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One reason to hike Rocky Peak in Simi Valley? Otherworldly rock formations

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.

The parking area, right off the 118 Freeway, for Rocky Peak trail. This is a short hike above Chatsworth into a lunar landscape of massive rocks and boulders. Park at the trail head or in the parking area across the bridge and begin walking up a wide, sandy road into a landscape of low scrub and boulders.
The parking area, right off the 118 Freeway, for Rocky Peak trail. This is a short hike above Chatsworth into a lunar landscape of massive rocks and boulders. Park at the trail head or in the parking area across the bridge and begin walking up a wide, sandy road into a landscape of low scrub and boulders. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

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.

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The view early on in the hike on the Rocky Peak trail.
The view early on in the hike on the Rocky Peak trail. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

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.

Boulders and rocks along the Rocky Peak trail.
Boulders and rocks along the Rocky Peak trail. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

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.

Hikers take a break along the Rocky Peak trail.
Hikers take a break along the Rocky Peak trail. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

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.

A view as you descend on the Rocky Peak trail.
A view as you descend on the Rocky Peak trail. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

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."

The stats

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.

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