Ventura Pier

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The Ventura Pier was originally constructed in 1872 and is a favorite spot for local fishermen. The Pier is 1,600 feet long and underwent a $2.2 million renovation in 2000 that added an 80 foot octagon shaped extension, benches and more. The Pier can be accessed off of East Harbor Boulevard, close to the Crowne Plaza hotel off of California Street. Beach House Fish restaurant is located on the pier.

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On the west side of the pier is a playground area with some unique play equipment. My kids always enjoy it here because of the great combination of the beach, pier, playground, quick access to bike rentals and food.

The former Eric Ericsson's (now Beach House Fish) next to the playground on the pier.

The former Eric Ericsson's (now Beach House Fish) next to the playground on the pier.

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Sandstone Peak Hike in Malibu

Views from Sandstone Peak trail towards Lake Sherwood.

Views from Sandstone Peak trail towards Lake Sherwood.

Sandstone Peak is the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains at an elevation of 3,111 feet. Views from the trail stretch from the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands and inland to the Conejo/Simi Valleys.

NOTE: This area of the Santa Monica Mountains sustained significant damage from the Woolsey Fire of November 2018. However, the trail is open and the winter rains brought bright spring colors.

From the Conejo Valley, take Westlake Boulevard south until it becomes Decker Canyon, make a right on Mulholland, then right on Little Sycamore Road, which becomes Yerba Buena Road, with an endpoint of Sandstone Peak Trailhead. Before you see this sign on the right, you will be passing a parking lot at the Mishe Mokwa Trailhead. Another .6 miles and you'll see the sign below.

The hike is only about 3 miles round trip. Depending on how fast you go, the 1.5 mile climb to the top can take anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour. The trail is well maintained but has quite a bit of loose stones, so be sure to wear good shoes so you don't twist an ankle. The starting elevation at the Sandstone Peak trailhead is 2,030 feet, so you'll be climbing over 1,000 vertical feet over 1.5 miles.

Visit the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/circlexranch.htm for more information about the Circle X Ranch area and a printable pdf map of the trails that will get you to Sandstone Peak, including the Mishe Mokwa Trail, Grotto Trail and the Backbone Trail.

To extend the hike, check out Sandstone Peak to Inspiration Point and Tri Peaks.

There are several ways of getting to Sandstone Peak. The most direct way is the trailhead directly up to Sandstone Peak (takes about an hour) and the other is via the Mishe Mokwa Trail, which takes you to Split Rock, through a loop that connects you to the Backbone Trail to Sandstone Peak. This trail will give you views of "Balanced Rock" that you'll see pictured below. Once you reach Sandstone, you'll find a steep staircase that will take you to the peak.

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Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock from another angle.

Balanced Rock from another angle.

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Prior to the Woolsey Fire of November 2018, this sign and staircase marked the final ascent to the peak. They were destroyed in the fire, however, and a new path was constructed . See photo below.

Prior to the Woolsey Fire of November 2018, this sign and staircase marked the final ascent to the peak. They were destroyed in the fire, however, and a new path was constructed . See photo below.

New path leading to final ascent to the top after Woolsey Fire.

New path leading to final ascent to the top after Woolsey Fire.

The unofficial name bestowed on Sandstone Peak by the Boy Scouts is "Mt Allen," named in honor of W. Herbert Allen to commemorate his gift of this mountain to the Boys Scouts of America in 1965.

The unofficial name bestowed on Sandstone Peak by the Boy Scouts is "Mt Allen," named in honor of W. Herbert Allen to commemorate his gift of this mountain to the Boys Scouts of America in 1965.

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Hunt Olive Tree - Historical Landmark in Thousand Oaks

When Richard Orville Hunt and his wife Mary Jane Hunt planted trees in their orchard on the Salto Ranch (currently Lynn Ranch) over 130 years ago, they probably never contemplated that one of their trees would be thriving next to the Circuit City (now Sprouts Farmers Market) parking lot. 

Well, that's where this beautiful old timer is.  I'm not exactly sure why the Hunt Olive Tree was moved here from its prior home in 1993, but she looks like she is doing o.k.  This tree near the entrance of the Sprouts parking lot at 600 West Hillcrest was designated a Ventura County Historical Landmark #64 on January 25, 1982. It is also Historical Landmark #4 in the City of Thousand Oaks.

Richard Hunt served as postmaster of the Newbury Park Post Office (which at the time was located at his ranch) for 18 years, beginning in 1891.

