Solstice Canyon ~ Malibu, California.


July 1952
July 2015

Located in Malibu, this site has one of the only year-round waterfalls in the mountains. Full of history dating back to the early 20th century, visitors can take an easy hike for a couple of miles, or a strenuous hike over six miles.


Solstice Canyon offers an easy no-fuss walk alongside a flowing creek in a wide canyon. The big attraction on this 2.6-mile round trip hike is a small waterfall next to interesting ruins!


The Roberts Mansion in the mountains was a decades-long project that began in the 1930s, when Fred slowly began to purchase land in the area. He eventually accumulated 556 acres for the site of his and Florence’s retirement home. In 1952, the couple commissioned architect Paul Williams to design the house, which they named “Tropical Terrace.”


But the Roberts weren’t the first to settle in the area now popular with hikers. The location’s proximity to easily-accessible water and shelter has made it the perfect place to settle for many throughout Solstice Canyon’s history.


PHOTO: Keller House built in 1865

The Keller family built a stone-walled hunting lodge there in 1865, and the structure – visible today from the hiking trail – still stands, though the 2007 Corral fire destroyed most of it.

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In fact, the Keller home is what drew the Roberts to Malibu when they picnicked near the site in Solstice Canyon. And about a thousand years before the Kellers, the Chumash Indians lived on the lands, using their canoes for fishing and traveling to other villages along the coastline.

PHOTO: Remnants of the beautiful oasis

The Roberts’ Tropical Terrace was “built of stone, brick, and wood (and) was a perfect architectural fit for the home-site of waterfalls, springs and lush vegetation,” according to the Paul Revere Williams Project!


PHOTOS: Solstice Canyon surrounded by man made and natural beauty!


ADDRESS: Corral Canyon Rd & Solstice Canyon Rd, Malibu, California.

Solstice Canyon Trail Map


Old Los Angeles Zoo ~ Los Angeles, California.


August 1940
August 2015


Griffith Park is home to the remnants of what was, for five decades, the Los Angeles Zoo. Moved in 1913 from what’s now called Lincoln Park, the zoo was shrouded in struggles from the start, and endured a rocky tenure in the ravine.

In 1916, the Health Department nearly shut down the zoo when they learned its sewage was draining into the L.A. River, explains the Griffith Park History Project. In World War I, a meat shortage left the city unable to properly care for the animals, and several died. By 1923, people were speculating the zoo would shut down soon.


Ultimately a golf course at the northeast end of Griffith Park was chosen (golfers got a new course) and ground was broken there in 1964.The old zoo was basically abandoned.

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Photos:  Exploring the cages spoiled by urban graffiti but haunted by the animals that suffered here!

ADDRESS: 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles, California


Vanalden Cave ~ Tarzana, California


Photo: Cave is a sandstone den about 25 feet tall, 25 feet wide, and 50 feet deep.

Vanalden Cave near Tarzana is one of the most unusual sandstone formations in the Santa Monica Mountains and is quite easy to hike to.


Vanalden The roof of the cave is only a few feet thick with a few holes that, like skylights, illuminate the cave walls, which are covered with curious carvings and graffiti.

You can hike 0.6 miles round trip to Vanalden Cave for a short excursion with 100 feet of elevation change, or extend the hike to 1.55 miles round trip with 350 feet of elevation change to reach a nearby vista point on Vanalden Trail that provides a panoramic amphitheater-like view of the Santa Monica Mountains.


Photo: Covered with graffiti & carvings is urban exploration meeting nature!

ADDRESS: 3630 Vanalden Avenue, Tarzana, California


Chumash Indian Cave of the Munits & Castle Peak ~ West Hills, California.


20160312_140326-1_resizedPhoto: Making the ascent to the Spectacular hidden Chumash Cave!

A 2.6 mile hike, with optional side trips.  Awesome cave hidden in the valley. Coming down is a bit tricky though. known as  the Cave of Munits, aka Shaman’s Cave and the Bat Cave, is a fun and easy to access vertical cave located in Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve in El Escorpion Park.

