Tag Archives: Thousand Oaks

Long Canyon Loop (Simi Valley)


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Geology on the Long Canyon Trail

Geology on the Long Canyon Trail

Oaks in Long Canyon

Oaks in Long Canyon

Long Canyon Loop (Simi Valley)

  • Location: Simi Valley, at the corner of Long Canyon Road and S. Wood Ranch Parkway.  From Highway 118, take the First St. exit and go south (turn right if you’re coming from the west, left if from the east) for 4.5 miles.  En route First St. becomes Long Canyon Road.  Follow it to the junction with S. Wood Ranch and continue onto Bannister Way.  Turn left into the parking lot.  From Highway 23, take the Olsen Road exit and go northeast for 1.9 miles to Wood Ranch Parkway. (Olsen becomes Madera Road en route).  Turn right on Wood Ranch and go 1.9 miles to the junction with Long Canyon Road.  Turn right onto Bannister and left into the parking lot.
  • Agency: Rancho Simi Recreation and Parks Department
  • Distance: 6.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,400 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance, elevation gain)
  • Suggested time: 3 hours
  • Best season: October – May
  • USGS topo maps: Moorpark; Thousand Oaks
  • Recommended gear: sun hathiking poles
  • More information: here; trip description (first part of the hike) here;  Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 7
0:00 - View of geological outcrops from the trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

0:00 – View of geological outcrops from the trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

This hike, conveniently located to Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, has a little bit of everything: wide-ranging mountain and suburban views, interesting geology and secluded oak-shaded canyons.  With three main ascents totaling about 1,400 feet, it’s a pretty fair workout too.

0:18 - View from the top of the ridge; turn left at the T-junction (times are approximate)

0:18 – View from the top of the ridge; turn left at the T-junction (times are approximate)

The Long Canyon Trail is one of several in the network overseen by the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District. With the Lang Ranch/Woodbridge trail system near by, many different routes are possible when starting from the Long Canyon Trailhead. The route described here is a good, challenging half-day hike, an out-and-back with a long loop.

From the trailhead, you make a steady ascent. As you climb, the views of Simi Valley open up and you pass some small sandstone caves. Ignore a few false trails branching off; the main route is pretty obvious. It soon levels out, skirting the upper edge of a canyon, and reaches a T-junction 3/4 of a mile from the trailhead.

0:24 - Left turn at the junction with the Lang Ranch Trails

0:24 – Left turn at the junction with the Lang Ranch Trails

Turn left and begin a descent to a multi-trail junction (a point also visited on the Lang Ranch Loop.) Take the immediate left and continue your descent. At 1.1 miles, make a hard right, climb briefly and then begin another long descent into a secluded canyon.  At 1.7 miles, after passing some abandoned farm equipment, you reach the beginning of the loop. You can hike it in either direction, but clockwise has a more gradual ascent. Follow the trail through the pleasant, oak-lined canyon, emerging at a point just below Long Canyon Road. You can shorten your hike by following Long Canyon Road about a mile west, back to the trailhead.

0:43 - Abandoned farm equipment in Long Canyon

0:43 – Abandoned farm equipment in Long Canyon

To continue on this route, however, turn right and follow the trail southeast, staying left at a junction and right at a second one before entering another oak canyon. Emerging from the woodland, the trail makes a hairpin turn to the right and makes a considerably steeper ascent, following the top of a ridge with good views on both sides. At 4 miles, you begin your descent back into the canyon, enjoying more panoramic vistas along the way. You reach the bottom at 4.7 miles. Turn left and retrace your steps up out of the canyon and back down to the trailhead.

1:40 - Following the knife ridge at the top of the second ascent

1:40 – Following the knife ridge at the top of the second ascent

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.

1:50 - Descending back into the canyon toward the end of the loop

1:50 – Descending back into the canyon toward the end of the loop

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Arroyo Conejo/Lynnmere Loop


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Looking west from near the top of the Lynnmere Loop

Looking west from near the top of the Lynnmere Loop

Red tailed hawk, Arroyo Conejo Trail

Red tailed hawk, Arroyo Conejo Trail

Arroyo Conejo/Lynnmere Loop

  • Location: Thousand Oaks.  Parking access is at Rancho Conejo Playfields, 950 Ventua Park Road.  From Highway 101, take the Ventu Park exit and head north (turn right if you’re coming from the east; left if from the west) and drive 0.3 miles.  The parking lot will be on the right.
  • Agency: Conejo Recreation and Parks District (Phone: 805-495-6471)
  • Distance: 7.1 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1.300 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance, elevation gain)
  • Suggested time: 3 hours
  • Best season: October – May
  • USGS topo map:  Newbury Park
  • Recommended gear: sun hathiking poles; insect repellent
  • More information: Area trail maps here and here; Meetup description here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 6
0:00 - Trailhead at Rancho Conejo Playfield (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

0:00 – Trailhead at Rancho Conejo Playfield (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

For a suburban hike, this trip is pleasantly varied and secluded, featuring mountain and canyon views, geology, a stream, woodlands and even a small seasonal waterfall.  Though the trail never reaches 1,000 feet above sea level, the significant number of ups and downs along the way add up to a substantial 1,300 feet of elevation gain-and there are some surprisingly wide vistas to be enjoyed from the ridges that the hike climbs. One caveat: following rains, the trail can be muddy in places and the stream crossing is a little tricky if the water is flowing heavily so be careful, especially if you’re hiking with kids.

0:18 - Stay straight at the four-way junction and begin the descent (times are approximate)

0:18 – Stay straight at the four-way junction and begin the descent (times are approximate)

From the parking area, pass by the information board and follow the single-track on the left (not the road to the right, which descends to a dead-end at the creek.) For about 3/4 of a mile, the trail skirts the edge of a neighborhood, providing a good aerial view of Arroyo Conejo and its steep-walled canyon.

0:25 - Small seasonal waterfall

0:25 – Small seasonal waterfall

At a four-way junction, head straight and begin a descent to the creek. Along the way you’ll pass by a small seasonal waterfall which may be trickling following substantial rain. You reach the bottom of the creek at about 1.3 miles, where you make your way across on strategically placed rocks. (If the water level is low, it’s easy to ford, especially if you don’t mind getting wet.)

On the opposite side of the creek, turn right at a T-junction and follow a dirt road through an attractive oak woodland. Soon after you’ll turn left at another fork and begin a steady climb (300 feet in 0.4 miles) out of the canyon, with some good views of Mt. Clef to reward your efforts.

0:30 - Crossing the creek

0:30 – Crossing the creek

At 1.8 miles, you reach the start of the Lynnmere Loop. It can be hiked in either direction, but by turning left and heading counter-clockwise, you can break up the climbing. The trail passes the backs of some houses, dips into a woodland and emerges into a meadow. At 2.3 miles, you reach a junction where you get a panoramic view to the west. Here, you’ll turn right and begin another climb.

0:41 - Beginning of the Lynnmere Loop

0:41 – Beginning of the Lynnmere Loop

At the top of the ridge, you get a good view to the east and an aerial view of Wildwood Park (sharp-eyed hikers may be able to pick out the park’s landmark teepee.) The trail descends to a junction (3.3 miles) where you’ll turn left and make an immediate right (the other trail continues downhill toward Wildwood Park.)

The next 3/4 of a mile isn’t particularly interesting but it’s easy enough with no major elevation gain or loss. At 4 miles, you turn right at another junction and begin a climb, crossing private residential Lynnmere Road.

0:52 - View of Mt. Clef Ridge from the Lynnmere Trail

0:52 – View of Mt. Clef Ridge from the Lynnmere Trail

You reach a T-junction at 4.4 miles where you’ll turn right and make another ascent to the highest point on the hike, where you get a great view of the western Santa Monicas on the left (south) and Mt. Clef on the right. If visibility is good you may see the Topa Topa Mountains north of Ojai. A vista spot at about 4.8 miles, marked by a spiral of stones and a makeshift bench, is a nice place to sit and enjoy the payoff of your efforts.

1:23 - Turn left then right

1:23 – Turn left then right

The trail then descends steeply, dropping about 400 feet in half a mile. You pass the end of Calla Yucca and soon after return to the start of the loop (5.3 miles.) Retrace your steps on the Arroyo Conejo Trail back to the parking lot.

2:00 - Spiral of rocks just before the vista point

2:00 – Spiral of rocks just before the vista point

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.

2:10 - Descending through the trees on the Lynnmere Trail toward the end of the loop

2:10 – Descending through the trees on the Lynnmere Trail toward the end of the loop

Reino Road to Twin Ponds (Dos Vientos Open Space)


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Boney Mountain from Dos Vientos Open Space

Fall colors in the Dos Vientos Open Space

Reino Road to Twin Ponds (Dos Vientos Open Space)

        • Location: Southwest of Thousand Oaks.  From L.A., take Highway 101 to the Borchard Road exit.  Turn right and go 1.8 miles to Reino Road.  Turn left and go 0.9 miles, looking for a parking area on the right (just past Dunaway Drive; if you hit Lynn Road, you’re about 0.2 miles too far.)  From Ventura, take Highway 101 to the Wendy Drive exit.  Turn left on Wendy and go 0.8 miles to Borchard.  Turn right and go 0.5 miles to South Reino.  Turn left and go about a mile to the parking area.
        • Agency: Conejo Open Space Foundation
        • Distance: 8 miles
        • Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
        • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (distance, elevation gain)
        • Suggested time: 3.5 hours
        • Best season:  October – May; parking lot open daily until 4pm
        • USGS topo map: Thousand Oaks
        • Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
        • More information:  Here; trail map here; Everytrail report here
        • Rating: 6
0:00 - Trail head from the parking area (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

0:00 – Trail head from the parking area (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

This hike explores the western end of the land overseen by the Conejo Open Space Foundation.  Stringing several trails together, the route threads its way in between and around residential neighborhoods.  The rating of “6″ may be raised in the future; as of this writing, the hiking experience this trail provides suffers from the noise of housing construction and the latter part of the route is recovering from the recent Springs Fire.  If there have been recent rains, the twin ponds make a nice destination; if the weather has been hot and dry, they might seem anti-climatic after a four mile hike. All that being said, however, this trail offers a good workout with some great views of the northwestern Santa Monica Mountains and the Thousand Oaks area; on clear days, you can see the ocean.

