Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hiking Wildwood Canyon

Every once in awhile you run across a hike that makes you stoked to be hiking and you want to tell everyone about it. Well lucky for me, I recently went on a hike like this and have a blog to tell you all about it. Come with me, won't you, to Wildwood Canyon in Thousand Oaks.

Now Thousand Oaks is a bit of a drive for most LA'ers but this hike is well worth it. The hike distance isn't that great (I did about 5 miles on this day) but who cares when you have vistas and cacti.

Lots and lots of cacti

There are several ways to attack the canyon area. You can go West via the Mesa Trail or go South on the Moonridge Trail and then hike West in a big loop. Everything is well signed (amazingly so after a few of my last jaunts around LA) so you know where you are going. For example...

I decided to take the Moonridge down into the valley of the canyon. Its about 300 feet down that you know you will have to make up at some point. The trail is kinda in between a wide/canoe trail and a narrow/kayak trail.

The trail winds it way down through the woods

And down to the main Wildwood Canyon trail. Since this was my first time here, I wanted to check out all the area had to offer so I checked out the Indian Cave.

The cave was pretty cool and full of history as it was apparently a place to chill for Indians in the area and it was nice to be a part of that long tradition despite not being Indian or chillin.

I then decided to tromp on over to Paradise Falls. Just in case you don't know where you are going, you can always tell where you are in Wildwood due to a HUGE teepee always looming in the distance.

Now so far you might be saying, well ADKinLA, this is a fairly standard SoCal hike, why all the platitudes? Well they start in Paradise Falls.

I have not explored SoCal waterfalls much (other than Eaton Canyon) but those other falls have to go a way  to beat these falls. The trail goes through an amazing canyon.

and despite the signs saying "danger" on the trail, its really an easy amble to the falls. And once you get there, whoa nelly, I will let the pics speak for themselves.

I mean, is that something or is that something? I found this whole hike rather peaceful due in no small part to the waterfalls. This hike put me in a great frame of mind no matter what the trail threw at me.

I then decided to light out for the Lizard Rock, one of the high points in the park. I knew beforehand that I would have to make up the elevation I lost getting to the canyon floor, but the Rock at 950 feet adds another 300 feet of elevation gain for 600 total feet gained in about .30 of a mile. First, you have to get up to the Rock and to do that you have to pass over several streams

and almost too many picnic grounds to mention

Eventually you make your way past a water treatment plant (nature, yea!) and then bear a right at the fork in the trail and you make your way up.

As you gain the ridgeline, the beauty of the park comes into full view.

After definitely a bit of effort, you gain the Mesa ridge trail and then turn North to the Lizard Rock.

From the Rock, you can explore the Box Canyon area of the wilderness area further to the North, but time and daylight was against me. I definitely want to come back and check out what is going on in Box Canyon (are there boxes full of cacti, inquiring minds want to know!). Instead, I tramped back East along an old stagecoach trail, further solidifying my historical appreciation of the area.

The trail follows a mesa (the first one I think I ever trod on)

and it was a beautiful tromp. Of course, while I live in the West, this day offered me the West-iest vistas I have seen yet. This puts the awe in awesome, don't you think?

I really could've spent a lot of time just staring at this and I did a lot as I made my way back to the parking lot. It was a really nice cap to the day, these rock wall vistas.

Overall this hike is HIGH up there on my "Must Do" list for all y'all who have NOT done it. The beauty and variety of this place is not to be missed and I suggest you don't.

Here are some other great reports from HikeSpeak: http://www.hikespeak.com/trails/paradise-falls-in-wildwood-park/


  1. That does look like a beautiful hike. Nice falls, too.

    I took the short hike to Lewis Falls yesterday. Probably won't get this one written up for another four or five days, but it's definitely worth a fair drive, though you'd have to add another trail to really make lacing up the boots worth it.

    Here's my write-up from last year. The difference this year is the fallen woods have cleared a bit, the water is somewhat lower, so it's easier to get to the front of the falls, and the Humboldt Lily was nowhere to be found (though I saw a bunch of them on my visit to Santa Ynez Canyon a week or so ago). Still lots of columbine adjacent to the waterfall's pool, too. Very pretty, and usually a fair chance at getting some privacy, especially on a weekday.

  2. Thanks for the comments SkyHiker, I checked out your Lewis Falls hike, looks pretty awesome. Agreed about the weekday/end divide, always less people during the week, just that pesky work that gets in the way!


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