Trail Etiquette Tips in the Conejo Valley and Surrounding Areas

The trails that surround us here in the Conejo Valley, including the Santa Monica Mountains maintained by the National Park Service, State Parks and other organizations, as well as the Conejo Open Space, is year-round wonderland for hikers, biker, runners and equestrians. As such, it’s always good to remember the rules for trail etiquette.

Here is a summary of tips summarized in a brochure posted at trailetiquette.org:

Hikers, runners and mountain bikers must always yield to equestrians. Do so by immediately stopping and waiting on the downhill side of the trail. Greet the rider, as your voice also signals to the horse that you’re human and not a potential threat. Communicate with the rider and ask how to proceed. As beautiful as the horses are, do not approach or pet them without asking for permission first. If you are a cyclist, after communicating with the horse rider, pass slowly and steadily, without sudden movements or noises.

Hikers should always listen for cyclists, runners and equestrians approaching from behind. Listen for “on your left” so that you can stay to the right and let them by. Hike single-file on narrow trails and try to stay to the right on wider trails. Keep your dogs on short (6 feet maximum) leashes and of course, clean up after them. If you wear headphones, consider wearing only one earpiece or turning the volume down so you can hear your surroundings.

Bikers should slow down and yield to hikers and horses. Consider using a bell to alert others you are behind them. On a single track trail, downhill cyclists should yield to uphill cyclists.

And some other reminders…stay on the trails, don’t litter, don’t block the trail if you need to stop and don’t use the trails when the are wet.

And of course, be nice, smile at and greet your fellow trail users! We love our local trails!

GREAT TRAILS AND HIKES IN AND AROUND VENTURA COUNTY

Compilation of Great Trails and Hikes In and Around Ventura County

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Looking for a good hike around Ventura County and nearby areas? We've highlighted a number of our favorite hikes in the Do Something section of Conejo Valley Guide.

HIKE TO A CONEJO VALLEY BENCH WITH A VIEW

HIKE TO AUTOMOTIVE RELICS IN THE CONEJO VALLEY OPEN SPACE

SEVEN FLAT, STROLLER FRIENDLY TRAILS IN THE CONEJO VALLEY

DOG-FRIENDLY TRAILS IN THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS

Reminder: Please refrain from using the trails during rain events and afterwards, until they have dried. Doing otherwise causes damage to the trails.

Lone Oak at Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa

Lone Oak at Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa

Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa in Newbury Park

Fossil Trail Loop in the Boney Mountain Wilderness

Oakbrook Vista Trail in Thousand Oaks

Rancho Potrero Open Space in Newbury Park

Hill Canyon, Hawk Canyon and Western Plateau Trails in Thousand Oaks CONEJO CANYONS BRIDGE CLOSED as of 7/7/19

Western Plateau Trail Loop From Newbury Park

Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks

Lynnmere Trail in Thousand Oaks (south of Wildwood Park)

Conejo Canyons Bridge in the Western Plateau of Thousand Oaks BRIDGE IS CLOSED BUT CONEJO CANYONS IS OPEN

Tarantula Hill Hike in Thousand Oaks

Arroyo Conejo Trail in Thousand Oaks

Sunset Hills Trail in Thousand Oaks

North Ranch Open Space in Thousand Oaks/Westlake Village

Hillcrest Open Space Preserve in Thousand Oaks

Powerline Trail in Newbury Park to Conejo Mountain

Lake Eleanor Open Space Hike in Westlake Village

Conejo Valley Botanic Garden in Thousand Oaks

Triunfo Creek Park in Westlake Village

Potrero Ridge Trail in Newbury Park

Marview Drive Trail in Thousand Oaks

Pentachaeta Trail and Westlake Vista Trail in Westlake Village

Rabbit Hill (Knoll Open Space) in Newbury Park

Lynnmere Open Space views to the west.

Lynnmere Open Space views to the west.

Views from the Ray Miller Trail in Malibu.

