Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve Trail is a 10 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Calabasas, CA that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Neighborhoods along Las Virgenes Road have quick access into the vast Simi Hills trail network. Get to know the ancient oaks and sycamores along the nearly flat trail up the canyon. After countless years of battling developers, the lovely Ahmanson Ranch area is open to the public under the care of the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy . The first part of our hike takes you through gently rolling hills dotted with huge, spectacular oak trees. After a loop around Lasky Mesa, the hike heads northwest to Las Virgenes Canyon where a small creek nurtures a more densely covered area along the banks of the stream. As time was running short, we didn't make it all the way up Las Virgenes Canyon. This is a popular area for bikers so keep a head up for them. All the trail junctions can be a bit confusing, so you might want to print out a map from the Ahmonson.org web site.
I love this trail! I take it all the time with my dog. It's kinda dusty in the summer but there are lots of little trails to take along with it!
In my humble opinion, the best vista for the longest stretch of trail within an easy hike from the Las Virgenes Rd trail head is Crummer Ranch Rd through Laskey Mesa. It's 4 to 4.5 miles out and back if you hike all the way to Crummer Ranch. There's about 630 ft of gain with only one steep stretch which can be avoided by taking an adjoining trail that goes around it. The area is all dried up now but winter rains will hopefully bring some green to the hills. The views are extensive with limited infringement of residential structures. An excellent outing but not one to be done on even warm summer days. There is virtually no shade for the majority of the hike.
There are multiple trails and hike routes accessible from the Las Virgenes trail head. I haven't yet experienced a bad hike but some are better than others. You could spend many hours hiking or biking because the open space stretches from West Hills to Thousand Oaks. It's quite a remarkable amount of preserved open space given what must be incredible real estate value. The Las Virgenes trail head is a good place to start. There's an abundance of grasslands and scrub with a smattering of individual oaks and the occasional trail intersections with oak woodlands that occur mainly along the creeks. Go prepared with plenty of water, a hat, proper hiking shoes, and sun screen. Rattlesnakes are an obvious concern but they have this very helpful habit of giving fair warning when they feel threatened.
I usually access the Upper Las Virgines Open Space via Victory Trailhead, at the western end of the San Fernando Valley. Some logistics about the trail:
- Parking: Ample street parking on Victory Blvd. or the dirt lot at the trail head. As of this writing (March 2015), parking is $3.00. If you choose street parking, it is a 3-5 minute uphill walk on the paved road leading to the lot.
- Open: Sunrise to sunset (if you get locked it and do not have a dog, you can jump the wall on the north side of the street relatively easily). Security patrols the area and will open the gate for you without incidence.
- Other: Outdoor restroom in the corner of the parking lot. Dog pick up bag dispenser, which is always restocked and full based on my experience.
I have been using this space for many years now, but my outings have been limited to hiking / dog walking, using the Ahmanson Ranch House and Laskey Mesa trails. I say "limited," because this space is more of a mountain biker's haven. The paths are wide enough to accommodate the wide range of walkers, hikers, runners, dog walkers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers, but to really take advantage of its vastness, you need wheels.
For the most part, users abide by the rules of the trail (picking up after pets, allowing room for riders to pass, etc.) and are generally friendly. Locals are abound especially during the dawn and dusk hours, as there is an affluent community that hugs a portion of the trail. My personal rating for the trail is easy to moderate.
For photographers, the space is a little limiting. Due partly to the lack of rain in Southern California, fields are usually burnt and wildflowers are in short bloom. You may catch decent shots of hills or the San Fernando Valley from one of many overlooks, but this is really only worth it during the "magic hours." Wildlife is comprised of coyotes and birds, as far as I have come across personally.
Just did this hike today. Absolutely beautiful. Lots of gnats but other than that it was wonderful
beautiful; too many ticks!! All over the dogs and us
nice trail I he been riden it from simi valley to calabasas, and backward. My friend and I ride 12 miles every week star point end of las virgenes rd.