Big Sycamore Canyon Trail

I did short hikes two weeks ago and no hiking last week so I wanted a very long trail.  This out and back in the Point Mugu area fit the bill, a total of over 18 miles.

Driving Difrections:  From northbound Pacific Coast Highway, 5.3 miles beyond Leo Carrillo State Beach, arrive at the signed Big Sycamore Canyon.  Turn right into the and find parking in the pay lot.

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I got an early start.  I parked along Pacific Coast Highway next to the Giant Sand Dune.  In the darkness I made my way down the highway and then to the trailhead.  There’s not a whole lot of spectacular scenery on this trail.  It’s a wide one lane fire road which official cars and trucks do use (but very little if this day is any indication).  Photos 3 and 4 show the skeleton of some burned out structure.

5     6   There are a few pit stops along the trail.  Some have hydrants with faucets attached so you can get water.  Some have port-a-pottys or places to sit.

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After about 4 1/2 miles the hard-packed dirt road became a single lane paved road.  Mountain bikers and hikers coming from the Thousand Oaks side began to appear.

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11   There is a kiosk at the top of the hill.  I followed the once again flat road forward and came to the Satwiwa Culture Center, which I explored on the way back.  There is a Ranger’s residence right next to the center.  I went left to get to the main parking lot and the end of the trail.  These wooden craft projects (not sure what they are) were in front of the Ranger’s house.

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Looking back at Boney Mountain.

15     14   Photo 1 – Near the parking lot I sat on a low wall and had lunch.  This poster gives some history of the area.  Photo 2 – Here is sign showing the route I just hiked.  I started at #5 at the bottom (actually just up from #5 at the sand dune, which you can see on the map) and was now at the red star at the top.

16   I start back.  The first half of the hike was so easy.  I had never traveled that far so quickly and with so little effort.  I decided to explore the Indian village and the trails surrounding.


The trail led away from the village past a dry pond and toward the mountains.

18   A windmill by the side of the trail makes for a good landmark.


Heading back now – here are the mountains in the opposite direction.  I hiked about a mile on these side trails.

20   Back at the village there is a fire pit here where many people can sit around the edge on tree stumps.  I can’t imagine they would get very warm having to sit so far away from the fire.

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This is the highlight of the park.  I’m not sure if this dwelling is called a wigwam, I didn’t see any info posted around.  Going inside, I felt like Charlton Heston’s character in the original Planet of the Apes when he was held captive in a cage that had a similar structure.

24     25     26   Photo 1 – Back on the main trail.  As the name implies, there are many lovely sycamore trees.  Photo 2 – This helicopter kept circling the area.  It seemed like he was circling right over me at times.

27     28   Photo 1 was taken in my backyard.  I was told that these particular wild parrots are called Black Hooded Parakeets.  I also saw them on the trail, sitting in a tree and making a bunch of racket.


The State bird – California Quail

30     31   Photo 1 – Back to the parking lot at the beginning.  I had not seen this before – you can pay for parking with a credit card.  Photo 2 – I walked over this bridge in the morning but really couldn’t see anything.  Now I know you can walk under the bridge to access the beach without having to cross over the highway.


Sycamore Cove – the hike to my car from the park was the most scenic part of my entire day.

33     34     35   In the morning darkness I didn’t see all the signs prohibiting pedestrian traffic along the north bound side of the highway.  I had just hiked 18 miles and my car was up the road.  I really had no choice but to keep moving forward.  This barrier was put up to protect cars from falling rock.  While it does protect you from the cars racing by just feet away, I kept looking up expecting a boulder to come toppling down on my head.  There were fallen rocks all over the ground.


Out of the danger zone now – Mugu Rock straight ahead.

37     38     39   Photo 1 – I saw these plants about a year ago in this area.  It’s called a Giant Coreopsis.  Photos 2 and 3 – More walls of rock

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Here is the Great Sand Dune at Point Mugu State Park.  You can see how big it is by the cars on the side of the road and the couple at the top of the hill, looking like two specs in photo 1.  I remember wanting to climb this when I was a kid and never getting the chance.  At the halfway point of this hike I had romantic notions of hiking to the beach and dipping my feet in the cold water and then climbing to the top of this dune and getting a few shots of the setting Sun.  At the end I hobbled to my car, those dreams abandoned about three or four miles back.  Photo 2 shows the couple at the top on zoom.

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Panning left to right on the Giant Dune


A warped and cropped panorama shot of the Great Sand Dune.

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