2016-03-12 22.28.26_resizedIt is considered a “chimney cave” since it has an opening on its ceiling that allows you to a see the sky.

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For 10,000 years Chumash and Tongva Indians inhabited the surrounding lands and they told stories that involved the Cave. According to one of the stories, the Cave was once home to a very powerful Shaman named Munit.

20160312_143134_resizedShamans would enter into a trance or an altered state of consciousness in order to communicate with spirits to foresee future events or to diagnose and treat an illness. As the legend goes, Shaman Munit was killed by the talons of an eagle after he murdered the son of a politically important chief.

Kas’elew (Castle Peak)2016-03-12 22.24.52_resizedThis site has been an area of great ceremonial importance for Chumash people. It was traditionally used by priests and astronomers during winter and summer solstice ceremonies. This site is also significant because it is one of nine alignment points located within Chumash territory.

2016-03-12 22.25.49_resizedThese points are central to maintaining balance in the natural world. Though Castle Peak is located on the LA County side and was therefore not a part of Ahmanson property, it is important to note that the Cave and the Peak can be seen from one another.

2016-03-12 22.25.14_resizedThis connection and proximity makes the cave and the peak a continuous area of significance that should not be broken up.


ADDRESS:  24501 W Vanowen Street, Los Angeles California


The Grotto Trail ~ Circle X Ranch, Santa Monica Mountains, California


Photo: We got an early start and enjoyed the Grotto alone 🙂

The Grotto Trail is a 3 mile out and back trail located near Malibu, California is a fun hike into a dark and spooky grotto, with house size boulders, caves, waterfalls, steep walls, and a real sense of mystery.


It was beautiful, peaceful & so secluded.


A wonderful trail with shade, sun, views, rock climbing & nice inclines.


Photo: Jennifer and I enjoying the view of the Sandstone Peak


Photo: Natural spring keeps the Grotto wet even during the drought.

ADDRESS: 12896 Yerba Buena Rd. Malibu, CA

Peter Strauss Ranch aka Camp Lake Enchanto ~ Agoura Hills, California


Photo: Past
August 1940

Photo: Present
August 2015

The area was inhabited by the Chumash people for up to 8,000 years. After Spanish colonization of Alta California, it was taken to became part of the Rancho Las Virgenes land grant. After California became one of the United States in 1850, the area was surveyed in 1881 to confirm the grant’s land patent. ACalifornia live oak (Quercus agrifolia) that was used as a marker in the survey still stands, just west of the swimming pool, with an upside-down letter “T” still visible in the bark.


In the early 20th century, the automobile manufacturer Harry Miller, famous for his patented master carburetor featured at the Indianapolis 500, purchased the ranch as a weekend retreat from his factory and residence in Los Angeles. In 1926, Miller built the current stone ranch house, the look-out tower, and the aviary.


He held grand parties there during Prohibition, having someone watch for the cops from the tower. The man would then run to the house to warn them to put the booze away. Harry also had other large animals there as part of his private zoo. During the Great Depression, Miller suffered financial ruin after attempting to build aircraft engines, forcing him to sell the property.

In the mid-1930s, the property was purchased by Warren Shobert and Arthur Edeson, who renamed the property “Shoson” and transformed it into a recreational fairyland resort for children and adults. The Lake Encanto Dam, creating Lake Encanto, was constructed on Triunfo Creek. The resort was later renamed “Lake Enchanto.” Competition from other, larger amusement parks and resorts led to the decline of Lake Enchanto, which fell into disrepair and closed around 1960.

In 1976, Peter Strauss purchased the property after being moved by the area’s natural beauty while filming the mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man at nearbyMalibu Lake.


Strauss restored the property to a more natural look and lived there until 1983, when he sold it to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. The National Park Service purchased the ranch in 1987.


Photo: An original amphitheater used for animal performance during its hey day!

ADDRESS: 30000 Mulholland Hwy, Agoura Hills, CA