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).

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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.

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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!

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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 Mountain.

A photo of a section of the Los Robles Trail West up Space Mountain.

It 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 Trail.

Bench on the trail at the top of "Space Mountain" on the Los Robles Trail.

The viewing bench at the very top of Space Mountain.

The viewing bench at the very top of Space Mountain.

All told, this is roughly about 3.5 miles each way, or 7 miles round trip.

Los Robles Trail sign at the top of Space Mountain.

Los Robles Trail sign at the top of Space Mountain.

Views from the top of Space Mountain looking west toward the Conejo Grade.

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!

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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.

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

Toastmasters Clubs in Ventura County

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Established in 1924, Toastmasters International is a world leader at helping people become more competent and comfortable in front of an audience. The nonprofit has over 332,000 members in 15,400 clubs around the world, offering a proven, fun way to practice and hone communication and leadership skills.

Most meetings are comprised of approximately 20 people who meet weekly for an hour or two. Participants practice and learn skills by filling a meeting role, ranging from giving a prepared speech or an impromptu one to serving as timer, evaluator or grammarian.  There is no instructor; instead, each speech and meeting is critiqued by a member in a positive manner, focusing on what was done right and what could be improved.

There are over 80 local Toastmasters clubs throughout Ventura County. They meet on different days of the week in various locations, in the morning, during the day or at night.

First step is to find a local club.  There is a search function at www.toastmasters.org that allows you to search for a club by zip code, by meeting day and by meeting time. 

Here is just a sampling of some of the 80+ local Toastmasters clubs in Ventura County and adjacent areas:

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

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A local must-see is the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, located at 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley.  With sweeping hilltop views of the surrounding valleys, this 153,000 sq ft museum on 100 acres is incredible and quite interesting for all ages.  A wealth of memorabilia and artifacts from throughout Reagan's life is on display at the museum.

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In February 2011, over 26,000 sq ft of new exhibits and dozens of interactive displays spanning Reagan's life were introduced.  There are 24 galleries that pay tribute to our 40th President's life. You can act in a movie with Reagan, deliver his inaugural address with a teleprompter, set the table for a state dinner, learn about his economic policies in interactive games, read his handwritten diary, ride a horse alongside Reagan at Rancho del Cielo, and much more. There is also a full-scale Oval Office replica and a 9 1/2 foot, 6,300 lb section of the Berlin Wall on display.

Volunteer docents are very friendly, helpful and extremely knowledgeable, they are there to help guide you through your visit and answer your questions.

Exhibits include: Intro Theater, Foundations of a Leader, GE Theater, Governor Years, Victory & Inauguration, Assassination Attempt, The Oval Office, First Lady, Berlin Wall, Rebuilding America, Threat Theater, Peace Through Strength, Summits, American Heroes, Ranch & Camp David, Post Presidency, Mourning Ronald Reagan, Legacy Theater, National Treasures Gallery, Mary Jane Wick Gallery (Special Exhibits) and the Air Force One Pavillion (1st Level: Marine One, 2nd Level: History of the Flying White House, Presidential Motorcade, 3rd Level: Flights of Freedom, Air Force One Theater, Board Air Force One). Outside is a decommissioned F-14 Tomcat, a replica of the White House Rose Garden, a piece of the Berlin Wall and President Reagan's Memorial Site.

The Air Force One Pavilion opened in October 2005.  It features the actual Air Force One aircraft used from 1973 to 2001 and you can walk through aircraft when you visit the museum.  There are also motorcade vehicles, helicopter and other items on display. 

In addition to the permanent exhibits discussed above, there are always temporary exhibits on display. Check out the museum's website for details.

Dine at the Reagan Library! Reagan's Country Cafe offers panoramic views and is open to the public from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, 7 days a week. You can access the cafe without entering the Museum. The Ronald Reagan Pub is located inside the Air Force One Pavilion and offers drinks and prepackaged sandwiches and other items.

The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Parking is free of charge. Admission costs vary based on the special exhibit on hand. Tickets for museum admission during the Genghis Khan exhibit 2/16/18 to 8/19/18 are $25 for ages 18 to 61, $22 ages 62+, $18 ages 11 to 17 and $15 for ages 3 to 10. Children 2 and under are free. Active U.S. Military with ID are also FREE. More information at www.reaganfoundation.org or by calling 805.577.4000.

