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.