Albinger Archaeological Museum in Ventura

The Albinger Archaeological Museum, located at 113 E. Main Street in Ventura, is open to the public this summer 2018 from June 16 through September 2, on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 4 pm. Admission to the museum is free.

Named after Ventura Mayor from 1969 to 1973, Albert R. Albinger, the museum is built on the home site of saloonkeeper and early mayor Angel Escondon and displays artifacts spanning 3,500 years of Ventura history encompassing five different cultures (Chumash, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese and circa 1850 U.S.) from a single archaeological site next to the San Buenaventura Mission.

In 1973 the buildings which stood at the museum's location were demolished as part of the Mission Plaza Urban Redevelopment Project. Archaeological testing suggested the existence of rich cultural remains beneath the soil. The Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Buenaventura authorized intensive archaeological investigations and during the summers of 1974 and 1975 archaeological excavations uncovered more than 30,000 artifacts. Each artifact was carefully cleaned, numbered, cataloged and studied. In order to protect and preserve this part of the City’s heritage, the property was withdrawn from the redevelopment project. In 1975 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Ventura Mission Historic District. In January 1980 the City of San Buenaventura opened the Albinger Archaeological Museum. 

Displays of stone bowls, a tomol (plank canoe reproduction), shell beads, arrowheads, bone whistles, crucifixes, bottles, buttons and pottery inside the exhibit building are complemented outside by excavations of the foundations of the lost Mission church, Native American barracks, well and the oldest standing structure in Ventura, the mission water filtration building.

More information at www.cityofventura.net/albinger.

Beaches Spanning From Carpinteria Through Ventura County to Malibu

My kids and I love going to the beach but for many years we seemed to go to the same ones all the time. So I stopped by the Automobile Club and asked them if they had a brochure on all the local area beaches open to the public. They shrugged their shoulders and said no such guidebook existed. They handed me a fold out map, which was of no use to me as I wanted to know exactly how to get to these beaches, if they have restrooms, parking, etc.

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Then I started searching around for information and found bits and pieces in various locations that were marginally useful. So I decided to consolidate this information into one place where I could find out about where to go to the beach around Ventura County on up the coast to Carpinteria and Santa Barbara and down to Malibu. So I hope you find the following links helpful in finding local area beaches in Ventura County and surrounding areas!

Carpinteria to Ventura

Oxnard to Malibu

Santa Barbara Area Beaches

This took a lot of time to compile over 60 local area beach areas, so I truly hope you benefit from these lists! So enjoy and provide feedback if you have comments and/or additional information.

If you have a great photo you'd like to share, perhaps post it to the Conejo Valley Guide Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ConejoValleyGuide!

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 At Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu

At Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu

 Windsurfers at Surfers' Point in Ventura

Windsurfers at Surfers' Point in Ventura

Commemorative Air Force Aviation Museum at Camarillo Airport

Located at the Camarillo Airport at 455 Aviation Drive, the Southern California Wing of the Commemorative Air Force has hangars devoted to preserving, maintaining, displaying, and flying World War II aircraft.

The Commemorative Air Force Southern California Wing Aviation Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm and Mondays noon to 4pm. Closed New Year's, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Donations of $10 for adults, $5 for ages 10 to 18, $3 for ages 6 to 10 are requested. Kids under 6 and active military are free. Visit www.cafsocal.com or call 805.482.0064 for more information.

You can rent out the hangar for events! Visit hangarevents.com for more information.

Also, take a vintage WWII airplane ride on a PT-19 Cornell open cockpit aircraft or aSNJ-5/AT-6 "Texan" aircraft! Get a 20 minute ride on the Ventura County coastline or along the mountains for only $250 (PT-19) or $395 (SNJ-5)! Or try the P-51 Mustang Warbird for $1,495! What a thrill! Visit www.cafsocal.com/rides for more information.

Docents are enjoyable to speak with as they have a lot of history to share at this museum. Two 15,000 sq ft hangars and a new (2016) 32,800 sq. ft. hangar complex serve as a Museum Hangar and a Maintenance and Restoration Hangar.