Channel Islands Maritime Museum

The Channel Islands Maritime Museum (formerly known as Ventura County Maritime Museum) is a cultural and scenic haven in the Channel Islands Harbor complete with world class maritime art, ship models and ocean breezes. It opened in 1991 as an independent, not-for-profit public benefit corporation funded by members, friends, charitable foundations and businesses.

In Summer 2012, the museum moved across the harbor to 3900 Bluefin Circle, Oxnard (off of 3900 Harbor Boulevard).

The museum is open Thursday to Monday from 10 AM to 4 PM (noon to 4pm on Sunday) except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors (62+) and $3 for children ages 6 to 17 (free ages 5 and under) as of February 2018. Admission is free the 3rd Thursday of each month.

The Channel Islands Maritime Museum is home to a permanent collection of extensive marine art, featuring works by the Dutch and Flemish painters, 17th century artists Willem van de Velde and Bonaventura Peeters. Noted modern artists in the collection include John Stobart, Montague Dawson, David Thimgan, Roy Cross and Christopher Blossom.

The museum also houses one of the two largest collections of antique Napoleonic prisoner of war sailing ship models in the US. Three thousand years of maritime history are illustrated by historic ship models, including the life's work of renowned builder Edward Marple. Exhibits on whaling, sailors' arts, the history of the Channel Islands Harbor and Port of Hueneme round out the collection.

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In my many visits to the museum, I have been very impressed by how knowledgeable the docents were about the contents of the museum! I learned a lot and was amazed at the collection of nearly 100 intricate ship models on display going back hundreds of years. I was also pleased to see docents take the time to engage my kids in some of the exhibits.

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The Museum welcomes about 25,000 visitors annually. The Elementary Education Program, staffed entirely by volunteers, conducts in-house tours for thousands of elementary school students each year. The At Sea Education program supports three day youth sailing expeditions on board working tall ships.

For more information, including current exhibits and upcoming museum events, visit www.channelislandsmaritimemuseum.org or call 805.984.6260.

Ventura Flea Market - Ventura County Fairgrounds

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The Ventura Flea Market is held near the ocean in Ventura and is a great place to shop. The event features antiques, used and new merchandise sold by over 500 vendors, more than 5,000 buyers visit the Market each time it is held. 

The Ventura Flea Market is held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. A special Early Bird admission is available from 6am to 9am at $10.00 per person. Regular admission starts at 9 a.m. at $5.00 per person. Children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.  (Prices current as of February 2018.) Pets are not allowed. Event is held rain or shine! Parking is $5.

Upcoming Dates as of 2/14/18:

  • February 25, 2018
  • April 15, 2018
  • June 3, 2018
  • September 30, 2018
  • November 18, 2018

Visit www.rgcshows.com/Ventura.aspx or call 323.560.SHOW (7469) for more information.

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Sycamore Canyon Campground in Point Mugu State Park

Point Mugu State Park is located at 9000 W. Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, offering a variety of beach, hiking and camping opportunities.

The Sycamore Canyon Campground is north of PCH, offering 58 tent/RV spaces along with drinking water, restrooms, showers and fire rings. There are also 4 tent spaces available for "Hike and Bike" campers. Pets are allowed on leash in the campground. Fees as of April 2017 are $45/night and $10/night for Hike and Bike spots. Visit ReserveAmerica.com at THIS LINK to make reservations.

This campground is across the street from Sycamore Cove Beach, also part of Point Mugu State Park and just around the corner from the Thornhill Broome Campsites on the beach, the giant sand dune across from Thornhill Broome, and Mugu Rock.

Sycamore Canyon has trails galore to explore, going all the way up, eight miles, to Newbury Park, if you so choose. Located just steps from the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road trailhead is the "Scenic Trail," a moderate trail with some steps that gets you to stunning views of everything mentioned above - beaches, Mugu Rock, sand dune, etc.

The Scenic Trail connects with the Overlook Fire Road, which continues on and eventually connects with the top of the Ray Miller Trail, then on towards the La Jolla Valley. It is lush and stunning when green in late winter/early spring. It gets pretty brown and dry up here towards last spring, summer and fall months. But the great views towards the Pacific never change.

