“A fun, challenging climb through the mountains of Santa Clarita leading to several nice vistas.”
— Brendan Ross
Birding · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
While often steep, the trails of Towsley and Wiley Canyons are not particularly technical and are well maintained. Road shoes are adequate in all but the muddiest of conditions.
Ed Davis Park is a popular location, and the trails can be quite crowded on busy days. Weekends tend to be the highest time for traffic. Aim for early mornings. Also, keep in mind that these are multi-use trails, and while pedestrians dominate here, mountain bikers are not an uncommon sight. It may be safest to give way to them on steeper segments.
On the southern side of the transition from Los Angeles's coastal regions and the high desert of the Antelope Valley, temperatures tend to be higher in the Santa Clarita area. Day time highs in the summer can reach or exceed the nineties. Keep the heat, and lack of shade on some segments of the trail, in mind when planning a visit during the warmer months.
Majestic views and steep climbs await on Towsley View Loop. This fun trail is one of the best in northwest Los Angeles, visited by scores of hikers, runners, and mountain bikers on a daily basis.
The choice of which direction to take the Towsley View depends on how one wants to take on its climbing segments. Opinions are divided, but this description begins on the trail's southern point, where it meets Wiley Canyon Trail
at an abrupt turn to the west. In contrast to the wide path and gently progressing climb of the latter route, Towsley View wastes no time in narrowing to singletrack and making a steep, winding ascent up the mountainside. The sudden jump can catch runners by surprise, but hold on – it only lasts for about a quarter mile before easing up for a short while.
The ascent ramps up again at the half mile point. Press on as the trail winds towards the west. Another short, flat segment provides a break before the climb resumes once more, finally relenting at the mile point. Watch for a detour to the left, leading to a shady tree and a fantastic viewpoint. The trail splits again just ahead. Either way is fine, but choosing the left option leads to a third fork, with the left route leading to a narrow singletrack branching off to the south. Use the Trail Run Project mobile app
to help stay on course, or just remember to veer right after all of the climbing.
After a brief descent, the trail opens up to a clearing and the center point of the trail. Branching right skips the clearing, but the distance is the about the same either way. From here, Towsley View begins a mile long, often steep descent to its namesake canyon floor. Skip the shortcuts careless trail users have cut across the switchbacks, and check your speed, as it is easy to get moving at an unsafe pace. With no trees to provide shade here, in reverse this can be a difficult, hot climb. Concrete steps lead across two tar pits near the bottom.
At the base, the trail passes through a scenic, tight section of canyon called The Narrows as it reverts back to flat, smooth dirt doubletrack. It's an easy run from here on out. There may be a brief creek crossing or two in wetter months, though rock hopping can keep feet dry. On the other side, the path meanders back and forth, with a brief split to the left that rejoins the main trail shortly.
After passing a concrete dam on the right, the path turns to an easy gravel access road. The end is less than a quarter mile ahead, just west of the visitor center.