Santa Susana Pass

Park Brochure

brochure Santa Susana Pass - Park Brochure
Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park Our Mission The mission of California State Parks is to provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation. The story of Santa Susana Pass includes an ancient Native American trail, rock outcrops used as shelter and storage by native California State Parks supports equal access. Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who need assistance should contact the park at (818) 784-4849. If you need this publication in an alternate format, contact CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS P.O. Box 942896 Sacramento, CA 94296-0001 For information call: (800) 777-0369 (916) 653-6995, outside the U.S. 711, TTY relay service Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park Chatsworth, CA 91311 (818) 784-4849 © 2010 California State Parks (Rev. 2016) people, and hair-raising stagecoach trips down the Devil’s Slide. S anta Susana Pass State Historic Park — where the Simi Hills meet the Santa Susana Mountains — is rich in natural and cultural significance. Its largely undisturbed landscape contains part of a historic transportation corridor between Missions San Buenaventura and San Fernando. The park’s Santa Susana Stage Road was once a segment of the famous Butterfield Overland Stage Route, and the road was also used by Wells, Fargo & Company as a route between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. PARK HISTORY Native People Three native groups lived here before European contact — Chumash to the west, Tongva to the east, and to the north, a group called Tataviam. The sandstone outcrops surrounding the pass provided overhangs for shelter, shallow basins for collecting rainwater, and stone ledges for grinding seeds and acorns. The steep road over the Santa Susana Pass was originally a foot trail linking villages, such as Momonga in the San Fernando Valley with Shimiyi in Simi Valley. In the Ventureño Chumash language, this pass was called kasi’wey. The arrival of Europeans brought diseases such as smallpox and measles, to which the native people had no resistance. Although large numbers of Chumash, Tongva, and Tataviam people died, descendants of these local native groups still live in the area and have revived many of their cultural traditions. Santa Susana Pass The last Spanish governor of California, Pablo Vicente de Sola, requested laborers from Mission San Fernando to widen and improve the pass to accommodate carretas (ox-driven carts), as well as herds of sheep and cattle. In 1859, the State and local counties funded a contract with James P. Thompson to improve the existing oxcart route to accommodate stagecoaches and flat-bottomed mud wagons. It opened in 1861 as the Coast Stage Line, used by the Butterfield Overland Company to deliver mail between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The trail’s precipitous grade earned it the name “Devil’s Slide.” Drivers employed various strategies to keep from losing control of the stagecoach. Passengers walked up the steep places carrying rocks to place behind wheels to allow the horses to rest. Downhill, the wheels Mud wagon were chained together to assist in braking; otherwise, “a streak of fire” would radiate from the brakes rubbing on overheating iron rims. The Santa Susana Stage Road is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Spahn Ranch The park’s sandstone bedrock gives a wide-open “badlands” look, used as the background for many western films and television programs. The 500-acre Spahn Ranch, located within the park’s northern boundary, was one of several “movie ranches” in the area. Between the late 1940s and the late 1960s, dozens of films and television shows — including The Lone Ranger, The Roy Rogers Show, and Bonanza episodes — were filmed here. In 1970, a wildfire destroyed all of the buildings on the former movie ranch. NATURAL HISTORY Panoramic views of the wild landscape provide striking contrast to the developed communities nearby. The western part of the Transverse Ranges is dominated by high, narrow ridges and deep canyons covered with a variety of plant life. Geology The park’s distinct sandstone crags are part of the late Cretaceous Chatsworth Formation, formed some 70 million years ago when sediments were shed from uplifting granite mountains into a deep sea debris fan. Plant Life Sandstone rock outcrops shelter the rare Santa Susana tarplant, while the moister slopes support denser vegetation. Typical shrubs in the canyons include coastal