Danielson Road trail in the Boney Mountain Wilderness.

Danielson Road trail in the Boney Mountain Wilderness.

Views of Simi Valley from the peak of Mt. McCoy in Simi Valley.

Views of Simi Valley from the peak of Mt. McCoy in Simi Valley.

Sunset Hills Trail in Thousand Oaks.

Sunset Hills Trail in Thousand Oaks.

Tree encampment along Los Padres Trail in Thousand Oaks.

Tree encampment along Los Padres Trail in Thousand Oaks.

Solstice Canyon in Malibu Has a Perennial Waterfall and Much More

Solstice Canyon is a worthy local hiking destination, located at the intersection of Corral Canyon and Solstice Canyon Roads in Malibu. It is home to one of the only year-round waterfalls in the Santa Monica Mountains and there is a handful of nice trails to explore.

The main trail is the Solstice Canyon Trail, a fairly easy, not too steep, 2.1 mile round trip hike, largely paved, to the stone and brick ruins of the Fred and Florence Roberts ranch house. This is called the Tropical Terrace. Missouri native Fred Roberts founded Roberts Public Market, a chain of grocery and liquor stores, in the late 1920s. He sold the chain in 1949, while in the meantime amassed nearly 1,000 acres in Solstice Canyon.

A large portion of the Solstice Canyon Trail is paved.

A large portion of the Solstice Canyon Trail is paved.

In 1952, Roberts hired renowned African-American architect Paul R. Williams to design the home, which featured beautiful architectural design that blended into the serene environment and incorporated fire protection features using pumps, pipes and water collection pools. Roberts passed away in 1976. In 1982, the Dayton Canyon Fire burned the site to the ground.

Remains of the home of Fred and Florence Roberts at the top of Solstice Canyon

Remains of the home of Fred and Florence Roberts at the top of Solstice Canyon

Today you can see the foundation, fireplaces, steps and other interesting features, then explore the shaded rock pool area, where you'll see the waterfall (which in drought years can be quite small, but perennial nonetheless).

Waterfall access is the right (east) of the Roberts home.

Waterfall access is the right (east) of the Roberts home.

Naturally canopied rock pool area where the waterfall can be seen and explored.

Naturally canopied rock pool area where the waterfall can be seen and explored.

On the way to the Roberts House, you will see a sign, "Built of Stone and Tin." Read about the wood cabin purchased by Henry Keller in 1901 that was destroyed by a fire two years later. Keller, who enjoyed hunting and fishing in Solstice Canyon, rebuilt the one room hunting lodge in stone and tin to withstand future fires. Over the years, wood porches were added. The structure was scorched in the Corral Fire of 2007.  But the stone walls are still there today...and are considered to be the oldest still-existing in Malibu today.

You can walk fairly close to the Keller House ruins.

You can walk fairly close to the Keller House ruins.

Other trails include the:

  • Dry Canyon Trail - 1.2 mile easy round trip canyon trail that in the winter brings a 150 foot waterfall and stream

  • TRW Loop Trail - 1.5 mile round trip loop that is fairly easy

  • Rising Sun Trail - 1.5 mile moderate trail on the eastern ridgeline of the canyon that connects at the top to the Solstice Canyon Trail near the waterfall

  • Sostomo Trail/Deer Valley Trail - Moderate to strenuous extension from near the top of the Solstice Canyon Trail of roughly 4 miles

There is a small amphitheater at the main parking area, public restrooms and several picnic areas here. A great place to bring the kids! Dog friendly too (except not dogs in the waterfall area), as long as they are on leash.

Solstice Canyon was opened as a public park by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy in 1988 and today is managed by the National Park Service. More information at www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/solsticecanyon.htm.

One way to get to Solstice Canyon from Thousand Oaks is to take the 101 south to Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road, south to PCH, where you'll turn right (west). Turn right on Solstice Canyon Road (a light) and your first left is Solstice Canyon. There is limited parking at the entrance, but the main parking lot is about 1/4 mile up the hill.

Cheeseboro Canyon vs Chesebro Road in Agoura Hills

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Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons cover over 4,000 acres in the northernmost section of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, in the Simi Hills. The Chumash occupied these canyons for thousands of years, until ranchers came into the area in the 1800s. The natural landscape changed as a result to accommodate the needs of grazing cattle.

The National Park Service (NPS) acquired Cheeseboro Canyon in the early to mid 1980s and subsequently acquired Palo Comado Canyon (formerly known as the Jordan Ranch), in 1994.

Nearly every time we post an image from Cheeseboro Canyon to a social media site, someone points out, "it's not Cheeseboro, it's Chesebro."

Why is it called Cheeseboro when the road that gets you to the trailhead is called Chesebro?

According to a NPS Ranger I've spoken with, the original owner of the land in the late 1800s was Oscar Cheesebrough (yet a different spelling). The NPS adopted the U.S. Geological Survey spelling of Cheeseboro, while Caltrans adopted the name Chesebro.

Why the difference? That's not so clear. But what IS clear is that the actual canyon is called Cheeseboro Canyon and it is a beautiful place to hike and bike!

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Hiking and Exploring in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa in Newbury Park

Located on the western edge of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa is accessible in Newbury Park at the intersection of Lynn Road and Via Goleta. This area spans from Potrero Road on the north and connects to Point Mugu State Park on the south.

Ranching in the area dates back to the early 1800s, when Spanish soldiers were granted 48,672 acres of land, "Rancho El Conejo," which through the years was subdivided and sold to other landowners. One of these ranchers was Carl Beal, who in 1937 named the area Rancho Sierra Vista "Mountain View Ranch." The last private landowner in the area was Richard Danielson, whose family farmed and ranched the area for 32 years. Danielson donated 5,585 acres of the ranch to the State of California, which became part of Point Mugu State Park, and sold 850 acres, including the horse ranch, to the National Park Service in 1980.

Sign at Danielson Monument accessible via Danielson Road/Old Boney Trail.

Sign at Danielson Monument accessible via Danielson Road/Old Boney Trail.

The Satwiwa Native American Indian Natural Area is a bike/horse free area within Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa of roughly 60 acres. Located on the northwest corner of this area, just a short walk from visitor parking, is the Satwiwa Native American Culture Center.

The Center is staffed from 9 am to 5 pm most weekends with a park ranger and sometimes Native American guest hosts. It is a small facility with a variety of educational Chumash items. There are frequent workshops and programs hosted by the National Park Service at the Center that are highlighted here on CVG and on the NPS Satwiwa website at www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/rsvsatwiwa.htm.

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The area is a popular destination for hikers with a variety of well maintained trails. Note, however, that bicycles and horses are not allowed in the "Satwiwa Natural Area" section (see map below).

Map excerpt courtesy of National Park Service.

Map excerpt courtesy of National Park Service.

The Satwiwa Loop Trail is an easy, 2 mile trail that starts at the Culture Center through grasslands, past the old windmill and back around, with several extensions for those looking to do a little more.

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There's the Lower Loop Trail and the Upper Loop Trail that is a bit of a zig-zaggy trail with wooden footings placed by volunteers to help hikers navigate. The Upper Loop Trail runs past the "Old Windmill" pictured below.

Satwiwa Lower Loop sign at intersection of Danielson Road trail.

Satwiwa Lower Loop sign at intersection of Danielson Road trail.

The old windmill at the northeast corner of the Satwiwa Loop Trail (Upper Loop). (Windmill was   knocked down by high winds in December 2016   and is still down as of September 2018).

The old windmill at the northeast corner of the Satwiwa Loop Trail (Upper Loop). (Windmill was knocked down by high winds in December 2016 and is still down as of September 2018).

