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. 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, anemones, mussels, sea slugs and more amongst the thousands of rocks on shore.
Nature walks and campfire programs are offered and a small visitor center has interpretive displays. During the summer, children's programs are available.
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.
There are 135 family campsites at Leo Carrillo with restrooms and token-operated showers (which accept ONLY one dollar bills...plan ahead). Call 800.444.7275 or visit www.parks.ca.gov 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.
Parking is currently $12 in the parking lot for the day (or $3 per hour)...but free on PCH if you can find a nearby spot. There is plenty of parking spots available in the lot. After you park, you can walk in a tunnel underneath PCH to get to the 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).
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.