So go pay homage to this lovely link to our local history en route to buying some fresh fruits, veggies and other health foods at Sprouts!

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Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks

Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks

Janss Marketplace at 275 North Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks (corner of Moorpark Road and Hillcrest) is an open air mall that has a large outdoor eating area, interactive water fountain, monthly Kids Fun Zone and outdoor kids play area.

Retailers and other businesses at Janss Marketplace include Gold's Gym, Ulta Beauty, Old Navy, Burlington Coat Factory, Nordstrom Rack and others.

Eateries include Buca di Beppo, Panera Bread, Karma Indian Cuisine, Crazy King Kong Sushi, Lucky's Dog House, Subway, Sunset Terrace Restaurant, Greco's New York Pizzeria, Cold Stone Creamery, Sharky's, The Dudes' Brewing Company and Janchi Korean BBQ. Coming soon: Matcha.

And for entertainment, there’s Regal Cinemas, Dojoboom Extreme Sports, Dave & Buster’s and the Conejo Valley Art Museum.

Visit www.janssmarketplace.net/coupons for special offers/coupons at Janss merchants.

For more information visit www.janssmarketplace.net or call 805.495.4662.

In 2009 the Janss Marketplace added a NEOS Wall, a fun interactive game right outside the Golds Gym.  This game is free. 

Some former occupants of Janss Marketplace: Toys R Us (summer 2018) Wachovia Banking Center (closed April 2011), Akio’s Sushi (Oct 2012; now Crazy King Kong Sushi), Sizzler/Fuddruckers/Hooters (currently vacant), TGI Fridays (2012)/DISH (Nov 2013) (now Janchi), Aaron Brothers (2018), Tuesday Morning (June 2012), Radio Shack, Marshalls, Mervyn’s, Mann 9 Theatres/Regency Theatres (now Regal Cinemas), Burger King/Salad Gourmet (2016)/Poke Tiki (Apr 2019).

CSU Channel Islands University Park in Camarillo

CSU Channel Islands University Park is a 367 acre parcel located adjacent to CSU Channel Islands off of S. Lewis Road in Camarillo. It is a regional educational and recreation area owned and operated by California State University Channel Islands.

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The park is open to the public daily from sunrise to sunset. Do note that there are no facilities at this park, like restrooms and drinking fountains. You can walk, hike, run, bike, etc. and perhaps come across some wildlife.

Disbanded dairy farm in the distance at CSU Channel Islands University Park

Disbanded dairy farm in the distance at CSU Channel Islands University Park

One item of historical interest at the park is the "Scary Dairy," a dairy farm located on the parcel that closed in the 1960s and was disbanded and subsequently vandalized and graffittied upon over the decades.

"Scary Dairy"

"Scary Dairy"

From Camarillo, take Lewis Road south to Camarillo Street and turn left (east).  Cross the bridge over Calleguas Creek and the entrance is on the left. Parking is $6 per vehicle (as of April 2019). Visit www.csuci.edu/cipark for more information.

Bring cash to pay for parking at entrance.

Bring cash to pay for parking at entrance.

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Rancho Potrero Open Space in Newbury Park

The Rancho Potrero Open Space area is located in Newbury Park off of Lynn Road, just east of the intersection with Rancho Dos Vientos. The area includes an equestrian center where Rocking K Horse Rentals is located and is adjacent to the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa area in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Map excerpt courtesy of Conejo Open Space Foundation (www.cosf.org)

Map excerpt courtesy of Conejo Open Space Foundation (www.cosf.org)

A new parking lot and restrooms were built in 2015 allowing for easier access to the Rancho Potrero Open Space (although notably the parking lot closes at 4pm, well before sunset). It is accessible just west of Rocking K off of Lynn/Potrero Road.

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There is a trailhead further west of the parking lot, just before Potrero (Lynn) Road takes a sharp right turn.  You can usually find parking off pavement here. A short (1/4 mile) walk up the hill gets you pretty darn nice views looking towards Camarillo and the Channel Islands. Take the adjoining Palomino Trail east towards Rancho Sierra Vista and the Satwiwa Native American Indian Cultural Center.

The entrance is further east off of Potrero/Lynn Road

The entrance is further east off of Potrero/Lynn Road

About a 1/4 mile gets you to the top of a hill that gives you views as far as the Channel Islands.

About a 1/4 mile gets you to the top of a hill that gives you views as far as the Channel Islands.