The Museum Hangar contains some of the many artifacts that are currently on display as well as a gift shop. It also houses any of the aircraft that are not away on a mission or undergoing maintenance.  For safety reasons the maintenance hangar is not available for a walk-through, however visitors can observe any work in progress from behind a safety perimeter.

There are a number of aircraft on display, including several you can physically inspect, which is always fun to do with the kids. There are some interesting WWII exhibits on hand too. 

 The only authentic Marine BPJ-1J variant of the famed Mitchell B-25 Bomber. It flew into Camarillo from Midland, TX in 1993 for a 20 year restoration project. It is now flight-ready!

The only authentic Marine BPJ-1J variant of the famed Mitchell B-25 Bomber. It flew into Camarillo from Midland, TX in 1993 for a 20 year restoration project. It is now flight-ready!

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 The Kakovlev Yak-3 is widely considered the lightest fighter aircraft between 1939 and 1945.

The Kakovlev Yak-3 is widely considered the lightest fighter aircraft between 1939 and 1945.

Rincon Point in Carpinteria

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Rincon Point is home to one of the most popular surfing spots in the world. Accessible near the Ventura/Santa Barbara County line just a few miles east of Downtown Carpinteria. Take the Bates Avenue offramp off the 101 Freeway towards the ocean. On the right is access to the City of Carpinteria's Rincon Beach Park and on the left is access to the Rincon Point parking area. Open 6am to 9pm daily, with a not-particulary-nice porta-john available in the parking area.

There is a trail that takes you to the beach area from the parking lot. The area is also surrounded by beach homes.

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 A view toward the north from Rincon Point (in the direction of Rincon Beach Park).

A view toward the north from Rincon Point (in the direction of Rincon Beach Park).

THE BEACH BOYS INCLUDED A REFERENCE TO RINCON IN SURFIN' SAFARI:

At Huntington and Malibu

They're shooting the pier

At Rincon they're walking the nose

We're going on safari to the islands this year

So if you're coming get ready to go

The Punch Bowls in Santa Paula

The Santa Paula Canyon Trail takes you to the "The Punch Bowls" in the Los Padres National Forest. This is a fairly challenging hike that is definitely not for everyone. But for many, it is quite an interesting, roughly 7 mile round trip exploration. Plan on at least a 4 to 6 hour excursion.

The trail begins in the hills behind Thomas Aquinas College at 10000 Ojai Road, Santa Paula. This is a private college and thus the public is not allowed access to parking on the campus. There is a small amount of street parking and several dirt lots nearby. Make sure though not to leave any valuables in your car.

Access to the trail takes a bit of a walk on the paved road that swings to the right of the college. There are signs that point the way to the trailhead and that asks hikers to stay on the paved roadway.

 The winding road to the trailhead

The winding road to the trailhead

You will be entering private property (continue following the signs), so be mindful of that as you veer left, then past an oil rig through an avocado farm. You will be walking past a large red gate, then continue on, until you reach another oil pumping rig. Go left along the path around the rig to the trailhead, where you will be greeted by the sounds of the Santa Paula Creek.

 You will be veering left after walking through this gate,  into private property. You will be walking past an oil pump then into an avocado orchard, then past another oil rig (veer left) to the trailhead.

You will be veering left after walking through this gate,  into private property. You will be walking past an oil pump then into an avocado orchard, then past another oil rig (veer left) to the trailhead.

Cross the creek (there are strategically placed stones) and you are on your way.

 Veer right around this., which would seem obvious but to me it wasn't. 

Veer right around this., which would seem obvious but to me it wasn't. 

From here, there are no signs that clearly say "trail this way." Perhaps the main thing to keep in mind is that for the most part, you will be following the creek to the area known as the Punch Bowls. But the exact path is not always clear, especially when you are like me and have a tendency of picking the wrong path at each fork.