You can also park at the Wendy and Potrero trailhead and walk to the Culture Center via the Wendy Trail, about a mile each way.

Wendy Trail trailhead at the intersection of Wendy and Potrero in Newbury Park

Wendy Trail trailhead at the intersection of Wendy and Potrero in Newbury Park

It is pretty dry in here most of the year but after the winter/spring rains, the green stages a comeback.

It is pretty dry in here most of the year but after the winter/spring rains, the green stages a comeback.

Another trail to explore is the 1 mile Ranch Overlook Trail that takes you from just west of the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center, up a hill (where you can indeed look down toward the old ranch area, parking area and restrooms) to the main entrance and to the Palomino Trail in the Rancho Potrero Open Space.

Ranch Overlook Trail

Ranch Overlook Trail

One of my favorite trails in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa is the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail. This challenging, fairly steep trail branches off from the Satwiwa Loop Trail on the southeast, past the bench at the Upper Sycamore Canyon Overlook, via the Boney Mountain Trail/Danielson Road.

The popular bench at Upper Sycamore Canyon Overlook. Photo taken April 4, 2014, approximately 11 months after the devasting Springs Fire of 2013.

The popular bench at Upper Sycamore Canyon Overlook. Photo taken April 4, 2014, approximately 11 months after the devasting Springs Fire of 2013.

Roughly 700 feet past the Upper Sycamore Canyon bench is a juncture where you can either veer right into Point Mugu State Park and the Boney Mountain Wilderness, where you can walk down, over a stream (or a dry stream bed as the case may be), towards the popular "waterfall" (which in recent years has been not much more than a trickle) and the Danielson Monument. CLICK HERE for details.

If you veer left at the juncture, you'll see the Hidden Valley Overlook trail sign.

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The trail is steep and rocky and reaches an end point in about half a mile. If you are up to the challenge, you will be rewarded with sweeping views of Newbury Park, the Channel Islands, Sycamore Canyon and Boney Mountain.

Views from halfway up the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail towards the Satwiwa Native American Indian Natural Area

Views from halfway up the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail towards the Satwiwa Native American Indian Natural Area

At the end of the trail is the Hidden Valley overlook, where you will be able to peek into the not-so-hidden-anymore Hidden Valley and its peaceful ranches. As a final reward for your effort, it's all downhill the way back. Be sure to wear solid hiking shoes as the trails are a bit technical.

Peek at Hidden Valley at the end of the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail.

Peek at Hidden Valley at the end of the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail.

View of   Santa Cruz Island  , one of the Channel Islands, from Hidden Valley Overlook trail

View of Santa Cruz Island, one of the Channel Islands, from Hidden Valley Overlook trail

To learn more, visit the Anthony C. Beilenson Visitor Center at 26876 Mulholland Highway, Calabasas or visit www.nps.gov/samo or call 805.370.2301.

Dogs are allowed in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa as long as they are on a leash no longer than 6 feet. But please, do pick up after your pet. Dogs are not allowed in the Point Mugu State Park / Boney Mountain Wilderness back country trails, though they are allowed on paved roads, such as the Big Sycamore Canyon Trail road.

Peace, Tranquility and Views at the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden in Thousand Oaks

Looking for a quick retreat in the center of Thousand Oaks? Visit the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden, adjacent to Conejo Community Park at 400 W. Gainsborough Road.

The Conejo Valley Botanic Garden is a 33 acre sanctuary on a hill that overlooks the Conejo Valley. You will be able to rewind in peace here while enjoying the views and solitude.

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Signs throughout the gardens help visitors find their way around.

Signs throughout the gardens help visitors find their way around.

There are several miles of trails at CVBG that lead you to a variety of sections, including a Salvia Garden, Butterfly Garden, Herb Garden, Bird Habitat, Australian Garden, Desert Garden, Rare Fruit Orchard, Japanese Style Tranquility Garden, Oak Tree Grove, Trail of Trees and more.

