Big Sycamore Canyon Trail, A Hike in Pt. Mugu State Park

Fifteen miles south of Oxnard on the coast is Point Mugu State Park. Located in the Santa Monica mountains, the park features rocky bluffs and sandy beaches, rugged hills, and two river canyons. There are more than seventy miles of hiking trails here as well as surfing, kite surfing, and windsurfing activities. Parking at the Big Sycamore Canyon Trailhead is three dollars per hour or twelve dollars a day. There's also camping available here.

Big Sycamore Canyon is probably the most popular trail in the park. A flat, wide multipurpose trail (read: watch out for mountain bikers and horse poop), Big Sycamore Canyon trail is a mountain to sea, a point-to-point trail of around 9 miles. You can also stop at any point on the trail and turn around like we did. There's a number of trails connecting to Big Sycamore Canyon which goes to the tops of the surrounding hills; probably far more scenic and interesting than the main trail. 

I think this hike would be brutal in the summer (little shade) and boring (no flowers or creeks). Spring is the perfect time for hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains and especially Sycamore Canyon: the canyon walls trap the marine layer letting you stay cool, wildflowers bloom like crazy, and water runs in the creek still. 

I think this is a datura or Jimson weed.

I think this is a datura or Jimson weed.

This trail is flat, flat, flat. It crosses a creek several times, but these are easy crossings. The main excitements are wildflowers, avoiding mountain bikers, and parakeets. I was initially confused by the loud and vibrant parakeets because they are most definitely not native to California. These are escapees from area homes who've found shelter in the tall sycamores and protective canyon.

The only other wildlife we spotted were lizards, beetles, and woodpeckers.

Wildflowers included San Diego Vigueras (goldeneyes); bur-marigolds; stick monkey flowers; lupine; morning glories; daturas (Jimson weed); California poppy; and canchalagua just to name a few. I highly recommend bringing a wildflower guidebook or look at what's blooming.