 Some sections of the trail are perfectly flat and scenic. Most of the trail you will hear the Santa Paula Creek.

Some sections of the trail are perfectly flat and scenic. Most of the trail you will hear the Santa Paula Creek.

But one thing we generally found is that someone has sprayed orange arrows in the direction you need to go. That said, it is still not always clear. Unfortunately, there is graffiti and markings of various sorts much of the way up the trail. In fact this is probably the worst example of defacing of a public trail that I've ever seen. I will not post the images here.

In any case, we didn't let the graffiti bother us too much as the trails were so beautiful, interesting and challenging. In fact, aside from hiking up Boney Mountain, this is probably the most challenging trail I've tried in the local area. There are some "perfectly flat" sections but many sections of the trail are quite rocky, narrow, lined with poison oak and challenging.

Also, be prepared to cross the creek in various sections. It wasn't always clear if we should be on the left or right side of the creek. Make sure to wear good hiking shoes as you will be making some creek crossings, which can be slippery.

I don't usually hike with a walking stick, but it definitely came in handy on this trail. The higher up we got, the rockier and more "bouldery" the trail became. 

 The boulders get larger and there are more areas with loose rocks the higher you get up the trail. I don't usually use a walking stick, but it definitely came in handy for this hike.

The boulders get larger and there are more areas with loose rocks the higher you get up the trail. I don't usually use a walking stick, but it definitely came in handy for this hike.

In any case, after some crazy sections of rocks that, when we went (mid-June 2016), included sections of significant piles of rocks (including some fairly recent looking rock slide areas), you will reach the first of the Punch Bowls. This was our final destination, but there are additional pools of water higher up, on trails that appear increasingly challenging.

 This punch bowl was our final destination before heading back down. Beautiful to see, though the water was not particularly deep (blame it on the drought) or clean looking. But quite a great destination to hike to nonetheless and enjoyable to relax and take it in.

This punch bowl was our final destination before heading back down. Beautiful to see, though the water was not particularly deep (blame it on the drought) or clean looking. But quite a great destination to hike to nonetheless and enjoyable to relax and take it in.

I took 4th and 7th graders with me and they did fine. It was a lot of fun. Definitely not stroller friendly. Dogs are ok on leash, though I wouldn't bring my dog due to the proliferation of rocks.

Learn more about the Santa Paula Canyon Trail at www.hikelospadres.com/santa-paula-canyon-trail.html.

Lizard Rock Hike in Wildwood Park, Thousand Oaks

Lizard Rock is just over a mile from the main entrance to Wildwood Park at the west end of Avenida de los Arboles. Walk/run/hike over Mesa Trail towards Lizard Rock and you will be treated to beautiful views of the surrounding spaces where shows like Gunsmoke and The Rifleman were filmed.

 The entrance area and dirt parking lot at the Wildwood Park main trailhead.

The entrance area and dirt parking lot at the Wildwood Park main trailhead.

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 Lizard Rock in the distance

Lizard Rock in the distance

 View from on top of the lizard

View from on top of the lizard

 Trail sign south of Lizard Rock indicating Lizard Rock Trail to Wildwood Canyon Trail

Trail sign south of Lizard Rock indicating Lizard Rock Trail to Wildwood Canyon Trail

You can make this hike a 4 1/2 mile loop past Paradise Falls and the Indian Creek Trail by reviewing the map on the Conejo Open Space Foundation website at www.cosf.org/website/html/lizard-waterfall-creek.html.

Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Path - Pacific Palisades to Torrance

We love driving down to Will Rogers State Beach from time to time, bring the bikes and enjoy the Marvin Braude Coastal Bicycle Path along the Pacific Ocean. 

This fun 22 mile path takes you from Pacific Palisades as far as Torrance.  Depending on how far you want to go and if you have kids with you, there are so many spots to stop along the way. 

To get to Will Rogers State Beach from the Conejo Valley, take the 101 to Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road south to PCH, then about 9 miles down PCH to Will Rogers (17000 PCH), just east of Gladstones and Sunset Boulevard. Parking at Will Rogers varies based on when you go; I last recall paying $10.