Can you believe this view!? Anacapa Island seen clearly through from Rancho Potrero.

Can you believe this view!? Anacapa Island seen clearly through from Rancho Potrero.

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The views towards Boney Mountain from this area are quite nice too.

The views towards Boney Mountain from this area are quite nice too.

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Camarillo Grove Park

NOTE: Camarillo Grove Park recently (April 2019) re-opened after being closed due to damage resulting from the Hill Fire in November 2018. The following areas remained closed until work is finalized; small dog park, Nature Center and the trails. Nature Center and small dog park are planned to be re-opened by the end of April. The trails will take a bit more time due to the extensive damage. The play structure has been removed and will be replaced at some point in the future.

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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 with over 20 interpretive signs were added in January 2017.

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 pleasantvalley-web.civica2.granicuslabs.com/parks/park_list/camarillo_grove_park.asp .

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Ojai Trolley Service

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The City of Ojai has run the Ojai Trolley Service since 1989.

There are two routes - routes A and B, each with 10 stops, most overlapping. Route A services out to Gridley Road, including Whispering Oaks. Route B services the Ojai Valley Inn. All other nine stops on the two routes are the same, starting from Ojai Avenue at the Arcade.

It costs $1.50 to ride the trolley (as of April 2019) or $4 for a day pass. Reduced ($.75/$2) and free fares available for children under 45”, seniors 75+ and disabled with proper ID.

The trolley runs 7 days a week,  every day of the year except Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.

Hours vary. Route A service starts at 6:36 am on weekdays and 7:06 am on weekends. Route B service starts at 7:06 am on weekdays and 8:06 am on weekends.

For more information and detailed route schedules, visit www.ojaitrolley.com.

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Dog Parks In and Around Ventura County

Here's a compilation of parks in and around Ventura County as well as adjacent areas that have off-leash opportunities for your pooches. The days and times indicated below are subject to change; links to the local recreation and park districts have been provided below.

Thousand Oaks

Conejo Creek Dog Park at 1350 E. Avenida de las Flores is a 3 1/2 acre dog park with separate sections for large and small (30 lbs or less) dogs. Open daily 7 am to 8:30 pm; closed Thursdays 7-9 am and all day the 3rd Thursday of each month. crpd.org/parkfac/dogpark

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A bit brown at the Conejo Creek Dog Park due to the drought. But there are grassy sections too.

A bit brown at the Conejo Creek Dog Park due to the drought. But there are grassy sections too.

Additionally, Conejo Recreation and Park District opened three smaller off-leash area dog parks in 2015 at Estella Park, 300 Erbes Road, Thousand Oaks, Kimber Park, 3295 Bear Creek Road, Newbury Park and Walnut Grove Park, 400 Windtree Avenue, Thousand Oaks. These areas do not have grass. More details at crpd.org/parkfac/dogpark.

Westlake Village

The 1.2 acre Westlake Village Dog Park opened to the public on July 21, 2018. The park features small and large dog areas, shade shelter with seating, pet wash stations and more. Located at the southwest corner of West Oak Crest Drive and Agoura Road. On street parking available.

Camarillo

The Friends of Camarillo Dog Parks is a volunteer organization that looks out for the needs of pooches and their owners in the Camarillo area. Learn more at www.camarillodogparks.com. They work with the Pleasant Valley Recreation and Park District to support dog parks in the city, which include:

Mission Oaks Park at 5501 Mission Oaks Boulevard has a designated off-leash area open the following time frames: Monday - Friday: 4pm-Dusk; Saturday - Sunday: Dawn-Dusk. Learn more at www.pvrpd.org/parks/dog/mission_oaks_park.asp.

NOTE: Camarillo Grove Park is closed until further notice as a result of the Hill Fire of November 2018. Updates at THIS LINK.

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Camarillo Grove Park at 6968 E. Camarillo Springs Road has a dedicated dog park that is open daily from 7:30am to dusk. The entire park is also an off leash park Mon-Fri. On Sat/Sun, dogs are allowed off-leash only in the enclosed dog park area and on the trails until 10am. www.pvrpd.org/parks/dog/grove.asp

The Springville Dog Park opened in September 2012 at 801 Via Zamora, Camarillo. Open 7 am to dusk daily; closed Fri mornings until 10:00 am for lawn maintenance.  www.pvrpd.org/parks/dog/springville.asp

