Serrano Homestead Site (Point Mugu State Park)


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Shade from an oak on the Serrano Road Trail
Shade from an oak on the Serrano Road Trail
Yucca that apparently survived the Springs Fire, Point Mugu State Park
Yucca that apparently survived the Springs Fire, Point Mugu State Park

Serrano Homestead Site (Point Mugu State Park)

          • Location: Western Santa Monica Mountains, northwest of Malibu, between Point Mugu State Park and Circle X.  From the end of I-10, take Pacific Coast Highway west for 30 miles to Yerba Buena Road.  Turn right and go 3.2 miles to Cotharin Road.  Go 1.5 miles on Cotharin Road to an easy-to-miss Y-junction with Serrano Road (the street sign is hidden; look for some mailboxes at the road side.)  Bear right and head downhill on Serrano, which is a narrow, twisting road; be careful.  After a mile, you reach a metal gate. Park at the shoulder.  Trail head coordinates: N 34, 05.650; W 118 58.36.
          • Agency: Point Mugu State Park
          • Distance: 2.8 miles to homestead site; 4.2 miles to Serrano Valley Trail
          • Elevation gain: 350 feet to homestead site; 600 feet to Serrano Valley Trail
          • Difficulty Rating: PG
          • Suggested time: 2 hours (to Serrano Valley Trail)
          • Best season:  Year round (hot during the summer)
          • USGS topo maps:  Triunfo Pass; Point Mugu
          • Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock
          • Recommended guidebook: Day Hikes In the Santa Monica Mountains
          • More information: Trip description here; trail map here; Everytrail report here
          • Rating: 7
0:00 - Trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)
0:00 – Trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

This is one of the more interesting hikes in the western Santa Monica Mountains, especially in the wake of the Springs Fire.  Some hikers may see it as a great chance to observe Point Mugu State Park in recovery; others may see the burned out area as somewhat dystopian.  Even those who fall into the second category, however, will be impressed with the views of Boney Mountain and the solitude the hike provides. Using a little-known entrance to Point Mugu State Park, this hike is moderate enough to be done during the summer, although appropriate precautions (sunblock, hat and extra water) should be taken. It is a reverse hike, so if you start early, you will have to climb back uphill under a mid-day sun.

0:11 - Burned sycamore at the bottom of Serrano Canyon (times are approximate)
0:11 – Burned sycamore at the bottom of Serrano Canyon (times are approximate)

From the gate, follow Serrano Road downhill. An S-curve brings you to the bottom of Serrano Canyon, where you will see some tall sycamores with charred trunks. You continue, passing a lone oak tree that provides the only real shade en route (it makes a nice break spot on the way back, before having to climb out of the valley.)

0:30 - Oak grove inside the wilderness boundary, shortly before the homestead site
0:30 – Oak grove inside the wilderness boundary, shortly before the homestead site

At about a mile, you reach a junction. Head left, passing by a metal fence that serves as the boundary to the Boney Mountain State Wilderness. You pass a grove of trees and soon come to another split. If you head left, in a short distance you will come to the abandoned Serrano Homestead, where abandoned farm equipment and appliances contribute to the post-apocalyptic feel of the hike.

0:35 - Abandoned machinery and ocean fog, Serrano Homestead Site
0:35 – Abandoned machinery and ocean fog, Serrano Homestead Site

Heading back to the junction, you can continue along the trail, which dips in and out of two tributaries of Serrano Canyon before joining the Serrano Valley Trail (2.1 miles from the start), part of the Big Sycamore/Serrano Canyon loop.  From this vantage point, you get a nice view of Boney Mountain. You can turn around here, or extend the hike into Serrano Valley.

0:55 - Looking back at Boney Mountain from the Serrano Valley Trail, turnaround point for this hike
0:55 – Looking back at Boney Mountain from the Serrano Valley Trail, turnaround point for this hike

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.

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