Sycamore Canyon Falls

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

About Sycamore Canyon Falls


Hiking Distance: at least 3 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 90 minutes

Date first visited: 2002-01-01
Date last visited: 2023-01-22

Waterfall Latitude: 34.14132
Waterfall Longitude: -118.94678

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Sycamore Canyon Falls (also called Rancho Sierra Vista Falls) sits in Point Mugu State Park, which itself resides in the Santa Monica Mountains on the Thousand Oaks side.

Each time we’ve visited this falls, we’ve found it to be quite a popular (read: crowded) attraction.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_026_01242010 - Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore Canyon Falls

I’d speculate that the reason for the popularity of this excursion was due to the presence of other attractions and hiking trails in the area in addition to its accessibility.

Such attractions included the Satwiwa Native American Culture Center, the imposing rock-exposed Boney Mountain, views towards the Hidden Valley basin, and wildflower sightings along with the odd wildlife sighting as well.

As for the waterfall, it cascaded in multiple tiers for a cumulative height of around 50ft to 75ft.

Admittedly, these are figures that I just pulled out of my gut, but as you can see in the photo above, it’s certainly no slouch in terms of its size (at least as far as Southern California waterfalls are concerned).

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_120_01222023 - Context of a lot of people enjoying the Sycamore Canyon Falls in good flow, including some people who scrambled to the top
Context of a lot of people enjoying the Sycamore Canyon Falls in good flow, including some people who scrambled to the top

Besides the physical attributes of Sycamore Canyon Falls, it’s also possible to scramble to its top to witness some hidden cascades as well as experiencing the falls from a different perspective.

So this waterfall certainly had no shortage of reasons to motivate a visit, whether it’s neighboring diversions or the fun factor of scrambling in and around the falls.

Timing Sycamore Canyon Falls

We’ve observed that Sycamore Canyon Falls tended to possess a bit of a temperamental behavior when it came to its flow.

Therefore, an optimal experience with the falls required some degree of timing – typically in Winter or early Spring though this depends on how much precipitation had fallen.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_133_06012019 - Sycamore Canyon Falls in low flow as we showed up late in the season in June 2019 despite it being a wet year
Sycamore Canyon Falls in low flow as we showed up late in the season in June 2019 despite it being a wet year

To maximize the enjoyment of this waterfall, we’d want to time our visit for right after some significant rain, when it would likely have good flow while the flooding risk would not be as high with the improving weather.

Just to give you an idea of how our timings went, the first time we visited the falls was during New Years Day 2022, which was a dry winter, so we were disappointed that it was hardly flowing.

The second time we made a visit, it occurred shortly after a Winter storm in late January 2010 that even produced snow in the Sespe Wilderness to the north, and the falls had nice flow.

The third time we came to Sycamore Canyon Falls occurred late in the season in early June 2019 on a high rainfall year, but the falls definitely had seen better days.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_019_01242010 - Lots of people at Sycamore Canyon Falls when it had good flow back in January 2010
Lots of people at Sycamore Canyon Falls when it had good flow back in January 2010

Finally, our fourth visit came shortly after a series of atmospheric river storms in January 2023, which produced a sighting every bit as satisfactory as our 2010 visit.

In addition to the flow, we also realized that photographing this west-facing waterfall would get the best lighting in the afternoon.

However, we’ve observed that this place gets quite busy by late morning and into the afternoon, so there’s a bit of a catch-22 where you have to trade lots of people versus taking good photographs.

There are numerous ways to access Sycamore Canyon Falls, and the network of criss-crossing trails can be a bit confusing.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_050_06012019 - Julie hiking amongst the many criss-crossing trails leading closer to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Julie hiking amongst the many criss-crossing trails leading closer to Sycamore Canyon Falls

For the purposes of this write-up, we’ll just focus on the two shortest approaches though you could easily combine them to get the best of both worlds (as each trail has its appeal).

The first approach starts from the main parking lot by the Rancho Sierra Vista property and encompasses the Satwiwa Loop Trail via the Satwiwa Culture Center and Chumash Demonstration Village.