Simi Valley

The Simi Dog Park at 2151 Lost Canyons Drive is open daily from 7 am to dusk and is closed for maintenance on Thursdays from 7 am to 10 am. There's a separate area for large and small dogs. To get to the dog park, enter through Big Sky Park. www.rsrpd.org/simi_valley/parks/simi_dog_park.php

Oak Park

The Oak Canyon Dog Park is located towards the top of Oak Canyon Community Park, 5600 Hollytree Drive. Open 7 am to dusk daily; closed 7 am to 10 am Fridays for maintenance. There are areas for large and small dogs. www.rsrpd.org/oak_park/parks/oak_canyon_dog_park.php (NOTE: As of 4/9/19, Oak Canyon Community Park continues to be closed to vehicle access due to fire/flood damage. Dog park is open to walk-in traffic.)

A view from above of the nicely appointed Oak Canyon Dog Park in Oak Park.

A view from above of the nicely appointed Oak Canyon Dog Park in Oak Park.

Ojai

The County of Ventura maintains the Mitchell Edelson Dog Park at Soule Park, 1301 Soule Park Road, Ojai. Open at 7:30 am daily and closes at 5 pm Nov-Feb, 6 pm Mar and Oct, 7:30 pm Apr, May, Sep and 8 pm Jun-Aug. Parking is $2 per vehicle on weekday; $4 on weekends/holidays. There are areas for larger dogs and dogs under 20 lbs. www.ventura.org/gsa/parks/mitchell-edelson-dog-park-at-soule-park

Oxnard

There is a designated dog park at College Park, 3250 South Rose Avenue, Oxnard. It is open 7 am to dusk daily. An additional dog park is at Campus Park at 5th and H Streets. Also open dawn to dusk daily.

Ventura

There is a non-gated off-leash dog park area at Arroyo Verde Park at the corner of Foothill and Day Roads in Ventura. It is available for off-leash use Tuesday through Sunday from 6 am to 9 am. 

There's a fenced in dog park at Camino Real Park at Dean Drive and Varsity Street in Ventura. Open every day from dawn to dusk.

More information at THIS LINK.

Calabasas

The Calabasas "Bark Park" is located at 4232 Las Virgenes Road. Open 5 am to 9 pm daily. www.cityofcalabasas.com/recreation/barkpark.html. Bark Park is now partially re-open after it was closed for months as a result of damages from the Woolsey Fire of Nov 2018.

View of the Calabasas Bark Park from the Bark Park Trail

View of the Calabasas Bark Park from the Bark Park Trail

Rancho Sierra Vista / Satwiwa in Newbury Park

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We are fortunate to have such great trails and views of Boney Peak from in Newbury Park. At Wendy and Potrero is the Western edge of the Santa Monica Mountains where Sycamore Canyon cuts through Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa and Point Mugu State Park.

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Roughly a mile easy hike from Wendy/Potrero gets you to the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center where you can explore some native Chumash items and educational information and chat with rangers. This is a nice little hike to take the kids on. There are restrooms and water at the center, which is open from 9 to 5 on weekends.

Learn more about hiking in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa at THIS LINK.

You can get easier access to the center by parking in the adjacent National Park Service parking lot via Lynn Road to the access road at Via Goleta in Newbury Park.

Another mile and a half of hiking gets you to a small waterfall, which is fun to check out with the kids but somewhat more strenuous of a hike. Note that in recent years (2012-2015), the waterfall has barely flowed due to low rainfall.

Here is more information about the Boney Mountain Trail, leading up to Hidden Valley Overlook, the waterfall and Danielson Monument.

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Click here for a pdf file describing these and other local trails or go to the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov/samo.  Visit www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/rsvsatwiwa.htm for a map and site information on the National Park Service website.

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Trailhead at the corner of Wendy Drive and Potrero Road in Newbury Park. Park on the dirt on the south side of Potrero or on the street on Wendy.

Bark Park Trail in Calabasas

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The Calabasas "Bark Park" is located at 4232 Las Virgenes Road. To get there from the 101, take Las Virgenes Road south just under a mile. The entrance is on the left (east). If you're going fast, it is easy to miss it. It's a nice, local dog park open 5am to 9pm with a plenty of space for the doggies as well as a separate gated kids' play area and plenty of parking.

Bark Park was closed after the Woolsey Fire of November 2018 but is now (as of April 2019) partially reopened.

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Trailhead to the Bark Park Trail is on the north side of the park.On the north side of the park is the trailhead to the Bark Park Trail, a 1.2 mile climb that links you up with the New Millenium Loop Trail. Round trip you're talking about a 2 1/2 mile hike.

