Hillcrest Open Space Preserve in Thousand Oaks

The Hillcrest Open Space Preserve is an area bound on the south by Hillcrest Drive, on the east by Westlake Boulevard and on the west by La Granada Drive. I don't know the exact boundary on the north side. Years ago I ran the trails from time to time back there but it had been some time, so I took the kids over to the White Sage Trail trailhead off of Hillcrest Drive, just west of Blue Mesa Street, about half a mile west of Westlake Boulevard.

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There is zippo parking to be found on that stretch of Hillcrest Drive and the nearest crosswalks from the other side of Hillcrest Drive, where you can find parking on residential streets, is at Westlake Boulevard (1/2 mile east) and Duesenberg Drive (1/3 mile west). I've parked on Blue Mesa Street and run across Hillcrest but would not recommend that as the cars speed along on that busy boulevard.

In any case, this is a fun little excursion, particularly if you enjoy a steep hill to climb and beautiful panoramic views of the area.

The hill looks a bit intimidating but the grade actually, in my humble estimation, ain't that bad.

The hill looks a bit intimidating but the grade actually, in my humble estimation, ain't that bad.

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You can also continue on to the top of the hill and do a loop of roughly 3 miles or so.

You can also continue on to the top of the hill and do a loop of roughly 3 miles or so.

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Another access point to the Hillcrest Open Space is the southeast endpoint of La Granada Drive (at Crown View Ct), east of Erbes Road in Thousand Oaks.  This 4 1/2 mile, hilly loop is a great way to view the local scenery, from the Conejo Grade to the Civic Arts Plaza and most everything else. More on the Hillcrest Open Space Loop trail on the COSF website.

Trailhead access point at the end of La Granada Drive.

Trailhead access point at the end of La Granada Drive.

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In greener times.

In greener times.

Chumash Indian Museum / Oakbrook Regional Park

Reported 11/11/18: Oakbrook 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. Many trails are not accessible due to fire damage, however.

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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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California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks

The California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks (CMATO) will provide a world-class cultural experience for visitors and locals alike. Artists, educators, lovers of art, tourists, students and the general public will appreciate the world-class exhibitions of paintings, sculpture, photography, music, drama and dance. CMATO will be located at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, west of City Hall and the Performing Arts Center.

Until the new museum is completed, CMATO will operate on the 2nd floor of The Oaks - a Macerich property - in a 5,500 square foot location across from JCPenney. The facility showcases the work of established and emerging contemporary artists. It is also host to artist lectures and educational programs geared towards all ages.

Museum hours are Wed-Sun noon to 7pm, excluding U.S. public holidays. Admission is a suggested donation of $6.

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Lynnmere Trail in Thousand Oaks

The Lynnmere Open Space contains 4 ot 5 miles of ridgeline trails in 114 acres in the area south of Wildwood Park and west of Lynn Road in Thousand Oaks.  Awesome views of Wildwood Park, Mount Clef Ridge and the Conejo Canyons Open Space.

Views from Lynnmere Trail looking north towards Wildwood Park and Mount Clef Ridge

Views from Lynnmere Trail looking north towards Wildwood Park and Mount Clef Ridge

As you can see in the map below (provide courtesy of the Conejo Open Space Foundation), you can actually hike a nice loop on the Lynnmere Trail and connect to other trails in the area.

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There are a number of places where you can enter the Lynnmere Trail, including:

The hike outlined in the image above is the fairly strenuous, seven mile Arroyo Conejo/Lynnmere Loop hike described at www.cosf.org/website/html/arroyo-conejo-lynnmere.html. Park at the Rancho Conejo Playfield at 950 N. Ventu Park Road and the Arroyo Conejo trailhead is on the right.

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After about a mile and a half of rolling hills, there's a descent into the canyon. You'll come across the creek at the bottom, where you'll find a foot path. Soon after crossing the path, you'll find a sharp right (unmarked to my knowledge) turn up the barranca to the Lynnmere Trail, and you're on your way.

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You may come across this bench at the peak of the southern section of Lynnmere Trail.

You may come across this bench at the peak of the southern section of Lynnmere Trail.

After the winter rains it greens up nicely here and other Conejo Valley trails.

After the winter rains it greens up nicely here and other Conejo Valley trails.

Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park sustained severe damage in the Woolsey Fire of November 2018. State Parks lost some structures, such as employee residences, the historic Sepulveda Adobe, Red House, White Oak Barn and Reagan Ranch. The park was reopened 12/18/18 - only the campground area remains closed until future notice at this point.

