Distance (round-trip)

5 mi

Time

2 hrs

Elevation Gain

1119 ft

Season

Spring
Fall
Winter

Weather

A moderate 5 mile hike along fire roads and trails, just outside Simi Valley. Easy trailhead access, interesting rock formations, and breathtaking vistas (when the air is clear), make this a great choice for an afternoon hike when you’re pressed for time.

A reader wrote in to tell me about this trail, saying, “when you don’t have the time for a major hike, this can be a fun, quick adventure to get you out of the house.” It sounded pretty good from his description, but I was a bit skeptical when I arrived at the trailhead and found that it was directly next to the 118 Freeway. So close, in fact, that I had to walk across a bridge over the highway to get to the trail.

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Would a hike so close to a highway offer anything remotely close to a natural experience?

The answer is a resounding yes.

Even though Rocky Peak Park is located only a few feet from an off-ramp, the actual trail leaves this area quickly, ascending a small slope on a paved fire road. And even here, while you might be worried about having to hike on pavement, the tar gives way to a good ol-fashioned dirt fire road in just about 500 feet.

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… and, as you can see, it’s not just plain old boring dirt road, either — it’s eroded, uneven, and for the first 0.4 miles, moderately steep and dusty — which means it can get pretty slippery.

Almost immediately on this trail, I was struck by three things — the absence of traffic noise, the amazing views (even early on, I could see deep into the San Gabriels), and the landscape itself, which seemed like it belonged in Joshua Tree and not here in the Santa Susana Mountains.

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At around this point in the trail, it looks like there is a 3-way junction with a few other dirt paths and fire roads. Just keep heading to the left, and you should be fine. If, however, you do decide to venture off the “correct” path, you’ll quickly dead-end, so you’ll still be fine. You’ll just add a little bit more distance to your hike that day.

After this junction, the fire road isn’t as sandy, and footing is a bit more sound. At about 0.8 miles, you’ll pass a small cave on the northeast side of the trail. There’s a Summit Stone-style painting on the outside, and you can climb through and above the cave for some extra credit scrambling or hang out in the shade on a sunny day.

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Just another tenth of a mile up the fire road, the Rocky Peak Fire Road Trail intersects with the Hummingbird Trail, a western-winding path that passes several caves on its way to Kuehner Drive in Simi Valley. You can hike down here if you’d like, adding 5 miles round trip, or instead just hang out on the nearby bench and marvel at the right-angle grid of civilization trying to impose itself on the uncooperative Southern California landscape.

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Continue north on the Rocky Peak Trail for about another 1.1. miles, winding your way through the boulder-strewn landscape, and enjoy the (hopefully) expansive views. I had phenomenal views on my hike — from the snow-capped San Gabriels to the east all the way out to the Channel Islands.

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When I was on this trail, I passed several hikers including some small groups and families. But the trail never felt crowded, even with the occasional mountain biker whizzing past. The trail manages to keep itself mostly hidden until you get close to Rocky Peak, so even if there are a ton of people ahead of and behind you the odds are you won’t see them.

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At the 1.9 mile mark, there is a spur trail that leaves the fire road and makes a no-nonsense climb to a saddle near Rocky Peak. You can take this scramble-hike route, or just continue on the fire road for another 0.4 miles. Either way, make sure you take a few minutes to take in the sweeping views from this more elevated section of the trail.

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At about 2.3 miles, you’ll reach an overlook of the northwestern hills and valleys. There’s a small boulder that makes a nice rest stop, too. The fire road continues deep into the mountains, but if you look to your east, you’ll see a few visible footpaths cutting through the burned out brush.

This passes by a small cement area that I thought might be an old helipad, but probably isn’t … then continues as a soft-earth fire road for another 700 feet or so. The evidence of fires in the region is unavoidable.

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At this point, the fire road ends (finally!) and you’ll find yourself on a nice single track trail. 0.2 miles from the trail junction, you’ll reach a prominent peak that gives you incredible views of the entirety of Rocky Peak Park, and a great vantage of the fire road you just hiked to get here:

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From this point, the small peak directly to your northeast is Rocky Peak. You will see a faint use-trail winding toward it, but to get to the top you’ll most likely have to get your hands a bit dirty with a light scramble.

When you’re done taking in the views, or, as in my case, getting blown around by the Santa Ana Winds, backtrack to the overlook. From here, you can either continue to the fire road to make your way back down to the trailhead, or you can take a shorter – but much more steep – trail to the south.

While your knees will most likely get a nice workout from this route, and you may have to slide for sections depending on how loose the rock is, it’s only about 0.2 miles, and should be manageable for anyone with a good sense of balance.

From the trail junction with the fire road, it’s about 1.8 miles of fire road back to the trailhead.

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Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Modern Hiker, Author of "Day Hiking Los Angeles," Walking Meditator, Native Plant Enthusiast.





Dog-Friendly

Multi-Use Trail

Views / Vista

Trail Map

6 Comments

David V

David V Jan 2, 2012 08:01

Very Nice Hike. Starts with a climb for the first mile or so, then it flattens out for another mile or so. The last mile kicks your butt (a little stepper than the 1st mile). However, there are beautiful views of Simi Valley and the San Fernando Valley. The weather was clear and in the high 60s to low 70s on my New Years Day Hike (2012). Beautiful rock formations too....very popular Trail

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John Nov 28, 2011 15:11

Great hike - just went up this morning (thanks to this site). VERY easy to find, straightforward path, dog friendly, and pretty. Quick too - you can choose your own route if you don't have a lot of time, or if it gets too hot (and it does get hot).

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Seth Nov 6, 2011 15:11

Awesome hike, did it today around 10 after the rain. It was a perfect post rain hike. A bit chilly, but I only saw 3 other people, and one had a parrot on his shoulder the whole hike.

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Clay Sep 16, 2010 13:09

Very hot and open hike. Not for the casual hiker.

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Jennifer Aug 19, 2009 16:08

Awesome hike, good place to trail run. There is no exit for Rocky Peak Rd from the 118-East-since I was coming from Ventura- so you have to exit Kuehner Dr, turn right and it becomes Santa Susana Pass Rd. Then turn Left onto Rocky Peak Rd. P.S. Watch out for rattle snakes, I almost got bit myself and I'm used to seeing them all the time coming from Utah.

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Sam Feb 28, 2009 22:02

Just did a solo hike there this morning, somehow I thought the trail northwest (which I figured was an extension of the Hummingbird trail) of the the helipad (?) would take me back southward to the trailhead!! Took me about 20 minutes (when the trail branched out to who knows where!) before I realized that it was a wrong path! All in all I enjoyed the scenery and it was a nice workout! Should've pay more attention to your site! :)

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