Like so many hidden Los Angeles gems, Rocky Peak Park in Simi Valley is one of those places I'd driven near and wondered about for decades. What a treat to find this alluring lunar landscape in the Santa Susana Mountains so freeway-close and easy to find.
1. Take the Rocky Peak Road exit off the 118 Freeway north of Chatsworth, and park at the trailhead just north of the highway or in the parking area across the bridge, and begin walking up a wide, sandy road between low scrub and big boulders.
2. Follow the road as it turns firmer underfoot and gets steeper, staying to the left at the first Y intersection. As you rise, you'll get closer looks at some of the otherworldly rock formations, reminiscent of Vasquez Rocks.
3. Stay on the main road, walking more or less straight ahead, through a complicated five-way intersection, as the trail narrows between brush and boulders. Farther on, reward yourself with a stop at a bench with views across Simi Valley.
4. Continue straight, following the trail markers for Rocky Peak Trail, past another well-placed bench, some knotty old oak trees and through a narrow notch in the mountains.
5. At about 45 minutes and 1.7 miles into the walk, take a break on the big, flat-topped boulders to the left of the trail. From here, you can continue straight ahead for another couple of miles to Rocky Peak or return the way you came for a 1.5-hour hike. On the way down, enjoy the views of Chatsworth, Porter Ranch, Northridge and a rock-climbering favorite, Stoney Point Park.
Fleming is the author of "Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles" and "Secret Walks: A Walking Guide to the Hidden Trails of Los Angeles."
Distance: 3.5 miles
Difficulty: 4, on a scale of 1 to 5
Duration: 1.5 hours
Details: Ample, free street parking. Mountain bikes and dogs on a leash are OK.