Category archive for Santa Monica Mountains

upper sycamore canyon

Upper Big Sycamore Canyon

On May 2, 2013, the Springs Fire erupted near the 101 and made its way through the hills near Thousand Oaks and into Point Mugu State Park and Rancho Sierra Vista / Satwiwa. By the time the fire was extinguished, it had burned 24,238 acres of land and 12% of the total land of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation…

read » July 23, 2015
nicholas flat

Nicholas Flat

Hiking to Nicholas Flat from Leo Carrillo State Park is perhaps one of the most rewarding hiking experiences you can have in Southern California. The trail itself is beautiful but challenging, rising through four different plant communities as it climbs almost 1700 feet from the Pacific Coast to the Flat, which has the feel of a tucked-away, hidden paradise far…

read » July 7, 2015
wildwood park paraidse falls

Wildwood Regional Park

Wildwood Regional Park in Thousand Oaks packs a shockingly diverse landscape into its 1,765 acres. There are sweeping grasslands, prominent ridges and peaks like Lizard Rock, the beautiful year-round Paradise Falls and its oak and sycamore-lined riparian canyon, and even some unusual eroded rock formations like Indian Cave. The park is home to seven different plant communities and more than…

read » July 2, 2015

Simi Peak and China Flat

Much like the Puente Hills, the Simi Hills are often overlooked by hikers drawn to the wider swaths of wilderness present in the nearby mountain ranges. For the Simi Hills, the neighboring Santa Monica and Santa Susana Mountains cast a sizable shadow on this smaller range hemmed in by suburbia, but the region has some excellent trails to hike. Case in…

read » June 26, 2015
rocky oaks

Hike Rocky Oaks Park

Rocky Oaks Park is a small but beautiful slice of protected land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Managed by the National Park Service, this former ranch land holds a shaded picnic area covered by beautiful live oaks, a man-made seasonal pond that (when it has water in it) serves as a rest stop for migratory birds, and…

read » June 22, 2015

Hike Paramount Ranch

As a hiking area with entertainment industry cred, few places can match Paramount Ranch. Since 1927, this former ranch has stood in for dozens of locations in hundreds of movies, TV shows, and internet programs. Al Jolson and Gary Cooper were here, as were W. C. Fields, Mae West, and the Marx Brothers. This is where Bob Hope was “Caught…

read » May 27, 2015

Hike to the Cave of Munits

Native Americans had a long and rich history in Southern California well before Spanish settlers could ever be described as “fresh off the boat,” but unfortunately due to disease, dispersement, and development (along with some Mission-style romanticizing of the past), many Californians aren’t aware of the extent of their presence or depth of their culture. Some estimates put upwards of…

read » May 19, 2015
boney mountain

Hike Satwiwa to Tri-Peaks

Most readers of this site will no doubt be familiar with Boney Mountain. The high point of Boney mountain is Sandstone Peak, which is a focal point for some of the best hiking on the west end of the Santa Monica Mountains. The Mishe Mokwa Loop to Sandstone is one of the classics of SoCal hiking, and Modern Hiker has long touted it…

read » April 26, 2015

Rim Of The Valley Corridor Public Meetings Scheduled

Back in 2010, the National Park Service introduced the Rim of the Valley Corridor, a “special resource study” area, to determine whether it made sense to link the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) with the San Gabriel Mountains (“including the mountains encircling the San Fernando, La Crescenta, Santa Clarita, Simi, and Conejo Valleys”) for inclusion in the National Park System (or as an…

read » April 19, 2015
las virgenes canyon

Hiking Las Virgenes Canyon

This beautiful trek on the western edge of the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve differs greatly from the more popular routes starting from Victory Trailhead on the eastern end of the Open Space. Although they were both part of the same fairly recent land purchase and former Ahmanson Ranch, the eastern half of the Open Space is more…

