Serra Cross from Grant Park (Ventura)
- Location: Behind City Hall, Ventura. From the south and east, take the 101 Freeway to the California St. exit (70A). Turn right and follow California St. for 0.3 miles to Poli St. Turn right and make an immediate left into the parking area behind City Hall. Park in the upper lot by the signed trail head. From the north and west, take Highway 101 to the Ventura Ave. exit (70A). Merge right onto Thompson Blvd. and go 0.2 miles to Palm St. Turn left and go 0.3 miles to Poli St. Turn right and go 0.2 miles. Just past City Hall, turn left into the parking area and park in the upper lot.
- Agency: City of Ventura
- Distance: 2 miles
- Elevation gain: 300 feet
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Best season: Year round
- USGS topo map: Ventura
- More information: Trip description here; Grant Park Yelp page here; Serra Cross Park info here; Ventura Botanical Gardens info here; Map My Hike report here
- Rating: 4
New and old converge on this urban hike, which offers a quick workout, a taste of local history, botanical interest and perhaps best of all panoramic ocean and coastal views, all convenient to downtown Ventura. Although the cross on top of the hill was originally placed there by Father Junipero Serra in 1782, dedicating what was then called San Beunaventura, the trail to reach it was built in 2012, climbing through the newly created Ventura Botanical Gardens in the city’s Grant Park.
From the parking lot behind City Hall, follow the trail as it switchbacks uphill, taking in ocean views and offering up close views of various California native, Chilean and Mediterranean-climate thriving plants. At 0.6 miles, the trail meets a paved road. It continues on the opposite side, but to reach the cross, head left and follow the road southwest. You will be sharing it with cars and there is no sidewalk, so even as you enjoy the panoramic views, be careful.
Stay right at the next two intersections and follow the road to its ending by the cross. Here, you can sit either by the cross itself or at a picnic table and enjoy an excellent ocean view. If visibility is good, you can see Anacapa Island, Santa Cruz Island and the western end of the Santa Monica Mountains in detail. Sunsets here are particularly enjoyable; adding to the appeal are the lights below during the descent. You may also hear some music from one of the nearby bars or restaurants drifting up from below on the weekends.
Text and photography copyright 2015 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.