Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve

A hike typical of the Agoura Hills/Calabsas area – lots of grassy rolling hills dotted with oaks.  The route I followed was full of trail changes but there were very few trail markers that had actual names.  I was lucky that I guessed right on each trail change despite incorrect advice from everyone I asked.  Good day.

1   I parked on the street at the end of Victory Blvd. and walked up to the trailhead.

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5   The Moon was still shining in the west as the Sun rose in the east.

4     6   Everything seems new and clean in this park, even the trashcans.

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All of this property was once known as Ahmanson Ranch and was the site of a contentious battle between developers and local residents.  Eventually the property was sold to the state.  In one corner of the property sits Ahmanson Ranch House.  It’s nothing spectacular, just an old ranch house, barn and a couple of other buildings.  The structure in photo 1 looks like a storage shed, but what’s with the elevated roof?  Could be the world’s most dangerous dance floor.

11   I continued on.  I had the option of taking a couple different trails/roads.  The trail I took dropped steeply down this hill.  It looks like a water slide where you can’t see the drop-off below you.


13     14     15   The trail soon began to run parallel to East Las Virgenes Road, a single lane dirt road.  The trail ends and empties out on East Las Virgenes Road.  I went left on to Las Virgenes Road to start a semi-loop that would spit me out on East Las Virgenes Road about 0.7 miles up to the right.

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Photo 1 – The hollow section at the base of this tree was big enough to hide inside.  Photo 2 – I knew I had to turn right somewhere along Las Virgenes Road.  This is where you want to do it, right before fenced off area that sits on top of this hill.  Go right for 0.5 miles and take another right.  Again, there aren’t any signs.  A good map is helpful.  Photo 3 – Formerly Futuristic


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At the bottom of this hill is a T-intersection.  Again turn right and the trail will take you down to East Las Virgenes Road.

23     24     25   I took a trail to the right off of East Las Virgenes Road that led to a trail called Laskey Mesa Trail.  This would connect to Mary Wiesbrock Trail which would take me back near the ranch house.  Again, there are a lot of options but very little direction in the form of trail signs.  I continued on to the road that leads to the ranch house.  I passed this trail sign earlier in the day.  Finally I knew exactly where I was.  I backtracked and made a sharp right on Mary Weisbrock Trail.  Basically, this trail circumvents the ranch house.

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The Met Life blimp passes above.


Lovely day of hiking.


  • I was hiking out here years ago. I drove north on Las Virgines and parked. Walked north past the fence and continued till I saw the houses at the top of Bell Canyon (? I think). I was alone. I turned around and started back. As I walked past a large bush a few feet south, I heard very deep, loud and heavy breathing. It wasn’t human and had a large lung capacity. As I was alone, I was rather scared. Can’t run or I’ll risk being chased and I was about two miles out and have asthma (slow runner) and there are no trees to climb. Didn’t want to look behind the bush and confront whatever was back there. I’m pretty sure it was bigger (deeper sound) than a dog. I looked quickly around and picked up a big heavy rock and housted it above my shoulder to throw and protect myself, just in case. I yelled in a load voice, “Get out of here!”. Dead silence. Nothing moved. I backed up slowly down the trail. Still dead silence. When I was far enough away, I turned and walked very quickly than ran. Found a large stick and dropped my rock and continued to high tail it out of there till my breathing gave out and then walked very fast. Before I reached my car, I encountered some “dude” who thought it was ok to let his pit bulls run free and rush anyone else who was in the park. With my big stick and my bad temper, I yelled at them and they let me be. I reported it to the rangers in TO and they sent someone out to give they guy a ticket for letting his dogs run off the leash and threaten someone. I never did find out what was behind that bush. I met a man who is of Chumash ancestory and leads hikes on Kanan. He said it was probably a puma. That seems most likely. I hope the poor thing was not in bad health. Maybe giving birth? I was thinking bear, but we don’t have bear here. Badger? Don’t think we have those, either. I remembered an old story told by some canyon dwellers who lived up Stokes Canyon off of Las Virginese/Malibu Creek State Park. Their uncle saw a very hairy small child, like a sasquatch, in the canyon. I don’t believe in Big Foot. Seems too absurd. I haven’t been back to this park, since. It is beautiful there. If I were not alone, I might go, but carry a big stick or pepper spray, just in case you run into the puma or “Hairy” or a “dude” with pit bulls. And a cell phone. Try and remember Matrisse Richardson while you’re out there. She disappeared while out in this area years ago.

  • That’s quite a story, Mary. Sounds like it could have been a wounded or dying animal – maybe a deer, if the bush was big enough?
    I have peace of mind on the trail knowing that while they do happen, fatal attacks by wild animals are exceedingly rare. There hasn’t been a reported fatal wild bear attack in California in over 150 years. On average only about four people are killed each decade by mountain lions, and that’s in all of North America, not just California. The odds of dying on the freeway on your way to the trail are far greater than dying at the claws and paws of a wild beast. The wild animal I give the most respect to while on the trail is the rattlesnake. Even then, it’s good to know that the rattler is the only poisonous snake in California. All other snakes are harmless to humans.
    Truth be known, the most dangerous animal one is likely to encounter is another human being. People have a misconception that if there are lots of people around then they will be safer. I don’t believe that to be true. They only feel safer. When I’m alone, way out in the middle of nowhere, that’s when I feel safest. I would, however, love to run into that very hairy ape/child!

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