0:25 - Bench with a iew of the Santa Monicas (times are approximate)

0:24 – Bench with a iew of the Santa Monicas (times are approximate)

From the parking area, follow the Potrero Ridge Trail as it ascends a series of switchbacks. (Don’t get too excited about the large oak trees at the bottom of the hill; there is hardly any shade on the hike.) Stay straight as trails branch off to the right. You curve around the side of the hill, heading briefly south, arriving at a bench where you can enjoy a nice view of the Satwiwa/Point Mugu area. You continue to a split; the two trails soon rejoin (the right fork is a little steeper, so if you want to conserve energy, head left, slightly downhill.)

0:31 - Crossing Las Brisas

0:31 – Crossing Las Brisas

Shortly after the trails rejoin, you reach the first of two street crossings: Via Las Brisas (1.2 miles.) There is no crosswalk or traffic signal, but traffic is likely to be light. On the opposite side, continue your hike on the Sierra Vista Trail. You soon arrive at a pair of junctions, where you will head left and then right.

0:35 - Left turn at the first junction past Las Brisas

0:35 – Left turn at the first junction past Las Brisas

At about 1.7 miles, you reach a paved service road. Bear left and follow it a few yards, looking for the continuation of the trail on the left side. You continue to follow the trail which drops down to meet Rancho Dos Vientos Drive, just south of the entrance to a gated community.

0:36 - Right turn almost immediately after

0:36 – Right turn almost immediately after

Crossing Rancho Dos Vientos (again, no stop light or crosswalk but traffic should be sparse), look for the Vista Del Mar Trail. Briefly head right and cross back through a metal fence. The beginning of the Vista Del Mar Trail is less than auspicious, passing through what looks like a vacant lot, but the trail continues west, leaving the road behind.

0:47 - Trail leaving the service road

0:47 – Trail leaving the service road

The trail leads around the back of a housing development. At 3.5 miles, another bench provides great views toward the west, past the end of Point Mugu State Park and toward the coastal plains of Ventura and Oxnard. Continuing along toward Twin Ponds, you pass through an area heavily burned in the Springs Fire, resembling Serrano Canyon and the homestead site nearby in Point Mugu State Park. A few trails branch off to the right; you can take any one of these and end up at the ponds, but the quickest and easiest way is to stay on the main trail.

1:00 - Beginning of the Vista Del Mar trail

1:00 – Beginning of the Vista Del Mar trail

At 3.8 miles you reach a T-junction. Turn right (left is likely to be gated) and head downhill, arriving at the ponds. It used to be possible to walk out onto a bridge to get a better look at the ponds, but the structure was damaged in the fire and is unsafe. Walking up the hill a little ways past the bridge provides nice views of the larger pond.

1:24 -Western view from the bench

1:24 -Western view from the bench

From here, you can either turn around and retrace your steps, or if you have time, you can continue, eventually looping back toward the Dos Vientos Open Space, creating a loop hike. You can visit the COSF’s Dos Vientos page here to get some ideas for variations on the route.

Text and photography copyright 2013 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.

1:45 - Upper pond, turnaround point

1:45 – Upper pond, turnaround point


Lizard Rock via Hill Canyon


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Sunset from Lizard Rock

Sunset from Lizard Rock

Looking south toward the Santa Monica Mountains from Lizard Rock

Looking south toward the Santa Monica Mountains from Lizard Rock

Lizard Rock via Hill Canyon

      • Location: Northwest of Thousand Oaks.  From Highway 101, take Moorpark Road north for 5.5 miles.  At a four-way intersection, stay straight to get on Santa Rosa Road.  Go 3.7 miles and turn left on Hill Canyon Road (signed for Santa Rosa Regional Park).  Go half a mile and park in the dirt lot on the right side of the road.  From Highway 23, take the Tierra Rejada Road exit and head west for 0.5 miles.  Turn left on Moorpark Road, go 1.4 miles and turn right on Santa Rosa and follow it to the park.  Note: As of September 10, 2013, a moratorium has been placed on park fees (previously $2 per car on weekdays, $4 on weekends) so parking is free.  Check the Santa Rosa Park link below for up to date information.
      • Agency: Conejo Open Space Foundation/Santa Rosa Park
      • Distance: 2,4 miles
      • Elevation gain: 900 feet
      • Difficulty Rating: PG
      • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
      • Best season: October-May (open daily from 7:30 am to between 5 and 8 pm depending on season)
      • USGS topo map: Newbury Park
      • Recommended gear: sunblock; sun hat
      • More information: Video of the beginning of the hike here; Everytrail report here; Trail map here
      • Rating: 7

0:00 - Trail head, Hill Canyon Road (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

0:00 – Trail head, Hill Canyon Road (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

Lizard Rock is Wildwood Park’s second most famous landmark, after Paradise Falls.   The 932-foot outcrop can be reached by several possible routes starting from the park’s main entrance, but in this post we’ll look at a less traveled, challenging and scenic approach from the west, starting at Hill Canyon.

0:15 - Looking down into the canyon from one of the switchbacks (times are approximate)

0:15 – Looking down into the canyon from one of the switchbacks (times are approximate)

A single-track trail starts on the east side of the road, directly across from the entrance to the parking area. (The “official” trail beginning is a little farther down the road, but since cars aren’t allowed past the parking lot, you would have to walk there, so you can save some time by cutting across.) The single-track soon meets the main trail. Turn left and begin a steep series of switchbacks, gaining about 550 feet 3/4 of a mile. The good news is that as you climb you get better and better views, in particular Hill Canyon and Boney Mountain to the south.

0:20 - Bench for some well deserved relaxation

0:20 – Bench for some well deserved relaxation

At 3/4 of a mile, you reach a saddle where you can get some well-earned rest on a bench, enjoying a nice view of the park to the east. The trail continues ascending briefly before beginning a descent. You pass by an unofficial trail heading down into the canyon and soon begin climbing, soon reaching a Y-junction (1 mile). Bear right and begin a steep ascent on a trail that is a little overgrown in places but overall pretty easy to follow. In 0.2 miles and 200 vertical feet, you arrive on a summit. Head left and find Lizard Rock, an outcrop that is pretty easy to climb.

0:23 - Descent to the saddle past the bench

0:23 – Descent to the saddle past the bench

From Lizard Rock, you get a 360-degree view that includes Mt. Clef and the rest of the park to the east, the Santa Monica Mountains to the south and, if visibility is good, the ocean and Santa Cruz Island to the east. It’s a particularly good place to watch the sunset. You can return via the same route, or extend your hike on Wildwood Park’s network of trails.

0:27 - The split: Head right and uphill toward Lizard Rock

0:27 – The split: Head right and uphill toward Lizard Rock

Text and photography copyright 2013 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.

0:40 - Looking down from just below Lizard Rock

0:40 – Looking down from just below Lizard Rock

Camarillo Grove Community Park


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Geology in Camarillo Grove Park

Geology in Camarillo Grove Park

Prickly pear in Camarillo Grove Park

Prickly pear in Camarillo Grove Park

Camarillo Grove Community Park

  • Location: Camarillo.  From Highway 101, take the the Camarillo Springs Road exit.  Head east (turn left if you’re coming from Ventura or right if from L.A.) and drive 0.8 miles to the park’s entrance.  Entrance fees are $2 per vehicle on weekdays, $5 on weekends and $8 on holidays.   Drive to the back of the lot and park in front of the fence near the beginning of the trail.
  • Agency:  Pleasant Valley Recreation & Parks District
  • Distance: 0.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 200 feet
  • Suggested time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Best season:  Year round
  • USGS topo map: Newburry Park
  • More information: Trip report here; park website here; Everytrail report here; Yelp page here
  • Rating: 3
0:00 - Trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

0:00 – Trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

Nestled beneath the 101 Freeway as it descends from Thousand Oaks to the Ventura coastal plain, Camarillo Grove is a popular dog park that also features a short nature trail.   Though it suffers from graffiti and nearby traffic noise, the trail is still a nice place to stretch your legs if you’re traveling on Highway 101. Though the trail is certainly not difficult, there are a few steep, loose spots where parents with small kids should be careful.

0:02 - Junction at the beginning of the loop (times are approximate)

0:02 – Junction at the beginning of the loop (times are approximate)

From the back of the parking area, start hiking uphill on the signed trail. A short walk brings you to a junction. You can hike the loop in either direction but to get the majority of the climbing out of the way quickly, head left. You make your way up the side of the hill, passing some interpretive signs describing the local plants including  fennel, California buckwheat, purple sage, prickly pear cacti and poison oak.