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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 SP 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 you can park at the corner of Mulholland and Las Virgenes and make your way into the park via the Grassland Trail. The park has 62 campsites and 4 RV sites. Visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=614 for more information.

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

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 Sundays noon to 4pm. Closed Mondays, New Year's, 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 newer (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.

Triunfo Creek Park in Westlake Village

Note: Park was closed as a result of the Woolsey Fire of November 2018, but was reopened January 11, 2019.

Owned and maintained by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, 600-acre Triunfo Creek Park in Westlake Village/Agoura provides deep oak woodland, native grasslands and blankets of wildflowers in the springtime. The main feature of the park, the Pentachaeta Trail, is named after the Pentachaeta lyonii, a federally-listed endangered flower found in the park. The yellow, daisy-like flower is found only in Southern California, and blooms between April and June.

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An informational kiosk at the trailhead interprets the Pentachaeta lyonii, as well as other unusual wildflowers found on the site such as the Chocolate Lily, and the White Globe Lily. The site also provides access to hiking trails on the Westlake Vista parcel, also owned and managed by the Conservancy.

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Pentachaeta Trail to the east. Westlake Vista Trail towards the Las Virgenes Reservoir on the west.

Pentachaeta Trail to the east. Westlake Vista Trail towards the Las Virgenes Reservoir on the west.

Pretty flowers off the Pentachaetta Trail in March 2016.

Pretty flowers off the Pentachaetta Trail in March 2016.

Views from Westlake Vista Trail towards, well, but of course, Westlake Village

Views from Westlake Vista Trail towards, well, but of course, Westlake Village

Las Virgenes Reservoir in close proximity to Westlake Vista Trail (but surrounded by a fence, so don't get your hopes up!)

Las Virgenes Reservoir in close proximity to Westlake Vista Trail (but surrounded by a fence, so don't get your hopes up!)

The Westlake Vista Trail takes you to a fence that encloses the Las Virgenes Reservoir, where you may be treated to sounds of birds and other wildlife. Find the trail that parallels the fence up the mountain and you will be treated to gorgeous views of the area down to Westlake Lake and beyond and the Santa Monica Mountains to the south.

Views towards Westlake Lake from the Westlake Vista Trail.

Views towards Westlake Lake from the Westlake Vista Trail.

Directions: The main trailhead with kiosk is on Triunfo Canyon Road east of the southern terminus of Lindero Canyon Road. There are a small number of off-pavement parking spots there. The other end of the trail is at the west end of Triunfo Canyon Road about 1.5 miles west of Kanan Road.

Directions: From the 101 Freeway in Westlake Village exit Lindero Canyon Road. Take Lindero south to Triunfo Canyon Road. Turn left. The trailhead is located opposite Oak Forest Mobile Home.

Visit mrca.ca.gov/parks/park-listing/triunfo-creek-park for more information.

Map courtesy of Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy at   THIS LINK  . (Note that Truinfo is a typo on map; actual spelling is Triunfo. But at least is was consistently misspelled not once, not twice, but seven times lol.)

Map courtesy of Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy at THIS LINK. (Note that Truinfo is a typo on map; actual spelling is Triunfo. But at least is was consistently misspelled not once, not twice, but seven times lol.)

Demolished car sitting near Westlake Vista Trail.

Demolished car sitting near Westlake Vista Trail.

Skateboarding Hall of Fame and Museum in Simi Valley

The Skateboarding Hall of Fame and Museum opened at the Simi Valley Town Center in December 2018. It is located directly across from the Vans store in the mall in a space of over 10,000 square feet.

The International Skateboarding Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded by Todd Huber. It was created to honor the passion, dedication and contributions to skateboarding history and culture by skateboarders and cultural icons through the decades.

The Museum displays hundreds of skateboards and other skating artifacts going back decades. There is also an art gallery, gift shop, theater/library (over 600 skating videos as well as skating magazines) and skate shop.

The Museum also has a mini skating ramp with a fun wall ride available to local youth for a fee.

Admission to the museum is free. Donations to the non-profit are always welcome. Hours are currently (January 2019) Thursday/Friday 2-9PM, Saturday 10AM-9PM and Sunday 11AM-7PM.

Visit www.skateboardinghalloffame.org for more information.

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 the 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.

