Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Santa Clara Truck Trail: Tough Course for Fun Times

Imagine running hard on your favorite course, doing peachy keen. But at the end, there's a foreboding climb into the mountains. The signs say, "no traffic," the tarmac declares rough times ahead, and the guardrails do not exist. However, good views and fun times are ahead if a brave driver is willing to grab their reproductive organs of choice and head on up. At first, everything seems fine, but the road begins to encroach on the driver as lanes become nonexistent and rocks and rubble mock the driver with loose grip and light scratches against the car's body. Finally, it all clears up, and there's nothing left except a fantastic view. Oh, and the way back down with gravity shooting seductive eyes is a real femme fatale. This is the Santa Clara Truck Trail.

According to Google maps, this particular touge is called the Santa Clara Truck Trail; however, there's no signage whatsoever on the actual course that says this, so I'll just stick with Google's name. The trail is at the top of where Sand Canyon and Little Tujunga Canyon meet. At the top of the trail, there's an active fire station, and that's it. The trail doesn't lead anywhere for the public curiosities, but it's still a good, scenic drive.

The Santa Clara trail is definitely a fun and scenic. The landscape is an active beauty that will entice wandering eyes from the perilous road. This is still an active road despite having no real through traffic nor anything accessible to the public. The firemen who live at the top often go up and down the road in their trucks throughout the day, either as part of an exercise (I saw the same truck go up and down three times) or because they want to hit the touge in their trucks. I don't really know what they're up to at the top, but that's not any of my concern. 

For those of you who don't particular run touges and simply like to cruise and view, this is the spot. For those who want a challenge and secretly wish for the sweet release of death by tumbling down a cliffside, this is the spot. This touge has everything for everyone.


The tarmac on the touge is rough. Cracks and potholes line the tarmac as I doubt the county keeps up with their maintenance on this particular touge nor do they have any reason. After going on here multiple times and on multiple days, there is nothing here that is well kept. Near the bottom, there's a spot where one lane is completely blocked by a hazard, and at the top, there's a section where the road narrows to a single lane due to mother nature grasping back her own land.

With all that in mind, the course is both technical and dangerous (if someone decides to run it). Due to the loose gravel everywhere and the uneven pavement, the course can be hectic at times. One of the best features of this course is the ability to see ahead to avoid any unsightly accidents while in the middle of the mountains. As always, drivers should be mindful of blind corners as usual.

Each corner is a little rough on this particular course. I can usually hear my tires sing like a miner's canary on corners; however, on this course, the tires don't sing at all. The reason for that is that I'm not constantly gripping the touge because there are rocks everywhere. That means each corner should be taken with more caution, braking earlier and both hands on the wheel. 

During my last run downhill, at the second to last corner, I hit a bump hard going into a corner too hot. I react like a sleeping cat to avoid the bump, so my car has eaten some air on that corner and I went off course. Despite the lack of guardrails, there are plenty of runoffs (for the trucks I suppose). Luckily, I went into a gravel infested runoff, but my car and I are fine. So the lesson here is that I shouldn't overestimate any bumps and assume my experience with other touges will apply to this one as well.

Even for those out there who don't want to run this road should come up anyway. The view is absolutely beautiful as it overlooks onto the San Fernando Valley and onto Santa Clarita area. It's a fantastic road either way for those who want some eye candy or those who want a little challenge next time.

Remember, drive safe.

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