Monday, June 15, 2020

A WALK IN THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS at Will Rogers State Historic Park, Los Angeles, CA

Will Rogers State Historic Park, Los Angeles, CA
During the Covid pandemic Art and I have stayed at home, only going out to shop for food and a daily walk around the neighborhood. For a change, on weekends, we try to find a place to walk in the open air where we can enjoy nature and minimize contact with other people. On Memorial Day weekend, our Sunday walk (with masks and social distancing) was in nearby Will Rogers State Historic Park, Los Angeles, California, recently reopened to hikers and bikers.
Path toward the horse barns and riding school.
When we arrived mid-afternoon, the parking lot was packed with cars, so instead of hiking to Inspiration Point where most people (many with dogs) seemed to be heading, we went the other way--past the riding school and around to the picnic area and polo field (then closed.)
Westside Riding School (reopened June 13, 2020).
We encountered a few people but not many and the paths are wide enough to stay six feet apart. It was a beautiful sunny day, warm but not hot. Wildflowers were blooming everywhere with broad swaths of mustard plants painting the ground yellow. The yuccas were sending up their tall flower spikes, visible from across the canyons.
Some of the many wildflowers along the path.

Yucca flower

More flowers
Cacti were also in flower, their edges lined with rows of buds. By fall the flowers will have turned to juicy cactus fruits, providing food for coyotes and other animals.
Cactus bloom.
Numerous wild animals live in the park. We often see deer, but this time, except for birds, the only animals we encountered were a lizard and a tiny mouse barely two inches long that scurried across the path.
Mouse.
We had brought our binoculars and kept our eye out for birds as we walked. At the edge of the polo field we spotted a pair of western bluebirds, the male distinguished by bright blue feathers. Other species that we saw included flycatchers, juncos, house finches, California towhees and a Say’s phoebe.
View of the riding rings from above.
Will Rogers Park has always been one of our favorite places for picnics and hiking in LA. From the top of Inspiration Point one has a 360 degree view–of the Santa Monica Mountains to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Marina and beyond to the south, and downtown Los Angeles to the west. On this walk we took the loop that overlooks a canyon that separates the park from a residential area in the hills, and beyond that a view to the skyscrapers of Century City and downtown Los Angeles.
Eucalyptus lined path.
As we descended to the picnic area below, the path followed a line of huge eucalyptus trees–which must have been planted when this was Will Rogers’ home. Will Rogers, the famous cowboy star and homespun philosopher died in a plane crash in 1938. His widow, Betty, donated the ranch to California State Parks in 1944 and it became a state historic park. Will Rogers loved the out of doors and the California landscape. Now that his beloved home is a California State Park, the rest of us can enjoy it too.
Note: On weekends the parking fee is $12 a day or $3 an hour, payable at a machine, by a phone app, or by credit card at the entry. For more information about the park, click HERE
An earlier post on The Intrepid Tourist about Will Rogers State Historic Park includes pictures of Will Rogers house and the view from Inspiration Peak.

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