Rancho Potrero Open Space, Thousand Oaks, CA

Rancho Potrero Open Space

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Rancho Potrero Open Space, Thousand Oaks, CA
Poppies at Rancho Potrero
Rancho Potrero Open Space, Thousand Oaks, CA
Wildflowers at Rancho Potrero Open Space

Rancho Potrero Open Space

    • Location: The new trail head is located at 4790 Lynn Road, Thousand Oaks. From Highway 101, take the Lynn Road exit (45) and head southwest for a total of 6 miles. The trail head will be on the left side of the road, shortly past Via Andrea and before Rancho Dos Vientos, adjacent to the equestrian center. Alternately, from the west, take Highway 101 to Wendy Dr. (exit 47B). Turn left and head south on Wendy Dr. for 2.2 miles. Turn right on Lynn Road and follow it 2.1 miles to the trail head.
    • Agency: Conejo Open Space Foundation
    • Distance: 2.4 miles
    • Elevation gain: 300 feet
    • Difficulty Rating: G
    • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
    • Best season: Year round
    • USGS topo map: Newbury Park
    • More information: Article about the new trail head here; trip descriptions here and here; area trail map here
    • Rating: 6
Rancho Potrero Open Space, Thousand Oaks, CA
0:00 – Trail head off Lynn Road (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

This little-known park is located just to the west of the more famous Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa unit of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Acquired by the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency in 1993, the land was given an updated trail head in 2015, including full-service restrooms, picnic tables and an information board. Several official and unofficial trails the area, providing multiple possible routes. Hikers have the option of extending their trip into Rancho Sierra Vista and even farther into Point Mugu State Park via the Ranch Overlook Trail. It’s a fun place to wander around without a specific agenda but for hikers who prefer a specific route, the 2.4-mile loop below offers a nice sampling of the area’s scenery.

Rancho Potrero Open Space, Thousand Oaks, CA
0:06 – Bear right at the first junction (times are approximate)

From the west end of the parking area, follow the trail south through rolling meadows. In 0.2 mile, you reach a junction. Bear right and head uphill (the left fork heads 0.7 mile to Rancho Sierra Vista, an option if you want to extend the hike).  You soon reach another Y-junction. Head uphill and left; the right fork is your return route. A little more climbing brings you to a picnic area where, on days of good visibility you can see the ocean and Anacapa Island.

Rancho Potrero Open Space, Thousand Oaks, CA
0:15 – Looking west from the picnic area (follow the single-track on the left)

Past the picnic area, the trail becomes paved. Bear left on an unsigned dirt trail and follow it as it curves southwest into a shallow canyon dotted with poppies and other wildflowers in the spring. In a quarter mile, you reach a junction with a fire road (Ranch Road) and bear left, following it another quarter mile to its ending at private property. Here, enjoy views of Boney Mountain and the rolling terrain of Point Mugu State Park’s northern corner before retracing your steps.

Rancho Potrero Open Space, Thousand Oaks, CA
0:22 – Ranch Road (bear left)

At the junction, continue past the unsigned single-track trail and follow Ranch Road to a small clearing with ruins of a ranch house. Another unsigned trail branches off to the north and then heads east for a short distance before reaching the paved road that drops down from the picnic area. Turn left and follow it a short distance to a junction with another single-track trail (1.8 miles from the start). It heads southeast for 0.3 miles through the meadow before completing the loop. Turn left and retrace your steps back to the parking area.

Rancho Potrero Open Space, Thousand Oaks, CA
0:30 – View from the Rancho Road dead end
Rancho Potrero Open Space, Thousand Oaks, CA
0:50 – Trail leading north from the ranch ruins

Text and photography copyright 2016 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.

1:00 - Trail leading east through the meadow
1:00 – Trail leading east through the meadow

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