Diminutive Rocky Oaks Park is typical of the many small properties that have been purchased or earmarked for future acquisition by the National Park Service in the continuing effort to flesh out the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The property, a former cattle ranch, was purchased in 1980. Since then it has essentially reverted to a natural state. In the park today, you’ll find restrooms, a parking lot, a picnic area, and about 200 acres of wildland consisting of hillsides covered in chaparral and sage scrub, grassy meadows, and (what else?) rocks and oaks.
The trails of Rocky Oaks are open to multiple uses: hiking, mountain biking, and dog walking. Small kids will perhaps be entertained by the larger-than-life (from their viewpoint) landscape of hills, valleys, and rocky crags.
To get there in a relatively quick way, exit the 101 Freeway at Kanan Road in Agoura Hills. Turn south and follow Kanan Road for 5.5 miles to Mulholland Highway. Turn right (west) on Mulholland, and almost immediately turn right again into Rocky Oaks Park.
An easy, one-mile-long loop hike begins across the small stream from the parking lot. Go left and walk 0.2 mile to a four-way intersection, then continue straight ahead up a steep slope to reach an overlook at the top of some wood steps. The cattle pond in the valley below may or may not contain water, depending on recent rains. In the opposite direction is peak 2061 (aka Mitten Mountain), which itself blocks from view the better-known landmark of Saddle Rock. These two crags, as well as the summit you’re standing on, consist of the roughly 15-million-year old Conejo Volcanics rock formation.
The trail continues north, contouring through the tangled growths of chaparral. Dead twigs are accumulating beneath the new growth. In the natural scheme of things, this vegetation sooner or later will burn again, its ashes providing nutrients for the next, almost identical, generation of plants.
To complete the one-mile loop hike, bear right at the next fork, descend to the meadow below, and make your way past the pond back to the parking lot.
This article contains information about a publicly owned recreation or wilderness area. Trails and pathways are not necessarily marked. Conditions can change rapidly. Hikers should be properly equipped and have safety and navigational skills. The Reader and Jerry Schad assume no responsibility for any adverse experience.
Rocky Oaks Park
Discover Rocky Oaks, a pocket park within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Distance from downtown San Diego: 156 miles
Hiking length: 1 mile