Well away from the LA hustle, the boomburb of Santa Clarita has nearly 80 miles of public trails ripe for exploring, including this 6-mile out-and-back along the Santa Clara River, featuring a midtrip coffee break.
Park at the Iron Horse Trailhead and start on the Santa Clara River Trail, first heading briefly west to have a look at the trestle bridge that was featured in The Lost Boys vampire flick. Then reverse course, going east on the multiuse paved trail. You can hike it, bike it, skate it, run your dog on it—even ride your horse—as the path hugs the richly vegetated, but currently dry, river.
At just under a mile, stay left for the South Fork Trail as it parallels the sandy wash and goes under a bridge. Now it’s time for an art show! First comes a colorful mosaic mural. Then at just under 2 miles, you will pass by a series of unique empty frames—an art project called Framing Santa Clarita—and finally a recycled-material piece called The Spirit of Santa Clarita. When you reach Valencia Boulevard, turn left and follow the sidewalk briefly, followed by another left onto the Chuck Pontius Commuter Rail Trail. Continue on this route for another mile, passing under another bridge. Soon you’ll see a set of stairs on your right leading to a strip mall. What’s that aroma? Your halfway point! Time for a sip before the return trip.
BONUS BEVERAGE: Follow your nose to the eastern end of the strip mall to Bodhi Leaf Coffee Traders. Enjoy a latte with perfect foam, a specialty “farm to cup” drip, or take home a growler of their cold brew. Either way, enjoy a truly awakening experience before heading back to your car.
To get to the Iron Horse Trailhead, take the I-5 to Magic Mountain Pkwy. and exit east. After 0.8 mile, make a U-turn at Avignon Dr. and look for the small spur road to the trailhead on the right, just after the big dirt lot. Dog-friendly!