A pleasant loop through the low mountains and wide grasslands of northern Point Mugu State Park. This route features a seasonal waterfall, cabin ruins, and great spring wildflower blooms — and while I hiked just under 11 and a half miles, there are plenty of alternate, shorter routes.
This area of Point Mugu State Park is at the western end of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area — a loose patchwork of public lands owned carved into state parks, county parks, and National Park Service territory. There is some privately-owned land scattered throughout, but for the most part, it’s basically an open, free, sparsely traveled National Park. It’s one of L.A.’s best little secrets.
While the southern La Jolla Canyon is part of the State Park, the northern end of Big Sycamore Canyon is part of the NPS’ Rancho Sierra Vista / Satwiwa unit — the main differences you’ll probably notice are the good parking, abundant signs, and clean bathrooms.
There are a lot of nasty thistles in the area, so watch where you’re stepping.
If you’re not summit hungry, turn back the way you came and return to the Old Boney Trail — keeping your eyes open for brilliant gazania blooms hiding in the underbrush.
About a mile and a half after trudging along the ridges of the Old Boney Trail, you will reach a marked junction with the Fossil Trail. If you want to shave a few miles and hours off your hiking expedition, turn onto the Fossil. It will take you back to the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road and a junction with the Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail – both of which will take you back to where you started.
You can also spot dozens of fossilized shells lining the path. You didn’t think a trail called Fossil would be without them, did you?
When you hike through the camp, you’ll come across the paved Sycamore Canyon Fire Road. Hang a right to hitch north.
Now, if you’re like me, the only thing you like less than hiking on fire roads is hiking on paved fire roads. If you want, you can stay on the pavement for just over three miles and get back to the trailhead.
But you don’t want that.
You want to stay on the fire road for just a few hundred yards, and then cut across a small path on the west side of the road that takes you back into the meadows. This path does travel south, and you’ll probably feel like you’re going in the wrong direction — but in under a tenth of a mile you’ll see a sign for the Sin Nombre Trail — part of a pair of trails that parallel the fire road at just a slightly longer distance. Your soles will thank you for getting off the road.
The Sin Nombre Trail continues across the valley floor before turning west and meeting up with the paved Ranch Center Road. Cross the road and rejoin the beaten path on the Hidden Pond Trail for more wide meadows and views of the mountains overhead.
It’s 1.2 miles on the Hidden Pond Trail until it returns to the Fire Road, after crossing a wash that wiped out part of the trail’s former path. After that, it’s another 1.4 miles on pavement back to the trailhead.
Just make sure you stop to take a look at the trash can overlooking Sycamore Canyon. If the Park Service hasn’t removed it, you’ll find some fairly entertaining graffiti.
And if you think being burned has diminished the park’s beauty, you’re sorely mistaken. This is a great opportunity to get some first-hand experience with fire ecology. Hopefully, the wildflower show this spring will be spectacular. Click here for my experience hiking through the burned section of the park just after it reopened.
Excellent, although the trails up until the Danielson Monument are the most trafficked and best maintained. Most of these trails are OK for mountain bikes and equestrians, so they're wide and flat. The trails through the meadows are significantly more thin, but still very well maintained and easy to follow. 5/28/13 - This area was badly burned in the Springs Fire in May of 2013. Official trails are open to hikers but may be closed depending on safety and erosion. Please check with rangers before you head here to make sure the route you'd like to do is open.
There are group camps in the center of the park as well as small walk-in camps. Sycamore Canyon Camp on the coast is the only reservable campsite.
Take the 101N out of L.A. toward Ventura. In Thousand Oaks, exit at Lynn Road and turn left. Follow Lynn Road past the intersection with Reino Road and turn left into the marked road to Rancho Sierra Vista (Arroyo Conejo on Google Maps).
With recent wildfire damage and ongoing waves of COVID-19 infections and restrictions, National Forest, National Park, and other public land closures, restrictions, or social distancing guidelines may be in-effect.
If infection rates are on the rise, please do your best to remain local for your hikes. If you do travel, please be mindful of small gateway communities and avoid as much interaction as you can. Also remember to be extra prepared with supplies so you don't have to stop somewhere outside your local community for gas, food, or anything else.
Please be sure to contact the local land management agency BEFORE you head out, as these conditions are likely to change without enough notice for us to fully stay on top of them. Thanks, and stay safe!
Click here to read the current CDC guidelines for traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.