Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks

The main entrance into the 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.

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.

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.

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.

As far as facilities in the park, there are drinking fountains at the main parking lot as well as at the Teepee, at Paradise Falls and the two restroom areas in the park. One of the restrooms are located at Meadows Center, a small building located across the bridge that is adjacent to the short trail to the Indian Cave. CRPD often hosts short hikes from the main parking lot to Meadows Center for fun, games and s'mores.

Bridge over creek that connects Wildwood Canyon Trail to Meadows Center, which has restrooms and a drinking fountain.

Bridge over creek that connects Wildwood Canyon Trail to Meadows Center, which has restrooms and a drinking fountain.

The other restrooms are at the bottom of Wildwood Canyon. You can get there by taking the Tepee Trail roughly 1/2 mile to the bottom of the canyon, or alternatively from Paradise Falls about 1/4 mile down the Wildwood Canyon Trail. The Arroyo Conejo Creek runs down from Paradise Falls to here and is fun to explore (keeping in mind still that this is partially urban runoff and thus you don't want to play around in it too much).

Additional restrooms at the bottom of Wildwood Canyon.

Additional restrooms at the bottom of Wildwood Canyon.

Sign at Paradise Falls indicating this particular water is partially urban runoff and best not to swim in.

Sign at Paradise Falls indicating this particular water is partially urban runoff and best not to swim in.

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Conejo Canyons Bridge and Trails in Thousand Oaks

In 2012, the Conejo Canyons bridge was constructed in Thousand Oaks, opening up more trails to explore in the Western Plateau area of Thousand Oaks, which ties into Wildwood Park. Check the map at www.cosf.org/website/html/western-plateau-hikes.html for trail maps.

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Access the Conejo Canyons bridge via Santa Rosa Road. Coming from Thousand Oaks, take Moorpark Road north down the Norwegian Grade, where it intersects with Santa Rosa Road. Continue about 3.7 miles on Santa Rosa Road and make a left on Hill Canyon Road. Drive down Hill Canyon Road and you will see a large, flat dirt parking area on the right, adjacent to Santa Rosa Valley Regional Park.

Sign on Santa Rosa Road at Hill Canyon (coming from Camarillo)

Sign on Santa Rosa Road at Hill Canyon (coming from Camarillo)

Parking area on Hill Canyon Road, as seen from the Canyon Overlook Trail leading to Lizard Rock

Parking area on Hill Canyon Road, as seen from the Canyon Overlook Trail leading to Lizard Rock

Park and you'll see the Conejo Canyons bridge just south, which takes you to the Hill Canyon Trail. Or go west to the steep Canyon Overlook Trail, a zig zagging hill that takes you to Lizard Rock in Wildwood Park. The hill is a fun challenge with the kids and you'll be rewarded with great panoramic views towards Boney Mountain, Camarillo, Ojai and Simi.

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Conejo Canyons Bridge that takes you to the Hill Canyon Trail

Conejo Canyons Bridge that takes you to the Hill Canyon Trail

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Conejo Canyons views

Conejo Canyons views

View towards Lizard Rock

View towards Lizard Rock

Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu

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Leo Carrillo State Park has 1.5 miles of beach for swimming, surfing, windsurfing, surf fishing and beachcombing, as well as tide pools, coastal caves and reefs for exploring. Giant sycamores shade the main campgrounds (though the campground was damaged by the Woolsey Fire of November 2018). The park also features back-country hiking.

Among the many great features of Leo Carrillo, the most engaging activity for me and the kids is the tidepools. They are exposed twice daily at low tide and provide hours of engagement with sea stars, sea anemones, mussels, sea slugs and more.

Nature walks and campfire programs are offered and a small visitor center has interpretive displays.

Trails include Yellow Hill Fire Trail for panoramic views of the beach and the Channel Islands, and the steeper Nicholas Flat Trail, which brings you to a pond.

A view from the Leo Carrillo bluffs as the clouds start rolling in.

A view from the Leo Carrillo bluffs as the clouds start rolling in.