The path doesn't actually start at Will Rogers Beach as it is a walking path only at this point. Ride the bike through the parking lot to the start of the bike path at Temescal Canyon Road. And, you're off!

From the start of the path, here are some approximate distances to destinations:

  • Santa Monica Pier - 3.2 miles
  • Venice Pier - 5.8 miles
  • Marina del Rey - 8.7 miles
  • Playa del Rey - 9.9 miles
  • Dockweiler Beach - 12.5 miles
  • Manhattan Beach Pier - 16.5 miles
  • Hermosa Beach Pier - 18.2 miles
  • Redondo Beach Pier - 20.4 miles
  • Torrance Beach - 22.3 miles (endpoint)

With younger kids, the Santa Monica Pier makes a perfect 6 1/2 mile round trip destination as you can stop, eat lunch and have some fun at Pacific Park, then ride back. Or kick it a few notches and ride to/through Venice Beach for all the action. 

 Pacific Park up ahead

Pacific Park up ahead

There are plenty of restrooms water stops and of course non-stop BEACH to enjoy here, making this one of my favorite destination for bicycling with the family. And of course, you don't have to park at Will Rogers...you can park anywhere on PCH in and around the bike path to enjoy it.

Of course you do have to be careful of sand on the path, pedestrians/beach goers crossing and walking on the path, other cyclists, runners, roller bladers and crowds.  

Detailed map at file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/dbh/docs/189949_2013-BIKEMAP85x11Web-Ready(highres).pdf

CLICK HERE FOR DOZENS OF FAMILY-FRIENDLY BIKE PATHS BACK UP IN THE VENTURA COUNTY AREA!

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. More information at www.pvhsonline.org.

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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.

Ventura Botanical Gardens Demonstration Trail

NOTE: The entire 109 acres were burned in the Thomas Fire of December 2017 and the trail has been closed as a result. Anticipated re-opening date is late summer/early fall 2018.

The Ventura Botanical Gardens Demonstration Trail is a nearly 1 mile trail between Ventura City Hall and Grant Park. It opened in October 2012. The trail zig zags and meanders its way up to Grant Park, offering awesome views of downtown Ventura and the coastline. The trail is accessible behind Ventura City Hall, located at 567 South Poli Street. Take the driveway on the right side of City Hall (facing the building) and drive up to the parking area.

 Access to the trail is on the right (east) side of Ventura City Hall. 

Access to the trail is on the right (east) side of Ventura City Hall. 

 There's a parking area at the bottom of the trail behind Ventura City Hall

There's a parking area at the bottom of the trail behind Ventura City Hall

Funds continue to be raised to enhance the Demonstration Trail, provide for trail maintenance and augment it with a new trail and ultimately build a visitor center. Learn more at www.venturabotanicalgardens.com.

 The trail is decorated with pretty wildflowers and other California native plants

The trail is decorated with pretty wildflowers and other California native plants

 There are some neat rock walls on sections of the trail

There are some neat rock walls on sections of the trail

 A short walk will get you some pretty views!

A short walk will get you some pretty views!

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Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades

The Getty Villa is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades, one mile north of Sunset Boulevard, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It is about 28 miles from the heart of Thousand Oaks. The most direct path is the 101 south to Old Topanga Canyon Road, though you can also take other arteries like Malibu Canyon and Kanan to PCH.

The Getty Villa is one of two locations of the J. Paul Getty Museum, the other being the spectacular Getty Center in Brentwood.

The Getty Villa houses the J. Paul Getty Museum’s extensive collection of over 44,000 Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities dating from 6,500 BC to 400 AD, including the Lansdowne Heracles and the Victorious Youth. More than 1,200 of them are on view in 23 galleries devoted to the permanent collection. An additional six galleries present changing exhibitions, often featuring works from other institutions.

