OUTINGS : JAUNTS : VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND : Strenuous Hike Not Just a Walk in the Park : Saturday's trek will cover 10.25 miles and include venture into the Boney Mountain Wilderness Area.


Looking for a hike that will test your stamina? The National Park Service is leading a 10.25-mile trek Saturday into the Boney Mountain Wilderness Area in Point Mugu State Park.

"This is our toughest one," said Ted Stout, the ranger in charge of the strenuous hike.

It begins at 9 a.m. at Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area near Newbury Park. The route will take you deep into the wilderness area before it loops back to the start via Big Sycamore Canyon.

This is virtually an all-day expedition, likely to last about seven hours. But the sights along the way make it worth the sweat.

From the entrance to Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa, you'll see Boney Mountain, with its rocky outcroppings, dominate the skyline. At a 3,000-feet elevation, it's one of the few places in the Santa Monica Mountains that gets snow every few years. But this hike won't scale its peak; it will follow its ridges.

This whole area is Chumash country. Long ago the Chumash thrived in a village nearby known as Satwiwa, which means bluffs. Historians believe they used Big Sycamore Canyon as a trade and travel route to the ocean.

The route follows the Old Boney Trail, really a dirt road. It climbs a ridge, then drops down to a creek in a canyon filled with huge old oak and sycamore trees.

Near here, at the 1.5-mile mark, Stout will take hikers on a short side trip to a waterfall at the northern edge of the Boney Mountain Wilderness Area, a 6,000-acre chunk of rugged land set aside in 1981.

The Chumash lived here for thousands of years, until the Spanish arrived. Then in the mid-1800s, Mexican land grants carved out big ranchos. The hike Saturday will pass by one remnant from this era. At the 2.75-mile mark on Old Boney Trail, the route passes a stone chimney in an oak grove--all that remains of a cabin used by ranch hands tending cattle and sheep when the land was part of Rancho Sierra Vista. The cabinburned in 1956.

A few steps from the chimney is a monument with an ornate wrought-iron arch dedicated to Richard Ely Danielson Jr., who last owned the ranch.

The trail into the heart of the wilderness area includes scenic vistas that reach the Channel Islands on a clear day.

The group will stop for a lunch break on a high spot overlooking the Conejo Valley. Then the hikers will continue on the Old Boney Trail, eventually turning west onto the Blue Canyon Trail. They'll reach the paved Big Sycamore Canyon road, near the old Danielson home. This is a likely rest stop, because the three-mile walk back on the paved road concludes with a long, strenuous uphill push.



* WHAT: Ranger-led hike, sponsored by the National Park Service.

* WHEN: Saturday; hike begins at 9 a.m. and will last about seven hours.

* WHERE: Hike begins at Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Potrero Road and Pinehill Street, Newbury Park. Hikers will meet in the parking lot.

* HOW MUCH: Free.

* CALL: (818) 597-1036.

* FYI: Bring two quarts of water, a light jacket and food, and wear appropriate shoes for hiking.

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