Simi Peak via China Flat
- Location: Oak Park, near Thousand Oaks and Agoura Hills. From L.A., take Highway 101 to Kanan Road. Turn right and go 4.1 miles to Lindero Canyon Road. Turn right and go one mile. The trail head is on the left side of the road, just before the intersection with Wembly Ave. From Ventura, take Highway 101 to Lindero Canyon Road. Turn left and drive 4 miles to the trailhead on the left side of the road.
- Agency: Rancho Simi Receration & Parks/Santa Monica Mountains National Recreational Area
- Distance: 7 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,600 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance, elevation gain)
- Suggested time: 3.5 hours
- Best season: November – May
- USGS topo map: Thousand Oaks, Calabasas
- Recommended gear: sun hat; insect repellent; hiking poles; sunblock
- More information: trip reports here and here (slightly different route)
- Rating: 8
This trip visits two popular Thousand Oaks area hiking destinations: Simi Peak (elevation 2,403) and China Flat, a pastoral meadow where many live oaks provide shade. Other highlights on this trip include great city and mountain views, a few glimpses at the ocean, and some interesting geology, including some sandstone caves.
From Lindero Canyon Road, the trail signed for China Flat follows a fenceline. After 0.1 miles, you’ll turn left and then make a quick right, beginning the main ascent. You will gain about 900 feet in a mile and a half, over exposed and somewhat rocky terrain, but your efforts are rewarded with great views the entire way.
At 0.4 miles you head briefly downhill, merging with another trail coming from Lindero Canyon Road. Turn right and continue climbing toward the ridge. At 1.5 miles, the slope levels out and you reach a metal grate. Shortly afterward, you merge with the trail from Palo Comado Canyon. Stay left at the first two intersections and then bear right, curving around the side of a ridge.
At 1.8 miles, the trail passes the upper end of the Suicide Trail, makes a sharp right turn and begins a descent into a pleasant, cool woodland, the south edge of China Flat. Soon after, you reach a junction. If you want to shorten your hike and go directly to Simi Peak, you can turn left and reach the summit in just under a mile. However, for a more interesting route, head right. You enter a wide meadow, soon reaching a small seasonal pond. Just past the pond, turn left on the Palo Comado Trail. A slight incline brings you to yet another junction, where you’ll go right (north). At the far end of the meadow, look for a large outcrop of rock with two caves giving a skull-like appearance.
At the four-way intersection, head left. You get nice views of the Thousand Oaks area below as you make your way along a ridge. At 3.4 miles from the start, you rejoin the Simi Peak Trail, where you’ll turn right. The trail descends briefly before beginning its final push to the summit. At 1.6 miles, turn left on a short spur that brings you to the peak. The views are great, and a little nerve-wracking; the land drops off sharply in a way that may remind some of Sandstone Peak, although no rock-scrambling is required.
If visibility is good, you can see Mt. Baldy, with San Gorgonio and San Jacinto faint in the distance. The Santa Monicas block out most of the view to the south, but you can still see the ocean, including Catalina, Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands. To the north, you can see the Simi Valley area and the Santa Susanas.
To cut distance off your return trip, when you return to the junction, head straight instead of left. You’ll arrive back at China Flat after 0.9 miles from the summit. Turn right at the first intersection and right again to follow the route back down to Lindero Canyon Road.
Text and photography copyright 2013 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.