The second approach starts from the Wendy Trailhead and encompasses the Wendy Trail, the Windmill Trail, and the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail.

Both trails connect with the Danielson Fire Road, which then becomes the “Waterfall Trail” as the path enters Sycamore Canyon and ultimately arrives at the Sycamore Canyon Falls.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_039_06012019 - The Satwiwa Native American Culture Center near the main trailhead leading us to Sycamore Canyon Falls via the shortest route
The Satwiwa Native American Culture Center near the main trailhead leading us to Sycamore Canyon Falls via the shortest route

For the hike starting at the main trailhead, my maps indicate that the hike would be about 3.2 miles round-trip (though I’ve seen the signage here suggest the hike could be as little as 3 miles round-trip).

Conversely, the hike starting from the Wendy Trailhead indicates that the out-and-back hike would be about 3.5 miles round-trip (though my trip logs indicated it was 4 miles round-trip).

Nevertheless, each time we’ve done this hike, we generally took between 90 minutes to 2.5 hours depending on how often we made stops.

As far as comparing the two approaches, the Satwiwa Culture Center approach has the advantage of being more family friendly as it’s a flatter trail along with the chance to experience the interpretive center as well as the Chumash Demonstration Village.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_039_01242010 - Panorama looking back towards Newbury Park with snow in the mountains of the Sespe Wilderness in the distance as seen from a hike where we started and ended from the Wendy Trail
Panorama looking back towards Newbury Park with snow in the mountains of the Sespe Wilderness in the distance as seen from a hike where we started and ended from the Wendy Trail

Sometimes there’s staff actually running demonstrations and exhibits showcasing the wildlife (including fur samples and plant samples) as well as a native shelter being built up.

The Wendy Trail approach, while slightly longer, has the advantage of panoramic views towards the Newbury Park suburb backed by the mountains of the Sespe Wilderness to the north.

If you’re interested in getting the best of both worlds, I’d recommend doing a loop hike in a counterclockwise manner so you can get the panoramic views on the way back down without needing to remember to look over your shoulder.

Doing the loop hike would add a little over a mile to either approach.

Sycamore Canyon Falls Trail Description – Satwiwa Loop Approach

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_015_06012019 - Julie on the flower-fringed trail between the main parking lot and the Satwiwa Native American Culture Center
Julie on the flower-fringed trail between the main parking lot and the Satwiwa Native American Culture Center

The Satwiwa Loop Approach to Sycamore Canyon Falls started from the main parking lot nearest to the Satwiwa Culture Center (see directions below).

From the parking area and restroom facilities, we then followed the a wide unpaved road (Pinehill Trail according to my map), which sees lots of mountain bikers in addition to trail runners and hikers.

After about a quarter-mile on Pinehill Trail, we then reached the Satwiwa Culture Center and Chumash Demonstration Village.

From this visitor center, it can get a little confusing about where to go next since there are lots of trails going in all directions.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_038_06012019 - Julie approaching the Satwiwa Culture Center and the Chumash Demonstration Village
Julie approaching the Satwiwa Culture Center and the Chumash Demonstration Village

The most obvious trail to continue on is the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road to the southwest, but the most direct trail is the Satwiwa Loop Trail somewhat hidden to the south of the Chumash Demonstration Village and to the south of a wetland pond.

The Satwiwa Loop Trail is a mostly flat trail flanked by wetland vegetation as well as fringed with wildflowers in the Spring.

After about 0.4-mile, the trail reaches a four-way junction, where we’d want to go straight ahead onto the Danielson Fire Road.

By the way, had we missed the Satwiwa Loop Trail and taken the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road, we would have gone about a quarter-mile or so to the Danielson Fire Road, and then taking it for another 0.3-mile to get to this four-way junction.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_079_06012019 - The bench overlooking Sycamore Canyon along Danielson Road (labeled as Upper Sycamore Canyon Overlook according to my Gaia GPS topo map)
The bench overlooking Sycamore Canyon along Danielson Road (labeled as Upper Sycamore Canyon Overlook according to my Gaia GPS topo map)

The latter approach would be about 0.2-mile or so longer than the more direct Satwiwa Loop Trail approach.

