Tapo and Chivos Canyons
- Location: Foothills north of Simi Valley. From the 118 Freeway, take Tapo Canyon Road exit and head north (turn right if you’re coming from the east; left if from the west.) The trail head will be on the right side of the road at 1.5 miles, shortly before the intersection with Lost Canyon Drive. Free parking is available in a small dirt lot.
- Agency: Rancho Simi Recreation and Parks Department
- Distance: 7.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,550 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance, elevation gain)
- Suggested time: 3.5 hours
- Best season: October – May
- USGS topo map: Simi Valley East
- Recommended gear: sun hat; hiking poles
- More information: MeetUp description (first loop only) here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 7
For a hike that starts just beyond the edge of the suburbs, this double loop often feels pleasantly secluded. After leaving Tapo Canyon Road behind, for most of the trip, the sights and sounds of civilization are near nil.
In the foothills north of Simi Valley, numerous hiking trails and fire roads run through several adjacent parcels of open space. The route described here is one of many possible trips that can be taken in this area; it’s a scenic, moderately strenuous workout that can easily be shortened or expanded as desired.
From the Tapo Canyon Trailhead, follow the fire road northeast for a pleasant 0.9 miles, gradually climbing about 200 feet. Several large oaks dot the rolling hills in a terrain that resembles that of nearby Palo Comado/Cheeseboro Canyons.
At 0.9 miles, head right at a junction and continue through more shade before making a short, steep climb to a saddle (1.4 miles.) Here you get a good view to the east of the area where you are about to hike. It’s the start of the first loop, which is best hiked in the clockwise direction; that way you have a partially shaded ascent on your return. To do this, turn left and continue to climb for 0.2 miles to a T-junction where you can enjoy a panoramic vista before heading right and descending into the canyon on a single-track.
You drop 300 feet, closing the first loop at 2.4 miles from the start. Continue your descent to a T-junction where you’ll turn left and begin your ascent into Chivos Canyon. As you climb, you get views of the sandstone-striped hills across the valley. The trail climbs about 300 feet over the next half mile to reach another junction, the start of the second loop.
Continue straight, bearing right at another junction and climb around the northwestern side of a hill. At 4 miles, the trail tops out at a ridge where you get good views southeast toward the Simi Hills. Turn right at a T-junction and follow a ridge with views of Las Llajas Canyon to the left and Chivos Canyon to the right. Just before the trail begins its descent, you can take a short climb to the left to reach the highest point on the ridge.
The trail descends to an X-junction. Bear right and continue your descent back toward the start of the loop, passing by an abandoned water tank. At 4.9 miles, you complete the loop. Retrace your steps back toward Tapo Canyon, this time staying left at the Y-junction (5.5 miles.) The fire road climbs through an attractive oak grove before making an exposed push back to the saddle. From here, simply follow the roads back down to the trail head.
Text and photography copyright 2014 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.