0:09 - Sharp right turn at the top of the hill, descending into the canyon

0:09 – Sharp right turn at the top of the hill, descending into the canyon

At a quarter of a mile, you reach the top of the switchbacks, where you get a nice view of the western Santa Monica Mountains. Look for an obscure trail heading off sharply to the right and downhill. You drop into the canyon, reaching another junction at 0.4 miles. Head right, passing by some interesting geological formations in the bottom of the canyon. A gentle ascent of about 50 feet brings you to the beginning of the loop. Turn left and follow the spur back downhill to your car.

0:14 - Trail junction at the bottom of the canyon (head right)

0:14 – Trail junction at the bottom of the canyon (head right)

Text and photography copyright 2013 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.

0:18 - Completing the loop (turn left and head back to the parking lot)

0:18 – Completing the loop (turn left and head back to the parking lot)

Serrano Homestead Site (Point Mugu State Park)


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Shade from an oak on the Serrano Road Trail

Shade from an oak on the Serrano Road Trail

Yucca that apparently survived the Springs Fire, Point Mugu State Park

Yucca that apparently survived the Springs Fire, Point Mugu State Park

Serrano Homestead Site (Point Mugu State Park)

          • Location: Western Santa Monica Mountains, northwest of Malibu, between Point Mugu State Park and Circle X.  From the end of I-10, take Pacific Coast Highway west for 30 miles to Yerba Buena Road.  Turn right and go 3.2 miles to Cotharin Road.  Go 1.5 miles on Cotharin Road to an easy-to-miss Y-junction with Serrano Road (the street sign is hidden; look for some mailboxes at the road side.)  Bear right and head downhill on Serrano, which is a narrow, twisting road; be careful.  After a mile, you reach a metal gate. Park at the shoulder.  Trail head coordinates: N 34, 05.650; W 118 58.36.
          • Agency: Point Mugu State Park
          • Distance: 2.8 miles to homestead site; 4.2 miles to Serrano Valley Trail
          • Elevation gain: 350 feet to homestead site; 600 feet to Serrano Valley Trail
          • Difficulty Rating: PG
          • Suggested time: 2 hours (to Serrano Valley Trail)
          • Best season:  Year round (hot during the summer)
          • USGS topo maps:  Triunfo Pass; Point Mugu
          • Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock
          • Recommended guidebook: Day Hikes In the Santa Monica Mountains
          • More information: Trip description here; trail map here; Everytrail report here
          • Rating: 7
0:00 - Trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

0:00 – Trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

This is one of the more interesting hikes in the western Santa Monica Mountains, especially in the wake of the Springs Fire.  Some hikers may see it as a great chance to observe Point Mugu State Park in recovery; others may see the burned out area as somewhat dystopian.  Even those who fall into the second category, however, will be impressed with the views of Boney Mountain and the solitude the hike provides. Using a little-known entrance to Point Mugu State Park, this hike is moderate enough to be done during the summer, although appropriate precautions (sunblock, hat and extra water) should be taken. It is a reverse hike, so if you start early, you will have to climb back uphill under a mid-day sun.

0:11 - Burned sycamore at the bottom of Serrano Canyon (times are approximate)

0:11 – Burned sycamore at the bottom of Serrano Canyon (times are approximate)

From the gate, follow Serrano Road downhill. An S-curve brings you to the bottom of Serrano Canyon, where you will see some tall sycamores with charred trunks. You continue, passing a lone oak tree that provides the only real shade en route (it makes a nice break spot on the way back, before having to climb out of the valley.)

0:30 - Oak grove inside the wilderness boundary, shortly before the homestead site

0:30 – Oak grove inside the wilderness boundary, shortly before the homestead site

At about a mile, you reach a junction. Head left, passing by a metal fence that serves as the boundary to the Boney Mountain State Wilderness. You pass a grove of trees and soon come to another split. If you head left, in a short distance you will come to the abandoned Serrano Homestead, where abandoned farm equipment and appliances contribute to the post-apocalyptic feel of the hike.

0:35 - Abandoned machinery and ocean fog, Serrano Homestead Site

0:35 – Abandoned machinery and ocean fog, Serrano Homestead Site

Heading back to the junction, you can continue along the trail, which dips in and out of two tributaries of Serrano Canyon before joining the Serrano Valley Trail (2.1 miles from the start), part of the Big Sycamore/Serrano Canyon loop.  From this vantage point, you get a nice view of Boney Mountain. You can turn around here, or extend the hike into Serrano Valley.

0:55 - Looking back at Boney Mountain from the Serrano Valley Trail, turnaround point for this hike

0:55 – Looking back at Boney Mountain from the Serrano Valley Trail, turnaround point for this hike

Text and photography copyright 2013 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.

Whitehorse Canyon/Los Robles Loop from Triunfo Park


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View of Boney Mountain and Sandstone Peak from the Whitehorse Canyon Trail

View of Boney Mountain and Sandstone Peak from the Whitehorse Canyon Trail

Oak tree on the Los Robles Trail near Triunfo Community Park

Oak tree on the Los Robles Trail near Triunfo Community Park

Whitehorse Canyon/Los Robles Loop from Triunfo Park

      • Location: Triunfo Community Park, Westlake Village.  From Los Angeles, take Highway 101 to Highway 23 south/Westlake Blvd.  Turn left and go 1.1 miles to Triunfo Canyon Road.  Turn right and go 0.4 miles to Tamarack St.  Turn left and drive to the second parking lot, just before the  end of the street.  From Ventura, take Highway 101 to Hampshire Road.  Turn right and go 0.6 miles to Triunfo Canyon Road.  Turn right and go 0.6 miles to Tamarack St.  Turn right and drive to the second parking lot.
      • Agency: Conejo Open Space Foundation
      • Distance: 5.8 miles
      • Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
      • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance, elevation gain)
      • Suggested time: 3 hours
      • Best season:  October – May
      • USGS topo map: Thousand Oaks
      • Recommended gear: sunblock; sun hat
      • More information: here; Everytrail report here
      • Rating: 6

Leaving from Triunfo Community Park (not to be confused with nearby Triunfo Creek Park), this hike offers a challenging workout with a nice variety of scenery, including the Santa Monica and Santa Susana Mountains. If the air is clear, you may see as far as the Topa Topa mountains north of Ojai. The route is almost entirely exposed, so plan accordingly.

0:00 - Trail head leading from the parking lot at the western end of Triunfo Park (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

0:00 – Trail head leading from the parking lot at the western end of Triunfo Park (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

Look for a trail leading out of the second parking lot’s southwest corner. You pass a sign for the Los Robles Trail and an information board. The trail passes by a few oak trees (don’t get used to them), makes a sharp left turn and begins making some switchbacks, climbing the north side of the ridge, with some good views of the Thousand Oaks area.

0:01 - Information board (times are approximate)

0:01 – Information board (times are approximate)

At 0.8 miles, bear right and follow the trail to a dirt fire road (1.1 miles.) Turn left and almost immediately bear right to continue on the fire road (the Los Robles Trail) and head downhill.

0:19 - Junction (bear right)

0:19 – Junction (bear right)

This section of the trail, which follows power lines and suffers from the noise of the highway, is one of the less appealing parts of the hike, but the gentle downhill grade is easy enough. After 0.9 miles (2 miles from the start) you make a sharp left and begin climbing again.

0:26 - Head left and then right (downhill) on the fire road beneath the power lines

0:26 – Head left and then right (downhill) on the fire road beneath the power lines

At 2.4 miles, you reach a saddle where you get nice views of Sandstone Peak and Boney Mountain to the south. Turn left on the single-track Whitehorse Canyon Trail, which descends steeply. You head south, following the main trail as a few side trails branch off. After contouring back to the north, you approach a steep ascent (3.1 miles.) Just before the steepest part of the ascent, turn right on an obscure trail. You pass underneath an interesting geological outcrop and soon return to the fire road.

1:00 - View of the Santa Monica Mountains from the junction with the Whitehorse Canyon Trail (head left)

1:00 – View of the Santa Monica Mountains from the junction with the Whitehorse Canyon Trail (head left)

Head left, reaching the top of the outcrop seen earlier from below. Here, you bear right and head north. Stay left at a Y-junction and soon you reach the base of a steep ascent (3.9 miles.) After climbing over 100 feet, you reach the top of a ridge. You pass two high points, providing nice views of the eastern Santa Monica Mountains, including Castro Peak, Ladyface and Mitten Mountain.

1:20 - Bear right on the side trail before the steep ascent

1:20 – Bear right on the side trail before the steep ascent

After the second “peak”, the highest point in the hike at 1,440 feet, you descend to an intersection where you can climb a staircase and sit on a bench and enjoy the panorama.

1:32 - Turn right and head north toward the ridge

1:32 – Turn right and head north toward the ridge

Back at the intersection, head northeast and follow the trail downhill to the intersection, completing the loop. Look for the sign for Triunfo Park and follow the trail 1.1 miles back to the starting point.

1:50 - Following the ridge

1:50 – Following the ridge

Text and photography copyright 2013 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.