sagebrush, buckwheat, laurel sumac, and chamise. Riparian species such as willow and Mexican elderberry grow well. In larger riparian channels, coast live oak, California walnut, and sycamore create a dense canopy. Spring rains produce mariposa lilies, maroon monkey flowers, and wild lilacs. Wildlife Birds, reptiles, and mammals take advantage of the park’s diverse plant communities, available groundwater, and unusual geologic features. The terrain is part of an important wildlife corridor connecting the San Gabriel, Santa Susana, and Santa Monica mountain ranges. Mule deer, bobcats, coyotes, gray foxes, and even mountain lions can be seen. ACCESSIBLE FEATURES Currently no wheelchair-accessible features or restrooms are available. Accessibility is continually improving. Visit for updates. Climate May through November is usually hot and dry. Cold, rainy winters can send torrents of water over the bedrock, bringing to life intermittent streams and seasonal waterfalls in the park’s upper reaches. Stream channels can flood in heavy rains. NEARBY STATE PARKS • Los Encinos State Historic Park 16756 Moorpark St. Encino 91436 (818) 784-4849 • Malibu Creek State Park 1925 Las Virgenes Road Calabasas 91302 (818) 880-0367 • Topanga State Park 20825 Entrada Road Topanga 90290 (310) 455-2465 PLEASE REMEMBER • Trailhead entrances: 10200 block Larwin Ave. and 9860 block Andora Ave., Chatsworth 91311; 7700 block Lilac Ln., Simi Valley 93063 • Park legally in residential areas. Do not park on Santa Susana Pass Road. • No motor vehicles are allowed in the park. • Do not disturb natural or cultural features. • Alcohol consumption is prohibited. • Weapons are not permitted in the park. • Fires are prohibited due to wildfire danger. • Carry and drink plenty of water. Summer temperatures usually reach 100 degrees. • Do not hike alone. Tell someone where you are going and when you will return. • Carry a cell phone to call 911 for emergencies. • Stay away from all railroad tracks and tunnels. • Contact staff for a schedule of interpretive activities and volunteer opportunities. RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES Trails — Hike, mountain bike, or ride horses on marked multi-use trails. Most other trails are restricted to hiker and equestrian use only. Dogs on leash are allowed on trails. Devil’s Slide This park receives support in part from Foundation for the Preservation of the Santa Susana Mountains Chatsworth, CA 91313 Brochure funding from California State Parks Foundation Angeles NF 30 Km Santa Susana Pass SHP 118 Thousand Oaks 101 1 Canoga Park Point Mugu SP Leo Carrillo SP Robert H. Meyer Memorial SB 00 Van Nuys 15 101 Los Encinos SHP Will Rogers SHP Malibu Malibu Lagoon SP Point Dume SB 118 16 00 27 Malibu Santa MonicaCreek SP Mountains NRA Valencia State Historic Park 00 00 0 405 Topanga SP Will Rogers SB Santa Monica 16 500 0 200 15 1 Santa Monica SB 14 S u s an aP ass 00 20 00 17 Sa n 00 ad Ro 13 00 no mi Ca l E Willi am 1400 00 Ma tti 00 Upp e r Tra 00 14 0 Ra a ilro d n Tu 00 00 H ill d Sa nta 00 S u san aS Pa t ageco 11 C H AT S W O R T H l mer Tr ail PA R K S O U T H 00 1000 11 00 d Trail: Hike & Horse 1400 ll Tr a i l n B a nn o arry Qu ar wi Trail: Multi-Use L Railroad Tracks Trailhead 1600 Mirand a T r a il 10 00 ar d 0 ul ev 90 Bo le irc yC op PA R K CEMETERY le Lo Tr ail Va l 1700 1500 Historic Area © 2010 California State Parks (Rev. 2016) 0 MEMORIAL 110 or And a 140 00 1200 Local Park Area 13 0 OAKWOOD Intermittent Stream e ate rf a Powerhouse Rd Jeff rey Ma rk Ct nu W a Tr nA ve Trail: Hiking PRIMARY HISTORIC AREA Lower W il Tr ail at Unpaved Road all 1500 ir e d 1600 e rf 00 00 1700 h 19 21 1800 M e a do w T r ai l L ila 0 00 Paved Road 1000 Pow Dev o n s 130 20 Freeway o oa ouse R erh Legend C ha t sw Wag on r t h Ro ad cL an e a 00 00 19 14 Ro ach 1200 Upper Pond Trail 17 00 ly ail 1700 18 16 0 Ol 00 tti n g Ma il 1400 13 18 00 SANTA SUSANA Me a do w PASS STATE HISTORIC Railro ad Tun n el PARK l Trai ly 15 ng 0 ne 160 19 1200 00 c La ad Ro n a Pass Tr Sant aS us an a 00 R 12 L il a 00 1600 15 0 17 Sa nc 0 sa 13 Trail0 hez 160 118 0 to 15 Simi Valley 160 ad Ro ss a P 00 sT rai l 1500 1600 13 on rs Ive ta Nuevo PEAK PA R K an ta 00 00 00 16 ad k F e Ro ir Ro 15 00 18 118 Su 19 ROCKY 600 Meters 400 S y ck 1600 to Van Nuys, San Fernando 2000 Feet 1500 00 118 a Pe 1000 1200 23 17 00 126 Oxnard 18 14 00 13 150 Santa Susana Pass 0 00 NF 00 0 19 ek Ojai 20 5 14 20 Cre 10 Angeles to Bakersfield 20 Mi oa d 0 10 14 Sespe 0 1100 Lassen Street St ne l

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