 Main museum at the Getty Villa

Main museum at the Getty Villa

The Family Forum features hands-on activities that encourage shared learning and discovery for children, while another interactive installation, the TimeScape Room, helps place the collection in an historical context.

On a personal note, this place is stunning, Pristine, well maintained, peaceful. The grounds take you back to how the Romans may have lived. Although my younger son in 3rd grade was not particular engaged during our first visit, my 6th grader had learned about the Greek and Roman Gods in school and found many of the exhibits quite interesting. There's also a cafe and gift shop.

 Due to the severe drought this was not filled with water, but is beautiful nonetheless

Due to the severe drought this was not filled with water, but is beautiful nonetheless

Located on a pristine 64 acres, the Getty Villa is modeled after the Villa dei Papiri, a first-century Roman country house, the Villa is an airy, sunlit environment, featuring mosaic floors and colorful trompe l’oeil walls and paintings. Its four gardens and grounds are planted with species known from the ancient Mediterranean, creating lush and fragrant places to stroll. There is also a 450 seat outdoor theater at the Villa.

 You'll notice that these many of the antiquities on display have damages incurred for various reasons (they were outdoor displays thousands of years ago).  This adds to their aura.

You'll notice that these many of the antiquities on display have damages incurred for various reasons (they were outdoor displays thousands of years ago).  This adds to their aura.

The UCLA/Getty Master’s Program in Archaological and Ethnographic Conservation is housed on this campus. The collection is documented and presented through the online GettyGuide as well as through audio tours.

Admission to the Getty Villa is free of charge but requires advance reservation with a timed ticket that you can obtain at www.getty.edu, or by calling (310) 440-7300. There is a parking charge of $15 per car; $10 after 5pm for evening events. 

Open Wednesday–Monday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Closed Tuesdays and on major holidays (January 1, July 4, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day).

 Outdoor amphitheater has an authentic feel to it

Outdoor amphitheater has an authentic feel to it

Angel Vista Peak in Newbury Park

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The 1,530' elevation Angel Vista Peak in Newbury Park may well have the most spectacular views of the Conejo Valley. You can see the entire Conejo Valley, stretching from the Conejo Grade to central Thousand Oaks, Agoura Hills, Hidden Valley, Boney Mountain and beyond from here!

Angel Vista can most easily be accessed via the Rosewood Trail at the southern terminus of Regal Oak Ct, off of Lynn Road) Or for a much longer hike, take the Los Robles Trail (either the Thousand Oaks side accessible at South Moorpark Road and Greenmeadow Ave or Newbury Park side off of Potrero Road). The Conejo Open Space Foundation provides a useful map at www.cosf.org/website/html/los-robles-angel-vista.html. There's a bench as well as a picnic table up there with wonderful views.

The hike is about 3 1/2 miles round trip.

 You'll eventually see this sign if you make the trek up the Rosewood Trail.

You'll eventually see this sign if you make the trek up the Rosewood Trail.

 The bench is in sight!

The bench is in sight!

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 Fun to see at least a portion of Hidden Valley from up here.

Fun to see at least a portion of Hidden Valley from up here.

Potrero Ridge Trail in Newbury Park

The Potrero Ridge Trail in Newbury Park is an interesting ridgeline trail that runs west/east in three sections over approximately 2 1/2 miles one way. You can access the trail from a number of locations and neighborhood feeder trails, but the main sections are as follows (west to east):

Via Las Brisas in the Dos Vientos tract, just north of Paseo Santa Rosa to Reino Road, just north of Paseo de Leon and Lynn Road, is a little over a mile. This is one of my favorite trails in the area, providing panoramic views of the southern portion of Newbury Park, Boney Mountain and Dos Vientos. There are some switchbacks on the west end near Reino Road but they are not overly strenuous.

 Potrero Ridge Trailhead on Via Las Brisas, just north of Paseo Santa Rosa.

Potrero Ridge Trailhead on Via Las Brisas, just north of Paseo Santa Rosa.