There are 135 family campsites at Leo Carrillo with restrooms and token-operated showers. Visit ReserveCalifornia.com and search for “Leo Carrillo SP” to make reservations.

The park was named after Leo Carrillo (1880-1961), actor, preservationist and conservationist. Leo Carrillo served on the California Beach and Parks commission for 18 years and was instrumental in the state's acquisition of the Hearst property at San Simeon. Leo's greatest fame came from his portrayal of Pancho, the sidekick to Duncan Renaldo's Cisco Kid, an early 1950's TV series.

Leo Carrillo State Park is located at 35000 W. Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. The park office phone is 310.457.8143. Visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=616 for more information.

Parking is currently $12 in the parking lot for the day (or $3 per hour)...but free on PCH if you can find a spot. There are plenty of parking spots available in the lot. After you park, you can walk in a tunnel underneath PCH to get to the beach.

The muraled tunnel that takes you underneath PCH to Leo Carrillo Beach.

The muraled tunnel that takes you underneath PCH to Leo Carrillo Beach.

Dogs on a leash are allowed in the Park's day use areas, campground and north beach (north of lifeguard tower 3). Dogs are not allowed on backcountry trails or south beach (south of lifeguard tower 3).

DIRECTIONS

The most direct way of getting to Leo Carrillo from the Conejo Valley is via Westlake Boulevard (CA-23) (aka Decker Canyon) south, which for some is a fun 14 mile drive, but for others, not so much. It is a bit winding, hilly, steep at many junctures. I take this route during daytime hours but coming home I'm not too keen on it. After getting to PCH, turn right and drive 2 1/2 miles to get to Leo Carrillo.

Another more popular, though less direct route is via Kanan Road. Either take Kanan Road straight down to PCH, turn right (west) on PCH about 9 miles to Leo Carrillo, or take Kanan to Encinal Canyon, which is about a 3 mile drive on PCH to Leo Carrillo.

Lastly, if you are in Newbury Park, you can take Potrero Road west to Las Posas down to PCH. In about 11 miles you will reach Leo Carrillo.

Escondido Canyon Trail and Waterfalls in Malibu

Trailhead on Winding Way

Trailhead on Winding Way

The Edward Albert Escondido Canyon Trail and Waterfalls is located off of Winding Way in Malibu.  It also also referred to as Escondido Falls.

The most unique aspect to Escondido Falls is that it is home to the tallest waterfall in the Santa Monica Mountains at over 150 feet, making it a wonderful place to visit. 

That said, in drought years, there is often no sign of waterfall, other than a sparse trickle into Escondido Canyon Creek. But even when that is the case, this is a wonderful, moderate hike, good for all ages. 

To get to Escondido Falls from the Conejo Valley/101, take Kanan south to PCH and turn left. You'll be driving just under 2 miles, past Paradise Cove, to the small parking lot on Winding Way and PCH. Turn left onto Winding Way and an immediate left into the parking lot. There's a sign; you can't miss it. The lot has spaces for only around 16 vehicles; it is full, you'll have to find a spot on PCH and make you way from there...but be careful and watch for the plentiful "no parking" signs on PCH.

Parking is $8. and takes both cash and credit cards. Parking fees contribute to the ongoing maintenance of the trails, including porta potty cleanings, graffiti and trash removal and partial staffing.)

The parking area is on Winding Way and PCH. The initial section of the hike is along Winding Way is called the Winding Way Trail.

The parking area is on Winding Way and PCH. The initial section of the hike is along Winding Way is called the Winding Way Trail.

The hike is about 4 miles round trip and can be done in as fast as an hour (if you speed walk and don't hang out) or for most, a couple hours.

The first 8/10ths of a mile is along Winding Way to the trailhead. It has a moderate hill but is not that bad. Near the peak of the initial hill, you will need to cross from the left side of the street to the right side as you make your way up. There are signs that ask that you walk on the dirt trail rather than on the street, so try to abide by that. You will be treated to views of beautiful homes and ocean views along this portion of your trek.

