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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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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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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Sapwi Bike Park in Thousand Oaks

Beginners’ pump track at Sapwi Trails Community Park.

Beginners’ pump track at Sapwi Trails Community Park.

The Sapwi Bike Park project is a partnership between the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association (CORBA) and Conejo Recreation and Park District (CRPD). The park is a free, public recreational bicycle skills park facility located in the heart of beautiful Sapwi Trails Community Park in Thousand Oaks.

The park also features several miles of multi-use trails, natural habitat preservation, and other activities such as disc golf, cross-country running, and a non-motorized glider flying area.

The Sapwi Trails Bike Park offers a wide range of trails and features to challenge all ages and skill levels. In addition to a pump track, the park features progressive drop and jump lines – varying in difficulty from beginner to advanced. Outside of the dedicated bike park area, there are several trail side feature areas and a hard-surface beginner level pump track.

This 145 acre Sapwi Trails Community Park is located in the open space between Erbes Road (at Scenicpark Street) on the west and Westlake Boulevard east, with Avenida de los Arboles on the north. There are three parking lots off of Erbes, Arboles and Westlake Boulevard.

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Western Plateau Trail Loop Hike From Newbury Park

If you're looking for a trail a bit off the beaten path, check out the Western Plateau Loop from Conejo Center Drive in Newbury Park.

The trailhead for this hike is adjacent to the City of Thousand Oaks Household Hazardous Waste Facility at 2010 Conejo Center Drive, Newbury Park. You can park in the dirt lot next to the trailhead and head on your way.

The trailhead on Conejo Center Drive.

The trailhead on Conejo Center Drive.

It is mostly downhill over the first half mile or so of this 5 mile round-trip hike until you get to the Hawk Canyon Trail turnoff.

It is mostly downhill over the first half mile or so of this 5 mile round-trip hike until you get to the Hawk Canyon Trail turnoff.

You can either go straight from here and do a clockwise loop via the Western Plateau Trail or you can turn right on Hawk Canyon, which is a direct route to the Conejo Canyons Bridge.

Hawk Canyon Trail is a fairly narrow, mostly single-track trail.

Hawk Canyon Trail is a fairly narrow, mostly single-track trail.

The Hawk Canyon Trail is a fun, narrow trail surrounding by trees and other vegetation, like you're in the middle of nowhere. There's an old car in a crevice as you approach the Conejo Canyons towards Santa Rosa Valley.

Odd to see this old car out in the middle of nowhere. steep embankment makes it somewhat challenging reaching it.

Odd to see this old car out in the middle of nowhere. steep embankment makes it somewhat challenging reaching it.

Bring a snack and sit at a picnic table in the middle of what feels to be nowhere. Then either head back the way you came or find your way to the Western Plateau Trail and loop back counter-clockwise back towards where you parked.

See the Conejo Open Space Foundation's map of this trail at www.cosf.org/website/html/western-plateau-hikes.html.

It can get a bit overgrown in the spring as seen here on the Hawk Canyon Trail but quite beautiful nonetheless!

It can get a bit overgrown in the spring as seen here on the Hawk Canyon Trail but quite beautiful nonetheless!

Hiking in the North Ranch Open Space in Thousand Oaks

The North Ranch Open Space is represented by several massive sections of nearly 2,600 acres located in the east side of Thousand Oaks. There is a section east of Erbes Road to Westlake Boulevard down to Hillcrest Drive on the west side (this area is referred to as the Hillcrest Open Space Preserve) as well as a section further east bounded by Westlake Boulevard on the west, Lindero Canyon Road on the east and Thousand Oaks Boulevard on south.

These hills are beautiful and quite prominent from throughout the Conejo Valley. Hiking, running and cycling these hills can be a challenge as they are quite steep in most sections.

A main trailhead into the North Ranch Open Space is on Bowfield Street, just east of the North Ranch Playfields. The trail is called the Saddle Pass Trail, winding up and down the hills south towards Thousand Oaks Boulevard.

There are various other neighborhood trail entry points throughout the vast area. One of these is located at Canyon Oaks Park, 6200 Hedgewall Drive, Westlake Village. There's a walkway and a small bridge that leads to a quite intense looking path up the hill. And indeed, it is a very steep path. Definitely not for everyone. This is a path into the Bowfield/Saddle Pass Trail, which is maintained by the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency.

Small COSCA sign at the bottom of the steep hill from Canyon Oaks Park leading into the North Ranch Open Space.

Small COSCA sign at the bottom of the steep hill from Canyon Oaks Park leading into the North Ranch Open Space.

A view of Canyon Oaks Park from about a third of the way up the hill.

A view of Canyon Oaks Park from about a third of the way up the hill.

There are roughly 3 or 4 miles of trails up here, mostly the Saddle Pass north/south trail but other connector trails to nearby neighborhoods, such as the townhome complex on Via Colinas above Thousand Oaks Blvd and the new Westlake Village Community Park and YMCA.

These hills get quite dry and hot during the summer months but in the spring green up nicely. You may even get the opportunity to enjoy some wildflowers.

Orange beauties can often be seen in the March time frame off the Saddle Pass Trail south section.

Orange beauties can often be seen in the March time frame off the Saddle Pass Trail south section.

Here's another section of trail that connects homes off of Via Colinas into the North Ranch Open Space. Most of these connector trails are quite steep, though generally well maintained!

Here's another section of trail that connects homes off of Via Colinas into the North Ranch Open Space. Most of these connector trails are quite steep, though generally well maintained!

California poppies on March 16, 2019.

California poppies on March 16, 2019.

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. There was some extensive damage in section of the park.

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.

Sunset Hills Trail in Thousand Oaks

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The Sunset Hills Trail is easily accessible off of Erbes Road in Thousand Oaks, just 7/10ths of a mile north of Sunset Hills Boulevard, just past Fernleaf Court.

There's a triangular dirt parking lot on the east.

There's a triangular dirt parking lot on the east.

This is a pretty easy mile or so trail that takes you past the Bard Lake Reservoir. The reservoir is of course is fenced in but you'll be treated to its beauty as you make your way up. Lake Bard is owned by the Calleguas Water District for storage of up to 10,000 acre-feet (3.3 billion gallons) of water used to meet peak summer demand and emergency requirements.

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In fact, most all the way up this fairly gentle, hilly slope, you'll get some great panoramic views of the entire area, including the Conejo Valley, Simi Hills and looking west towards Camarillo/Oxnard. Continue east and you will reach the Woodridge Open Space in Thousand Oaks.

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The Sunset Hills Trail is maintained by the Conejo Open Space Foundation. More information at www.cosf.org/website/html/sunset-hills-trail.html.

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An additional, and perhaps more popular hike provides even better view of the Bard Reservoir. Take the additional loop in the shape of Maine (kind of) either clockwise or from the first juncture or counterclockwise after cresting the hill. If you go to the top of the hill take the trail on the left and continue onwards. You will see some steps and a bench to take in the views along the way.

map image courtesy of conejo open space foundation

map image courtesy of conejo open space foundation

After cresting the first hill from Erbes Road, find the loop trail on the left.

After cresting the first hill from Erbes Road, find the loop trail on the left.

A short walk to this bench that overlooks Bard Reservoir.

A short walk to this bench that overlooks Bard Reservoir.

Continue on the trail until it loops around and goes south., parallel to Highway 23

Continue on the trail until it loops around and goes south., parallel to Highway 23

Soon you will be back at the main trail, passing through this tree-tunneled section.

Soon you will be back at the main trail, passing through this tree-tunneled section.

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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