Anyways, following the Danielson Fire Road, the trail then ascends as it skirts the northern rim of Sycamore Canyon.

Along the way, there’s an overlook, which my map labels as the Upper Sycamore Canyon Overlook.

Continuing on the Danielson Fire Road for another 0.1-mile, the trail then reaches another trail junction, where a sign identifies that you’re entering the Boney Mountain State Wilderness.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_100_06012019 - Danielson Road became the Old Cabin Trail as it followed the northern contour of Sycamore Canyon before eventually entering the canyon itself
Danielson Road became the Old Cabin Trail as it followed the northern contour of Sycamore Canyon before eventually entering the canyon itself

Keeping to the right at this junction, the trail gets a little narrower while continuing to skirt the canyon for another 1/2-mile before reaching a junction with the Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail coming in on the right.

Continuing on the left to remain on the Waterfall Trail, the path crosses the seasonal creek responsible for Sycamore Canyon, and then proceeds for another 0.2-mile to another trail junction.

Keeping to the left at this trail junction (the trail on the right continues the Old Cabin Trail), the path then descends back down to the creek.

This is where the path becomees a little bit of a scramble as it descends to the creek, crosses it one more time, and then goes past a few boulders and deadfall obstacles before arriving at the Sycamore Canyon Falls (or “Sycamore Falls” according to my map).

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_126_06012019 - Scrambling around the small stair-stepping tiers of Sycamore Canyon Falls
Scrambling around the small stair-stepping tiers of Sycamore Canyon Falls

While the views of the waterfall from here can be pleasant and photogenic, there’s a limited amount of space to enjoy this spot so it can get crowded quite easily.

Therefore, it’s tempting to scramble up the waterfall to its top, where you can experience Sycamore Canyon Falls’ uppermost tiers as well as small pools where we’ve seen salamanders and water bugs in them.

Although many people do this steep scramble, there was definitely an element of danger due to the drop-off exposure and slip-and-fall risk along with some mild poison oak presence.

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend that kids do the scramble to the top as they may not know the danger they would be putting themselves in.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_152_06012019 - This was the uppermost tier of Sycamore Canyon Falls that I was able to reach
This was the uppermost tier of Sycamore Canyon Falls that I was able to reach

Nevertheless, if getting away from the crowds down below is a thing, then this more secluded spot up at the top would be a suitable place to relax and enjoy one of the Santa Monica Mountains’ more dramatic waterfalls.

After having our fill of the falls, we returned the way we came though we certainly could have extended the hike to experience the views down the Windmill Trail before returning to the culture center and trailhead.

Sycamore Canyon Falls Trail Description – Wendy Trail Approach

The Wendy Trail approach to Sycamore Canyon Falls started from the spillover parking area near the residences along Potrero Road near Wendy Drive (see directions below).

Since this was the directions described in Ann Marie Brown’s book, this had been our favored approach.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_001_01242010 - The Wendy Trail Approach to Sycamore Canyon Falls from Potrero Road, which started opposite some church (not pictured)
The Wendy Trail Approach to Sycamore Canyon Falls from Potrero Road, which started opposite some church (not pictured)

After going through an opening in the fencing along Potrero Road, we then walked past an interpretive sign.

Shortly after continuing straight at a four-way trail intersection, we then descended towards a seasonal stream before briefly climbing towards the next trail junction (about 1/4-mile from the Wendy Trailhead).

From this trail junction, we had a choice of going right to continue on the Wendy Trail, which heads west to the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center in another 3/4-mile or so.

Or, we could keep to the left and go uphill on the Windmill Trail, which climbs moderately up a combination of slopes, steps, and switchbacks.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_049_01242010 - Looking towards a weather vane or 'windmill' along the Wendy Trail en route to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Looking towards a weather vane or ‘windmill’ along the Wendy Trail en route to Sycamore Canyon Falls

The Windmill Trail climbs roughly 200ft while going past three more trail junctions linking with the Lower Satwiwa Loop Trail (which we ignored).

