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Archives for October 2013

Haunted Hikes

Hiking trails that  burned in the Springs Fire provide a spooky backdrop for a 'haunted hike.' (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Hiking trails burned in the Springs Fire provide a spooky backdrop for a ‘haunted hike.’ (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Just in time for Halloween, here’s a spooky hike! Trails in the Newbury Park-Thousand Oaks area (just north of Los Angeles County) burned last spring in the 8,000 acre Springs Fire as flames spread across the hills from Camarillo to Pacific Coast Highway.

Dark and blackened, the trails now are very quiet. It’s so eerie and still, you might feel as if you’re on Mars or another planet! But, foliage is starting to grow back, the trails are clearly marked and the hills are not too steep, so it’s a fun trek for hikers of all fitness levels.

I’m not sure if there really are ghosts, but the occasional high pitched screech of an old water tank windmill provides a Halloween-themed soundtrack to your Haunted Hike.

An old windmill powered by the breeze makes a scary screeching sound (photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).

An old windmill powered by the breeze makes a scary screech (Photo Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).

Located off the 101 (Ventura) Freeway at Wendy Drive (head west toward the ocean to the end of Wendy Drive) There is plenty of free parking near the trail head, where you can see a map offering several hike options ranging from one mile (each way). The most ambitious hike (8 miles each way) leads to Malibu. Even the easier trails offer an ocean view to the west, and the Camarillo Airport and farmlands to the north.

My hiking partner and I explored these trails on a warm day, so we chose a shorter (two mile round trip) hike. It was an easy uphill walk.  With so many trails to explore, you can come back more than once and explore different areas. You might even find waterfalls if it’s been a rainy Winter and Spring.

Traffic411 Insider Tip: Plan to hike these trails in the Spring, when colorful spring flowers will be blooming in the burn area.

Distance from LAX: 50 miles

 


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Free L.A.: Griffith Observatory

The copper dome roof at the Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).

The copper dome roof at the Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).

 

Did you know that California’s atmosphere is perfect for star watching? That’s just one of the fascinating facts you’ll learn when you visit Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

Before blast off, Apollo Astronauts came to this L.A. landmark to learn about the stars and space. Griffith Observatory is a fun place to spend a few hours, or the day. Bring a blanket and lounge on the front lawn.

The iconic Hollywood Sign can be seen in the distance through the arch at Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles. (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

The iconic Hollywood Sign can be seen in the distance through the arch at Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles. (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)

Admission to the exhibits is free and, for a few bucks, you can see a show at the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. Public star parties are held each month, so check the calendar. You’ll learn a lot about the Observatory and it’s history by viewing the (free) movie in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon theater.

Parking is limited at Griffith Observatory. It was a beautiful clear day in Los Angeles when I visited, so we literally parked one mile away! It’s a nice walk if you’re up for it, just wear comfortable shoes.  If you don’t want to walk, visit on a weekday, or take a bus – click this link – and scroll down to ‘other transportation’ for details. It’s closed Mondays.

Griffith Observatory, which opened in 1935, underwent a massive renovation in 2002. It reopened in 2006 and is truly one of LA’s most spectacular landmarks. If you grew up in So Cal, you probably visited the Observatory on a school field trip, but it’s well worth the trip to see it today.  Visit on a clear day and enjoy views of Los Angeles from Mount Wilson to the Pacific Ocean.

Traffic411 Insider Tip: Griffith Observatory is located in Griffith Park, which is massive. Bring the address so you can find the observatory, if you enter the park off of the Ventura (134) freeway, it’s not easy to find.

Distance from LAX: 27 miles

Free Los Angeles: Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory is among the most recognizable Los Angeles landmarks. With free admission, it's a great way to learn about the planets,our solar system and beyond. Bring a picnic and enjoy an afternoon or sunset on the front lawn. The public is invited to free 'star parties,' held each month for stargazing through telescopes.

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The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, gorgeous architecture - and, because of it's sturdy construction, it's one of the safest places to be during an earthquake! (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/free-los-angeles-griffith-observatory/thumbs/thumbs_traffic411_web_griffith-observatory-arch.jpg]160The iconic Hollywood Sign can be seen in the distance through the arch at Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles. (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
The iconic Hollywood Sign can be seen in the distance through the arch at Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles. (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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The Astronomers Monument pays homage to six of the greatest astronomers, at Griffith Observatory Los Angeles. (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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"Rebel Without a Cause" starring James Dean is one of many movies filmed at Griffith Observatory Los Angeles. (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Griffith Observatory is a fun place to learn about the moon, planets, our solar system and beyond! (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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The Foucault amazes visitors to Griffith Observatory Los Angeles (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).
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There are many new exhibits to see since the Griffith Observatory was remodeled in 2002. (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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The roof at Griffith Observatory offers a great photo op for you and the iconic Hollywood Sign (photo of Lisa Osborne by Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
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Visit Griffith Observatory on a clear day to enjoy stunning views of Downtown Los Angeles and (looking in another direction) the Pacific Ocean. (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)
[img src=http://traffic411.com/wp-content/flagallery/free-los-angeles-griffith-observatory/thumbs/thumbs_traffic411_web_griffith-observatory-dome.jpg]70The copper dome roof at the Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411).
The copper dome roof at the Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles (photo: Ken Pfeiffer/Traffic411)


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