Japanese Tranquility Garden is back here.

Japanese Tranquility Garden is back here.

Beauty and color found in the Desert Garden.

Beauty and color found in the Desert Garden.

Benches abound throughout the Conejo Valley Botanic Gardens.

Benches abound throughout the Conejo Valley Botanic Gardens.

The views from up here are nothing short of spectacular. Feeling stressed? Do the 10 minute walk up the hill, where you can watch civilization below. There are several dozen benches as well as a few picnic benches available.

Views beyond the surrounding chaparral. The sounds of the 101 freeway and civilization down below are actually relaxing from up here.

Views beyond the surrounding chaparral. The sounds of the 101 freeway and civilization down below are actually relaxing from up here.

Interesting cactus display in the Desert Garden.

Interesting cactus display in the Desert Garden.

On Sundays (with the exception of some major holidays), the Kids Adventure Garden, adjacent to the Botanic Garden, is open to the public from 11am to 3pm. The Kids Adventure Garden features fun paths to follow, a tree house and more, as well as hiking and access to a creek. Fun place for young kids' birthday parties too!

The Kids Adventure Garden adjacent to CVBG is open only on Sundays from 11am to 3pm.

The Kids Adventure Garden adjacent to CVBG is open only on Sundays from 11am to 3pm.

To learn more about the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden, visit www.conejogarden.org. Open 7 days a week, sunrise to sunset; Closed Easter, July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Also closed when it is rainy, muddy and/or very windy.

CVBG is a 501(c)3 non-profit run entirely by volunteers. To maintain these gardens is a lot of work and costs are involved, so consider making a donation.

Areas in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area Allowing Dogs on Leash

Pooch on leash

Pooch on leash

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is the largest urban national park in the United States at over 150,000 acres, extending from the Hollywood Bowl on the east to Point Mugu at its western end; including the beaches of Santa Monica and Malibu as well as the canyons and peaks extending north to Simi Valley.

Dogs are allowed in a number of areas within the Santa Monica Mountains, as long as they are on leashes that are no more than 6 feet in length. Here is a listing of areas where dogs are allowed:

National Park Service: Arroyo Sequit, Castro Crest, Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyons, Circle X Ranch, Deer Creek Canyon, Paramount Ranch, Peter Strauss Ranch, Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa, Rocky Oaks, Solstice Canyon and Zuma/Trancas Canyons

Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy: Calabasas Peak, Dixie Canyon, Escondido Canyon, Franklin Canyon, Fryman Canyon, Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park, Red Rock Canyon Park, San Vicente Mountain Park, Temescal Gateway Park, Wilacre Park

City of Malibu: Charmlee Wilderness Park, Malibu Bluffs

California State Parks: Pets are not allowed on backcountry trails of Topanga, Malibu Creek, Leo Carrillo and Point Mugu State Parks, including the Boney Mountain Wilderness.

Canines are not allowed in the backcountry trails of Point Mugu State Park, including the Boney Mountain Wilderness.

Canines are not allowed in the backcountry trails of Point Mugu State Park, including the Boney Mountain Wilderness.

Dogs on leash are allowed at County Line Beach, Leo Carrillo State Park (on beach north of lifeguard tower 3 and campground only), Point Mugu State Park (on beach and campground only in Sycamore Cove and Thornhill Broome Beach), Will Rogers State Historic Park (day-use areas and loop road only)

L.A. City Recreation and Park District: Coldwater Canyon Park, Laurel Canyon Park, Runyon Canyon Park, Temescal Canyon Park

While you're out on the trails with your pooch, remember to pick up after your dog and bring plenty of water and food for you and Fido.

For more information, visit the Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center in Calabasas or www.nps.gov/samo.

Outside of the Santa Monica Mountains, trails in the Conejo Valley, Simi Hills and other local area locations are generally dog-friendly as long as your furry friend is on a leash. 

Dozens and dozens and dozens of local area trails and hikes