After a short final downhill section, you'll reach the trailhead. After an initial left turn that takes you briefly west, most of the rest of the trail to Escondido Falls is a northeast to northerly direction. You'll be treated to lush oak woodlands and greenery year-round.  

Much of the trail looks like this; canopied by oaks and shrub.

Much of the trail looks like this; canopied by oaks and shrub.

Hikers, equestrians and bikers are all welcome on the trail. Dogs too, on leash of course. I have not seen bikers on this trail, however. There are no restrooms, other than a porta-john at the parking lot. No drinking fountains, so bring water. There are trash cans at the trailhead. 

The waterfall is a treat to see but the rest of the hike is quite nice too, largely shaded and not too hilly or technical. There is a net elevation gain from 150' at the trailhead to 325' at the Falls over about a mile, which is not bad.

After the rainy season, you may have to cross the creek a few times as it criss-crosses the trail. There are a couple forks in the road where you may wonder which way to go. Generally speaking, turn left on your way to the falls and that will get you there.

Believe it or not, this is the end of the trail, where the waterfall flows after the rainy season. In late August pictured here, there is a dribble of water flowing into the creek.

Believe it or not, this is the end of the trail, where the waterfall flows after the rainy season. In late August pictured here, there is a dribble of water flowing into the creek.

The parkland ends at the multi-tiered waterfall area and the trail ends. Except, there are paths that can get you to the upper falls. Technically you are not supposed to do this because you are no longer on public land, not to mention you are literally rock climbing your way up there and it can be dangerous.

This is a fun, family-friendly hike that is worth a try. Quite popular, one could argue, too popular, on weekends.

There's one side trail to the east that will give you views of the waterfall when it is flowing. The white-ish area in the upper right hand of this photo is where the waterfall resides.

There's one side trail to the east that will give you views of the waterfall when it is flowing. The white-ish area in the upper right hand of this photo is where the waterfall resides.

Why is it named after Edward Albert? Well, Edward Albert is the only son of actor Eddie Albert, well known for his role on TV sitcom "Green Acres." Edward died at age 55 in 2006. Prior to his death, he was a tireless advocate for preserving Escondido Canyon. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy named the area in honor of him several months prior to his death. (1)

Visit the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy site at mrca.ca.gov/parks/park-listing/escondido-canyon-park for more information.

(1) Los Angeles Times obituary dated 9/27/06 at this link.

Santa Rosa Loop Hike in Wildwood Park

The Santa Rosa Loop Hike at Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks is a 6 1/2 mile trek with moderately challenging uphills and downhills. You’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of the Conejo Valley and Santa Rosa Valley.

Start at the main Wildwood trailhead at the west end of Avenida de Los Arboles. Take the main Mesa Trail towards Lizard Rock. You'll soon reach the Santa Rosa Trail sign, which points you north.

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As you crest the hill, follow the arrows toward the Lower Santa Rosa Trail.

As you crest the hill, follow the arrows toward the Lower Santa Rosa Trail.

Views of Santa Rosa Valley

So you're heading east and almost feeling like maybe you're getting lost, but this indeed is the Santa Rosa Trail. Just stay towards the left. It is single track much of the way over here. Then, you'll see the following sign as you get closer to the bottom of the Santa Rosa Valley.

So now you are zig zagging down the Shooting Star Trail, which eventually merges into the Lower Santa Rosa Trail.

(That said, you can continue east from the above juncture and make your way to Cal Lutheran.)

Now you're going to turn left (west) on Lower Santa Rosa Trail for some gentle slopes alongside private residences and farms in the Santa Rosa Valley for about a mile or so.

Some old farming equipment on the side of the Lower Santa Rosa Trail.

Some old farming equipment on the side of the Lower Santa Rosa Trail.

Then soon you come to the end of the trail and there's a sign that tells you to get back into Wildwood Park via the Box Canyon Trail, take the road up ahead 4/10ths of a mile. You're actually in Camarillo now on Rocky High Road.

