Liberty Canyon to Morrison Ranch
- Location: Liberty Canyon Trail Head, Agoura Hills. From the 101 Freeway, take the Liberty Canyon exit (34) and head north. The trail head will be almost immediately on the left. Park in the small dirt lot, taking care not to block the gate.
- Agency: Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy/National Park Service
- Distance: 3.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 400 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 1.5 hours
- Best season: Year round but hot during the summer
- More information: Map My Hike report here; description of the Cheeseboro Canyon portion of the hike here
- Rating: 5
For a medium length suburban hike, this trip offers good variety, including panoramic mountain views, secluded canyons, tall oaks and a little bit of local history. The destination is Morrison Ranch, a collection of abandoned buildings not far from the popular Cheeseboro Canyon trail head. Hikers who want more of a challenge can continue north from the ranch to explore Cheeseboro’s extensive network of trails. Note that this hike is different from the nearby Morrison Ranch Trail.
From the turnout on Liberty Canyon Road, head north to a gate marking the boundary of private property. Turn left and follow a narrow but well defined trail that skirts the private land’s west side. At 0.3 miles, the trail bends left and heads into an attractive, oak-shaded tributary of Liberty Canyon. After dipping into the woods, the trail ascends to a saddle 0.7 miles from the start. The trail is steep and loose here, but never difficult to follow and this represents the only major climbing on the entire route.
Descend to a four-way junction. The left fork is a use trail that follows a ridgeline; this can be an enjoyable side trip. The other two routes–a fire road heading straight and a single-track heading right–both head northwest through a meadow, reconnecting in a quarter mile. You briefly follow parallel to Cheseboro Road before curving northwest, passing some impressive oaks and a few sycamores.
At 1.8 miles, you reach Morrison Ranch. A large abandoned house sits beneath an oak; there are also a couple of sheds and some corrals left over from the property’s ranching days. A plaque talks about the history of the ranch, which was owned by the Morrison family until 1964. This is a nice spot to enjoy some solitude and contemplate the ever-changing landscape of Los Angeles before either returning to the Liberty Canyon trail head or extending your hike.
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.