read » March 16, 2015
victory trailhead las virgenes canyon

Hiking the Victory Trailhead Loop

In the late 1990s, executives at the now-defunct bank Washington Mutual had their eyes on a nearly 3,000 acre tract of ranch land in the western San Fernando Valley near Calabasas, Simi Valley, Woodland Hills, and Agoura. The land was formerly owned by the Ahmanson Family, one of the most influential families in the history of the Los Angeles area. The…

read » March 4, 2015
Cheeseboro Canyon

Hike Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons

Please pardon this brief personal anecdote. I promise it is relevant to the hike. I spent a considerable part of my childhood and early adulthood living in Agoura Hills. During that time, I developed a pretty strong attachment to the place, even though I outgrew the specific charms of this quiet bedroom community by early adulthood. A regular feature of my…

read » January 12, 2015
King Gillette Ranch

Hike King Gillette Ranch

Nestled in the rolling hills south of Calabasas, the nearly 600 acres of King Gillette Ranch serve as the picturesque homebase for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. If the name “Gillette” sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve probably fought the good fight against unwanted hair – the famous razor company’s founder, the regally appointed King Camp Gillette, chose this…

read » July 1, 2014
Corral Canyon

Hiking Corral Canyon

Hugging the coastline just off the PCH, Malibu’s Corral Canyon has the distinction of being the last canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains that has a completely undeveloped watershed that flows freely into the Pacific Ocean. And yes, that sound like a very specific thing, but you don’t need to memorize the honorifcs if you’re headed here – all you…

read » March 12, 2014
Escondido Falls

Hiking Escondido Falls

The Winding Way Trail in Malibu leads to the multi-tiered 150 foot tall Escondido Falls, the tallest waterfall in the Santa Monica Mountains. While the waterfall’s strength is subject to the levels of precipitation, the trail to the base of the falls is a shaded, lovely stroll – and the trail to the upper tiers of the falls is an…

read » March 5, 2014

Hiking Red Rock Canyon to Calabasas Peak

This moderately graded fire road ascent just outside Topanga Village provides some amazing views of the interior of the Santa Monica Mountains – especially if you get to see the marine layer flowing over the peaks closest to the coast. This dog-friendly hike has enough of an incline to get your legs working but isn’t tough enough to scare off…

read » July 12, 2013
Trebek Open Space

Hiking the Trebek Open Space

A just-under-3 mile out-and-back in the Hollywood Hills. This seldom-traveled route offers fantastic city views and easy, dog-friendly routes. While parking and trailhead issues may be complicated, this area has many of the same features and views of nearby Runyon Canyon with a fraction of the foot and paw traffic. A nice, hidden gem. Last Updated: Wednesday, March 12, 2014

read » February 8, 2013
Temescal Canyon to Skull Rock 27 (1 of 1)

Hiking Temescal Canyon to Skull Rock

A moderately challenging 4.6 mile loop trail in the Pacific Palisades. This route takes you on the popular Temescal Canyon Trail to Temescal Falls (really just a small cascade, most often only a trickle). From there, the hike makes a strong but shaded ascent up to the ridge and to Skull Rock, a cool little rock formation with some excellent…

read » February 1, 2013
Franklin Canyon Reservoir Loop

Hiking Franklin Canyon – Reservoir Loop

  This short and easy loop in the north end of Franklin Canyon Park is a great introduction to the area – and a reminder of what kinds of hidden gems are scattered all over the city. There are lots of opportunities to leave the reservoir loop to explore the park – or just sit by the shores and birdwatch,…

read » October 12, 2012
Franklin Canyon Hastain Loop

Hiking Franklin Canyon – Hastain Loop

A short loop in the southern half of Franklin Canyon Park – a rugged, hidden little canyon just outside of Beverly Hills. This is a decent workout with some really lovely canyon scenery and views of Beverly Hills and Century City – and not too crowded, either! Franklin Canyon began its modern life as a reservoir area from water brought…

read » October 11, 2012