” I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown for going out, I found, was really going in.”
Put on your sneakers, grab your camera and come explore a piece of land that is far more than what it appears!
I know, when people think of the Los Angeles area the only large park they can think of is Griffith Park and it’s sandwiched into a very built up populated area. Although our protected lands, coveted outdoor trails and vast spaces to explore have dwindled due to our state’s continued budget snafus, there is still a lifetime’s worth of beautiful places to explore.
Simi Valley is North of metro LA and is a fairly quiet town for such a large population. Corriganville sits nestled into the East end of Simi Valley close to the Ventura/ LA County line. Anytime you leave your house, you always need to stay a wear of your surroundings. Hiking or visiting a location that is home to animals, is no different. They have every right to live freely in their home and we always need to remember to be a good guest and show them respect. Our local mountains are home to a diverse variety of native animals and plants. Some can be dangerous or bothersome, such as, Mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, bears, rattlesnakes and poison oak. Oh my!
If you stay on marked trails, as you should, you will likely never encounter poison oak. That is an experience you’ll want to do without… it’s itchy and spreads until your MISERABLE! I’ve been hiking in these mountains for a solid 3 years, several times a week and I have never encountered a mountain lion or rattlesnake but I’m sure they are there. I’ve seen bobcats, coyotes and foxes from a distance, many King and Racer snakes. As a guest, I enjoy observing them from a distance and can’t help but feel a wave of gratitude for such places for us to come to refuel.
Pulling into the dirt parking lot, Corriganville doesn’t look like much from that perspective. There is NO wrong way to start walking around the trails here as they all loop into each other. You can here the low hum of the freeway in the distance and before long, that hum will be replaced by the sounds of birds, chatter of squirrels and the buzz of the bees testing the nectar from bloom to bloom.
It wont take long before your head over heels in love with this fascinating place! This one patch of life has seen more than one can imagine…
The Native Chumash Indians took shelter in it’s caves and drank from it’s underground springs of water while they made the trek towards the ocean.
Once was the only path into the valley for the postmaster and for supplies.
The quiet of the lush forest has been split with the “WOOSH” of many arrows as Robin Hood bravely defended his Sherwood Forest and solidified his cause.
The Original Creature from the Black Lagoon crawled up out of it’s swamp here.
The thunder of Trigger’s hooves echos off the rocks as he races through Silver City to save Ft. Apache.
A Jungle Girl was found.
Rin Tin Tin dashed through the outcropping of rocks to save the day.
Jungle Jim leaped off the rocks into our hearts and even Dracula once lurked in the night here for a few days.
It’s been host to women dusting the dirt streets with their petty coats as they hurry to cross before the wagon, famous people, famous animals and little old me.
You guessed it! This little slice of heaven is where Hollywood had it’s humble beginnings. Corriganville Park was once,
Corriganville Movie Ranch!
Countless movies and some TV shows we’re filmed here before the 118 freeway was put in, which put all our local movie ranches squarely out of business. Corriganville, Iverson, Spahn and Bell Moving Picture Ranch were all major players in the old westerns and all located minutes from each other. Iverson has since, been sub divided and now has homes on it but some of the landmarks from those old movies still stand out. Bell is open to the public as well as Corriganville. I do not believe Spahn Ranch is public but still nearly every other year some group of less than smart individuals think it would be a hoot to explore the caves that the Manson Family partied in. Those caves are many and lead to under ground springs that often trap people when they shimmy in. Not good and then they sheepishly end up having to get help. Please don’t! Trespassing is illegal and trust me there is nothing there to see but overgrowth, snakes and a bunch of disrespectful tagging to someone else’s property. If you want to look, just so you can say you saw Spahn Ranch, bring binoculars and go hiking at Bell and look down. The party is long over and didn’t turn out so great anyway so please pass.
