey to Blazing Saddles, and in multiple TV series including the Power Rangers, MacGyver, and the Big Bang Theory. See the park in Radiohead, Michael Jackson, Tom Petty, and BTS videos. However, Vasquez Rocks is much better experienced in person, so beam yourself up to Santa Clarita and hike this park! 






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