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Tuesday
Sep232014

Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyons in Agoura Hills

Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons are 4,000 acres in the northernmost section of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, in the Simi Hills. Stroll to Sulphur Springs or hike to the top of Simi Peak for panoramic views of Oak Park, Agoura Hills and Simi Valley. The Chumash lived in these canyons for thousands of years. Many trails within the canyons may have originated with the Chumash and then were expanded by the ranchers who followed.

Cheeseboro Canyon has some of the best cycling and running trails in the area. The lower trailhead is accessed from Cheseboro Road and there is plenty of parking. (On a side note, no one has been able to explain to me why Cheseboro Road is spelled differently than Cheeseboro Canyon.)

Cheeseboro Canyon Trail (CCT) is a 4.6 mile, fairly easygoing main artery into the park, whereas the 4.4 mile Palo Comado Canyon Trail, which largely parallels the CCT, is much more challenging. The Cheeseboro Ridge Trail also parallels the CCT and seems to be favored by cyclists with its long, rolling hills, though distance runners also will enjoy this trail.  Take CCT up through Sulphur Springs and you'll be running through a small (usually) stream bed and a brief rotten egg smell. Then soon the trail becomes more desert-like as you make your way up to the Sheep Corral Trail and the Shepherds' Flat area. It is really beautiful up there though it can get pretty hot, so carry some water!

While there are plenty of steep hills in this area, this is also a great place for strollers, as many of the trails are quite wide and flat.

The only bathroom that I'm aware of in these trails is at the Cheseboro Road trailhead and is not particularly pleasurable to use...just a heads up.

Visit www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/cheeseboropalocomado.htm to learn more and to access a nice pdf trail map. The trailhead is located at 5792 Cheseboro Road. Contact the visitor center at 805.370.2301.

Sunday
Sep212014

Trout Dale in Agoura (Local Fishing Fun!)

Try your luck at local fishing at Troutdale, 2468 Troutdale Drive, Agoura, just off Kanan Road before Triunfo Canyon.  Troutdale has been around for 40 years and has 2 ponds nicely stocked with fish.

For $7 per person (as of September 2014; pricing hasn't changed for years), you get a bamboo fishing pole, corn bait and bucket.  For another $5 you can buy worm bait, which we did. My boys loved it there, though for the wrong reasons...they quickly lost interest in fishing as they were fascinated by the worms (which we subsequently brought home and now reside in our lawn).

If you catch a fish, you can't throw it back in the pond. Fish prices range from $6 for a 10 inch fish to $11 for fish 15+ inches. Cleaning available for only $1.50 per fish. $20 penalty for throwing a fish back in the pond.

Hours (as of September 2014) are 10am to 6pm Wed to Fri and 9am to 7pm Sat/Sun (closed Mon/Tue). They indicate they are open on all holidays.

For the experience of fishing right here, minutes away from home, it is worth it (not to mention the savings in gas and time compared to driving elsewhere). The staff there was very nice and well accustomed to the clueless urban non-fisherman types like me.  For a nominal fee they will gut your fish for you. This place is a gem.  Like visiting the set of The Andy Griffith Show.  For more info and pictures, visit www.allyoucanfish.com.

Friday
Sep192014

Mullin Automotive Museum

Opened in Spring 2010 and located at 1421 Emerson Avenue in Oxnard, the Mullin Automotive Museum is a 47,000 square foot facility with a collection of over 50 French Art Deco cars from the 1930s and 1940s, including Bugattis, Delages, Delahayes, Hispano Suizas, Talbot-Lagos and Voisins. Peter W. Mullin is the founder/owner of the Museum and the collection.

The Museum is open to the public generally only 1-2 days per month. Click here for more RSVP information. Visit www.mullinautomotivemuseum.com or call 805.385.5400 to learn more and to purchase tickets. As of July 2014, admission is $15 for adults, $10 for 65+, $8 for ages 3 through 11 and free for 2 and under. Active Military FREE with ID. Private visits also available for $40 per person.

Upcoming 2014 dates (as of 9/19/14) are as follow (you must buy tickets in advance to reserve a spot):

Saturday, September 27, 2014
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Saturday, December 13, 2014

This museum and its contents are STUNNING to say the least!! More photos at THIS LINK.

 

Sunday
Sep142014

Los Robles Trail System in Thousand Oaks

The Los Robles Trail winds from Potrero Road, just east of Wendy Drive in Newbury Park, to Foothill Drive near Fairview Road (near Hampshire Road in Westlake Village). A popular access point is at South Moorpark Road and Greenmeadow Avenue in Thousand Oaks.