2:10 - View from the bench just before the descent to complete the loop

2:10 – View from the bench just before the descent to complete the loop


Yerba Buena Trail (Backbone Trail)


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Ocean view from the Yerba Buena Trail

Ocean view from the Yerba Buena Trail

Foliage on the Yerba Buena Trail

Foliage on the Yerba Buena Trail

Yerba Buena Trail (Backbone Trail)

      • Location: Western Santa Monica Mountains near the Circle X Ranch.  From the east, take Pacific Coast Highway northwest from I-10 for 24.4 miles to Encinal Canyon Road.    Turn right and follow Encinal Canyon Road for 5 miles, past Charmlee Wilderness Park, and continue onto Lechusa Road.  Go 0.1 miles to the end of Lechusa and take a right on Decker Canyon Road/Highway 23.  Go 0.8 miles and  turn left on Mulholland Highway.  Go 0.4 miles and turn right on Little Sycamore Canyon Road.  Go a total of 2 miles  (Little Sycamore Canyon Road becomes Yerba Buena Road).  At mile marker 9, look for a dirt turnout on the left side of the road.  From the west, take Pacific Coast Highway south from Oxnard for 13 miles.  Turn left on Yerba Buena Road and drive 9 miles.  The dirt turnout will be on your right.  From Highway 101, take the Highway 23/Westlake Blvd. exit and head south for 7.2 miles.  Turn right on Mulholland Highway, go 0.4 miles and turn right on Little Sycamore Canyon Road.  Follow it 2 miles, during which it becomes Yerba Buena Road, and park in the dirt lot on the left side of the road.
      • Agency:  National Park Service
      • Distance: 9.2 miles
      • Elevation gain:  1,000 feet
      • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance)
      • Suggested time:  4 hours
      • Best season: October – June
      • USGS topo maps: Triunfo Pass
      • Recommended gear: insect repellent; sunblock; sun hat
      • Recommended guidebook: Day Hikes In the Santa Monica Mountains
      • More information: Trail map and description here; Everytrail report here
      • Rating: 7
0:00 - Beginning of the hike on Yerba Buena Road (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

0:00 – Beginning of the hike on Yerba Buena Road (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

This section of the Backbone Trail links the end of the Etz Meloy Motorway to the Circle X Ranch and Sandstone Peak.  There’s not a whole lot of elevation gain, but the distance makes it a good training hike.  There are times when it might be a little tedious to veteran hikers, but that’s not to say there isn’t variety:  ocean, mountain and city views, geology and more.  Since the hike doesn’t have a clear destination, apart from being a segment of the Backbone Trail, one doesn’t have to hike the entire route for it to be enjoyable.

0:06 - Turn right on the Backbone Trail (times are approximate)

0:03 – Turn right on the Backbone Trail (times are approximate)

From the dirt parking area, turn right and head east on Yerba Buena Road for a few hundred yards. There’s no sidewalk, but traffic is likely to be pretty light. Just before the road bends to the east (left), at about mile marker 9.10, look for the Backbone Trail, heading downhill to the right.

0:42 - Turn left at the junction by the eucalyptus

0:42 – Turn left at the junction by the eucalyptus

For the next few miles, the Backbone Trail roughly parallels the road, following the south side of the ridge, taking in some nice ocean views.   The terrain is substantially exposed, although a few pockets of chaparral provide some shade, and if you get off to an early start, the heat is not likely to be too bad, even during the summer.  Mulholland Highway is visible below, and sharp-eyed hikers might be able to pick out the Malibu Springs Trail making its way up the east side of the canyon.

0:55 - Looking down into the canyon (approximate half-way point)

1:00 – Looking down into the canyon (approximate half-way point)

At 1.7 miles, look for a trail split beneath a big eucalyptus tree. Bear left and continue following the side of the ridge.  You circle the south flank of a 2,685-foot summit signed on some maps as Triunfo Lookout.  At 2.2 miles, you round a sharp bend and get some nice views to the southwest. Soon after, you reach a saddle where you get a good look at Boney Mountain and Sandstone Peak. To the north are the Santa Susana Mountains. If visibility is good, you may be able to see the Topa Topa range north of Ojai.

1:04 - View of Boney Mountain from the saddle

1:13 – View of Boney Mountain from the saddle

Here, the trail makes a hairpin turn and descends gradually. At 3.5 miles from the start, you make another hairpin turn to the left and continue the descent, as a spur leads to Yerba Buena Road. You pass by a small green meadow, and the trail ascends to the parking area that marks the turnaround point. You can cross Yerba Buena Road and get a nice view down into Triunfo Canyon, toward the Thousand Oaks area.

1:50 - Meadow with Boney Mountain in the background, near the end of the trail segment

1:50 – Meadow with Boney Mountain in the background, near the end of the trail segment

Here, you can return by the same route, or if you’ve arranged for a shuttle, your work is done. Through-hikers can continue along the Backbone Trail across the street, where it will lead to Sandstone Peak and Point Mugu State Park.

2:00 - Looking north from Yerba Buena Road at the turnaround point

2:00 – Looking north from Yerba Buena Road at the turnaround point

Text and photography copyright 2013 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.

Happy Camp Canyon


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Looking north from the Middle Ridge Fire Road

Looking north from the Middle Range Fire Road

Middle Ridge Fire Road, near the end of the loop

Middle Ridge Fire Road, near the end of the loop

Happy Camp Canyon  

  • Location: 14105 Broadway Road, Moorpark.  From L.A. and the Valley, take the 118 Freeway to Princeton Ave.  Turn left and go 1.4 miles to Spring Road.  Turn right and go 1.3 miles to Walnut Canyon Road (Highway 23).  Bear right and go one mile.  The road bends sharply to the left; go straight and make an immediate right onto Broadway Road.  Drive 0.3 miles to the park entrance.  From Thousand Oaks, take the 23 Freeway to East Los Angeles Avenue.  Turn left and go 0.8 miles to Spring Road.  Turn right and go 1.7 miles to Walnut Canyon Road (highway 23).  Bear right and go one mile to Broadway Road.  Turn right and drive 0.3 miles to the parking lot at the end of the road.
  • Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy; City of Moorpark
  • Distance: 10.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance, elevation gain)
  • Suggested time: 5 hours
  • Best season: October – June
  • USGS topo map:  Simi Valley
  • Recommended gear: insect repellent; sun hathiking poles
  • More information:  here; trip report (slightly different route) here; Yelp page here
  • Rating: 8
0:00 - View from the trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

0:00 – View from the trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

It may have a kitschy sounding name, but Happy Camp Canyon Regional Park is one of the premier hiking destinations in the Simi Valley/Thousand Oaks area.  This ten-mile-plus tour of the park takes hikers away from the sights and sounds of civilization nearby, providing an escape that’s only half an hour from the San Fernando Valley and an hour or so from downtown L.A.  The rolling landscape  is similar to that of the nearby Cheesboro/Palo Comado area, but this park tends to get fewer visitors.  Dogs are allowed on the first mile of the trail.

0:13 - Head right and downhill into the canyon (times are approximate)

0:13 – Head right and downhill into the canyon (times are approximate)

The long loop described here visits the canyon itself and climbs to a ridge, providing great views of the area. Much of the trail is exposed, so plan accordingly. The good news is that if you do the loop clockwise, as described here, most of the climbing happens under the shade trees of the canyon.

0:25 - Bear left on the fire road

0:25 – Bear left on the fire road

From the parking area, head north on a trail following the west ridge of the canyon, above the golf course. Stay right at the next two junctions and begin a descent into the canyon, reaching the Happy Camp Fire Road at 0.9 miles.

0:33 - Gate at the mouth of the canyon

0:33 – Gate at the mouth of the canyon

Bear left and head north into the canyon. At 1.2 miles, you reach a metal gate (the cut-off point for dogs.) Beyond the gate, the trail splits. Stay left (the right road is your return route.)

1:26 - Stay right at the junction

1:26 – Stay right at the junction

The walk through the canyon is pleasant, as you get a lot of shade from the oaks. At 4.1 miles, stay right as Wiley Canyon Road braches off to the left, and at 4.7 miles, you reach another intersection, just before a red water tank (a remnant of the area’s ranching history). Bear right and follow a spur to a picnic area, a nice place to sit and rest before making the biggest ascent of the hike.

1:53 - Picnic area

1:53 – Picnic area

After leaving the picnic area, the fire road becomes more like a single-track, going through an open field and then beginning a steep climb south, making switchbacks up the ridge. There are a few places where the trail is eroded, so be careful. Your efforts are rewarded with nice views to the north, which include the Los Padres National Forest as you get higher on the ridge.

2:04 - Climbing the ridge

2:04 – Climbing the ridge

The trail levels out and reaches the Middle Range Fire Road at 5.5 miles. Here, you get a nice (albeit through a fence) view of the Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills to the south. Turn right and follow the road, heading generally downhill. Views in front of you include Boney Mountain, Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands and Mount Clef. Off to the right are the higher summits of the Los Padres National Forest.

2:27 - Top of the ridge (turn right on the fire road)

2:27 – Top of the ridge (turn right on the fire road)

After almost four miles on the fire road, it makes a twisting descent back into the canyon, completing the loop. Retrace your steps for the last mile-plus back to the parking area.

3:18 - Water tank on the Middle Range Fire Road

3:20 – Water tank on the Middle Range Fire Road

Text and photography copyright 2013 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.