In 1937 a Stunt Man named Ray “Crash” Corrigan purchased the property and developed it into Corriganville Movie Ranch, for $11,354. He built the Silver City western town, Ft. Apache, The lagoon as well as many other structures that would become the setting for movies and television shows alike. In 1949 he opened his Movie Ranch to visitors on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays. Admission was $1 for adults, .50 for children and offered overnight visits, filming opportunities and guided tours. There were shoot out’s, rope demonstrations, trick riding and more. Motorcycle groups often held events here too, enjoying a variety of terrain to conquer and challenges to rise to.
I met a older gentleman standing by the foundations, quietly crying one afternoon. I stopped and asked if there was anything I could do to help. With tears in his eyes and a smile on his face, I spent the next 20 minutes hearing the best story I’d heard all day. He’s from Ohio but when he was a little boy, he was sent to stay the summer with his Uncle in California. It was the best summer of his entire life! They spent almost every weekend at Corriganville Movie Ranch. When he had the opportunity to come back, he had to visit. What he saw broke his heart. We walked together and he told me all about what he saw and felt as a kid, that summer at the movie ranch. His stories are the reason why Corriganville has a heartbeat that is almost audible and the forest is still alive with swashbuckling adventure still today. He made my day and I think of his sweet words often.
Many fires have ripped through this area and caused destruction to every original structure. In the mid 1960’s, Corriganville Movie Ranch was sold to Bob Hope. Mr. Hope created Hopetown Speedway, which would soon become the birth place to American Motocross! In 1966 Hopetown held “The Hopetown Grand Prix”, which featured natural terrain and the famous “Mud Hole”. The 1967 Hopetown Gran Prix featured seven of Europe’s best Motocross riders, which pinned Hopetown on the Motocross map.
In 1988, The City of Simi Valley purchased the core portion of the property that once housed the bulk of the filming history. The remainder of the property was sold to develop housing and condo tracts, adjacent. The City, countless volunteers and organizations, come together and work hard to keep this beautiful space clean, clear and ready to visit.
On the South Eastern incline of the park, you will find a very important feature of this special place, The Santa Susana Wildlife Corridor. As you can see, a favorite space for a handful of nimrods to deface public property, as well as the only link our wildlife has to duck under the freeway, to get to the other side. I can almost picture the stealthy, powerful gate of a large wild cat as it crosses through and slips back into the quiet of the forest at night or a opossum giving a high five to it’s skunk friend as their paths cross. OK, so maybe no high fives but still, it’s neat to know that our furry friend’s welfare is being considered, even if many of us feel more needs to be done in their name.
Not only The Lorax needs to speak for the trees and Barbaloot Bears… we all need to do our part too.
From the shady oak tree forest paths to the breath taking sandstone formations, Corriganville Park is a lush relaxing stroll into Hollywood history in a place that is so alive and leaves your grateful heart with a wonderful peaceful feeling.
Do you have a favorite place that excites you?
No, Coldstone and Starbucks don’t count!!
There’s a HUGE world waiting for you to explore! Grab some water, your phone (for safety), a buddy and get off your tushy and find a new favorite place to get some fresh air, sweat out all that’s dragging you down and come home recharged!
Kids, dogs, friends, family… get everyone moving and having a great time together!
Always carry water, apply sunscreen, wear a hat, sturdy boots or sneakers on your feet, carry your fully charged cell phone, let people know where you are going when ever you head out on a hiking or strolling adventure. Be prepared is not just a Scouting slogan, it’s a reminder that anything can happen so cover the basics! if you plan on a long or difficult hike, please pack a mini survival kit in your pack. Wont ever hurt you but you’ll sure be grateful if you ever find yourself in a situation.
Corriganville Park is only a mile loop and there is cell service through out the park. When I was rehabbing after a serious illness, I made sure if my weak rear was in trouble, I could call for my Handsome Prince to rescue me. He and our non existent white horse never had to field an SOS call, thanking my lucky stars and Corriganville Park for getting me back into shape.
We only get this one life to pack so much into. Unplug for a minute and smell the flowers and bask in the California Sunshine!
Being in nature always gives me a fresh perspective and uplifts my spirits.
Happy Trails To You,