Hill and Hawk Canyons
- 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: Area trail maps here and 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. The right and left forks are the Western Plateau Trail, a fire road that loops through the area, climbing out of the canyon. For this hike, stay straight and follow the single-track into Hawk Canyon.
The trail bends southwest and passes 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 another junction with the Western Plateau Trail. From here, the Western Plateau Trail ascends in both directions: east to Conejo Center Drive (half a mile and 200 vertical feet) and west, deeper into the plateau. Both are options if you want to extend your hike, but for a moderate 4-mile round trip, this is the 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.