Placerita Canyon runs east to west and features a sycamore and willow-lined seasonal stream; shaded, cool oak groves; and several other fascinating animal and plant communities. One landmark within the canyon area is the "Oak of the Golden Dream," the historic site of the 1842 discovery of gold in California. Walker Cabin is another landmark in the area and was built in 1920 by Frank Walker. A network of self-guided hiking, history, and nature trails run throughout Placerita Canyon.
These trails radiate out from the Placerita Canyon Nature Center into the park. A seasonal waterfall can be reached by the longer hiking trails, as well as the top of the Santa Clarita Divide. A picnic area is provided near the Nature Center. Found on the north side of the San Gabriel Mountains within the park are chaparral, riparian, and oak woodland plant communities. The park both conserves a part of the area's wild environment and educates visitors on the importance of undisturbed fauna and flora through self-guided educational trails, nature hikes, and wild animal presentations.
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The Placerita Canyon Nature Center offers several programs. Each Saturday, the Nature Center offers a Family Nature Walk, as well as a Native Animal Presentation. A Bird Walk led by a docent is available the second Saturday every month. Participants are advised to bring water, a field guide, and binoculars. A Community Nature Education Series of held on the third Sunday of every money, each one with a different topic. The Nature Center also offers a wildflower walk on the fourth Saturday of each month.
Placerita Canyon area also has a rich history of human activity. Acorns were gathered from the area's oak trees by the Tataviam people and were a staple in their diet. Gold was discovered in 1842 by Francisco Lopez near the "Oak of the Golden Dream." Soon after, Placerita Canyon became home to cattle ranching, followed by oil production, and Hollywood movie production.
2.Plan your Visit
© Placerita Canyon Nature Center
From the early 1900's to 1950, the land was owned by the Walker family. It was then sold to be used as a park ran by the State of California. The family had preserved the land for future generations to enjoy. The restored historic cabin that was the Walkers' home is available for visitors to tour as part of the family nature hikes. The building that houses the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, built in 1971, has also been completely remodeled. It now contains the County Parks system's first innovative renovations of its kind, done to the standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
School groups can choose to participate in the Placerita Canyon Nature Center's "Windows into the Wild" program, offered from September to June. The program is for student groups from second grade to sixth grade. On a limited basis, there is also a program designed for preschool and first grade students. Groups can also choose to do a self-guided visit using one of the trail brochures provided in the Nature Center. There seven trails in the park comprising twelve miles, ranging from beginner to advanced.
Back to: Things to Do in Santa Clarita, CA
19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall, California, website, Phone: 661-259-7721
Best Things to Do in Santa Clarita, CA: Placerita Canyon Nature Center
- Programs, Photo: Courtesy of kenkistler1 - Fotolia.com
- Plan your Visit, Photo: Placerita Canyon Nature Center
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of kenkistler1 - Fotolia.com