4:05 - Back into the canyon, shortly before completing the loop

4:05 – Back into the canyon, shortly before completing the loop

Oakbrook Vista Trail to Scenic Overlook (Thousand Oaks)


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Flowers and big views on the Oakbrook Vista Trail

Flowers and big views on the Oakbrook Vista Trail

Geology on the Oakbrook Vista Trail

Geology on the Oakbrook Vista Trail

Oakbrook Vista Trail to Scenic Overlook (Thousand Oaks)

          • Location: Thousand Oaks.  From Highway 101, take the Westlake Blvd. exit and turn right.  Head north for 4.1 miles to Lang Ranch Parkway.  Turn right and look for the Oakbrook Vista Trail sign on the right, at 0.2 miles.  (If you reach Oakbrook Regional Park and the Chumash Museum, you’ve come too far.)  From the 23 Freeway, take the Avenida de los Arboles exit and turn left.  Go 1.6 miles and turn right on Westlake Blvd.  Go 0.2 miles and turn left on Lang Ranch Parkway.
          • Agency: Conejo Open Space Foundation
          • Distance: 3.6 miles
          • Elevation gain: 1,000 feet
          • Difficulty Rating: PG
          • Suggested time: 2 hours
          • Best season:  October – May
          • USGS topo map: Thousand Oaks
          • Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
          • More information: here; Everytrail report here; area trail map here
          • Rating: 7
0:00 - Trail head on Lang Ranch Parkway (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

0:00 – Trail head on Lang Ranch Parkway (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

This hike offers good views of the Thousand Oaks area, the ocean, the western Santa Monica Mountains and close-up looks at some interesting geology. Most of the trail is exposed, so plan accordingly; try to get off to an early start, especially in the warmer months.

0:09 - Take a break (times are appoximate)

0:09 – Take a break (times are appoximate)

From Lang Ranch Parkway, follow the trail into a grove of oaks (this is pretty much the only shade on the route.) You make a few switchbacks, quickly climbing up the slope. At a quarter mile, a bench makes a nice rest spot to sit and enjoy the view.

0:29 - Bear left and continue the climb

0:29 – Bear left and continue the climb

Continuing, you stay left at an intersection and follow the trail along the side of the ridge, with nice aerial views of Lang Ranch. At 0.9 miles, bear left onto a fire road. Soon you have another split, where you bear left on a single-track trail that closely hugs the side of the hill, with more nice views below. (The steep fire break heading right is an option if you want to challenge yourself; it meets again with the Oakbrook Trail.)

0:53 - View of Lang Ranch

0:53 – View of Lang Ranch

The Oakbrook Trail heads slightly downhill to a four-way intersection. Head left and make a short but steep ascent. The trail levels out briefly before making another steep climb, rough in some places, soon arriving at a giant sandstone outcrop.

0:46 - Four way trail split (turn left)

0:46 – Four way trail split (turn left)

If you are comfortable scrambling over rocks, it’s possible to climb to the top of the rocks, but a good alternative is to continue a little farther along the main trail to a knoll where you can sit on a rock and enjoy the panorama. Rugged Simi Peak stands to the east; it can be reached via the so-called “Secret Passage” trail; but for the casual hiker, this is a good turnaround point.

0:52 - Beginning of the climb to the vista point

0:52 – Beginning of the climb to the vista point

Text and photography copyright 2013 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.

1:00 - Looking east toward Simi Peak from the vista point

1:00 – Looking east toward Simi Peak from the vista point

Hidden Valley Overlook (Rancho Satwiwa)


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View from just below the Hidden Valley Overlook, Rancho Satwiwa

View from just below the Hidden Valley Overlook, Rancho Satwiwa

Looking down from the ridge above Hidden Valley

Looking down from the ridge above Hidden Valley

Hidden Valley Overlook (Rancho Satwiwa)

          • Location: Potrero Road and Wendy Drive, Thousand Oaks, north of Rancho Satwiwa and Point Mugu State Park.  From Highway 101, take the Wendy Drive exit and head south for 2.9 miles to its end, at Potrero Road.  Park in the lot.
          • Agency: National Park Service (Rancho Satwiwa)
          • Distance: 4 miles
          • Elevation gain: 900 feet
          • Difficulty Rating: PG
          • Suggested time: 2 hours
          • Best season:  October – June
          • USGS topo map: Newberry Park
          • Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
          • More information: here; area trail map here; article about the hike here.
          • Rating: 8

This is one of the better hikes in the Thousand Oaks/Conejo Valley area, offering great views from start to finish.  Since the entire route is on National Park Service Land and never crosses the Point Mugu State Park boundary, dogs are allowed.

0:00 - Start of the hike on Wendy Drive (click thumbnails to see the full size pictures)

0:00 – Start of the hike on Wendy Drive (click thumbnails to see the full size pictures)

There are several possible ways to reach the overlook, the quickest of which is from Wendy Drive. Follow the Wendy Trail south, through a meadow, staying straight at the first intersection. You enter a pleasant grove of oaks and emerge into an open area with nice views of Rancho Satwiwa.

0:03 - Through the oaks (times are approximate)

0:03 – Through the oaks (times are approximate)

Bear left at the next two intersections, making your way uphill. At the top of a ridge, you get nice views of Boney Mountain. If you start to hear a squeaking noise, don’t be surprised – it’s an old metal windmill on the left side of the trail.

0:09 - Bear left with the junction at the Satwiwa Loop Trail

0:09 – Bear left with the junction at the Satwiwa Loop Trail

At the junction by the windmill, stay straight and head into a canyon, where chaparral provides some shade. Stay left at the next junction with the Satwiwa Loop Trail, and almost immediately afterward you come to a T-junction (0.9 miles from the start). This is a nice spot to stop and enjoy the view before turning left on the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail.

0:13 - Bear left; view of Boney in the background

0:13 – Bear left; view of Boney in the background

The trail climbs steeply, providing nice views of Boney Mountain to the right and the Conejo Valley to the left. At 1.8 miles, you reach another T-junction. The right fork heads downhill toward Hidden Valley, eventually reaching private land. Head left toward the hill, making a steep, loose climb (the hiking poles will be welcome here). At the top of the hill, you reach a summit where you can enjoy a 360-degree view, including the San Gabriels, the Ventura coastal plane, Santa Cruz Island, Boney and more. You can continue farther along the ridge to a few shorter summits, but the first one makes a good turnaround point.

0:17 - The windmill (go straight at the junction)

0:17 – The windmill (go straight at the junction)

You can return either by the same route, or extend your hike by trying different trails in Rancho Satwiwa Park or Point Mugu State Park.

0:54 - Turn left and begin the climb to the top of the ridge

0:54 – Turn left and begin the climb to the top of the ridge

Text and photography copyright 2013 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.

1:00 - View of Boney Mountain from the summit

1:00 – View of Boney Mountain from the summit

Canyon View Trail (Santa Monica Mountains)


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The ocean from the Canyon View Trail

Ocean vista from the Canyon View Trail

Boney Mountain from the Canyon View Trail

Boney Mountain from the Canyon View Trail

Canyon View Trail (Santa Monica Mountains)

  • Location: Western Santa Monica Mountains northwest of Malibu.  From Pacific Coast Highway just past the Ventura County line, head north on Yerba Buena Road for 5.4 miles.  The Circle X parking lot will be on your right.  From the Valley, take highway 101 to Kanan Road.  Head south on Kanan Road for 6.2 miles, turn right on Mulholland Highway and stay straight to connect with Encinal Canyon Road.  Follow Encinal Canyon for 3.4 miles, take a right on Lechuza and another quick right on Decker Canyon.  After 0.8 miles, take a hard left on Mulholland, go 0.4 miles and take a right on Little Sycamore.  Little Sycamore becomes Yerba Buena, and after 4.6 total miles from Mulholland, the Circle X Ranch will be on your left.
  • Agency: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area/Circle X Ranch
  • Distance: 3.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 700 feet
  • Difficulty rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 2 hours
  • Best season:  October – June
  • USGS topo map: “Triunfo Pass”
  • Recommended gear: Hiking Poles; insect repellent; sun hat
  • More information: here and here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 7
Beginning of the Grotto/Canyon View Trail (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

Beginning of the Grotto/Canyon View Trail (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

The Canyon View Trail is located in the Circle X Ranch area of the western Santa Monica Mountains.  Starting at the same trail head as the Grotto and ending across Yerba Buena Road from the Sandstone Peak trailhead, the Canyon View Trail is a good workout with some nice scenery.  It may lack the panoramic vistas of Sandstone Peak and the absolute solitude of the Grotto, but it’s still an enjoyable stretch of trail, well worth visiting if you’re in the area, especially if you’re a fan of the Santa Monica Mountains. Scenic highlights include geology, good mountain views and, following heavy rain, some small seasonal waterfalls.

0:14 - Turn left on the Canyon View Trail (times are approximate)

0:14 – Turn left on the Canyon View Trail (times are approximate)

From the parking area, head downhill on the dirt road, following the signs to the Grotto Trail. You pass by the Circle X Campground, reaching the beginning of the Grotto Trail at 0.2 miles. You enter a wooded area, reaching a junction at 0.4 miles from the start. Head left and uphill as the Grotto Trail descends to the right. You follow along the rim of the canyon, and the ocean becomes visible.

0:46 - Chaparral on the upper Canyon View Trail

0:46 – Chaparral on the upper Canyon View Trail

After a few switchbacks, stay straight as a spur from Yerba Buena Road joins the trail (one mile from the start.) You cross a rocky stream bed and continue your ascent. The views get better as you climb higher, making your way around the southeast face of a ridge. If visibility is good, you may catch a glimpse of Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands. Finally, at 1.9 miles from the start, you reach Yerba Buena Road, opposite the Sandstone Peak trailhead, the turnaround point for this hike.

1:00 - Turnaround point at Yerba Buena Road, across from the Sandstone Peak parking lot

1:00 – Turnaround point at Yerba Buena Road

Text and photography copyright 2013 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.

