“Great vistas on this run, with views of Simi, Moorpark, and Channel Islands on clear days.
— RickG Gutz
Views · Wildlife
This is a great run with incredible views of Moorpark and Simi Valley. You can clearly see the Reagan Library, Hwy 23, as well as many other landmarks. On clear days, you can see all the way to the Channel Islands! The canyon part of the trail provides nice shade with traditional California chaparral landscape.
Can be very hot during summer months with little shade cover on the way up the trail.
Need to Know
You must drink plenty of water. The run up has very little shade, so large brimmed hats are a must. After about 1-mile into the run, you'll have NO shade. Avoid being caught in the middle of the day during summer. I have, and it is not fun!
Starting the run from the parking lot, you get to walk along Rustic Canyon Golf Club which provides some beautiful views of well-manicured fairways. As you progress through the fields, you'll share the road with a few horses. If you have walking sticks, move a couple feet off the trail and give room for the horses to pass. I've seen a few horses that do not care for walking sticks! Once you reach the actual trail entrance (1.1 miles in), you'll not be allowed to have dogs.
As you start your climb, the first part is steep, with about an 800-foot climb in roughly a mile. Take breaks as needed and keep a steady pace. As you continue, at about 2.6 miles into the run you'll find a lookout point (there is a metal post that is for horses to tie into). I always like taking a 10-15 minute break here, have some snacks and take in the incredible views.
Continue your climb, but at this point the climb is gradual. On many parts, you can see deep into the north and south scenery. On the left (north) are some great hills and farm views. On the right (south) are Simi Valley and Moorpark laid out in front of you.
After the water tank (at about 3.5 miles up) is where I have seen bear prints after some rain. Pretty amazing that we have bears in our neck of the woods! Keep going until you see a cairned turnoff on the left. It's right in the middle of a saddle as you come down a small hill.
The transition trail from the high fire road, to the campground is rough. It's very narrow with some areas of almost bushwhacking! Just stay with it. It is a steep descent in sections, and the ground can be very loose and sandy. It's a tough run down. Once you make it down, the trail drops you into a campground. This is a good place to stay and have a longer break and snacks. Having said that, I have been stung by a wasp there during two different visits - so stay vigilant (just my luck).
The trail ecosystem is a traditional California chaparral run in the canyon, crossing over some dry stream beds in which I have never found water. The trail is pretty uneventful with average views of the hills.
A great local run that has been listed in a couple of guide books that I have read. That is how I found out there was a good trail right in my own backyard! The views are really worth the run. Depending on the weather, I sometimes just go up to the top, and then turn around at the trail turnoff. Enjoy some real nice views going downhill instead of uphill. I've taken 11-year-old Boy Scouts up and down this trail and they were able to do it. A tough trip for them but they really felt a sense of accomplishment when they finished it. You'll too!
Flora & Fauna
I have photos of bear tracks, many deer tracks as well. I've seen coyotes and have heard of people seeing bobcats. Mountain Lions are said to be in the area, but I have never seen trace of them in all my visits.