Elsmere Canyon Trail


Kaitlyn Nickerson

Hiker taking in the view.

Kaitlyn Nickerson, Sports Editor

The college student’s budget tends to be a big obstacle when it comes to weekend activities. However, the sun shines in Southern California 290 days out of the year, so just go outside! But, since many of the interesting outside activities are far away from Santa Clarita, this can mean driving, and therefore, paying for gas. So that leaves you with choosing between on-campus activities or those that are within a couple miles.


While hiking to the cross and running to the gate are fun for a while, they can get old. However, right here in Santa Clarita there are fun, interesting hikes that don’t break the bank.


Here’s what you do: Grab some friends, get in your car, drive down the hill, turn left onto Placerita Canyon Road, make another left onto Railroad Ave, continue onto Newhall Road until you pass the on-ramp for the 14 freeway and end up in a little parking lot. This drive should have taken you about 5 minutes and cost as much in gas as the coins that have gathered in the bottom of your backpack.


You have entered Whitney Canyon Park, which at first glance is kind of a boring looking gravel parking lot with some dusty trail heads and the roar of the 14 traffic in the background. But this unassuming spot is more than it appears. Hidden a little way up the power-line-roofed path is a hike called Elsmere Canyon Trail that, surprisingly, takes its hikers off the beaten path and on a rewarding trek into the beautiful hills of Elsmere Canyon.

Measuring 4 miles long, this loop includes about 1,000 feet of elevation gain and offers a moderately strenuous workout that takes you up a bare hill and then down into the cool, shady valley. About two miles in, you think the uphill is behind you. However, the path begins climbing again as you go up the other side of the canyon. Once up the hill, you leave the wide gravel path behind and start winding along a single-file trail. Bring along a map, because you will come across many poorly-marked, intersecting trails, but if you make it to the top of the second large hill you will get to an intersection of several large gravel paths and one small trail off to the right-hand side.


Take the small trail and you will soon find yourself on a ledge on the side of the hill with a beautiful view of the canyon and Santa Clarita Valley itself. From here you will continue along the side of the hills until you get to the final descent which takes you through some loose rock down the opposite side of the hill.


Wear some shoes with good grip if you don’t want to spend this leg of the hike sliding. Then, once you reach the bottom, there is one final calorie-burning hill before you have arrived right back where you started.


While you are catching your breath, turn around and see how far you’ve come. After taking it all in, hop back into your car and you’ll be back on campus for brunch in the caf.

Kaitlyn Nickerson
Hiker taking in the view.