STATE OF CALIFORNIA, DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION
State Parks is by far the largest landowner in the SMMNRA with five major parks, the Backbone Trail
and a multitude of smaller sites. Most of the day use areas charge a parking fee.
Camping reservations for Pt. Mugu State Park, Leo Carrillo State Beach and
Malibu Creek State Park can be made by calling (800) 444-7275.
Visit the California State Parks homepage at cal-parks.ca.gov
POINT MUGU STATE PARK
Enter this park along Pacific Coast Highway and through Rancho Sierra Vista in Newberry Park, at the far west end of the Santa Monica Mountains in Ventura County. The entrance station or visitor center can supply you with small maps guiding you to trails in 16,000 acres that encompass beach, rocky shore, sycamore savannas, oak woodlands, grassy uplands and mountain stretches. Big Sycamore Canyon Trail is a leisurely one, crossing the stream several times. The many sycamores are most magnificent. Several trails branch off before it reaches Rancho Sierra Vista / Satwiwa. The Serrano Valley Trail parallels Serrano Creek through a woodsy canyon to reach a high mountain grassland. La Jolla Valley, west of Big Sycamore Canyon, is unique in natural values and scenic beauty-a rolling grassy plain surrounded by mountains and studded with oaks. The La Jolla Trail is steep and narrow, but the trip is worth the effort. The view is spectacular with Boney Mountain, the highest promontory of the range, in the background. The Ray Miller Trail starts in the parking lot to your right and leads to The Overlook and connects with the La Jolla loop. The trails in the northern portion of the park, filled with sights and surprises, are accessed through Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa, a National Park Service unit in Newbury Park.
LEO CARRILLO STATE BEACH
The park is located 28 miles northwest of Santa Monica on the Pacific Coast Highway. Giant sycamore shade the main campgrounds. The park also features hiking upland. Take the Willow Trail from the campground up through native grasslands and coastal sage scrub to Nicholas Flat.
MALIBU CREEK STATE PARK
The park entrance is 0.2 miles south of Mulholland Drive (or 4 miles north of Pacific Coast Highway) on Las Virgenes / Malibu Canyon Road. The nearly 9,000 acres that make up the park also encompass ranches once belonging to Bob Hope and Ronald Reagan. There are 20 miles of trail to explore on foot or horseback, some of them affording views of unreachable vertical peaks and rocky outcroppings. There are 15 miles of streamside trail through oak and sycamore woodlands and chaparral-covered slopes. The best wildflowers are found in the oak woodlands south of Mulholland Drive in the northwest area of the park, along the road to the lake, and along Las Virgenes Creek in the northern Liberty Canyon area. From the campground, visitors will find easy access to oak woodlands over Tapia Spur Trail. For a real challenge, visitors can try the Bulldog-Mesa Peak Loop. A recent addition to Malibu Creek State Park is the former Tapia County Park. Take Malibu Canyon/Las Virgenes Road north from Pacific Coast Highway for 51/2 miles. Immediately after Piuma road, there is a plainly marked entrance to the park. Tapia Park is a preserve of old oaks with a beautiful view of rocky peaks to the west, with wildflowers along the stream and under the trees. A trail that connects Tapia to Malibu Creek State Park has a variety of flowers and shrubs.
POINT DUME STATE RESERVE
To reach Point Dume State Reserve, drive west along Pacific Coast Highway 101/2 miles beyond Malibu Canyon Road. Turn toward the ocean on Westward Beach Road just before the entrance to Zuma Beach. The Reserve is on the bluffs away from the ocean. Extending down to the 3 miles of wide sandy beach are a generous assortment of the native plants of the Coastal Sage and Dune associations. Westward Beach, operated by Los Angeles County, is along the coast.
TOPANGA STATE PARK
From Topanga Canyon Boulevard, turn east on Entrada, turning left at each intersection where this is a choice until you arrive at Trippet Ranch, the park headquarters. In the more than 11,000 acres of chaparral, oak woodland and grassland, there are 36 miles of trails. The one which is recommended for the lushest displays of wildflowers is the 31/2 mile Musch Ranch Trail loop. An active group of docents conducts public walks during the spring flowering, and there is an informative brochure accompanying a well-marked nature trail. Trails lead into the park from Los Liones, Santa Ynez Canyon, Temescal Canyon, Will Rogers State Historic Park (see below), Caballero Canyon, Serrania Park, Mulholland Drive, and from the parking lot on Entrada 0.1 mile from Topanga Canyon Boulevard.
OTHER SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS NATIONAL RECREATION AREAS
COLD CREEK PRESERVE
The Preserve's 1,000 acres embody the full range of physical conditions found in the Santa Monica Mountains, including 13 waterfalls. The Preserve is open to the public by reservation (818-346-9675), free of charge every day of the year. Cold Creek Preserve is owned by the Mountains Restoration Trust. The Stunt High / Cold Creek trailhead is 1 mile from Mulholland Drive on Stunt Road. The trail follows Cold Creek riparian area to a clearing where the Stunt High Trail turns to cross the meadow. The trail continues, jogging back across Stunt Road, twice, before joining the Backbone Trail near Saddlepeak.
Variety and abundance of flowers typify this trail. The Cold Creek Trail goes to Cold Creek Valley Preserve or continues to Malibu Creek State Park.
Owned by the City of Los Angeles, Griffith Park is the largest municipal park and urban wilderness area in the United States. Freeway off-ramps leading to the park from I-5 are Los Feliz Boulevard, Griffith Park (direct entry) and Zoo Drive. After leaving freeway, follow the signs into the park. Griffith Park is open to the public from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, but hiking paths are closed at sunset. Over 4,107 acres of natural terrain, from semiarid chaparral foothills to forested valleys, are covered with California oak trees, wild sage and manzanitas. Situated in the eastern Santa Monica Mountain range, the Park's elevations range from 384 to 1625 feet above sea level.. Over the years recreational attractions have been developed throughout the Park, however an amazingly large portion of the Park remains virtually unchanged from the days Native American villages occupied the area's lower slopes.
CHARMLEE NATURAL AREA
2577 S. Encinal Canyon Road, 4 miles north of Pacific Coast Highway. This lovely park, now owned by the City of Malibu, overlooks the Pacific Ocean and has been described as flower patches surrounded by typical Santa Monica Mountains chaparral. Its oak forest and open meadows covers 450 acres.