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

Grant Park / Serra Cross Park in Ventura

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For some of the most spectacular views of Ventura you can ask for, stop by Grant Park / Serra Cross Park off of Ferro Drive in Ventura. Grant Park is a 107 acre park of mostly open space. Serra Cross Park is located at Grant Park. It is a one acre parcel that contains the wooden cross shown below.

The land and cross were sold to San Buenaventura Heritage, Inc. in 2003 in order to maintain the historic cross, which was placed on this spot in 1941 to replace the previous cross that was erected in 1912.

Visit www.serracrosspark.org to learn more about Serra Cross Park.

Get there via Brakey Road to the left side of Ventura City Hall or Ferro Drive off of Cedar Street. There are no restrooms, playground, drinking fountains, etc. at this park.

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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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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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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 www.malibucity.org/561/Charmlee-Wilderness-Park 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 www.malibucity.org/561/Charmlee-Wilderness-Park for more information.

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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Tarantula Hill in Thousand Oaks

Tarantula Hill is located off of West Gainsborough Road in Thousand Oaks, between Grand Oak Lane and Camino Manzanas. Just park your car by the prominent oak tree and little green sign. The hill is named after the spiders that inhabit this peak that happens to be the highest point within the Conejo Valley, at about 1,057 feet.

I've seen people run, walk and cycle up the paved service road to the top, where you get treated to panoramic views of the entire Conejo Valley. The cyclist was working it pretty darn hard to get up there...the hill it pretty steep...about a 250 foot climb.

There’s also a couple ways to get near the top via trail. Look for the path on the east side of the hill, accessible from Gainsborough.

There's a single bench on the west side at the top and a water reservoir fenced in with barbed wire is quite prominent. For a quick dose of views, Tarantula Hill aims to please.

The bench at the top of Tarantula Hill faces west towards Newbury Park.

The bench at the top of Tarantula Hill faces west towards Newbury Park.

Tarantula Hill is dedicated open space that is protected by the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency. Visit www.conejo-openspace.org for more information.

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The hill itself is fairly non-descript from Gainsborough Road

The hill itself is fairly non-descript from Gainsborough Road

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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.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sycamore Canyon Campground in Point Mugu State Park

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

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

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

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

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

Oakbrook Vista Trail in Thousand Oaks

The Oakbrook Vista Trail is a relatively easy out and back climb that provides nice panoramic views of the Lang Ranch area of Thousand Oaks. Access to the trail is on the south side of Lang Ranch Parkway, just west of Westlake Boulevard. See access point below.

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The narrow initial trail up Oakbrook Vista.

The narrow initial trail up Oakbrook Vista.

The first portion is a narrow trail that zig zags its way to a bench, where you can rest and enjoy the views. But I'd estimate this is only 1/4 of a mile, so keep going if you're game!

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After the bench, the trail opens up and continues up and up and up and if you reach the top, roughly a mile or so up the hill, you'll be enjoying 360 degree views towards Boney Mountain on the west, Lang Ranch/Woodridge trails on the north and more.

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For a trail map and additional information, visit the Conejo Open Space Foundation website at www.cosf.org/website/html/oakbrook-vista-trail.html.

Soter Point at Marina Park in Ventura

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Dedicated in 2011, Soter Point at Marina Park in Ventura consists of a shaded picnic area, benches, attractive landscaping and a 15 foot mermaid statue. Soter Point is the result of a private/public partnership between local Ventura residents and the City of Ventura.

The inscription on a plaque on the Mermaid of Soter Point tells the story:

This stunning landmark overlooking the Ventura Harbor represents a trailblazing cooperative effort to beautify our community through private citizens working with public agencies. Andy Soter developed and landscaped the area in memory of his daughter Andrea, a successful and much admired investment manager. The mermaid sculpture and its foundation were donated by Russian emigrants Alec and Tatyana Benke, as an expression of love for their new country, America. Samuel Povar created the first collaboration of this nature in 2007 as a tribute to his late wife Orianna and worked tirelessly to make this Marina Park project a reality. And, the Ventura City Council and the Coastal Commission gave their enthusiastic blessing. Now Povar, Soter, and Benke, all Ventura residents, hope to inspire others to use private capital along with public cooperation and support…to envision something beautiful and make it happen.

Soter Point is located at the southernmost point of Marina Park, a short walk from the main playground area of the park. With beautiful views looking out toward Ventura Harbor and picnic area cooled by sea breezes, Soter Point does not Disa-Point.

Bench faces south toward Ventura Harbor Village

Bench faces south toward Ventura Harbor Village

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Zev Yaroslavsky Las Virgenes Highlands Park in Calabasas

The Zev Yaroslavsky Las Virgenes Highlands Park is located on Las Virgenes Road, just south of Mureau Road and north of Highway 101 in Calabasas. Acquired in 2010, this area includes nearly 200 acres of open space providing a gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains and a welcome site to drivers navigating bottom of the Calabasas Grade on Highway 101.  Stop by sometime and take a hike up the moderately steep path through grasslands and oak trees to catch panoramic views of the surrounding areas. Learn more at THIS LINK.

Serrano Canyon Hike in Pt Mugu State Park

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Serrano Canyon is quite an attractive destination in Point Mugu State Park in the Santa Monica Mountains.  It is quickest to get to Serrano Canyon from Malibu but trekkers, runners and cyclists certainly can make their way from the Newbury Park side at Satwiwa/Rancho Sierra Vista.

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To get down to Serrano Canyon from the Conejo Valley side, you must meander your way down the steep Sycamore Canyon Fire Road seen above. Have fun and don't think about the challenge of making your way back up this hill later in the day, when the sun is beating down on you!

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Continue on down Sycamore Canyon Road, pass through the Danielson Multi-Use area, the National Park Service house and the old barn-like structure seen above. You can actually get to Serrano via the Blue Canyon Trail entrance point just east of the Danielson Multi-Use area.

You might catch a deer or two, or three eating breakfast near the trail.

You might catch a deer or two, or three eating breakfast near the trail.

Onward down Sycamore Canyon, one is this porta-a-john, situated in a serene setting next to several picnic benches under a beautiful tree on the right.

Onward down Sycamore Canyon, one is this porta-a-john, situated in a serene setting next to several picnic benches under a beautiful tree on the right.

Sign signaling the transition into Serrano Valley

Sign signaling the transition into Serrano Valley

A little farther down is the Serrano Canyon Trail trailhead. Two or three miles into this trail and you'll be in Serrano Canyon. Warning...this trail has had some fairly well overgrown sections in my times in there, so definitely be aware and consider long pants. I ran through there and survived in shorts but the poison oak on the sides of the trail were nervewracking enough to make me consider turning back.

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There are several pieces of old farm equipment in the canyon. Makes you wonder about the history...There are several ways out of Serrano Canyon but my choice was to follow a trail that loops back around to Sycamore Canyon again, about a mile or so north of the entry point and south of the Danielson Multi-Use area.