Hiking with Kids in the Santa Monica Mountains
This hike climbs wildflower-covered slopes to a panoramic view of the Pacific and then winds along a sycamore-shaded creek. Although it gains 900 feet in elevation over the first 2 miles, the trail is well engineered and the climb is not too demanding. Children younger than 10 can make it if the pace is slow and you stop often during the climb.
The trailhead is at the Sycamore Canyon Campground in Point Mugu State Park, 6 miles east of Point Mugu on the Pacific Coast Highway. Parking in the campground costs $6.00 a day, but there are dirt pullouts alongside the highway where you can park for free. Follow the road north through the campground to a locked gate, where the trail begins.
Hike about 20 yards past the gate and turn left at a sign that marks the start of the Scenic Trail. Crossing Sycamore Creek, the trail passes through a rich stand of poison oak and begins climbing at 0.1 mile. This area was burned in the 1993 Greenmeadow Fire, but the vegetation quickly recovered and the slope is covered by laurel sumac, Spanish broom and paintbrush.
The well-used trail crosses a largely open hillside with good views back into the canyon and to the ocean, and reaches a junction at 0.3 mile. Go straight. At 0.4 mile the ascent grows easier, and at 0.8 mile the trail reaches a junction in a saddle. To the left and straight ahead are trails that lead out to the edge of the ridge and prominent viewpoints. The main trail continues to the right, following the sign directing you to the Overlook Trail.
A few yards farther you reach another junction. Go right, heading north to an intersection at 1 mile with the Overlook Trail, a dirt road open to mountain bikes. Go left, following the road northwest and enjoying good views of distant Boney Peak.
The trail continues climbing for the next mile through dry terrain, where yucca and prickly-pear cactus dominate. At 2 miles you reach a signed junction atop the ridge. Turn right and follow the crest of the ridge downhill toward the Big Sycamore Canyon Trail. The moderate descent across a grassy slope steepens at 2.2 miles, and at 2.3 miles the trail curves north and begins a series of long gentle switchbacks down the side of a ravine.
The trail meets the floor of Sycamore Canyon at 3.5 miles. Go right and follow the canyon downhill toward the ocean, passing the Overlook Trail junction at 3.8 miles and reaching the start of the Scenic Trail at 4.3 miles.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication