Sycamore Canyon in Point Mugu State Park boasts dozens of miles of hiking and biking trails in what the state park system calls the finest example of sycamore savanna in California.
This walk is only a hint of the massive park acreage in the Santa Monica Mountains, but it will serve as a great introduction, offering a gentle canyon approach, a moderate climb through switchbacks and a series of breathtaking ocean views.
It doesn't afford much shade, however, so wear a good hat and lots of sunscreen, and make sure to stay well hydrated.
1. Begin this walk from the parking lot at Sycamore Canyon Campground, on the eastern side of Pacific Coast Highway, about 16 miles north of Mulholland Highway. Walk on paved road past the campsites, then pass a wide yellow gate onto unpaved Sycamore Canyon Fire Road.
2. At about three-quarters of a mile, or roughly 20 minutes, turn left onto the well-marked Overlook Fire Road. Take a series of switchbacks as they climb up the canyon.
3. Near the crest, watch for signs on the left for Scenic Trail as it angles slightly downhill from Overlook Fire Road.
4. Descending, enjoy ocean breezes and beach views, including a look near the cliffs down the Great Sand Dune onto PCH. Stay right for a spur trail that climbs a little farther for even better views, then follow Scenic as it leads back down into the canyon.
5. Scenic Trail meets Sycamore Canyon Fire Road again just above the campground. Turn right and wind your way back to the starting point.
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.” Each month, he leads a free walk at one of his favorite spots in Southern California. Find out more at his Facebook page, Secret Stairs. He is on Twitter @misterfleming
Distance: 3 miles round trip
Difficulty: 3 on a scale of 1 to 5
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Details: Free parking on PCH. Paid parking $3 per hour inside campground. OK for bicycles; no dogs allowed. Wheelchair accessible areas.
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