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It is a nicely maintained trail with a steady, uphill climb, which means that the way back is a lot quicker than the way up. I would call it a moderate climb for the most part. A good walk to take the kids on. But it can get a bit hot up here, so bring water and sunscreen on summer days.

Trail sign at the junction of Bark Park Trail and New Millennium Loop Trail.

Trail sign at the junction of Bark Park Trail and New Millennium Loop Trail.

As you can see from the sign, there's a lot more exploring you can do on these nicely maintained trails in Calabasas.

A view of the Bark Park from the trail above.

A view of the Bark Park from the trail above.

A view of the Bark Park from the trail above.More on the Bark Park at www.cityofcalabasas.com/recreation/barkpark.html.

Malibu Creek State Park

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Malibu Creek State Park is accessible in Calabasas, at 1925 Las Virgenes Road, south of Mulholland. The park contains over 8,000 acres of rugged, beautiful hills, trails and scenery. It stretches from Agoura Hills down to Malibu, down to Malibu Lagoon State Beach, covering much of the 25 mile Malibu Creek that flows from Boney Mountain down to the Lagoon. Malibu Creek is the only stream channel that crosses through the Santa Monica Mountain range.

There are three natural preserves in the park, Liberty Canyon, Udell Gorge and Kaslow, which protect Valley Oaks, rare plants and volcanic formations.

Things to do in Malibu Creek State Park include hiking, running, biking, camping, picnicking, fishing and checking out the wildlife. There are over 35 miles of trails and fire roads throughout the park. A fun added bonus is the old M*A*S*H series set, filmed from 1972 to 1983, that resides there.

Dogs are not allowed in Malibu Creek State Park trails.

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Malibu Creek State Park contains roughly three dozen different trails, many easy, and some...extraordinarily challenging, such as the Bulldog trail, taking you to 2,500 foot peaks with panoramic views out to the ocean and surrounding peaks and valleys.

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Parking for the day at Malibu Creek State Park is currently $12, or $3 per hour. You can also park at the corner of Mulholland and Las Virgenes and make your way into the park via the Grassland Trail.

The campground at Malibu Creek State Park has 62 campsites and 4 RV sites. Visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=614 for more information. It has been closed since June 2018 as a result of a fatal shooting. It was still closed as of 4/18/19 but the ranger I spoke to was hopeful that officials would re-open it next month.

The old M*A*S*H site is about 2 1/2 miles from the parking area.

The old M*A*S*H site is about 2 1/2 miles from the parking area.

M*A*S*H site with plenty of picnic tables

M*A*S*H site with plenty of picnic tables

The Visitor Center is only a 10 minute walk from the parking lot and is generally open from noon to 4pm on weekends.

The Visitor Center is only a 10 minute walk from the parking lot and is generally open from noon to 4pm on weekends.

There's also an interesting visitor center about 1/2 mile from the main entrance to the park. It is open on Saturday/Sunday from noon to 4pm, subject to availability of docents. Worth a stop as there are some neat things to see in there, including wildlife and rocks/artifacts and other useful information. You can also purchase drinks in there as well as a small assortment of other items.

Hike to the Rock Pool at Malibu Creek State Park!

Century Lake Hike at Malibu Creek State Park

Charmlee Wilderness Park in Malibu

NOTE: CHARMLEE WILDERNESS PARK SUSTAINED MAJOR DAMAGE IN THE WOOLSEY FIRE OF NOVEMBER 2018 AND WILL BE CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. CHECK THEIR WEBSITE FOR UPDATES. WE WILL ALSO STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES.

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Charmlee Wilderness Park is a 532 acre park located at 2577 Encinal Canyon Road in Malibu, just 15 miles from the Conejo Valley. It is located within the Santa Monica Mountains. There are over eight miles of hiking trails, a nature center, picnic areas and more. Park hours are 8 a.m. to sunset and the nature center is open on weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (or dark, whichever comes first). Parking is available for $4.

Visit the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority website at mrca.ca.gov/parks/park-listing/charmlee-wilderness-park for more information, trail maps and more or call 310.457.7247.

To get there from the Conejo Valley, take the 23 (Westlake Boulevard/Decker Canyon Road) toward the ocean and turn left on Lechusa Road. Continue on Encinal Canyon Road and look for the sign on the right.

Photos below courtesy of Suzy Demeter Photography.

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