Sunset Hills/Woodridge Loop
- Location: Erbes Road, Thousand Oaks. From the south, take the 23 Freeway to Sunset Hills Blvd. Turn right and go 0.2 miles to Erbes Road. Turn left and go 0.7 miles and park in a large dirt lot on the left side of the road (if you reach the freeway, you’ve gone too far). From the north, take the 23 Freeway to Olsen Road. Turn right and go 0.4 miles to Erbes Road. Turn left and go 0.7 miles to the trail head, which will be on the left side of the road shortly after you cross under the freeway.
- Agency: Conejo Recreation and Parks District/Conejo Open Space Foundation
- Distance: 5.7 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,000 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance, elevation gain)
- Suggested time: 2.5 hours
- Best season: October – May
- USGS topo map: Newbury Park
- Recommended gear: sun hat; hiking poles; insect repellent
- More information: Area trail map here; trip description here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 5
This loop isn’t as scenically varied or secluded as some of the other hikes in the Lang Ranch area, but it does offer a good workout, conveniently located to the Thousand Oaks/Simi Valley area. On clear days, the vistas include the Santa Monica Mountains, Santa Susanas, Simi Hills and more.
From the trailhead on Erbes Road, follow the switchbacks up the ridge. After a quarter mile, a trail branches off to the left, heading downhill; this is the start of a small loop that can be added to the hike. Continuing uphill on the main route you pass the other end of the loop and the trail then bends right, heading southeast. You get a good view of Bard Lake (also known as Wood Ranch Reservoir) on the left and the Santa Monica Mountains on the right.
After briefly leveling out, the trail runs up along side a fence and makes a steep ascent, climbing over 200 feet in about 0.3 miles. Bear left at a Y-junction on the way up. At the top of the ascent (1.1 miles from the start) you can enjoy a 360-degree view before descending.
At 1.4 miles, you reach a T-junction; the start of the main loop. It can be hiked in either direction; by going counter-clockwise as described here, the ascents are slightly more gradual. Take a hard right and descend to residential Sunset Hills Blvd. Cross the street and turn right, following it briefly to a parking area where the trail continues (1.8 miles.)
This brings you to one of the more attractive legs of the hike. You ascend to a meadow with panoramic views, heading first south then east, meeting up with a service road at 2.5 miles. Cross it and continue east, now on a paved path that leads around the backs of some homes. When the paved path ends, bear left and head into a field. On the opposite hill, you may notice hikers descending on the Lang Ranch Loop.
At an intersection, head left and uphill (the right fork takes you to Lang Ranch, an option if you want to extend the hike.) A short climb brings you to a saddle where two oaks stand on opposite sides of the trail. A paved road descends; you can use it, but to make the hike more interesting, follow a trail on the right side of the road, which briefly climbs before making a twisting descent, taking in some good views of Simi Valley, soon rejoining the road. (A few trails branch off to the right; they head toward the Long Canyon area of Simi Valley.)
After crossing the road (3.3 miles), pick up the trail on the opposite side, passing by some sandstone boulders. The trail climbs gradually, following a ridge in back of some homes, before completing the loop (4.3 miles.) Retrace your steps back to the trail head on Erbes, enjoying some good views to the north and west.
Text and photography copyright 2014 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.