The trail ends at the juncture of Talal Ct (private) and Rocky High Road.

The trail ends at the juncture of Talal Ct (private) and Rocky High Road.

At the end of the short stretch of road is the trailhead back into Wildwood Park.

And soon you'll see the Box Canyon Trail sign. Veer left (although I think if you go right it loops around to the main trail also).

Box Canyon Trail Sign

It's about a 300 foot climb over less than half a mile up the Box Canyon Trail that gets you back to the main Mesa Trail artery in Wildwood Park. Take your time...you're almost there!

Box Canyon Lizard Rock Sign Wildwood Park

Then you'll see the Lizard Rock / Box Canyon sign that signifies you are back at the Mesa Trail to head about half a mile back to the parking lot. Or turn right to check out the views from Lizard Rock before you go.

To see a map of this hike, visit www.cosf.org/website/html/santa-rosa-loop.html.

OK, so if you're looking to take a break and sit back and enjoy the view near the juncture of the Mesa Trail and Box Canyon Trail?  Then head back (west) from the "Lizard Rock/Box Canyon" trail sign above toward Box Canyon and take the trail on the left to the Box Canyon Overlook, where you will find the following place to park your rear end. Not a bad view, eh?

Bench at Box Canyon Overlook.

Bench at Box Canyon Overlook.

Arroyo Sequit Site - Santa Monica Mountains in Malibu Hills

NOTE: Arroyo Sequit has been closed as a result of the Woolsey Fire in November 2018. Updates at www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/conditions.htm.

The National Park Service maintains a relatively small site called Arroyo Sequit in the Santa Monica Mountains, located at 34138 Mulholland Highway in Malibu. It is a bit off the beaten path, about 2 miles west of Decker Road. It is also easy to overlook coming from the east, as there doesn't appear to be a sign (like the sign below if you're coming east on Mulholland from the other direction).

Sign coming eastbound on mulholland; no such sign that I could find coming westbound.

Sign coming eastbound on mulholland; no such sign that I could find coming westbound.

The site features a 1 1/2 mile nature trail with rolling hills, wildflowers and I've been told a stream (though I did not find it in my visit there). 

Quite a small parking area at this remote location.

Quite a small parking area at this remote location.

It is quiet back here, so if you're looking for a peaceful stroll, check it out. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the Arroyo Sequit from the 101 via Westlake Boulevard/Decker Canyon.

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There's an area with several benches that is used for astronomical observations. However, I contacted the college and was told it has been many years since these took place.

Southwest of the Arroyo Sequit you can see some very large satellite dishes. This is the Triunfo Pass Earth Station satellite tracking station owned and operated by AT&T. The three satellites measure 106 feet across and about 11 stories tall, so they are hard to miss!

Triunfo Pass Earth Station nearby

Triunfo Pass Earth Station nearby

Learn more about the Arroyo Sequit, including a site map, on the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/arroyosequit.htm.

Sycamore to the Sea Hike, Run or Bike From Newbury Park to Sycamore Cove

Did you know that you can walk, hike, run or bike from Newbury Park to the ocean over 8 1/4 miles pretty easily, without dealing with automobiles? Park your car at the Wendy and Potrero trailhead or at the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa parking lot at Point Mugu State Park in Newbury Park and experience it yourself.

The entry to the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa area.

The entry to the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa area.

The   Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center   is a short walk from the parking lot.

The Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center is a short walk from the parking lot.

From there, take the paved road, called the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road, towards the ocean.

From there, take the paved road, called the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road, towards the ocean.

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This is a nice, wide paved road with trails along the side much of the way. Generally cool in the early morning year-round as you head towards the ocean, plenty of rest/pit stop areas on the way down and nice and peaceful and beautiful, full of canyons, trees and wildlife (of course, the Springs Fire of 2013 took a major toll on the area, but it has largely grown back as of spring 2018).

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The steepest descent on this course is a roughly 800 foot drop over a 3/4 of a mile into the canyon on the paved road after you see this sign. Coming back up if you do the full round-trip circuit is a bit of a challenge.