Along the way, we passed an old weather vane (i.e. the “windmill”) next to some kind of water tank with glimpses across an open field peering in the direction of the Satwiwa Culture Center.

As we climbed higher on this trail, the views looking back towards the north continued got better as more of the mountains of the Sespe Wilderness became more prominent.

Eventually after about 0.6-mile after leaving the Wendy Trail, the Windmill Trail reached a three-way intersection with the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_045_01242010 - Looking back at the context of Newbury Park and Satwiwa in the distance from the Windmill Trail en route to the Wendy Trailhead as we were returning from Sycamore Canyon Falls
Looking back at the context of Newbury Park and Satwiwa in the distance from the Windmill Trail en route to the Wendy Trailhead as we were returning from Sycamore Canyon Falls

In case you’re wondering, the path on the left went east up to the Hidden Valley Overlook, which was an aptly-named hidden basin housing a handful of lakes giving Westlake Village its name.

This detour is also a dead-end, which the trail sign here made sure to mention to keep hikers on track.

Anyways from here, we went right, which briefly went downhill for about a 0.1-mile stretch before joining up with the Danielson Road right at the Boney Mountain State Wilderness sign.

At this point, we followed the northern contours Sycamore Canyon as described in the first hiking route.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_136_01222023 - When the creek crossing within Sycamore Canyon has this much water, chances are that the Sycamore Canyon Falls will also be flowing well
When the creek crossing within Sycamore Canyon has this much water, chances are that the Sycamore Canyon Falls will also be flowing well

This downhill stretch (i.e. it will be uphill on the way back) with a creek crossing and a couple of trail junctions persisted for the remaining 3/4-mile or so before arriving at the Sycamore Canyon Falls.