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 Potrero Ridge Trail trailhead (and parking area) off of Reino Road

Potrero Ridge Trail trailhead (and parking area) off of Reino Road

The middle section of the Potrero Ridge Trail runs from Woodland Oak Place off of Reino Road to Wendy Drive between Felton and Peppermint, where there's a convenient dirt parking lot.  Only about a half mile to the top of the trail, where you'll see a water tank. The primary trail is a wide fire road to the water tank from Wendy Drive. There's a secondary single track trail that mostly runs parallel (south) to the main fire road that is accessible from several points. This trail treats you to wonderful, panoramic views of the area.

 Potrero Ridge Trail trailhead off of Wendy Drive.

Potrero Ridge Trail trailhead off of Wendy Drive.

 Views towards the water tank at top of Potrero Ridge Trail (middle section)

Views towards the water tank at top of Potrero Ridge Trail (middle section)

The east section of the trail runs from across the parking lot on Wendy Drive to another peak, then down towards Silas Lane near Grace Bible Church, about half a mile in total. There is no parking available for this section of trail, though you can park in the Wendy lot and find a crosswalk to cross over to the trailhead.

 View from east section of Potrero Ridge Trail.

View from east section of Potrero Ridge Trail.

So basically these 3 segments are split between Via las Brisas and Reino Road, Reino Road and Wendy Drive and Wendy Drive and Silas Lane.

If you'e like to extend your trail trekking on the west side, cross over Via las Brisas and take the Sierra Vista Trail west another mile to Rancho Dos Vientos.

This trail is maintained by the Conejo Open Space Foundation.

 Here's a view of the initial section of the western section of the Potrero Ridge Trail from the Wendy Water Tank section of the trail across Reino Road.

Here's a view of the initial section of the western section of the Potrero Ridge Trail from the Wendy Water Tank section of the trail across Reino Road.

 Views into the Dos Vientos section of Newbury Park

Views into the Dos Vientos section of Newbury Park

 Potrero Ridge Trail bench provide extensive views

Potrero Ridge Trail bench provide extensive views

 Views from the same bench on a cloudy late October day in 2013

Views from the same bench on a cloudy late October day in 2013

Oak Creek Canyon Loop Trail in Thousand Oaks

The Oak Creek Canyon Loop Trail is about a mile hike that is great to do with the kids near the Los Robles Trail in Thousand Oaks.

Get there by taking Moorpark Road south of the 101 until it ends at Greenmeadow Avenue. Turn right and drive about half a mile to the parking lot.

 Signs along the Oak Creek Canyon Whole Access Interpretative Trail are in braille.

Signs along the Oak Creek Canyon Whole Access Interpretative Trail are in braille.

The first .4 mile section of trail is called the Oak Creek Canyon Whole Access Interpretive Trail and is a mostly shaded oak grove area that is accessible by all, including equestrians, bicycles, hikers, wheelchairs, disabled and blind individuals. There is actually a "guide cable" along the fence as well as informational signs in braille.

 One of three picnic benches along the Interpretive Trail.

One of three picnic benches along the Interpretive Trail.

There is a restroom, drinking fountain and picnic bench at the trailhead as well as two other picnic tables and a bench on this portion of the trail. There is also abundant poison oak on the sides of the trails, so be careful to stay on the trail.

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At the end of the Interpretive Trail section of the loop, you reach a well maintained dirt trail through the chaparral that is a bit more challenging and ok for most kids. There's a few moderate hills to be aware of, making it somewhat of a challenge with a stroller but in my opinion, a do-able challenge. And of course, you can always turn around and take the Interpretive Trail back. 

 The loop trail continues on the left.

The loop trail continues on the left.

 One of the moderate hills on the trail.

One of the moderate hills on the trail.

You go about .4 mile back towards Greenmeadow. Before you get to the street you will see a bench on the west side of the trail. Do be aware that there is no sidewalk on this section of Greenmeadow as you walk back towards the parking area. More information and a map available on the Conejo Open Space Foundation website at www.cosf.org/website/html/oak-creek-canyon.html.