El Rincon, El Cerro and Las Brisas Trails in Dos Vientos Section of Newbury Park

In the heart of Dos Vientos (Spanish for Two Winds), there are three trails that are accessible from multiple spots by walkers, hikers, runners and bikers. These are the El Rincon, El Cerro and Las Brisas trails. These trails are all nicely maintained, single track and provide great views of the surrounding areas. Other trails surrounding Dos Vientos include the Vista Del Mar Trail, Sierra Vista Trail, Sumac Trail (kind of parallels Sierra Vista Trail), El Encanto Trail and Powerline (Edison Road) Trail, as well as the Potrero Ridge Trail.

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Access to the El Rincon Trail is near the corner of Via Rincon and Rancho Dos Vientos. The trail is about 4/10ths of a mile and connects with the El Cerro and Las Brisas trails.

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Access to El Cerro and Las Brisas trails is at the juncture of Via Las Brisas and Calle Del Prado and several other points. Visit www.cosf.org/website/html/dos-vientos-map.html for a trail map on the Conejo Open Space Foundation website.

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Happy Camp Canyon Regional Park in Moorpark

Happy Camp Canyon Regional Park in Moorpark is a 3,000 acre wilderness area with 12 1/2 miles of trails maintained by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. I've hiked back here from time to time and rarely see anyone in these quiet canyons!

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There are a couple entry points to Happy Camp Canyon. The one shown above is adjacent to Rustic Canyon Golf Course, 15100 Happy Camp Canyon Road, Moorpark. The other, main entry point shown below is at 14105 Broadway Avenue, Moorpark. Park here and hike to the canyon entrance point.

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If you're looking for relatively flat trails well suited for comfortable hiking, mountain biking and horse riding, Happy Camp Canyon is a good choice.

You can take the main Happy Camp Canyon Fire Road for quite a ways and either head back the way you came or take the more strenuous Middle Range Fire Road back and catch some great views. I veered north up a steep maintenance road to some power lines shown below.

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Or try the 8 mile, strenuous, South Ridge Loop (via the Middle Ridge Fire Road).  Begin at the canyon gate; about 100 yards beyond, turn right and follow a dirt road up to the ridge top. Continue east along the Big Mountain Ridge to a junction, enjoying views on your right of Moorpark, Simi Valley, the Santa Monica Mountains, and all the way to Channel Islands. At the junction, turn north and drop down into Happy Camp Canyon. When you reach an old corral (and picnic area), turn west and walk back to the entrance gate on Happy Camp Canyon Fire Road (in the canyon bottom), approximately four miles. 

There is no cost for parking here. For more information, visit mrca.ca.gov/parks/park-listing/happy-camp-canyon-regional-park.

NOTE: Because of sensitive habitat, dogs are not allowed past entrance gate.

It greens (and purples) up quite nicely after the winter rains in Happy Camp. March/April/May are the months to check it out.

It greens (and purples) up quite nicely after the winter rains in Happy Camp. March/April/May are the months to check it out.

Malibu Lagoon Field Trips Hosted by Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society

The Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society (SMBAS) hosts Malibu Lagoon Field Trips the 4th Sunday of every month.

Adult Walk starts at 8:30 a.m. for 2-3 hrs. The group meets at the metal-shaded viewing area next to parking lot. SMBAS makes a special effort to make these monthly Malibu Lagoon walks attractive to first-time and beginner birdwatchers. Brings binoculars and cameras.

Metal shaded viewing area next to parking lot.

Metal shaded viewing area next to parking lot.

Children & Parents Walk starts at 10:00 a.m. for a 1 hr session. Meet at metal-shaded viewing area next to parking lot. SMBAS leaders are experienced with kids so by all means bring them down to the beach to enjoy nature. Binoculars will be provided.

Upcoming dates as of 12/21/18: 12/23/18, 1/27/19, 2/24/19, 3/24/19, 4/28/19, 5/26/19, 6/23/19, 7/28/19, 8/25/19, 9/22/19, 10/27/19, 11/24/19, 12/22/19, 1/26/20.

If you have a Scout troop or other group 7 or larger, please call Lu at 310.395.6235 to make sure SMBAS has enough binoculars and docents on hand.

Visit smbasblog.com to learn more.

Directions: Malibu Lagoon is located at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Cross Creek Road in Malibu. Bring water and sun protection; look around for people wearing binoculars and hats.

Parking: Self-serve parking machine in lot, $3/hr, $12 day ($11 seniors); credit cards accepted. Annual passes accepted. You may also park (read all signs carefully) on PCH west of Cross Creek Road, on Cross Creek Road, or on Civic Center.Way north (inland) of the shopping center. Lagoon parking in shopping center lots is not permitted.