Along with its many connecting trails (Triunfo Canyon Trail, Rosewood Trail, White Horse Canyon Trail, Los Padres Trail and more), it offers plenty of space for hikers, bikers and equestrians to share the open space.

If you're looking for a nice, easy, one mile trail hike with the kids, the Oak Creek Canyon Loop is a nice one to do. Or extend the Oak Creek Canyon Loop to an easy 3 mile hike to the Los Robles Nature Walk.

For some of the most spectacular views of the Conejo Valley, try hiking up to Angel Vista Peak in Newbury Park.

A rugged, single track trail popular with mountain bikers and hikers is the Los Robles Trail West that goes up "Space Mountain" in Thousand Oaks.

This nearly 2,000 acre ridgeline trail system with its many neighborhood feeder trails is located at the southern portion of the Conejo Open Space. The Los Robles Trail also traverses several open space areas including Los Padres, Los Vientos, Conejo Ridge. Hope Nature Preserve, Old Conejo, Deer Ridge, Rancho Potrero and Ventu Park.

One spectacular view of the western Conejo Valley from the Los Robles Trail.

To the west of Los Robles is Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa and Point Mugu State Park which creates a public backcountry of over 27,000 acres of open space that stretches to the Pacific Ocean at Sycamore Cove. This scenic region is part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and provides panoramic views of Hidden Valley, the Conejo Valley and the Channel Islands.

Los Robles Trail trailhead and parking area on Potrero Road in Newbury Park

The Los Robles Trail has historical significance. On February 28, 1776, Juan Bautiste de Anza and his band of 198 settlers came through the Conejo Valley on their way from Mexico to San Francisco. Though the 101 freeway is the actual route, the National Park Service has designated the Los Robles Trail as the official recreational route so that everyone can enjoy the only national historical trail in the state of California.

Approximately 25 miles of trails provide a contiguous route from Westlake Village to Newbury Park with several shorter loops into narrow canyons and up steep ridges. The adjoining open space areas are managed by the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA), a joint powers authority created by the City of Thousand Oaks and the Conejo Recreation and Park District in 1977.

Unless you are an ant, this Los Robles Trail map is too small to read...click it for a full-size pdf map!

For more information about the Los Robles Trail, visit the Conejo Open Space Foundation website at www.cosf.org/website/html/los-robles.html.

Sunday
Sep142014

Los Robles Trail West "Space Mountain"

"Space Mountain" is not the "official" name of the Los Robles Trail heading west from the South Moorpark Road and Greenmeadow Avenue in Thousand Oaks trail access point but this mostly single track trail was affectionately named after the Disneyland ride due to its switchbacks and twists and turns to the top, where you will be rewarded with outstanding views of the Conejo Valley and beyond. These trails are particularly popular with mountain bikers who enjoy the rocky, single track trails, as well as hikers and runners.

From the main trailhead, go west just under 1/2 mile and you'll see the fork in the road where you can go east or west. Go west, young man (or woman).

After making your way up the hill to the right, you'll go down a hill to another fork in the road, where you can either veer slightly right to to the Spring Canyon Trail, which takes you about a mile to the Ventu Park area of Newbury Park. Veer to the left to continue on the Los Robles Trail West.

Only 4.7 miles from this juncture is the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa National Park area in Newbury Park. Some challenging miles for sure, but fun!

This section of the Los Robles Trail is mostly single track although some sections you can walk two-wide (though you'd best not do so, as there are many mountain bikes on these trails). Good to be aware of others on the trail.

I've attempted from time to time to count the number of switchbacks on my way up to the top of Space Mountain and back down and come up with something in the neighborhood of 8 to 10 of them. This is not a stroller friendly trail as it is steep, with plenty or rocks jutting out. An easy trail to twist your ankle if you're not careful.

A photo of a section of the Los Robles Trail West up Space MountainIt is roughly 3 miles to the top, where you will find one bench directly on the trail, facing a very short path to a viewing area with another bench.

Bench on the trail at the top of "Space Mountain" on the Los Robles TrailHere's the "money shot" bench caught on a hot, sunny morning in mid-September 2014.

The viewing bench at the very top of Space MountainAll told, this is roughly about 3.5 miles each way, or 7 miles round trip.

Los Robles Trail sign at the top of Space MountainViews from the top of Space Mountain looking west toward the Conejo GradeAnd as mentioned above, you can continue west on the Los Robles Trail west into Newbury Park. Portions of the trail go through privately owned land, which the owner has generously made available for public trail access...so be sure to treat the trail with respect!

And last but not least, a view of the single track trail heading towards Newbury Park, where you will eventually connect with the Angel Vista Peak trail.