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After you drop into the canyon, it is pretty much smooth sailing. The paved road stops right around the Danielson Multi-Use area (see image below for that juncture). After that, follow the wide, dirt fire road towards the beach.

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There are numerous water spigots on the side of the road going down, which comes in quite handy on warmer days. If you use them, just make sure to turn them off.

About 3/4ths of the way down to the beach, you'll pass one of the most picturesque locations for a porta-john that I've ever seen.

About 3/4ths of the way down to the beach, you'll pass one of the most picturesque locations for a porta-john that I've ever seen.

A few miles after passing the above porta-john, you'll reach the Sycamore Canyon Campground, which has 58 campsites and is across Pacific Coast Highway from the ocean. Cross over PCH (be careful!) or find the underpass that takes you under PCH to the Sycamore Cove Beach area, with picnic tables, bathrooms, etc., and enjoy your day!

Sycamore Cove Beach in Point Mugu

Sycamore Cove Beach in Point Mugu

From there, you either head back up or call your significant other to pick you up. Or perhaps plan it out in the morning to leave one car at the beach, drive another car back (obviously you can't do this alone), park the 2nd car at Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa, hike/walk/bike down the canyon to retrieve car #1. Or do what I did once, which was drive down to Sycamore Cove via Potrero Road/Las Posas/PCH, park the car, run (or perhaps ride) up to Newbury Park, then ride down with the kids and enjoy the beach. Fun! 

For a map of the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa area with a portion of the Big Sycamore Canyon Trail, visit www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/upload/RSV-2-12.pdf (National Park Service pdf brochure).

Camarillo Grove Park

NOTE: Camarillo Grove Park re-opened in April 2019 after closure resulting from the Hill Fire in November 2018. Everything has since re-opened, except most of the trails (as of 7/7/19 there were still large “Trail Closed” sign up for all but the lower trail). The play structure is currently down and will be replaced at a future date.

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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). There is an off-leash dog park where you can bring your pooch. There is a small playground area for the kids (currently removed as of 7/7/19, to be replaced with a new structure at a future date). 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.

Also relatively new is the Outdoor Nature Center, which includes interpretive signage along a trail that provides information about local ecosystems, flora and fauna; an interactive water table; teaching deck for programs; nature-based play equipment such as boulders, logs, ant hill, and more; as well as native gardens with braille signs.

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 its upkeep. As of July 2019, 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 pvrpd.org/parks/park_list/camarillo_grove_park.asp.

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Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyons in Agoura Hills

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Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons include 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/placestogo.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. Dogs are allowed but must be on a leash at all times.

Excerpt of Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyon Map (Courtesy National Park Service)

Excerpt of Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyon Map (Courtesy National Park Service)

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The Morrison Ranch House in   Cheeseboro Canyon   was   destroyed in the Woolsey Fire of November 2018  . Rancher John Morrison and his family occupied this house in 1904 and lived and worked in the home for nearly 60 years. This original ranch house, modified over the years, dated back to the late 1800s.

The Morrison Ranch House in Cheeseboro Canyon was destroyed in the Woolsey Fire of November 2018. Rancher John Morrison and his family occupied this house in 1904 and lived and worked in the home for nearly 60 years. This original ranch house, modified over the years, dated back to the late 1800s.

The sign survived the Woolsey Fire but the house did not, except for a lone bathtub (hidden by the sign).

The sign survived the Woolsey Fire but the house did not, except for a lone bathtub (hidden by the sign).

Chumash Trail in Pt. Mugu State Park

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The Chumash Trail trailhead is accessible off of PCH at this link. It is at the western tip of Point Mugu State Park, about 2 1/2 miles from where Las Posas Road connects to PCH in Camarillo, and about 10 miles from the intersection of Las Posas Road and Highway 101.  It is across the street (PCH) from a Naval Base Ventura County training range. Look for the left turn into a small dirt parking area that has space for perhaps 15 or so cars.

