Oat Mountain / Sage Ranch Park
Another fun day in the Simi Valley / Chatsworth area. I split the day between two different locations. I like doing this as I don’t have to carry as much weight and can eat lunch in my car. Oat Mountain is the highest point in the Santa Susanna Mountains and the round trip was just over seven miles. Sage Ranch Park is a garden of giant boulders, massive slabs and little caves. I hiked three miles there.
Get off the 118 Freeway at De Soto and head toward the mountains near the off ramp. You will see a sign for Michael D. Antonovich Park. Take this road, known as Browns Road. Getting to the trailhead for the Oat Mountain hike can be confusing as there are a couple of different signs along Browns Road that say something like “Residents Only” and “Private – No Trespassing”. Just ignore the signs and keep driving. Passed the parking areas the road comes to a locked gate, so you won’t be able to drive but a few yards beyond where you are supposed to. There is a $5.00 self-paid parking fee. This hike is on a narrow paved road, all the way up and back. Caution, authorized vehicles do use this road. Fortunately you won’t be hiking on a cliffside so there is ample time and space to get out of the way. I would guess I was passed about 15 times during the day. Oat Mountain has a kind of industrial feel, for lack of a better term. The road leads past an LAPD shooting range, which was silent on this day, and also crosses over private ranch land marked with “No Trespassing” signs. Just go over the cattle grate and on through to where the road picks up again.
It was overcast on the way up and became more so the higher I went.
Photo 1 – After a couple moderate miles of climbing I passed a heliport on the left. Photo 2 – And another half mile up the road there is a second heliport on the right. As you can see, it was totally socked in.
This little guy was sitting there all alone in the middle of the asphalt.
I continued up the road. This rocker pump was hard at work . Only on the way back did I notice a tiny “No Trespassing” sign near an open gate. It was smaller and less noticeable than all the previous no trespassing signs I had already gone through. I can’t say for sure whether hikers are allowed to pass through and reach the summit of Oat Mountain. It lies about a half mile past the second heliport.
Near the top the fog began to thin. I know there are antennae on the top of Oat Mountain, but only when I was right at the top did I realize that one of them is the mysterious big orb which I had spotted on previous hikes in the area. I believe this is KABC-TV’s Doppler Weather Radar antenna.
Photo 1 – The ridgeline across the way is where I have hiked previously – on my Rocky Peak and Chumash/ Las Llajas Canyon hikes. Photo 4 – Oat Mountain – now visible from below.
Orbtenna on zoom
On to Sage Ranch Park. I had scouted this location when I did my day of short Valley hikes. Good thing too. I could see how the drive up would be confusing if you weren’t sure exactly where you were going. Photo 1 – After driving west on the 118 and finding my way through a few side streets, I came to Black Canyon Road. At the bottom you drive past a few houses and reach an open gate. There is a sign that says “END” and other markers making it seem like you should not be driving up this road. And it quickly gets very steep, narrow and windy, so much so that the first time I drove on it I had a bad feeling that this just couldn’t be right. But just keep driving up to the top of the mountain. The parking lot is on the right. There is a lower lot and an upper lot. You must pay $5.00 to park in the upper lot. Photo 2 – A two mile loop took me through the park, but most of the fun is in exploring the countless spur trails, boulders and caves.
Photo 1 – Looking over my shoulder I could see Oat Mountain and the Orbtenna in the distance.
I knew one of these rock formations is named Turtle Rock. They both look like turtles to me although, after doing a search, I am reasonably sure Turtle Rock is off to the right.
Here is what I first thought was Turtle Rock. Doesn’t it look like a turtle swimming up at a 45 degree angle, flippers at it’s side and mouth open ready to snap a passing fish? Of course I wanted to climb up to the top. Photo 3 – The head of the turtle, or so I thought. Photo 4 – Deadly Drop Off
Turtle Rock, which looks more like the Sphinx to me.
Under the Turtle’s head
Photo 1 – On zoom – I noticed something sitting on top of a boulder. I thought it might be a water bottle but I couldn’t make it out. After I got home I discovered it was a curious squirrel checking out the world from on high. Photo 2 – So many hideouts to explore.
Another big rock formation, looking a bit like a wave about to crash on the shore.
Another great hike in the Santa Susanna Mountains. Beautiful area.