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.
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.
Outside the historic inn.
A lot of the trail is walking over these wooden “bridges”.
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.
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.
I think this is a Cooper’s Hawk, with the alternating bands of light and dark on it’s tail feathers.
I reach the top of the hill. Conejo Mountain comes into view.
Looking down the 101 at Ladyface Mountain.
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.
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.
The Japanese Garden, complete with pagoda
Beautiful Koi glisten in the sunlight.
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.
The chain fountain in the Italian Garden.
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.
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?)
Fantastic colors and shapes
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.
I was surprised to see dozens of turtles sitting on the shore. When they caught sight of me they all scrambled for the water.
Looking up the waterfall in Oak Canyon Community Park.
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.
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.