Hummingbird Trail


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Geology on the Hummingbird Trail, Simi Valley

Geology on the Hummingbird Trail, Simi Valley

Sky between the rocks on the Hummingbird Trail

Sky between the rocks on the Hummingbird Trail

Hummingbird Trail

  • Location: Simi Valley.  From the 118 Freeway, take the Kuehner Drive exit and head north (left if you’re coming from the west, right if from the east).  Park in the large dirt lot on the right side of the road, almost immediately north of the freeway.
  • Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
  • Distance: 4.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,150 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain, terrain, navigation)
  • Suggested time: 2.5 hours
  • Best season: October – May
  • USGS topo map:  Santa Susana
  • Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock; hiking poles
  • Recommended guidebook: Afoot & Afield Los Angeles County
  • More information: here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 7
0:00 - Beginning of the trail on Kuehner Drive (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

0:00 – Beginning of the trail on Kuehner Drive (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

Like the nearby Chumash Trail, the Hummingbird Trail allows hikers the opportunity to get up close looks at some great geology while enjoying wide-ranging views of the Simi Valley/Santa Susana Pass area. It also provides a good workout, especially if you decide to continue on to Rocky Peak from the fire road. Navigation can be a little tricky, but if you keep an eye out for purple arrows on the rocks marking the route, you shouldn’t have too much trouble. Also bear in mind that a lot of the switchbacks have been cut, so the correct route is usually the one that is the least steep. The trail’s grade is steady, but not too extreme.

0:04 - Beginning of the Hummingbird Trail (times are approximate)

0:04 – Beginning of the Hummingbird Trail (times are approximate)

From the parking area on the east side of Kuehner Drive north of the freeway, follow a dirt path between the road and the fence. In 0.2 miles, you reach the official beginning of the trail. Head down through a meadow, into a creek bed, past a large oak and turn left on the well-marked main trail (0.4 miles.)

0:08 - Crossing the canyon (bear left)

0:08 – Crossing the canyon (bear left)

You begin an ascent through a narrow canyon, closely hugging the south wall. The area opens up and you continue climbing along the rocky slope, ignoring a few narrow paths that branch off. If you find yourself confused about which path to take, keep in mind that the paths usually meet up again shortly (it’s often a result of switchbacks being cut).

0:10 - Turn left under the oak

0:10 – Turn left under the oak

At just over a mile, you cross through a narrow passage between two walls of rocks and continue climbing uphill. On your right is a rock ledge with several caves inside. Soon after, you pass another large outcrop that resembles the “Turtle Rock” in nearby Sage Ranch.

0:27 - Follow the purple arrows

0:27 – Follow the purple arrows

After a few more switchbacks, the trail starts to level out after 1.8 miles. A fairly easy 0.4 miles brings you to the Rocky Peak Fire Road, the turnaround point for this hike. A bench and a large flat rock provide nice places to sit and enjoy the view.

0:32 - Keep following the purple arrows

0:32 – Keep following the purple arrows

While the Hummingbird Trail suffers from some graffiti and trash, and never really escapes the noise of the 118 Freeway, it’s definitely a worthwhile hike, especially if you’ve done and enjoyed the Chumash Trail.  It’s convenient location is also a plus, and even if you end up not hiking the whole thing, just a short scramble among the rocks is enjoyable.

0:35 - Close quarters

0:35 – Close quarters

Text and photography copyright 2013 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

1:15 - View from the Rocky Peak Fire Road

1:15 – View from the Rocky Peak Fire Road

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.

Simi Peak via China Flat


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Looking southeast from Simi Peak

Looking southeast from Simi Peak

View of Thousand Oaks and vicinity from near Simi Peak's summit

View of Thousand Oaks and vicinity from near Simi Peak’s summit

Simi Peak via China Flat 

  • Location: Oak Park, near Thousand Oaks and Agoura Hills.  From L.A., take Highway 101 to Kanan Road.  Turn right and go 4.1 miles to Lindero Canyon Road.  Turn right and go one mile.  The trail head is on the left side of the road, just before the intersection with Wembly Ave.  From Ventura, take Highway 101 to Lindero Canyon Road.  Turn left and drive 4 miles to the trailhead on the left side of the road.
  • Agency: Rancho Simi Receration & Parks/Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area
  • Distance: 6.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,600 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance, elevation gain)
  • Suggested time: 3.5 hours
  • Best season: November – May
  • USGS topo map: Thousand Oaks, Calabasas
  • Recommended gear: sun hat; insect repellent; hiking polessunblock
  • More information: trip reports here and here (slightly different route)
  • Rating: 8

This trip visits two popular Thousand Oaks area hiking destinations: Simi Peak (elevation 2,403) and China Flat, a pastoral meadow where many live oaks provide shade. Other highlights on this trip include great city and mountain views, a few glimpses at the ocean, and some interesting geology, including some sandstone caves.

0:00 - Trail head on Lindero Canyon Road (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

0:00 – Trail head on Lindero Canyon Road (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

From Lindero Canyon Road, the trail signed for China Flat follows a fenceline. After 0.1 miles, you’ll turn left and then make a quick right, beginning the main ascent. You will gain about 900 feet in a mile and a half, over exposed and somewhat rocky terrain, but your efforts are rewarded with great views the entire way.

0:02 - Turn left (times are approximate)

0:02 – Turn left (times are approximate)

At 0.4 miles you head briefly downhill, merging with another trail coming from Lindero Canyon Road. Turn right and continue climbing toward the ridge. At 1.5 miles, the slope levels out and you reach a metal grate. Shortly afterward, you merge with the trail from Palo Comado Canyon. Stay left at the first two intersections and then bear right, curving around the side of a ridge.

0:40 - Sandstone geology on the China Flat Trail

0:40 – Sandstone geology on the China Flat Trail

At 1.8 miles, the trail makes a sharp right turn and begins a descent into a pleasant, cool woodland, the south edge of China Flat. Soon after, you reach a junction. If you want to shorten your hike and go directly to Simi Peak, you can turn left and reach the summit in just under a mile. However, for a more interesting route, head right. You enter a wide meadow, soon reaching another junction where you’ll head left. A slight incline brings you to yet another junction, where you’ll go right (north). At the far end of the meadow, look for a large outcrop of rock with two caves giving a skull-like appearance.

0:49 - China Flat Trail (stay left)

0:49 – China Flat Trail (stay left)

At the four-way intersection, head left. You get nice views of the Thousand Oaks area below as you make your way along a ridge. At 3.4 miles from the start, you rejoin the Simi Peak Trail, where you’ll turn right. The trail descends briefly before beginning its final push to the summit. At 1.6 miles, turn left on a short spur that brings you to the peak. The views are great, and a little nerve-wracking; the land drops off sharply in a way that may remind some of Sandstone Peak, although no rock-scrambling is required.

1:04 - Oak woodlands near China Flat

1:04 – Oak woodlands near China Flat

If visibility is good, you can see Mt. Baldy, with San Gorgonio and San Jacinto faint in the distance. The Santa Monicas block out most of the view to the south, but you can still see the ocean, including Catalina, Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands. To the north, you can see the Simi Valley area and the Santa Susanas.

1:11 - Fire road on the east side of China Flat (turn left)

1:11 – Fire road on the east side of China Flat (turn left)

To cut distance off your return trip, when you return to the junction, head straight instead of left. You’ll arrive back at China Flat after 0.9 miles from the summit. Turn right at the first intersection and right again to follow the route back down to Lindero Canyon Road.

1:20 - Skull shaped rock at the north end of the meadow (turn left at the four-way junction)

1:20 – Skull shaped rock at the north end of the meadow (turn left at the four-way junction)

Text and photography copyright 2013 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.

1:55 - View of the San Gabriels from Simi Peak

1:55 – View of the San Gabriels from Simi Peak

Hidden Pond Loop (Point Mugu State Park)


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View of Boney Mountain from the Hidden Pond Trail

View of Boney Mountain from the Hidden Pond Trail

Sycamores on the No Name Trail

Sycamores on the No Name Trail

Hidden Pond Loop (Point Mugu State Park)

  • Location: Thousand Oaks.  From highway 101, take the Lynn Road exit and head south (left if you’re coming from L.A.) for 5.6 miles.  Turn left into the Rancho Sierra Vista park and drive to the second parking lot.  From the north, take highway 101 to Wendy Drive.  Turn left, go 0.8 miles and turn right on Borchard Rd.  Turn right, go 0.5 miles and turn left on Reino.  Go 1.2 miles and turn left on Lynn, and drive a mile to the park.
  • Agency: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area & Point Mugu State Park
  • Distance: 9.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
  • Suggested time: 4.5 hours
  • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance, elevation gain)
  • Best season: October – June
  • USGS topo maps:  Newberry Park; Triunfo Pass
  • Recommended gear:  sunblock; sun hat
  • More information: Trip reports (slightly different routes described) here and here; trail area map here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 8
Beginning of the trail at Rancho Satwiwa

Beginning of the trail at 0:00 – Rancho Satwiwa (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

It’s hard not to enjoy Point Mugu State Park.  With about one hundred miles of trails over its 16,000 acres, elevation ranging from sea level to almost 3,000 feet and scenery including canyons, geology, meadows, ocean and mountains, it’s possible to do many different routes here.  This double-loop, featuring the Hidden Pond Trail, travels through the secluded northwest corner of the park.  It’s like a slightly easier version of the Old Boney Loop, with which it shares a few miles.

