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JAUNTS : Trekking on Los Robles Trail : Conejo park district naturalists lead monthly hikes lasting about 2 1/2 hours. The pace is relaxed with plenty of time to enjoy the view and the wildflowers.

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Los Robles Trail, a 10-mile stretch along the south edge of Thousand Oaks, is a bonanza for hikers who want easy accessibility. With its network of spurs and loops, though, it can look rather daunting.

But every month, naturalists with the Conejo Recreation and Park District lead hikes on a portion of the trail. Usually the hikes are no more than four miles long, beginning at 9 a.m. and running about 2 1/2 hours.

These are not forced marches. The pace is relaxed, with plenty of time to take in the view, pull out the wildflower book to identify a bloom or get a swig of water.

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Recently, naturalist Jim Lux led a handful of hikers to Rasnow Peak from a trail head at the south end of Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks. It was about four miles round-trip and ventured into the area that burned during last year’s fires.

From the trail head, Los Robles Trail is more like a gently rolling fire road than a trail. It draws mountain bikers and, in fact, on this hike, the group passed more bikers than hikers.

By day, Lux is a computer consultant, but on these hikes he passes on tidbits about the plants, geology and history of the area. Wild mustard borders the trail and, according to Lux, it was planted by the Spanish to mark the roads. It apparently thrived well enough here to be a cash crop at one point, he said.

Surprisingly, wildflowers are still blooming: varieties of phacelia, monkey flowers, sunflowers, morning glories and yucca. Because of the fires, the wildflowers popped up in record numbers this spring. The flames destroyed the chaparral and brush, making it easier for the flowers to flourish.

There is still evidence of the fire. Charred tree trunks stand out starkly. But the ashen look of the ground is gone, replaced by new greenery.

The trail eventually narrows and becomes more like a trail than a fire road. About one-third of the way from the top, the switchbacks begin, but they are gentle.

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Still, the sun is beating relentlessly, and there is no shade anywhere on the trail. Water is a must. So is sunscreen. (Lux packs it just in case a hiker forgets.)

There are no markers at the top of Rasnow Peak to let you know that you’ve made it. The trail simply starts descending. If you stay on it, continuing west, you’ll wind up at Rancho Sierra Vista Park in Newbury Park.

The peak is named for the family that owns land in the area. From the top, hikers have a good view of the Conejo Valley below. You may see red-tailed hawks circling in the sky.

The elevation here is about 1,500 feet, a climb of 700 feet from the trail head. The trip down is faster, halted occasionally by passing mountain bikers.

Anywhere from two to 50 hikers sign up for the monthly hikes, which cost $3. On the same day the district also offers a similar hike especially for single people. That one starts at 6:30 p.m. and also costs $3.

The hikes range from moderate to difficult, and they always convene at the trail head at the south end of Moorpark Road, where there is a dirt parking lot. That location is about midway on the trail, which stretches from a trail head at Foothill Road on the east to Rancho Sierra Vista Park on the west, just off West Potrero Road.

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Other trails connect with Los Robles Trail: Triunfo Canyon Trail begins with a trail head at Tamarack Street, White Horse Canyon Trail at East Potrero Road, Rolling Oaks Trail at Rimrock Road, Los Padres Trail at Los Padres Drive, Oak Creek Canyon Loop from Greenmeadow Avenue, and Spring Canyon Trail at Acacia Road and Spruce Hill Court.

Details

* WHAT: Monthly hikes on Los Robles Trail in Thousand Oaks.

* WHEN: Next hike is July 16 at 9 a.m. (Singles hike is at 6:30 p.m.)

* WHERE: Hikers meet at the trail head at the south end of Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks.

* COST: $3.

* FYI: For information or to sign up, call 494-8301.

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