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SCV Outdoor Report: Purposeful Play

By Wendy Langhans


Todd Longshore Park

Twenty years ago, when our daughter was a preschooler, we joined a group of parents and children that met weekly for playtime at a local park.  There were swing sets, slides and monkey bars to climb on.  There were shady trees and picnic tables, where the parents would sit and talk and keep an eye on the kids. 


Last weekend my husband and I drove past the new Todd Longshore Park in Canyon Country, which is opening tomorrow to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the City of Santa Clarita.  Oh wow!  What a magnificent view!  As I checked out the site, I saw it with both the eyes of a naturalist and through my memories as a young mother.  And I have a few observations to share with parents (and grandparents), that they in turn can pass along to the children:


• If you look to the south and to the east, you see a rim of green surrounding the valley.  That’s part of the greenbelt.  Animals travel along the greenbelt just like we travel along the roads. 


• The hills above the park were burned in last October’s wildfire.  Right now the burned area looks barren, but with the winter rains, you will see new signs of life.  That can be a positive lesson for the children about life and renewal.  (And you can also remind them that’s why we are very careful with fire.)

• Because the park is on a south-facing slope, the afternoon sun will warm the air and there will likely be upslope winds.  This will be a good time to look for soaring red-tailed hawks and turkey vultures.   When a turkey vulture swoops close to the ground, it is using its great sense of smell to hunt for small animals.  Red-tailed hawks, on the other hand, rely more on their eyes than their sense of smell.  For pictures and more information about birds, check out the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site, click here.


ImageI hope you find time to visit the park, make friends and have fun.  In retrospect, I see now that our playtime at the park also had a purpose.  Our daughter became physically stronger and more coordinated.  She learned that bumps and bruises are part of life; you fall and then get up.  And she learned social skills as well:  to share, take turns, and “play fair”.   Some of the friends we made 20 years ago remain friends to this very day.   I wish the same for you.


Upcoming Outdoor Events:

Saturday, Dec 15, 11:00 AM. Grand Opening of Todd Longshore Park in Canyon Country.
City of Santa Clarita.

For more information, click here or go to


Saturday, Dec 15, 8:00 -10:00 AM. Towsley Canyon.  An easy Bird Hike.
Link for map and directions, click here.
Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.


Wednesday, Dec. 26, 9:00 -11:00 AM. Towsley Canyon.  Walk off that pumpkin pie – an easy morning stroll through the canyon.  Rain cancels.
Link for map and directions, click here.
Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.


Saturday, Dec. 29, 7:00 AM – 1:00 PM Santa Clarita Valley.
Save the date for the Audubon Society’s 108th Annual Christmas Bird Count
Meet at 7:00 AM at Western Bagel in the "Big Kmart" parking lot, corner of Valencia Blvd. and San Fernando Rd. The address is: 23170 W. Valencia Blvd., Santa Clarita, CA 91355.
Link for more information, click here.

You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.


For the complete MRCA hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to

SCV Outdoor Report: Purposeful Play

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