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Around The Area

Visit Point Mugu State Park

by
May 4th, 2020

If you’re looking for a great park near your apartments in Southern California, then look no further! Point Mugu State Park is just 20 minutes from our apartments in Camarillo, but it will feel like you’re in another land completely. 

Point Mugu State Park is a quiet, secluded park just southwest of Thousand Oaks and southeast of Oxnard. The 14,000 acres of grassy valleys, rugged hills and sandy beaches are perfect for a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of life. 

Point Mugu State Park is located within the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area, a natural area featuring cultural sites, historical areas, fascinating wildlife and over 500 miles of hiking trails. 

The Santa Monica Mountains run about 40 miles from the Hollywood Hills to Point Mugu. The most western point of the mountain range ends at Mugu Peak, which is right above Mugu Beach next to Highway 1. Point Mugu State Park occupies the last 9 miles or so of the mountain range on the western side, right before the mountains disappear into the ocean.

Five miles of Point Mugu State Park run along the Pacific coast where visitors can enjoy sunbathing, swimming and body surfing at either Point Mugu Beach or Thornhill Broome Beach. The beaches are a popular spot for whale watching and dolphin spotting, so get there early to catch a glimpse of these gorgeous creatures making their way up and down the coast!

One of the real beauties that the park offers is its seclusion and wilderness despite being so close to Los Angeles and other urban areas. There are over 60 miles of trails within the park, and all of them offer stunning views of the Santa Monica Mountains’ natural flora and fauna. 

Two large river canyons run through the park: Big Sycamore Canyon and Wood Canyon. Big Sycamore Canyon is a large feature in the park and runs from the center of the park all the way to the coastline where it opens out into the Pacific. The canyon, in fact, is one of the easiest routes through the western region of the Santa Monica Mountains, as the rest of the range tends to be quite scraggy. The canyon served as an important trading route for the historic Ventureño Chumash and Tongva people who lived in the area before settlers arrived. The route connected the Conejo Valley and the Pacific Ocean, and even today the Big Sycamore Canyon Trail is a well-traveled trail for hikers and bikers alike.

At the northernmost end of the canyon is Boney Mountain whose rocky Boney Peak is considered sacred to the Chumash people,. The mountain is also home to three of the highest peaks in the Santa Monica Mountain Range, all of which are easily accessible through Point Mugu State Park’s extensive trail system. Sandstone Peak, the highest peak, offers unobstructed views of the Big Sycamore Canyon all the way to the ocean, and the view is one hundred percent worth the climb!

If you’re interested in learning more about the Chumash and the land on which they lived, head to the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center found at the top of Big Sycamore Canyon. The center is named after an old Chumash village at the foot of Boney Mountain where the Chumash lived for over 10,000 years. The Satwiwa village, meaning “the bluffs” in Chumashan, was a major hub for traders passing through the canyon to reach the Pacific ocean. The culture center offers cultural demonstrations, workshops, art shows and information on the Chumash people and their land, and also serves as one of the major entry points to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

If you do decide to stroll through the park and take in the mountainous views, don’t forget to keep an eye out for the local wildlife, too! The Santa Monica Mountains are home to over 45 species of mammals alone, including mountain lions, American badgers, mule deer, black-tailed jackrabbits and gray foxes. 

Point Mugu State Park is one of the biggest state parks in California and is perfect for those days when you need an escape from the hustle and bustle of life. So lace up your hiking boots, grab a few liters of water and hit the trail! You’ll be surprised at how far away you can feel when you’re so close to home.

Enjoy!

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Featured photo "View from Sandstone Peak - panoramio.jpg" by Daniel Guo is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

View All Posts by Colleen Ford
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