This sign was here at one point but was gone for some reason as of July 2016.

This sign was here at one point but was gone for some reason as of July 2016.

The first .7 mile of the Chumash Trail is quite rocky and steep. Make sure to wear good hiking shoes and possibly carry a hiking stick, especially if you have bad knees. Dogs are not allowed. My kids did not enjoy this particular hike (ages 8 and 11 at the time). Definitely not stroller friendly. Awesome views and nice ocean breezes, but there is no protection from the sun, so wear sunscreen if it is sunny out.

The first .7 mile of the Chumash Trail is quite rocky and steep. Make sure to wear good hiking shoes and possibly carry a hiking stick, especially if you have bad knees. Dogs are not allowed. My kids did not enjoy this particular hike (ages 8 and 11 at the time). Definitely not stroller friendly. Awesome views and nice ocean breezes, but there is no protection from the sun, so wear sunscreen if it is sunny out.

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You finally reach a flat area after the first .7 mile, where you can veer left (north) to continue on the Chumash Trail for another .5 mile (option 1) or turn right (east), which leads you to the Mugu Peak Trail (option 2).

After the additional .5 mile (option 1) on the Chumash Trail, you reach the La Jolla Valley Loop Trail that circles the La Jolla Valley Natural Preserve. There is a walk-in campground a little over a mile into the hike that technically you are required to reserve and pay for at the nearby Ray Miller Trailhead, which has a lot more parking, etc. The La Jolla Valley Loop Trail is roughly three miles in total if you do the entire loop.

The Mugu Peak Trail (option 2) is a couple miles covering the south ridgeline of Mugu Peak, offering more majestic views stretching across the Pacific Ocean to Anacapa/Santa Cruz Islands and beyond. It connects to the La Jolla Valley Loop trail.

Map of Point Mugu State Park at www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/upload/PointMuguSP_Map_LAMountains_1.jpg.

Great perspective on the  gigantic sand dune  below to the south.

Great perspective on the gigantic sand dune below to the south.

Conejo Valley Botanic Garden - Thousand Oaks

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The Conejo Valley Botanic Garden is a 33 acre retreat of hiking trails and natural habitat adjacent to Conejo Community Park off of Lynn Road and Gainsborough. 

CVBG now offers plant sales (weather permitting) every Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. featuring California native and drought tolerant plants. Reasonable prices! Enter at the Kids' Adventure Garden entrance (400 W. Gainsborough Road).

This is really a special place to bring the kids for low key hike.  There are numerous trails and a short walk/hike to the top of the mountain rewards you with sweeping views of the entire Conejo Valley, from Westlake Village to Thousand Oaks to Newbury Park.

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Here is what you'll find at the CVBG:

  • The Nature Trail is 3/4 of a mile long and meanders above the creek through oaks and willows. This is a moderate trail.

  • The Little Loop Trail leads you above the creek, through chaparral and around a meadow.

  • The Native Plant Section and Lower Meadow feature southern and northern California plants.

  • Lillian's Meadow showcases perennials, shrubs and trees that thrive with minimal water.

  • The Salvia Garden delights hummingbirds and butterflies.

  • The Butterfly Garden is a safe haven that provides nectar and food sources for butterflies and caterpillars.

  • The Nursery houses workspace for the plant propagation team and hosts plant sales.

  • The Herb Garden exhibits an extensive and unusual collection of medicinal, kitchen and aromatic herbs.

  • The Bird Habitat has a fresh water source and is planted with native plants that provide year-round food source for birds.

  • The Australian Section features collection of plants from down under.

  • The Desert Garden hilltop landscape features cacti, succulents and desert trees and provides a panoramic view of the Conejo Valley.

  • The Rare Fruit Orchard holds an extensive collection of trees.

  • The Tranquility Garden is planted in the Japanese style featuring California native plants.

  • The Oak Tree Grove has many species of North American and other oak trees.

  • The Trail of Trees exhibits 50 trees with a variety of genera.