0:08 - Top of Big Sycamore Canyon Road (times are approximate)

0:08 – Top of Big Sycamore Canyon Road (times are approximate)

If you’re looking for a pond, you may be disappointed; you’re probably better off at Nicholas Flat, a little ways east. The “pond” is really a small vernal pool that often does not have any water. However, there are still a lot of scenic highlights on this route. There are many possible variations, including both longer and shorter versions of the hike described below. Whichever route you take, keep in mind that much of the trail is exposed, and make sure you save your energy (and water) for the long ascent on the paved road out of the canyon that concludes the hike.

0:16 - Looking down into Big Sycamore Canyon

0:16 – Looking down into Big Sycamore Canyon

From the Rancho Satwiwa area, follow the trail past the restrooms on the east end of the lot and turn left on the fire road. This brings you to Big Sycamore Canyon Road, the main artery through Point Mugu State Park. Turn right, pass the Satwiwa Cultural Center and enter the park’s boundary at 0.5 miles from the start. (Dogs are allowed only on the paved road).

0:34 - Beginning of the Hidden Pond Trail

0:34 – Beginning of the Hidden Pond Trail

Past the Danielson Fire Road, the road makes a dramatic descent into the canyon, taking in great views of Old Boney Mountain’s western flank. The scenery, distance and grade are similar to that of “Cardiac Hill”, the road leading back to Chantry Flats from popular Sturtevant Falls.

At 1.3 miles, you cross a bridge and enter the shade of wooded Sycamore Canyon. Shortly after the Upper Sycamore trail comes in from the left, look for the Hidden Pond Trail branching off to the right. At the first junction, stay left (the right fork leads to private property); and continue to a usually dry stream bed. Turn right and follow it for a few yards, picking up the trail and beginning an ascent out of the canyon.

0:46 - Canyon on the Hidden Pond Trail (stay right)

0:46 – Canyon on the Hidden Pond Trail (stay right)

At 2.4 miles from the start, you reach the top of a ridge, where you get nice views southwest toward La Jolla Valley. At 2.6 miles, you reach an intersection with Ranch Center Road. Turn right to continue on the Hidden Pond Trail. You make your way through an attractive meadow, staying left at an intersection (2.9 miles.)

1:04 - La Jolla Valley from the Hidden Pond Trail

1:04 – La Jolla Valley from the Hidden Pond Trail

Now you begin your first major ascent, climbing 200 feet in the next 0.2 miles. You are rewarded for your efforts with some nice views to the south; if you look over your shoulder, you’ll get a panoramic look at Boney Mountain.

1:11 - Approaching the fire road (stay right)

1:11 – Approaching the fire road (stay right)

At 3.1 miles, stay right as a trail heads down to the fire road. (You can use this route to shorten the hike if you’re low on time.) The Hidden Pond Trail continues its ascent, clinging to the wall of the canyon, making switchbacks up to the top of a ridge. At 3.7 miles, the trail bends to the left and follows a fence that marks the northern boundary of the park. Soon after, you reach a meadow that sometimes retains water (the pond.)

1:33 - Looking west on the Hidden Pond Trail (turn right at the next junction)

1:33 – Looking west on the Hidden Pond Trail (turn right at the next junction)

If you’re disappointed by the lack of water, the descent from the ridge is a good consolation prize. Great views to the west, including Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands, open up, and you also can see the Oxnard/Ventura coastal plain. At 4.8 miles from the start, you arrive at the Ranch Center Road.

1:52 - Site of the pond

1:52 – Site of the pond

You can cut a few miles off by turning left and following Ranch Center back to Big Sycamore Canyon (1.9 miles), but if you have time, take the longer and more scenic route farther down into the canyon. After a few yards, turn right on the dirt Ranch Center Fire Road, which heads downhill. The next mile is a pleasant, easy stretch, shaded by oaks and sycamores; the only downside are the phone lines that run overhead, but they’re easy enough to ignore.

2:03 - Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands from the Hidden Pond Trail

2:03 – Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands from the Hidden Pond Trail

Shortly before the Danileson Multi-Use Area, you’ll turn left on the single-track No-Name Trail (shortly after the Sage Trail.) You travel through a pleasant meadow lined with sycamores, with nice views of Boney Mountain to the right. After only 0.2 miles, bear left on the No Name Trail’s Spanish counterpart, the Sin Nombre Trail.

2:30 - On the Ranch Center Fire Road

2:30 – On the Ranch Center Fire Road

After traveling almost a mile through attractive rolling terrain, the Sin Nombre Trail dips into a wooded canyon and meets up with the paved Ranch Center Road, at a point you’ve already visited, where the Hidden Pond Trail intersects. Turn right and follow Ranch Center Road for 0.3 miles to Big Sycamore. Turn left and begin the long climb out of the canyon. At 0.8 miles, you return to the intersection with the Hidden Pond Trail. A big log next to the bridge makes a nice place to sit and rest before making the big climb out of the canyon.

2:40 - Approaching the Danielson area (turn left on the No Name Trail)

2:40 – Approaching the Danielson area (turn left on the No Name Trail)

Whether you follow the route exactly or do your own variation of it, odds are you’ll get to experience the scenic variety of Point Mugu State Park. Although it’s a bit of a drive for most L.A. residents, it’s worth it.

3:10 - Woodlands near the end of the Sin Nombre Trail

3:10 – Woodlands near the end of the Sin Nombre Trail

Text and photography copyright 2013 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

3:40 - Back at the junction with the Hidden Pond Trail, about to start the climb out of the canyon (take a rest on the log!)

3:40 – Back at the junction with the Hidden Pond Trail, about to start the climb out of the canyon (take a rest on the log!)

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.

Angel Vista from Potrero Road


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Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands from Angel Vista

Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands from Angel Vista

Through the meadows and hills on the Los Robles Trail

Through the meadows and hills on the Los Robles Trail

Angel Vista from Potrero Road

        • Location: Potrero Road and Wendy Drive, Thousand Oaks, north of Rancho Satwiwa and Point Mugu State Park.  From Highway 101, take the Wendy Drive exit and head south for 2.9 miles to its end, at Potrero Road.  Park in the lot.
        • Agency: Conejo Open Space Foundation
        • Distance: 6.4 miles
        • Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
        • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (distance, elevation gain)
        • Suggested time: 3 hours
        • Best season:  October – May
        • USGS topo map: Thousand Oaks
        • Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
        • More information: Trail map here; Everytrail report here; trip report (whole Los Robles Trail) here
        • Rating: 7

You already know how to get to Angel Vista from the east end of the Los Robles Trail and via the Rosewood Trail, so why not try a different route to this panoramic spot? With great views of the ocean, Boney Mountain, Thousand Oaks and the Satwiwa meadow, this approach is arguably the most scenic, especially if visibility is good.  While it never really escapes the noise of the nearby freeways, it’s still one of the better hikes in the area.

Trailhead at Rancho Satwiwa, on Potrero Road (click thumbnails to see the full-sized versions)

Trailhead at Rancho Satwiwa, on Potrero Road (click thumbnails to see the full-sized versions)

From the parking lot on Potrero Road at the end of Wendy Drive, head south into Rancho Satwiwa Park. Almost immediately, you come to a four way junction. Head left on the Los Robles Connector Trail. You follow the single-track for a pleasant half mile, with the road on one side and an oak-lined canyon on the other.

0:01 - Turn left on the Los Robles Connector Trail (times are approximate)

0:01 – Turn left on the Los Robles Connector Trail (times are approximate)

You reach Potrero Road (no crosswalk, but traffic is likely to be light) and access the Los Robles Trail on the north side of the street. There’s a parking area here which, if open, can be an alternate starting point. (The sign indicated that the gate was open from 9 am to 4 pm, but when I arrived at 10:30, it was still closed.)

0:14 - Crossing Potrero Road (be careful!)

0:14 – Look both ways (Potrero Road)

The trail makes a quick ascent, crossing a service road and reaching the top of a ridge. You then head downhill, taking in nice views of Thousand Oaks. The trail clings to the north side of the ridge, passing by some houses. At 1.8 miles from the start, make a sharp right turn as another trail joins in from Felton St. You make a few tight switchbacks (watch out for mountain bikers), and then the trail briefly levels out–giving you a chance to catch your breath before making the steepest ascent of the route.

0:19 - Service road

0:19 – Service road

You face two short but intense climbs, the second of which skirts the side of some private land. After ascending more than 200 feet in a quarter mile, you begin a descent into a meadow, where you get nice views of the Santa Monica Mountains. A series of switchbacks brings you to a junction where the Los Robles trail continues east. Head left, and make another quick left at the next split, where you follow a spur a short distance to Angel Vista.

0:44 - Trail junction (sharp right)

0:44 – Trail junction (sharp right)

Here, you can sit on a picnic bench and reward yourself with a view that includes Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands, the Santa Monica and Santa Susana Mountains, and possibly even the distant San Gabriels.

0:51 - Feel the burn!

0:51 – Feel the burn!

Return via the same route, or if you’ve arranged a shuttle, you can take either the Rosewood Trail or continue east on the Los Robles Trail to Moorpark Road.

1:01 - Looking east from the top of the steep ascent

1:01 – Looking east from the top of the steep ascent

Text and photography copyright 2012 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

1:30 – View of the San Gabriels from Angel Vista

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.


