Jack Crawford | Appreciating the Gates Preserve

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
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I’ve spent the past two Sundays exploring the most recent addition to our ever-expanding network of hiking trails and open spaces in the SCV. The Gates Family Wildlife Preserve is located at the end of Pine Street in Newhall. The paved road turns into a gravel road and ends at the trailhead, which includes a parking area and a well-shaded picnic area. 

Last Sunday (July 18) I began on the Pine Trail, which is essentially a continuation of the gravel road and parallels the train tracks. When I came to the Romo Trail I decided to try it. It’s left off the Pine Trail and is marked “steep.” Having forgotten to bring my hiking pole, it proved to be steeper than I expected. As a result, I didn’t make it quite to the top, but did get a good idea of the views to expect at the peak. The Pine Trail (gravel road) continues well beyond the Romo Trail and connects to other open spaces. I’ll venture there on future hikes. 

Yesterday (July 25) I explored the Gates Trail/ Needham Trail combination. Please note that the marking on the map at the trailhead and the markers along the actual trails themselves appear to be reversed. I’m not sure which is correct and it really does not present a problem when making the trek. These trails wind their way up to the rear side of the Needham Ranch industrial park then wind down to end at Sierra Highway. Indications are that it will be extended to meet up with the Newhall Pass Open Space area. For those who have hiked the Elsmere/Whitney Canyon trails, you’ll appreciate the perspective of seeing them from across Sierra Highway and Highway 14. 

There is one somewhat steep stretch along these trails, but not as steep as the Romo Trail. With the exception of the gravel-road Pine Trail and about a quarter-mile stretch of paved asphalt immediately behind Needham Ranch, these are mostly newly constructed single-track trails. There is limited shade along the trails, so be prepared for that. Since this area has only been open a couple of weeks, there is very little traffic. On the 18th I came upon three young men along the Pine Trail on motorized skate boards and a young couple just about to begin as I was leaving. On the 25th I saw no one from start to finish. Both hikes took about an hour each way. 

These new trails are well worth exploring. A huge vote of thanks to the City Council, city staff and volunteers who continue to expand the outdoor opportunities available to the citizens of Santa Clarita and our neighbors. Your efforts are greatly appreciated by this 76-year-old avid hiker whose physical health and mental state of mind are much better off as a result. 

Jack Crawford 


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