Selected Hikes from Milt McAuley


(from Rancho Sierra Vista)

The following is reprinted by permission of the author, Milt McAuley. You can discover more hikes like this in his books on the Santa Monica Mountains. Milt passed away in 2008 but his impact lives on! Remember to always: contact park agency for area specifics, practice the "buddy system", consult a map, wear appropriate clothing, take extra water, and don't disturb or remove anything. Did we mention, Enjoy Yourself!

Maps: Tom Harrison Pt. Mugu State Park
Distance: 7 miles roundtrip
Terrain: Road, Trail
Time: 3 hours
Trailhead: Potrero Gate of Rancho Sierra Vista

To reach the parking lot at Rancho Sierra Vista drive on the Ventura Freeway to Newbury Park west of Thousand Oaks. From the freeway turn south on Borchard Road. Stay on Borchard Road until coming to Reino Rd., then turn left. Drive on Reino to Lynn, turn right. Go to the National Recreation sign. Turn left and drive to the Rancho Sierra Vista parking lot.

image of map
Map of this hike

Upon leaving the parking lot follow the road southeast until coming to a trail on the left. Our trail crosses a wooden bridge and then angles right to cross the meadow.

Upon reaching Old Boney Road follow it as we parallel Upper Sycamore Canyon. Below us and on our right we can see a trail down in the canyon. Later, that trail joins our route. Stay on Old Boney Road, cross the stream and continue uphill under the canopy of overarching Oaks and Bay trees. The road shortly makes a hairpin turn to the right. At this point, we may want to take a 15-minute side trip to the waterfall. If so, leave the road and continue upstream on a path a short distance, following the stream that comes down on the right. Expect some boulder hopping up to the base of the falls. The water tumbles and somersaults down a sandstone cliff in about six cascades. Giant Chain Ferns grow on the north side of the wall. Near the stream in shade of the ferns we notice a few Round-leaf Boykinia plants. They are rare in our mountains but do well in shade near running water. A Big Leaf Maple once formed a canopy overhead but a fire went across the canyon in 1993 singeing the tree. It has not recovered. This sculptured verdant recess seldom suffers the blast or touch of wind and sun, so retains a sheltered character of its own.

We go back to the hairpin turn and continue up the road. The road makes two sets of switchbacks allowing our first view of the Channel Islands and the Oxnard Plain. After the last switchback from where we can see the ocean, walk about 1/3 mile and notice that Boney Road turns sharply right and continues uphill; go straight ahead, downhill, and in about 1/2 mile arrive at the Old Cabin Site.

The Old Cabin Site is a good place to take a break. This is a grassy slope in an oak grove. All that remains of the cabin is a 13-foot chimney with a fireplace and the remains of a rock foundation of about 12 x 18 feet. The cabin was once a line shack when Rancho Sierra Vista kept cattle and sheep in the high country. It was also used as a hunting lodge. In 1956, a fire swept up the canyon and across the mountains to the ocean. The cabin burned and was not rebuilt.

A spring near the site runs all year. I no longer drink this water because in the early 1970's I noticed that equestrians brought horses to the spring and in time the pipe became broken. So the horses were taken to the spring itself, where in my mind at least, the water became contaminated. I always carry a bottle of water anyway.

The Danielson Memorial is a place of respect for the man whose generosity made it possible to complete land acquisition for Point Mugu State Park. Richard Danielson offered 5,800 acres of land to the State at one-half of its appraised value, and in 1972 the size of Point Mugu State Park, by a stroke of the pen, doubled. Sycamore Canyon and the north slope of Boney Mountain became significant additions to the State Park system of the Santa Monica Mountains.

After exploring the immediate area, we notice a trail that leads up onto Boney Mountain, and also a continuation of the road that we have just walked on. These can both be followed for alternate hikes, but for now we will return to our cars the way we came.

At the end of the hike, stop at the Museum building at Rancho Sierra Vista and talk with the people there.

image of the old cabin
The Old Cabin