If you have small kids, they will love the Kids' Adventure Garden and treehouse, open on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  They'll enjoy hiking through the trails and exploring the streams and bridges.

Conejo Valley Botanic Garden is located at 400 West Gainsborough Road, Thousand Oaks.  For more information visit www.conejogarden.org.

Desert Garden at the top of the hill, featuring cacti, succulents, etc.

Desert Garden at the top of the hill, featuring cacti, succulents, etc.

Japanese style Tranquility Garden featuring native California plants

Japanese style Tranquility Garden featuring native California plants

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Boney Mountain Peak Hike From Newbury Park

At an elevation of 2,825 feet, the presence of Boney Peak (also known at Mount Boney), is felt throughout the Conejo Valley and surrounding areas. Want to climb it?

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Well you can! It is challenging, but possible. Boney Mountain is located in the Santa Monica Mountains. One way to get to Boney Peak is via the Upper Canyon Trail from the Danielson Monument.

Danielson Monument

Danielson Monument

First off, hike your way up to the Danielson Monument, click this link for details. The monument is next to the remains of a burned down cabin shown below.

There is a trail that veers left next to the chimney. This is where you want to go. You're looking at a challenging 2 mile climb to Boney Peak. Most of the trail is narrow single track. There are some really steep, rocky sections, some with deep crevices, that may freak you out. You may have to duck your head from time to time. The trail is definitely challenging, both going up and coming back down. Definitely not for everyone.

The trail gets tight at times.

The trail gets tight at times.

The trail is not "officially" maintained by the National Park Service and thus there are NO SIGNS that say, hey, go this way to get to Boney Peak.  But I've seen plenty of people make it up there just fine as the path is fairly obvious. Just stay on the main trail.

After twists, turns, rocks, crevices and hills, the trail flattens out a bit near the top.

After twists, turns, rocks, crevices and hills, the trail flattens out a bit near the top.

One thing to note when you think you've reached the top. Look at the picture at the top of this post. To the left of the circled area is a large boulder. This is not the peak. There's a trail to the left behind it that you'll have to go up to get to the actual peak. Again, there are no signs. But you should be able to see the path pretty easily. You will be climbing some sheer rock face to get there. Can be slippery. And standing on the top of Boney can be both exhilarating and scary as hell! So be careful!

The final ascent to the top on sheer rock path.

The final ascent to the top on sheer rock path.

How long does it take to get from the trailhead at Wendy and Potrero and back? I'd allow for 4 to 5 hours if you are hiking. If you are a strong runner you can get up to it in as little as an hour (I'm talking top notch runner) to hour and a half, but you will only be able to "run" about half of the trail above the Danielson Monument. The rest is more of a technical hike in and around the rocks, boulders and crevices.

Here are some views you'll be treated to at the top.

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Chumash Indian Museum / Oakbrook Regional Park

NOTE: Oakbrook Regional Park sustained fire damage and the replica Chumash village was completely lost in the Woolsey Fire of 2018. However, a majority of the oak trees survived. Trails are now back open to the public. Funds are being raised and volunteers are being sought at www.gofundme.com/chumash-indian-museum-wildfire-fund.

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Located in Lang Ranch at the top of Westlake Boulevard near Avenida de los Arboles at 3290 Lang Ranch Parkway, Thousand Oaks, the Chumash Interpretative Center / Chumash Indian Museum contains Chumash artifacts and historical items, nature walks and tours of the beautiful local Oakbrook Regional Park area.  The museum is open Saturdays from 10am to 4pm. Admission price is $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors 65+ and $3.00 for children under 12. There is no charge to walk the trails in the park.

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The Chumash Indian Museum is located on a historical Chumash village site and contains a large collection of Chumash artifacts.

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Stroll around the 436 acre Oakbrook Regional Park, a Ventura County historical landmark #90 (designated in 1983). 

Contact the Center for more information about these and other events, field trips, weddings and birthday parties at www.chumashmuseum.org or 805.492.8076.

To protect the wildlife, dogs are not allowed here.

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