Single track with awesome, continuous views as you continue west into Newbury Park

Saturday
Sep132014

Santa Rosa Trail and Lower Butte Trail in Thousand Oaks

The Santa Rosa Trail connects Wildwood Park to the hills above Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, about a 3 mile hike one way along the Mount Clef Ridge. Enjoy beautiful views of the Conejo Valley and Santa Rosa Valley, then loop around the hills behind CLU.

From Wildwood Park, you can take the Mesa Trail west and turn right onto the Santa Rosa Trail. Or start from the other direction...park at CLU near the Samuelson Community Pool and hike towards Wildwood.

Juncture of Santa Rosa Trail and Lower Butte Trail

Or take an alternate route with the Lower Butte Trail. The Conejo Open Space Foundation website has a map of the Santa Rosa/Lower Butte Trail loop hike that is about 6 miles in length from Wildwood Park at www.cosf.org/website/html/santa-rosa-lower-butte.html.

Two benches and a cross abpve CLU, east of the CLU sign, with panoramic views of the Conejo and Santa Rosa Valleys

Saturday
Sep132014

Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks

The main entrance of 1,765 acre Wildwood Park is at the corner of Avenida de los Arboles and Big Sky Drive in Thousand Oaks. The Chumash Indians lived in Wildwood Park for nearly 8,000 years, until the early 19th Century, when the Spanish colonized California. Eventually the park became owned by the Janss Corporation, which sold it to the Conejo Recreation and Park District in 1967.

Main trailhead accessible from the parking lot at Ave de los Arboles and Big Sky

Wildwood Park is an extremely popular hiking and cycling spot and CRPD frequently hosts nature hikes there. The park has 14 trails covering 17 miles, including two year-round waterfalls, Paradise Falls and Little Falls.  Wildwood is known for its spring wildflower displays from January to June.

HIKE TO THE TEEPEE, INDIAN CAVE AND PARADISE FALLS IN WILDWOOD PARK

The park hosted a number of movie/TV productions in the 1930s to the 1960s, including Spartacus, Wuthering Heights, Wagon Train, The Rifleman and Gunsmoke.

LIZARD ROCK HIKE IN WILDWOOD PARK

Call the CRPD at 805.495.2163 for more information about the park. But for LOTS of detailed information about Wildwood Park, including trail maps and pictures, visit the Conejo Open Space Foundation website at www.cosf.org/website/html/wildwood.html.

SANTA ROSA TRAIL AND LOWER BUTTE TRAIL FROM WILDWOOD PARK TO CLU

Friday
Aug292014

Oak Park Campground in Simi Valley

Located at 901 Quimisa Drive in Simi Valley, the Oak Park Campground is a rustic 100.5 acre open space park that is surrounded by gentle, rolling hills and an abundance of coastal sage scrub brush. This natural environment supports a multitude of California native wildlife species, such as a raptors, roadrunners, sagebrush lizards, and alligator lizards. The park is ideal for group RV camping in a secluded setting.

Day use is $2 per day ($4 on weekends) (as of August 2014). Camping is $31 per day.

Plenty of things to explore in this 100 acre space! Learn more or make reservations at www.ventura.org/inland-parks/oak-park-simi-valley or call 805.654.3951.

The video shot below was on a Sunday night around 7 p.m. in July 2010. There was for the most part nobody there! What a great opportunity to camp with your kids locally! I guess my only concerns about the location would be that the park is sandwiched between the 118 freeway and the railroad tracks...though I did not encounter any noise issues in my brief drive-by.

Wednesday
Aug272014

Butera's Billiards in Moorpark

Butera's Billiards is located at 476 West Los Angeles Avenue in Moorpark, offering plenty of nicely maintained pool tables, dartboards, karaoke (I believe on Wednesday nights) and a nice selection of beers as well as snacks. A popular place for professionals, local dart leagues and the community. Visit buterasbilliards.com for more information or call 805.523.3088.

Monday
Aug252014

Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts at Pepperdine University

The Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts at Pepperdine University, located in the heart of the campus at 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, showcases musicians, performers and artists from around the world at its Raitt Recital Hall (fits roughly 100 people), Smothers Theatre (closer to 500 attendees), Helen E. Lindhurst Theatre and the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art.

There is a wide range of great acts and artists...covering blues, country, classical, jazz, gospel, soloists, ensembles, acrobats, jugglers, classic rockers, a kids' theater series, art exhibits and numerous student productions.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.arts.pepperdine.edu or call 310.506.4522.

Note: Following a generous estate commitment from Pepperdine University Board member Lisa Smith Wengler, the University dedicated the Lisa Smith Wengler Center for the Arts on November 7, 2013.

