Hillcrest Open Space
- Location: Corner of La Granada and Crown View Court, Thousand Oaks. From L.A. take highway 101 to Rancho Road. Take a right on Rancho, and take a quick right on Thousand Oaks Blvd. Go 0.4 miles and turn left on Erbes. Go 1.1 miles and turn right on Hood Drive. Go 0.4 miles and turn right on La Granada. Park at the end of the street, at the intersection with Crown View Court. From highway 23, take the Janss Road exit and head east for 1.7 miles (Janss becomes La Granada.) Park at the end of the street.
- Agency: Conejo Open Space Foundation
- Distance: 4.8 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Steepness, trail condition, elevation gain)
- Suggested time: 2.5 hours
- Best season: September – May
- USGS topo map: Thousand Oaks
- Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat; sunblock
- More information: COSF home page here; Hillcrest trail map here; Everytrail report here.
- Rating: 5
This is a challenging neighborhood hike that gives residents of Thousand Oaks and the Conejo Valley a quick and convenient workout. Although there is virtually no shade on the route, with sunblock, a hat and extra water, the trail can be doable almost any time of year. While the sights and sounds of civilization will stay with you throughout the hike, there’s a good variety of scenery to see, and the rigorous climbing involved makes this a great training trip.
From the end of La Granada, pass by the fence onto the private road. Take a left on the single-track trail and begin switchbacking uphill. Soon, look for a steep, somewhat rough trail heading straight uphill to the left. Make your way up here, climbing 300 feet in about a quarter mile. Soon you bear left to join a better defined trail, which brings you to a four-way junction, the beginning of the loop.
Head left onto the White Sage Trail, which winds around the side of the hill before making a big ascent to a fire road. Here, you head right, taking in nice views of the Simi Valley area to the north, and the Santa Susana Mountains. You may also notice an intimidating looking hill to the south (right). Yes, you will have to climb it.
Soon you meet the unsigned Hillcrest Ridge Trail. Turn right and follow the ridgeline before making a dip down to the bottom of the big hill. The climb up the hill is about 300 feet in just over a quarter mile, but at the top, you get a good view of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Thousand Oaks area for your troubles.
The trail continues down the hill. You make another ascent to a smaller summit (the last significant uphill stretch on the loop) and then head down again. Stay right at the two junctions on the way, and make a hairpin turn just above a water tank to head back to the beginning of the loop. Retrace your steps – be careful on the steep descent, because your legs will probably be tired – back to La Granada.
I did this today, but when I reached the water tank at the northern end of the White Sage trail I just turned around and retraced my steps. Saw no one else, and not much wildlife.