Pleasant Valley Historical Society Museum and Botanical Garden in Camarillo

The Pleasant Valley Historical Society Museum and Botanical Garden at 720 Las Posas Road in Camarillo is dedicated to the preservation of the history of Pleasant Valley, the Oxnard Plain and adjacent areas where many of Camarillo’s pioneers settled before there was a City of Camarillo. Admission is free. Donations are accepted. The Museum and Garden are open from noon to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, except holidays.

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The museum is located in a small building on the property which contains a variety of antiques and items of local historical interest. Resident docents are genuinely interested in sharing stories about local history in the facility. I can almost guarantee you will learn something new every time you visit!

Old items and newspaper clippings from years past on display.

Old items and newspaper clippings from years past on display.

The Charles L. Honn Botanical Garden, associated with the Historical Museum and located behind it, is a beautiful park-like area that features plants and trees indigenous to the Pleasant Valley and the surrounding region. The garden includes a large gazebo that is available as a breathtaking setting for weddings, anniversaries and similar functions. Kitchen facilities are available. Donations are accepted for use of the garden/gazebo.

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Call 805.482.3660 or visit www.pvhsonline.org for more information.

The Charles L. Honn Botanic Garden starts to brighten up after the winter rains.

The Charles L. Honn Botanic Garden starts to brighten up after the winter rains.

White Horse Canyon Trail in Westlake Village

The White Horse Canyon Trail trailhead is located off of Potrero Road, just east of the little bridge next to Vista Oaks Way. From Thousand Oaks/101 take Westlake Boulevard to Potrero Road, turn right, and the bridge is less than half a mile away. Park either in allowed spots on the opposite side of Potrero Road or in an adjacent neighborhood.

You walk into this gulley to get to the nondescript trailhead. In fact, I don't see signage that actually says White Horse Canyon Trail. But there is the following entry point that does make it clear:

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The trail is really more like a fire road, wide, somewhat rocky, but not particularly difficult. The climb gets you up to some peaks that provide views of all the surrounding areas.

Wide trail. Be aware that private residences are adjacent to the first portion of the trail.

Wide trail. Be aware that private residences are adjacent to the first portion of the trail.

Wide trail. Be aware that private residences are adjacent to the first portion of the trail.You can take the White Horse Canyon Trail to the Los Robles Trail and do a 6 mile loop back the start, or you can reach the first peak at about 1,300 ft, take in the views, and turn back, for about a 2 mile hike.

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There's a nice little map showing a counter-clockwise loop from White Horse to Los Robles going east, looping back to White Horse. Visit www.cosf.org/website/html/white-horse-los-robles.html.

Folks often ask me if trails are stroller friendly or not. This one in my estimation is not particularly stroller friendly because the surface is often uneven, with many loose rocks and soft dirt at times. It is do-able but not one of the better trails for that purpose...in my opinion.

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Las Virgenes View Park in Calabasas

Las Virgenes View Park is located at the northeast corner of Las Virgenes Road and Mulholland Highway in Calabasas. The park is a 696 acre project of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, owned and managed by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority in cooperation with the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District and City of Calabasas.

Enjoy a 2.4 mile trail through chaparral and woodlands to a scenic vista point at 1,100 feet. It is a single track trail of switchbacks that largely parallels Las Virgenes Road. You'll enjoy all sorts of views as you head up the trail, from Malibu Creek State Park, De Anza Park, King Gillette Ranch and beyond.

Off street dirt parking is at the trailhead and across the street. More information at www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=30.

Trailhead

Trailhead

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View from the Las Virgenes View Park Trail towards Malibu Creek State Park.

View from the Las Virgenes View Park Trail towards Malibu Creek State Park.

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Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara

Dolphins greet you at the entrance to Stearns Wharf.

Dolphins greet you at the entrance to Stearns Wharf.

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Stearns Wharf is located at the juncture of W. Cabrillo Road and State Street in Santa Barbara. Originally constructed in 1872 by lumberman John P. Stearns as the longest deep-water pier between Los Angeles and San Francisco, it is now one of the most visible and visited tourist destinations in Santa Barbara. In 1980-81, the City of Santa Barbara restored the wharf, constructed new buildings on it and assumed operation of the facility.

Our family particularly enjoys visiting the Museum of Santa Barbara Sea Center located on the wharf, followed by a stop at the candy store or the ice cream shop. Of course, The Harbor Restaurant and Longboards Grill are crowd favorites. There's also wine tasting, Moby Dick Restaurant, fish and chips, souvenir shops and other places that are fun to stop by.