Monday
Aug252014

Stiix Billiards in Ventura

Stiix Billiards at 2520 E. Main St in Ventura is a family billiards center open 7 days a week, with over a dozen billiards table, weekly leagues/tournaments, several dozen types of beer, music, TV, music, food and more. Visit www.stiixbilliards.com or call 805.641.2020.

Friday
Aug222014

Lake Eleanor Open Space Hike in Westlake Village

For a nice, fairly moderate hike in Westlake Village, take Triunfo Canyon Road south to Highgate Road and head up to the southeast endpoint of Highgate, past Hillsbury Road, to the end of the road, where you'll see a trailhead sign.

It doesn't actually say "Lake Eleanor Open Space Hike" but this is indeed the way to get to this trail maintained by the Conejo Open Space Foundation.  Walk past the fence on the pavement, and about 60 steps (I actually counted the steps), the trailhead is on the right. There's no sign. In fact, I've never seen any signs indicating which way to go on this trail. But once you reach this path, for the most part the trail is pretty obvious. COSF has some helpful images and a trail map at www.cosf.org/website/html/lake-eleanor-open-space-hike.html.

There are some brief, slightly challenging hilly sections on this hike, along with some rocky sections, but for the most part, this trail is perfectly fine for all ages. I generally wouldn't recommend strollers on this trail though because of these sections, but if you have a solid off-road stroller, it is possible.

On the left you'll see the beautiful Las Virgenes Reservoir for most of the 1 1/2 mile hike (about 2 1/2 to 3 miles round trip).

Can't go swimming in Las Virgenes Reservoir but it sure makes for gorgeous views.Towards the endpoint (Denver Springs Drive), on the right you can look down towards Westlake Boulevard/Decker Canyon and see the eight acre Lake Eleanor. Pretty cool to see from above as it is not accessible to the public.

The main trail is on the left; veer right however for best views of Lake Eleanor.

Lake Eleanor along with the Lake Eleanor Dam (also Banning Dam and surrounding 529 acres of open space has been named City of Thousand Oaks Historical Landmark #9. More info at ci.thousand-oaks.ca.us/living/historical.asp.

Lake Eleanor, which is fenced off to protect the wildlife, is clearly visible from the trail.

I love this little hike. It is quiet and peaceful and the views are just wonderful up here. And you are just minutes from civilization.

Thursday
Aug212014

Malibu Lagoon State Beach

Malibu Lagoon State Beach is where Malibu Creek meets the Pacific Ocean. To get there, park either at the state lot (corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Cross Creek Road) for a fee ($12 in 2014), along Pacific Coast Highway or across the street in spots available near Malibu Country Mart and the Malibu Civic Center.

The lagoon is serene, with a sandbar of pelicans enjoying their summer day. This beach extends southeast to Surfrider Beach and the Malibu Pier, which is just a short walk away. While you're there try to check out the Adamson House and Malibu Lagoon Museum.

More information at www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=835. Dogs are not allowed at Malibu Lagoon State Beach and trails.

INFORMATION ABOUT AND DIRECTIONS TO DOZENS OF LOCAL AREA BEACHES AT THIS LINK

Saturday
Aug162014

El Rincon, El Cerro and Las Brisas Trails in Dos Vientos Section of Newbury Park

In the heart of Dos Vientos (Spanish for Two Winds), there are three trails that are accessible from multiple spots by walkers, hikers, runners and bikers. These are the El Rincon, El Cerro and Las Brisas trails. These trails are all nicely maintained, single track and provide great views of the surrounding areas. These are the main trails situated in the heart of the Dos Vientos development; other trails surrounding Dos Vientos include the Sierra Vista Trail, Vista Del Mar Trail and Powerline (Edison Road) Trail.

Trail access for the El Rincon Trail is near the corner of Via Rincon and Rancho Dos Vientos. The trail is about 4/10ths of a mile and connects with the El Cerro and Las Brisas trails.

Access to El Cerro and Las Brisas trails at the juncture of Via Las Brisas and Calle Del Prado and several other points. Visit www.cosf.org/website/html/dos-vientos-map.html for a trail map on the Conejo Open Space Foundation website.

Saturday
Aug162014

Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens in Santa Barbara

Located at 1500 Santa Barbara Street, adjacent to Alameda Park, Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens is a beautiful botanic garden with over 75 tree and plant species. There's also a large koi pond with some ducks floating around (at least the day we were there), picnic area, gazebo and walking paths. Gorgeous park quite suitable for weddings.

Visit the City of Santa Barbara website at www.santabarbaraca.gov/gov/depts/parksrec/parks/features/horticulture/alicekeck.asp or call 805.564.5418 to make reservations.

Lots of turtles in the pond!