Less-traveled Rice Canyon trail in Santa Clarita is right for you if you just need a breather from frenetic city life, but aren’t up for a taxing hike. Especially in the holidays when the roads are clogged and the malls are a magnet for shoppers it is a great place to recharge your batteries. The stroll follows a seasonal creek beneath the sheltering arms of timeless oaks. There are a couple of creek crossings, but nothing too daunting. The Rice is right if you crave a little solitude and seek serenity. During the week, I seldom see more than one or two other hikers on this in and out up to a knoll with a 360 degree view that is a perfect stop for a picnic lunch. The Rice is right if you enjoy birding. Towhees and Butter Butts flit ahead at your footfall. One day a Bobcat appeared ahead of me on the trail and deer are commonplace.
To spend a couple of hours enjoying the creator’s handiwork without the interference of other well-meaning hikers is rejuvenating. The knoll of the trail overlooks an undisturbed richly forested back canyon. Pine and spruce not often found on our local trails poke into endless blue skies.
Yes, you can hear the muffled pops from guns at the shooting range just on the other side of the mountain, but as you hike deeper into the canyon they fade from consciousness. The sound of woodpeckers drilling in the oaks and the twitter of bushtits keep you company on this mellow wander. The walk is even sweeter in the spring when wildflowers conspire to create nature’s bouquets beside the path and up the rolling slopes of the canyon. If you want a more taxing hike that takes you deep into the back-country forest bear to the left at the fork in the trail and take the East Canyon Trail.
Directions to the trailhead: From the Golden State (I-5) freeway in Santa Clarita, exit Calgrove Blvd. Turn west as Calgrove becomes the Old Road and head south .9 mile to parking on the west side of the road.
Address: 24255 The Old Road, Newhall