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For a trail with pleasing flow, hit Paradise Falls in Thousand Oaks

This unexpectedly pleasant waterfall destination will seem a little off the map for some Angelenos, but I found it well worth the drive to Thousand Oaks and very much worth the walk. Note: It includes a short water crossing that in damp weather could involve some slippery stepping stones.

The trail to Paradise Falls in Wildwood Park is well marked with signs. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

1. Begin your walk from Wildwood Park and look for the trail head at the lower end of the parking lot. Drop down a flight of wooden stairs and head right, following signs for Moonridge Trail to Paradise Falls.

Hikers walk past big coast live oaks on the Moonridge Trail in Wildwood Park. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

2. Continue along the hillside, through fields of prickly pear and groves of coast live oak. Take a bridge over a dry creek, then cross a wide service road. Stay on Moonridge Trail as it bears right and uses some stairs to traverse a canyon.

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3. At the crossroads where the trail meets another service road, aim left and downhill toward the big wooden "tepee," where you'll find shade and a drinking fountain. Before you hit that, though, turn right and continue downhill into the canyon.

Hikers rest along a pond at Paradise Falls. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

4. Turn left where you see the sign for Paradise Falls, down a trail that includes a few switchbacks and a couple of staircases. At the bottom: a waterfall where spring water and runoff from a treatment plant combine for a surprisingly abundant flow.

A mallard on the north fork of the Arroyo Conejo in Wildwood Park near Paradise Falls. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

5. For the return trip, head back up the hill a little, then turn right, following the chain-link fence above the falls and the signs for Wildwood Trail. Note the ducks on the pond and the picnic tables in the shade.

Hikers cross a bridge over the north fork of the Arroyo Conejo to the Indian Creek Trail in Wildwood Park. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

6. After you've followed the stream awhile, cross it on a wooden bridge, then turn left onto Indian Creek Trail. (Take Indian Cave Trail for a sightseeing side trip.) Follow the creek as the path drops into some nice oaky shade and eventually includes a short water crossing and begins to gain elevation. Cross over and stay to the left of the creek from here on out.

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7. Pass another waterfall and continue on Indian Creek Trail as it hits a series of railroad-tie stairs. Climb back up to flat ground, bearing left across a bluff until a final set of stairs lifts you back to the parking lot.

Fleming is the author of "Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles" and "Secret Stairs East Bay: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Berkeley and Oakland."

The stats

Distance: 3.2 miles
1 1/2 hours
Difficulty: 4 on a scale of 1 to 5
Details: Ample free parking. Dogs on a leash are OK.

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