View from the end of Stearns Wharf back toward the mainland.

View from the end of Stearns Wharf back toward the mainland.

View from Stearns Wharf

View from Stearns Wharf

You can get onto the wharf in a number of ways. There is limited parking on the wharf that currently (as of January 2018) costs $2.50/hour up to a maximum of $20 per day...but the first 90 minutes are FREE with validation. Or you can park along Cabrillo Road or in a local beach parking lot and walk onto the wharf. Or do what we enjoy...park at the Santa Barbara Harbor and ride bikes onto the wharf. The wood planks are a bit bumpy but you'll survive!

Learn more about Stearns Wharf at www.stearnswharf.org.

Beautiful views of the harbor area as you'll see below from the pier. If you walk onto the wharf, you may encounter some locals that "live off the land" with sand sculptures and other monuments on the sand for your viewing pleasure (and perhaps some spare change). They are part of the carnival atmosphere. And of course on Sundays you'll be treated to the Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Show that has been running since 1965.

Rabbit Hill (Knoll Open Space) in Newbury Park

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The Knoll Open Space is a 21 acre plot of land owned by the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency located at the corner of Reino Road and Old Conejo Road in Newbury Park (across the street from Peppertree Playfields). This plot of land is more affectionately known as Rabbit Hill. While it doesn't take too much effort to get to the top of Rabbit Hill, you will definitely be rewarded with a nice, panoramic view towards Boney Mountain, Thousand Oaks and Conejo Mountain. This hill is somewhat less challenging than the steeper Tarantula Hill in Thousand Oaks, so if you're looking for a nice after-dinner stroll, this is a fine choice. While not the most exciting hill to look at, the views make it worthwhile! You can park on Reino Road to start your short journey.

You can either take a straight shot up the hill or a more gradual curved trail. 

You can either take a straight shot up the hill or a more gradual curved trail. 

Views toward Boney Mountain.

Views toward Boney Mountain.

Views towards Thousand Oaks

Camarillo Grove Park

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Camarillo Grove Park is located at the bottom of the Conejo Grade at 6968 E. Camarillo Springs Road (Camarillo Springs exit). This is kind of an off the beaten path park that has a variety of interesting activities. There is an off-leash dog park where you can bring your pooch. There is a small playground area for the kids. There are several large outdoor covered group picnic areas that are popular for parties.

Additionally, the park has some fun trails for roughly a mile** or so of hiking and exploring. At the back (east) end of the park you'll see the trail sign. the lower loop is fairly short, with some interesting, large rock formations. The upper loop is more significant and steep and provides for some nice views.

Two miles of new trails were added in January 2017 with over 20 new interpretive signs located along the trails!

This park offers multiple options for hiking. The lower loop is an easier gently sloping trail with oak trees, sage, volcanic rock formations, and more.  You can even take dogs off-leash on weekends Saturdays and Sundays before 10 a.m.

The park opens at 7:30 a.m. until dusk. There are parking fees at this particular park to help pay for the upkeep of the park. As of January 2018 these fees are $3 on weekdays, $5 on weekends and $10 for oversized vehicles (RVs, etc.) on weekends. Or buy an annual pass for $55.

Learn more at www.pvrpd.org/parks/dog/grove.asp.

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Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center in Calabasas

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The Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center is located at King Gillette Ranch, 26800 Mulholland Highway, Calabasas. It opened to the public in June 2012.

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The Visitor Center is jointly operated by the National Park Service, California State Parks, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

It features exhibits and interactive displays, the work of local artists, tours of sustainable features and a native plant garden. There is a tremendously comprehensive exhibit covering things to see and do within the Santa Monica Mountains.

The Visitor Center was formerly the horse stable for the Gillette Mansion. It retains some of its original design while achieving LEED Platinum certification as the first "net zero" visitor center in the National Park Service. Cool! (literally and figuratively)

Visitor Center staff and volunteers are very friendly and helpful and have a ton of information to share to help you enjoy what we have in our backyard.

There's also gift shop in the center with a variety of items including books, handmade items, kids' items and more.

Call 805-370-2301 or visit www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/visitor-center.htm. Open 9am to 5pm year-round, except Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

Nearby hiking is plentiful, including the Inspiration Point hike at King Gillette Ranch and across the street at Malibu Creek State Park.

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