Sycamore Canyon Falls

Santa Monica Mountains / Pt Mugu State Park / Ventura County, California, USA

Rating: 1.5     Difficulty: 2
Sycamore Canyon Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Sycamore Canyon Falls sits in Point Mugu State Park, which itself resides in the Santa Monica Mountains on the Thousand Oaks side.

Both times we've visited this falls, it was a very popular (read: crowded) attraction. But given that the 2.4- or 2.6-mile trail (depending on where you start from) included the Satwiwa Native American Natural Area, offered nice panoramic views at the Hidden Valley basin, offered views of exposed rocks atop the neighboring mountaintops, and passed through a protected wilderness area, I guess I could understand why it was so popular.

The falls cascaded in multiple tiers for a cumulative height of around 50ft to 75ft (which are figures I just pulled out of my gut). We saw numerous groups scramble further along the slippery rocks to the top of this cascade.

We also reckoned this might be more of a morning waterfall if the sun came out because we were looking right against it on our last visit in late January at around midday.

The first time we visited the falls was during New Years Day during a dry winter so obviously we were disappointed that it was hardly flowing. I guess given this experience, we speculate that the falls would be at its most impressive after sustained rainfall. Still, I'd imagine the flow wouldn't last for a very long time afterwards (maybe give it a couple of weeks or so of dry spells following rain depending on how heavy the rainfall was).

I recalled that the trail had numerous other trails that cross-crossed the waterfall trail. So this could definitely create confusion as it did for us. In fact, each time we did this waterfall, we inadvertently hiked on different trails.

Nonetheless, the key landmark to pay attention to (as we were looking for the correct spur trail to get to the falls) was the water tank just beyond the Point Mugu sign on the paved fire road. There were actually two trails (on either side of the creek responsible for Sycamore Canyon Falls) leading from the Water Tank to the falls. The first one followed the Danielson Road climbing up to the Old Boney Trail before dropping down to the creek. The second one branched a little further on the fire road and more or less followed the creek all the way to the falls (eventually intersecting with the first trail mentioned above shortly before the falls).




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Looking over residences of the Hidden Valley basin towards some snow on the local mountains, which I thought was rare in Ventura CountyLooking over residences of the Hidden Valley basin towards some snow on the local mountains, which I thought was rare in Ventura County
Just to the north of Sycamore Canyon Falls was Wildwood Park, featuring interesting cliffs as well as the pretty Paradise FallsJust to the north of Sycamore Canyon Falls was Wildwood Park, featuring interesting cliffs as well as the pretty Paradise Falls
Starting to hike on the trail from an alternate trailhead opposite some church (not shown)Starting to hike on the trail from an alternate trailhead opposite some church (not pictured)

Given the saturation rains that lasted a week prior to us hiking, we could see why the trail was muddyGiven the saturation rains that lasted a week prior to us hiking, we could see why the trail was muddy

Looking back towards snow-topped mountains over residences that we were leaving behindLooking back towards snow-topped mountains over residences that we were leaving behind

Some Native American structures that I believed was part of the Satwiwa Native American Natural AreaSome Native American structures that I believed was part of the Satwiwa Native American Natural Area

Entering Point Mugu State ParkEntering Point Mugu State Park

On our 2010 visit, we took this trail to Sycamore Canyon FallsOn our 2010 visit, we took this trail to Sycamore Canyon Falls. However, on our first visit back in early 2002, we were on the other side of the creek

Looking towards some protruding rocks on mountaintops with interesting shapesLooking towards some protruding rocks on mountaintops with interesting shapes

The trail we took in 2010 then entered the Boney Mountain State Wilderness at Danielson RoadThe trail we took in 2010 then entered the Boney Mountain State Wilderness at Danielson Road

Nice panoramas of the Hidden Valley basin along the Old Boney Trail sectionNice panoramas of the Hidden Valley basin along the Old Boney Trail section

Mom (with Julie up ahead) crossing the creekMom (with Julie up ahead) crossing the creek

Lots of people climbing to the top of the fallsLots of people climbing to the top of the falls

We weren't kidding when we said Sycamore Canyon Falls was popularWe weren't kidding when we said Sycamore Canyon Falls was popular

Heading back to the trailheadHeading back to the trailhead

A fox or coyote on the prowl for gophersWe saw this fox or coyote on the prowl for gophers on the return hike

Almost back at the start of the hikeAlmost back at the start of the hike

How the falls looked the last time we visited back in the 2001-2002 timeframeHow the falls looked the last time we visited back on New Years Day in 2002


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS




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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Sycamore Canyon Falls sat on the western side of the Santa Monica Mountains near the cities of Thousand Oaks, Malibu, Oxnard, and Camarillo. It's roughly an hours drive (without traffic) west of downtown Los Angeles along the US101 Freeway. We accessed the trailhead by taking US101 west towards Newbury Park.

From there, look for the Wendy Drive exit south towards Potrero Road. Then, take this road into the park entrance on your left (on Sycamore Canyon Drive), where you'll find the car park near the Satwiwa Natural Area.

However, if the lot's full or you don't want to risk calling any bluffs regarding any signage discouraging parking there, then there's a large pullout area by the Wendy Drive and Potrero Road intersection right across the road from the church. This path may increase your hiking length by 0.2 miles, but I doubt you'll notice that much of a difference (as we certainly didn't).




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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RELATED PAGES



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