Note: As of March 2016 the La Jolla Canyon Trail is closed due to flood damage. Contact the park for more information and updates.
As seen in the Nobody Hikes in L.A. Guidebook!
Text and photography copyright 2010 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. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
- Location: Point Mugu State Park between Malibu and Oxnard. From Oxnard, take highway 1 south for 15 miles. The Miller trailhead is on the left (if you reach the Sycamore Canyon Campground, you’ve come too far.) The daily parking fee is$8. From Santa Monica, take highway 1 north for 34 miles. The Miller trailhead will be on the right, about two miles past the Sycamore Canyon campground. From the San Fernando Valley, take highway 101 to highway 23 and head south to P.C.H.
- Agency: Point Mugu State Park
- Distance: 6 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance, elevation gain)
- Best season: September to June
- USGS topo maps: “Point Mugu”
- Recommended gear: hiking poles
- More information: here; map and photos here
- Rating: 8
Mugu is derived from Muwu, the Chumash word for “Beach.” Point Mugu State Park may be a little tough to get to from the L.A. area, but if you have the time, it’s well worth a visit. Mugu Peak, the westernmost summit in the park, can be reached from the steep Chumash Trail to the west, or via a longer looping route. The trip described here is a six-mile out and back from the La Jolla Valley parking area.
Point Mugu State Park’s best season is probably the spring, when it is one of the few places on the mainland to see the giant yellow coreopsis flowers, but Mugu Peak is so close to the ocean that it usually doesn’t get very hot even during the summer. Much of this hike goes through La Jolla Canyon, which will provide a lot of shade if you get an early enough start.
From the parking lot, follow the La Jolla Canyon trail north, past a seasonal waterfall. The trail climbs through the canyon, and even if the flowers aren’t in bloom, the geology here gives you plenty of eye candy. After a little over a mile and almost 600 feet of elevation, reach a junction where the main trail continues toward the campground. Take a left on a single-track trail that hugs the north slope of the canyon, taking in nice ocean views, and heads through a valley before coming to another junction with the Mugu Peak trail. Take another left here and head south, getting more ocean views as you ascend. This trail curves around the flank of Mugu Peak, heading west to a saddle where a short spur takes you to the summit.
Mugu Peak is less than a mile from the coastline as the crow flies, and the views are awesome. Anacapa and Santa Cruz Island are visible to the southwest, and on clear days, Santa Barbara Island and Catalina can also be seen. To the north, you get nice views of the rest of Point Mugu State Park, including La Jolla Valley and Boney Mountain. The vistas are all the more rewarding for having been earned by literally climbing from sea level.
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.