Conejo Ridge Open Space
- Location: 284 Sundown Road, Thousand Oaks. From the 101 Freeway, exit at South Rancho Road (exit 43B if you are coming from the east; 43A if you are coming from the west). Head south on South Rancho Road, which becomes Rimrock Road. In another 0.3 mile, turn left on Sundown Road. Follow it 0.4 mile to its ending and park where available. Alternately from the 23 Freeway, take exit 13 for Hillcrest Ave. Turn left on Hillcrest and go 0.2 mile to South Rancho Road. Turn right and follow South Rancho Road for a total of 0.9 mile (it becomes Rimrock) to Sundown Road. Turn left and follow Sundown Road 0.4 mile to its ending and park where available.
- Agency: Conejo Open Space Foundation
- Distance: 3 miles
- Elevation gain: 750 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 1.5 hours
- Best season: October – June
- Dogs: Allowed on leash but exercise caution on warm days; also be careful of ticks, poison oak and foxtails
- Cell phone reception: Good
- Water: None
- Restrooms: None
- Camping/backpacking: None
- Recommended gear: Hiking poles; sun hat; sunscreen
- More information: Area trail maps here and here
- Rating: 5
Updated April 2018
The Conejo Ridge Open Space is one of several connected parcels in the foothills south of Thousand Oaks, overseen by the Conejo Open Space Foundation. This double loop climbs to the Los Robles Trail East, the backbone of the area trail system, via some lesser known routes. As suburban hikes go, this one is surprisingly challenging and adventurous. There is virtually no signage and some of the intersections can be a little confusing, but you are never too far from civilization and
Begin with the short but attractive Sundown Trail, an unsigned single-track that begins at the end of Sundown Road. It dips into a thick oak woodland and soon comes to a junction with the Loop Trail. You can either do this trail first by heading left, climbing out of the canyon and along the lower ridges with views of the Conejo Valley to the north and passing an abandoned equestrian ring, or save it for later by heading right. The Loop Trail is a little overgrown in spots but never too difficult to follow. The trails merge again (0.2 mile if you go right, 0.7 if you go left). Continue southwest through a meadow to a Y-junction, the start of the next loop with the Rimrock Trail (right) and West Conejo Ridge Connector (left).
If you are starting off early in the day and want to get the steepest part of the hike done first (or if you don’t want to make a steep and loose descent) head right on the unsigned Rimrock Trail. A short climb brings you to the bottom of a steep use trail (also part of the Rimrock Trail) which climbs almost 100 feet to reach a paved road. Here, you can sit on a bench and rest for the ascent ahead while enjoying views of Thousand Oaks. Head uphill on the paved road, following it past a water tank to the unsigned beginning of the Rolling Oaks Trail.
This trail’s name is somewhat of a misnomer as the route climbs straight up an exposed ridge line, ascending about 350 feet in 0.4 mile. The short but vigorous climb brings you to a 1,460-foot high knoll with views in all directions, although power lines do get in the way. A use trail drops off the south edge of the summit, leading to a service spur which in turn brings you to Los Robles Trail East.
Now the going is easier as you head east along the fire road, heading gradually downhill and enjoying views of the western Santa Monica Mountains to the south. You pass a junction with the White Horse Canyon Trail and a few other unsigned use trails. After 0.6 mile on the Los Robles Trail East, an unsigned but clear trail branches off on the left. This is the West Conejo Ridge Connector Trail, the return route. The trail drops back into the meadow, passing several large live oaks before rejoining the Rimrock Trail. From here, head right and retrace your steps back down to the Loop Trail (if you didn’t do it earlier and want to, take a hard right at the next junction, climb to the old equestrian ring and continue on the single-track along the ridge before dropping back into the canyon). If you’ve already done the Loop Trail or want to end the hike, stay left at the junction and follow the trail back to the Sundown Trail. Head left and retrace your steps back to the end of Sundown Road.
Text and photography copyright 2018 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.