Anza Loop Trail


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View from near the top of the Anza Loop Trail

Oak on the Anza Loop Trail

Anza Loop Trail

        • Location: Las Virgenes Road, south of Highway 101 in Calabasas.   From Ventura County, take Highway 101 to Las Virgenes Road.  At the light, cross Las Virgenes and park in the dirt lot on the east side of the road.  From L.A., take 101 to Las Virgenes.  Turn left and cross the freeway, and turn immediately left into the dirt lot (if you reach Agoura Road, you’ve come too far.)
        • Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
        • Distance:  3.4 miles
        • Elevation gain: 650 feet
        • Difficulty Rating: PG
        • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
        • Best season: September – May
        • USGS topo map: Calabasas
        • Recommended gear: sun hatsunblock
        • More information: Trip reports here and here; Everytrail report here
        • Rating: 6

The Anza Loop Trail is one of several hiking trails that hides in plain sight, right next to Highway 101 in Calabasas. It provides a good workout, with nice views of the west San Fernando Valley, the Santa Monica Mountains, Santa Susanas and, if the air is clear, the San Gabriels.  It explores part of the historic route traveled by Juan Bautista de Anza, after whom its named.

From the parking area on Las Virgenes Road, head uphill on a short but steep path that runs between two hills. Although there is no shade, the sharp walls of the mini-canyon help block out the sun. After 0.3 miles – and almost 300 feet of elevation gain – you reach a junction. A bench beneath a big oak tree makes a nice place to stop and catch your breath.

Continue by heading right on the Anza Loop Trail. You climb a little more and then begin a gradual descent, with nice views of the canyon below. You pass under a few oak trees, although there is still not much shade.

At 0.8 miles from the start, you arrive at a junction, where you head left (the right fork leads to a dead end). Soon, you’ll come to another intersection and again you’ll stay left, although the trail to the right can be an option if you want to extend your hike; it leads to the Bark Park.

For the next 0.8 miles, you follow a fire road as it ascends gradually. You may be able to pick out Mt. Wilson’s flat summit in the distance; you also get nice views of the Simi Hills.

The trail ends rather unceremoniously at a residential street (currently under construction), but this is a hike that is more about the journey than the destination. The only bummer is that it never really escapes from the noise of Highway 101, but such is the price of its convenient location. For hikers in the area who seem to have trouble finding time to get out on the trails, this one is good to keep in mind.

Text and photography copyright 2012 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.

Triunfo Creek Park: Westlake View and Pentachaeta Trails


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View of the Westlake Reservoir

On the Pentachaeta Trail, with Boney Mountain in the distance

Triunfo Creek Park: Westlake View and Pentachaeta Trails

      • Location: Westlake Village, on the coner of Triunfo Canyon Road and Lindero Canyon Road.  From Highway 101, take the Lindero Canyon Road exit and head south for 2 miles.  Turn left on Triunfo Canyon Road and park in the dirt lot.
      • Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
      • Distance:  4 miles
      • Elevation gain: 550 feet
      • Difficulty Rating: PG
      • Suggested time: 2 hours
      • Best season: September – June
      • USGS topo map:  Thousand Oaks
      • Recommended gear: sun hatsunblock
      • More information: Triunfo Creek Park info here; trip report here
      • Rating: 6

Conveniently located to Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village, Triunfo Creek Park offers some nice hiking trails that explore a good variety of scenery. The route here visits the park’s two main trails: Westlake View and Pentachaeta (named for the endangered flower found in the park). A network of informal trails run through the hills in back of the park, although they are not maintained and should only be visited by experienced hikers who are comfortable on rough terrain.

From the parking area, head right on the Westlake View Trail. You get nice views of some volcanic outcrops on the hills above. A short walk through a pleasant, oak-dotted meadow brings you to a split, where you can take either route. Both paths are short but somewhat steep, and they soon arrive at a vista point where you can see the Westlake Reservoir. The foothills of Boney Mountain reflect scenically in its water.

After completing the loop and retracing your steps to the park entrance, you can continue your hike on the 1.5 mile Pentachaeta Trail. The trail’s beginning, which passes by a mobile home park, might not seem all that inspiring, but before long, you escape the noise of the nearby suburbs. You make your way along the side of the hills above Triunfo Creek, passing through a small grove of oaks. The trail dips down sharply into the canyon, and you can enjoy some shade here.  You come to a T-junction where both directions lead to private property, so this is a good turnaround point.

Text and photography copyright 2012 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.

Hill Canyon


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On the trail in Hill Canyon

Crossing the creek in Hill Canyon

Hill Canyon

      • Location: Northwest of Thousand Oaks.  From Highway 101, take Moorpark Road north for 5.5 miles.  At a four-way intersection, stay straight to get on Santa Rosa Road.  Go 3.7 miles and turn left on Hill Canyon Road (signed for Santa Rosa Regional Park).  Go half a mile and park in the dirt lot on the right side of the road.  From Highway 23, take the Tierra Rejada Road exit and head west for 0.5 miles.  Turn left on Moorpark Road, go 1.4 miles and turn right on Santa Rosa and follow it to the park.  Note: As of September 10, 2013, a moratorium has been placed on park fees (previously $2 per car on weekdays, $4 on weekends) so parking is free.  Check the Santa Rosa Park link below for up to date information.
      • Agency: Conejo Open Space Foundation/Santa Rosa Park
      • Distance: 4 miles
      • Elevation gain: 200 feet
      • Difficulty Rating: PG
      • Suggested time: 2 hours
      • Best season: All year (Hot during the summer; check Santa Rosa Park link for daily hours of access)
      • USGS topo map: Newbury Park
      • Recommended gear: sunblock; sun hat
      • More information:  here; Everytrail report here
      • Rating: 7

This trail is a very pleasant surprise, especially for those who think of the Conejo Valley as being dry and monotonous. While the trail can be hot during the summer, there’s some shade near the end, and the walls of the canyon help block out the heat, also creating some pleasant breezes. As for scenery, expect mountains, geology, meadows, oaks and even a seasonal stream.

From the parking area, follow the road to a bridge. You cross a creek and continue to a T-junction where you head left and into the canyon. On the left, you get nice views of Mt. Clef Ridge, with its volcanic outcrops. The trail follows the west side of the canyon, reaching a four-way junction in just over a mile.

You head straight (the left and right forks lead to service roads), and pass through a small grove of oaks. At the next split, head left and downhill, into a wooded canyon (watch out for poison oak). You cross the stream and follow its banks for half a mile, before reaching a dirt fire road. This is a service road on Southern California Edison property, and while hikers and runners do use it, they do so at their own risk, so consider it the turnaround point for the hike. If the 4-mile round trip hasn’t satiated your appetite for hiking, the trails of nearby Wildwood Park should do the trick.

Text and photography copyright 2012 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.

Cheeseboro Ridge Trail


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Looking east from the Cheeseboro Ridge Trail

View of the Baleen Wall from the Cheeseboro Ridge Trail

Cheeseboro Ridge Trail

  • Location: Agoura Hills.  From Los Angeles, take Highway 101 to the Cheseboro Road (yes, the street name is spelled differently from the park name).  Turn right on Palo Comado Road and then right on Cheseboro Road.  Drive a mile to the park entrance, turn right and park in the lot.  From Ventura, take Highway 101 to Cheseboro Road.  Turn left on Palo Comado, cross the freeway, and then turn right on Cheseboro and follow it into the park.
  • Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
  • Distance: 8.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance, elevation gain)
  • Suggested time: 3.5 hours
  • Best season: November – May
  • USGS topo map: Calabasas
  • Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock
  • More information: here; Everytrail report here; map here
  • Rating: 7

Cheeseboro Canyon offers a wide variety of hiking trails, conveniently located to the west San Fernando Valley and Thousand Oaks areas. The park, along with neighboring Palo Comado Canyon, is a unit of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. With many miles of trails, it is possible to do a different route each time you visit the park. The 8-mile round trip described here visits some of the area’s best scenery, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg.

From the parking area, head past the restrooms and onto the Cheeseboro Canyon Trail.  You soon enter a pleasant woodland shaded by oaks.  Stay straight as the Modelo Connector and Canyon View trails branch off.  At 1.2 miles from the start, bear right on on a trail that starts a climb through a tributary of Cheeseboro Canyon, soon reaching the Cheeseboro Ridge Trail (2 miles from the start).  This is a nice place to stop and enjoy the scenery before beginning the biggest ascent of the hike.

Head uphill on the exposed Cheeseboro Ridge Trail, which winds its way up the canyon wall. As you climb, you’ll get views of the rolling terrain of the Simi Hills, the Santa Monica Mountains, and to the east, if the weather is clear, the San Gabriels.

After passing by a water tank, you’ll get your first look at the Baleen Wall, a geological formation that is one of the park’s most recognizable landmarks. With imagination, you could see how the stripe of rocks below the top of the outcrop resembles the sight of a baleen whale rising from the ocean. At 3.5 miles, a spur to the left leads to an overlook, where you can enjoy a nice view of the Baleen Wall, and the canyons below.

At four miles, turn left on another spur, which climbs quickly to one of the highest points in the park (elevation 1,900 feet.) Here, you get a nice 360 degree view of the area. The power lines unfortunately detract from the scenery, but it’s still an enjoyable place to sit and relax before heading back.

You can return either via the same route, or you can extend your hike by continuing north for another mile to the Sheep Corral trail. Here, head left to Shepherd’s Flat, and turn left again and head south on the Cheeseboro Canyon Trail, following it back down through the canyon to make a big loop.

In addition to the many trails of Cheeseboro Canyon, nearby Palo Comado Canyon is worth a visit as well.

Text and photography copyright 2012 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.

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