Suicide Trail (Simi Hills)
- Location: Oak Park, Ventura County. Use the address 6141 Doubletree Road for the approximate location. From Highway 101, take the Kanan Road exit (36). Head north for 2.4 miles and turn right on Deerhill Rd. Go 0.3 mile and turn left onto Doubletree Road. The trailhead will be on the right in 0.2 mile, across from the church. From the 23 Freeway, take exit 15 for Avenida de Los Arboles. Head east for 1.6 miles to Westlake Blvd. Turn right and go 1.5 mile to Kanan Road. Turn left and go 4 miles to Doubletree Road. Turn left and go 0.3 mile to the trailhead, on the left side of the road across from the church.
- Agency: Rancho Simi Parks & Recreation/Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
- Distance: 5 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,300 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain, steepness, terrain)
- Suggested time: 3 hours
- Best season: October – May
- Recommended gear: hiking poles sun hat insect repellent
- Dogs: Allowed on leash (exercise caution during warm months; rocky terrain may be difficult on their paws)
- Cell phone reception: Good for most of the distance, fair to weak near the top
- Water: none
- Restrooms: none
- Camping: none
- More information: Mountain biking video of the Suicide Trail here; description of the Lower Suicide Trail and Suicide Connector (with area trail map) here; AllTrails report here
- Rating: 7
Panoramic views and steep, rocky slopes make the Suicide Trail a favorite of Thousand Oaks area mountain bikers (at least in the downhill direction) yet it remains surprisingly lightly visited by hikers. The route described here is a rigorous workout with almost nonstop eye candy, pleasantly quiet for being as close to the suburbs as it is. It’s a nice “companion” hike to the nearby China Flat Trail, with which it can be combined for a loop.
From the trailhead on Doubletree, follow the trail – known locally as the Lower Suicide Trail – through a sloping meadow, climbing to a ridge. Take a hard left, ignoring the two other trails and begin descending into a ravine before continuing the ascent on a rolling ridge. At 0.8 mile from the start, turn left at a junction and begin a steep drop into a shaded canyon. The trail then climbs to a junction with a spur heading back to the suburbs and almost immediately after, you reach the official Suicide Trail (1.2 miles from the start).
Turn right and follow the Suicide Trail up a steep, often rocky ridge. There are a few spots where the trail splits, typically into one smoother route favored by cyclists and one rockier route that is usually negotiable by hikers, both soon rejoining. At 1.6 miles, you reach a junction with the Suicide Connector Trail which heads west toward the China Flats Trail (your return route, should you decide to make a loop). The Suicide Trail continues its stiff ascent, picking up 500 vertical feet in the next 0.7 mile.
After making one long switchback, the trail reaches a junction (2.3 miles from the start). Both routes lead to the China Flat Trail but the right fork, which heads uphill, is quicker. It climbs to a saddle with a great view of China Flat and Simi Valley beyond before reaching its ending at the China Flat Trail.
From here, your choices are to return via the same route for a 5 mile hike or via the China Flat and Suicide Connector Trail, adding about another mile. If you have time and energy, take a detour to China Flat, 0.3 mile downhill to the north. Attractions here include a small seasonal pond and accessibility to rugged Simi Peak. The China Flat area is covered in greater detail in the China Flat/Simi Peak post.
Photo gallery (click thumbnails to see full sized versions)
Text and photography copyright 2017 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.