Six Little Ventura County Hikes

Fun day hiking short trails in Ventura County.  In order, I hiked the trails at: 1) Mission Oaks Park in Camarillo  2) Stagecoach Inn and Museum in Newbury Park  3) Conejo Valley Botanic Garden in Thousand Oaks  4) Gardens of the World in Thousand Oaks  5) Oak Canyon Community Park in Oak Park  6) Medea Creek Park in Oak Park.  These short hikes always have a lot to see and it’s a lot of fun to hike them all in one day.

1     2     3   I began in Camarillo at Mission Oaks Park.  From the parking lot I walked past the tennis courts, over the grass and between the trees to a dirt trail.  Photo 2 – This tunnel is at the bottom of the hill.  A trail picks up on the other side.  This is not the main trail but I took it anyway just to see where it led.  The park is very nice.  There are many dog walkers, exercisers, etc.

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6   Back on the main trail, I looped around and also explored a couple of spur trails.  Good way to start the day.  I got back on the 101 and headed up the Conejo Grade to my next stop.

7   Now in Newbury Park, I stopped at the Stagecoach Inn and Museum.  I tried to hike here a while back but it was closed because of a school tour.  Early on this morning, I had the place all to myself.

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Outside the historic inn.

10     11     12   Photo 1 – Peering through the window of the Stagecoach Inn.  Photo 2 – The short trail picks up behind the Inn, near this steel stagecoach.  It’s shady and fun.

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A lot of the trail is walking over these wooden “bridges”.

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There is a small Chumash village mock up.  Apparently this really was an area where the Chumash lived, as there are mortar holes and a tree that was bent to mark a fresh water source.  Photo 2 – I finally learn, after seeing several of these dwellings on my hikes, that this hut is called an “ap”.  Photo 3 – Now swinging back toward the Inn, I found a beehive oven, an ancient cooking system.

18     A quick drive over to the other side of the 101 and I arrived at Conejo Valley Botanical Garden.  Near the parking lot is a garden/playground area for children with some fun things inside.

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23   Fun stuff in the kid’s garden.

24     25   After the kid’s garden I took the marked trail heading away from the parking lot.  I followed the sign to the entrance of the garden.

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There are a few options here.  I started out on a short loop trail to the right.  It took me down a ways and then looped around to the beginning again.  Photo 2 – Now back on the main trail, called the Nature Trail.  I bypassed the main garden and circled back up to it near the end of the loop.  All of the climbs and descents are very gentle.

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I think this is a Cooper’s Hawk, with the alternating bands of light and dark on it’s tail feathers.

31   The gardens are right across the street from Tarantula Hill, which I hiked previously.

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I reach the top of the hill.  Conejo Mountain comes into view.

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Looking down the 101 at Ladyface Mountain.

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Tarantula Hill

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44       45      46   I hiked to the main garden area.  There are several sections, such as the Desert Garden, Butterfly Garden, Australian Garden, etc.  My favorite was the Butterfly Garden, an overload of sweet fragrances.  Obviously it’s all landscaped and maintained, but it also has a natural feel.  It reminded me of Amir’s Garden in Griffith Park.

47     48     49   My next stop was Gardens of the World, a much more manicured set of gardens than Conejo Valley Botanical Garden, as you can see.  This privately owned park is 4 1/2 acres of lush green and running water, right in the heart of Thousand Oaks.  There are several different themed gardens here – French, English, Italian, Japanese, etc.

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The Japanese Garden, complete with pagoda

52     53     54   A couple of shots inside the pagoda and the the koi pond next to it.

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Beautiful Koi glisten in the sunlight.

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The Gardens also have a Bandstand and grassy “amphitheater”. Their website shows that they have jazz concerts in the summer.  Photo 4 – Just across the street is the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Center.

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The chain fountain in the Italian Garden.

61     62     63   Photo 3 – Artichokes

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I missed a couple of things on my first trip around the park so I began again, this time passing between the plants and the big fountain at the entrance.

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Photo 1 – There is a tribute to California Missions.  Shown here is a statue of Junipero Serra, who established several missions in California.  Photo 2 – Inside the “Mission” – a peaceful courtyard.  Although there were crowds of people visiting the park at the time, I sat alone for several minutes and enjoyed the quiet.  Photos 3 and 4 – The walls are painted with portraits of some of the missions.  Of interest to fans of the movie Vertigo is Mission San Juan Bautista (but where’s the bell tower?)

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Fantastic colors and shapes

71     72     73   I drove up the freeway a bit to get to Oak Canyon Community Park.  When I pulled off of the road I made a quick left down into the first parking lot.  Then I walked up and crossed the road to get to a bike/pedestrian path which leads into the park.  This was the toughest part of the day, walking on an asphalt path under the hot sun, no shade to be found.

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I hiked on the path until it came to a junction with a road.  I turned around here and took the dirt trail leading down to a more natural and shady area.  I was taken with this large tree.  It would have been great to climb around on if I was a little  kid.

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79   I came to a junction in the trail.  I thought if I followed it I would be lead over to an archery range.  Instead I was taken up and above a deserted dog park.

80     81     82   Now almost back to the beginning of the park, there is a beautiful pond and man-made waterfall.

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I was surprised to see dozens of turtles sitting on the shore.  When they caught sight of me they all scrambled for the water.

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Looking up the waterfall in Oak Canyon Community Park.

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90       91   My final destination was Medea Creek Park, a greenbelt that starts behind Oak Park High School.  I walked up a paved road a little ways.  My guidebook said that the trail breaks off of the road and continues down next to the creek.  This is not correct at all.  There is a trail that breaks to the right and it leads to this exercise station and a bit further, but it definitely doesn’t continue down next to the creek.  Instead, stay on the paved road to the next street.  Photo 5 – I reached the first road crossing, Medea Creek Road.  I walked down to the end.  According to my guidebook there should be a trail that comes up from the creek and exits onto this road.  As you can see, there are pylons with cables making a solid barrier.  No trail.  Photo 6 – After crossing the street there is a picnic table in a shady area with this odd drawing on it.

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94   The trail continues on with a couple of options.  On one side is a paved path.  On the other is a dirt path.  The creek divides the two.  Photo 2 – Coming up on another road crossing.  This time, instead of going over the road and taking one of the paths, I went under and through the tunnel where a third path runs at creek level.

95     96     97   My turnaround point was the bridge shown in photo 2.  Another interesting day of hiking.

 

 

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