Authorities

Sycamore Canyon Falls resides in Pt Mugu State Park, but it’s also within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area near Newbury Park in Ventury County, California. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about this area as well as current conditions, visit the NPS website.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_004_01222023 - A very busy Sunday morning at the Wendy Trailhead as we were about to pursue the Sycamore Canyon Falls on Chinese New Year in 2023. This photo and the next several shots are taken on this day.
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_001_01222023 - It was a very beautiful day on our Chinese New Year 2023 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls as we looked towards Boney Mountain from the Wendy Trailhead
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_007_01222023 - Back at the familiar Wendy Trailhead during our Chinese New Year 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_013_01222023 - This seasonal creek was high enough to force us to do a little rock hopping to get across. Normally, this creek doesn't flow so it was a very good sign that Sycamore Canyon Falls should be performing well during our Chinese New Year 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_015_01222023 - Some parts of the Wendy Trail were already muddy due to some atmospheric river storms that had hit the Southland in early January 2023
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_019_01222023 - About to leave the Wendy Trail to start climbing the Windmill Trail en route to Sycamore Canyon Falls during our Chinese New Year 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_020_01222023 - Looking back at the trail split between Wendy Trail and Windmill Trail with Newbury Park in the background as seen in mid-January 2023
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_026_01222023 - Context of the family continuing up the Windmill Trail with Boney Mountain looming ahead
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_029_01222023 - The family crossing a bridge over a seasonal creek on the Windmill Trail en route to the Sycamore Canyon Falls during our mid-January 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_034_01222023 - Fires are nothing new in the Santa Monica Mountains, and this tree looked like it had seen quite a few of them
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_035_01222023 - The family continuing to climb up the Windmill Trail during our Chinese New Year 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_045_01222023 - Approaching the junction between the Windmill Trail and the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail during our January 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_047_01222023 - Briefly following the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail away from the general direction of Sycamore Canyon Falls so we can hook up with the Danielson Road and the Old Cabin Trail
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_052_01222023 - Context of the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail connector as we approached Danielson Road with some water tank by the Sycamore Canyon Road in the distance to the topright of this photo taken in Chinese New Year 2023
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_054_01222023 - Looking towards the context of the Satwiwa Native American Culture Center from the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail during our Chinese New Year 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_056_01222023 - Descending to the intersection of the Hidden Valley Overlook Trail and the Danielson Road during our January 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_061_01222023 - Now we were following a pretty busy Old Cabin Trail as it skirted the northern side of Sycamore Canyon on its way down into the canyon itself
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_067_01222023 - During our Chinese New Year 2023 visit, there was a rescue chopper performing some kind of search-and-rescue drills at the mouth of Sycamore Canyon
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_073_01222023 - Looking back at an eroding washed out part of the Old Cabin Trail en route to the Sycamore Canyon Falls in January in 2023
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_078_01222023 - I believe this ranger on the Waterfall Trail was also part of the drills being done at Sycamore Canyon during our Chinese New Year 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_082_01222023 - The waterfall trail briefly skirting a pretty full creek on the way to the Sycamore Canyon Falls in Chinese New Year 2023
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_083_01222023 - The family carefully descending back into the creek for the final stretch before the Sycamore Canyon Falls during our Chinese New Year 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_090_01222023 - Our first look at a pretty nicely flowing Sycamore Canyon Falls during our Chinese New Year 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_098_01222023 - Closer look at the upper tiers of Sycamore Canyon Falls just as someone was scrambling his way down from the top of the falls during our January 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_107_01222023 - It got busier at Sycamore Canyon Falls the longer we lingered at the waterfall during our Chinese New Year 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_117_01222023 - Contextual look at the busy scene at Sycamore Canyon Falls with people at both the bottom and the top of the waterfall during our Chinese New Year 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_007_iPhone_01222023 - A closer look at some people in action climbing up the Sycamore Canyon Falls during our January 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_132_01222023 - Even though it was already busy at Sycamore Canyon Falls by the time we left on our Chinese New Year 2023 visit, there were still lots more people approaching the falls on our way out!
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_138_01222023 - Julie approaching an interesting-looking tree on our way back from Sycamore Canyon Falls in 2023
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_141_01222023 - The family making the climb back out of Sycamore Canyon on the way back to the Wendy Trailhead in 2023
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_154_01222023 - Context of Mom and Dad descending the Windmill Trail as we made the return hike from Sycamore Canyon Falls during our Chinese New Year 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_162_01222023 - The nice thing about the return hike down the Windmill Trail is that we get to enjoy these panoramic views along the way
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_189_01222023 - The family returning to the junction between the Windmill Trail and the Wendy Trail as we were pretty much at the home stretch of our Chinese New Year 2023 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_197_01222023 - The Wendy Trailhead is just up ahead past the last creek crossing on the Wendy Trail
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_204_01222023 - One thing we learned was that the St Matthews United Methodist Church can make for a decent routing destination if the desire is to park at the Wendy Trailhead instead of the Rancho Sierra Vista Main Parking Lot
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_011_06012019 - Looking back at the main parking lot before starting our hike as we started the 1/4-mile approach to the Satwiwa Culture Center during our June 2019 visit.  This photo and the next several shots were taken from this day
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_012_06012019 - Julie starting the hike from the main parking lot towards the Satwiwa Culture Center while flanked by beautiful wildflowers in a superbloom during our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_018_06012019 - Lots of wildflowers (mostly invasive black mustards) flanking the main trail during our June 2019 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_021_06012019 - We were surprised to still see California poppies during our June 2019 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_025_06012019 - More interesting wildflowers seen during our June 2019 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_026_06012019 - Julie sharing the short trail from the main parking lot to the Satwiwa Culture Center with mountain bikers during our June 2019 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_033_06012019 - We managed to see quite a few rabbits or hares during our June 2019 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_035_06012019 - Approaching the bridge leaving Big Sycamore Canyon Trail (paved) and heading towards the Satwiwa Culture Center and Chumash Demonstration Village
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_043_06012019 - The Chumash Demonstration Village as seen during our June 2019 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_046_06012019 - Another rabbit seen during our June 2019 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_048_06012019 - Looking towards a stagnant pond while hiking between the Satwiwa Culture Center and the Danielson Fire Road junction during our June 2019 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_049_06012019 - More wildflowers seen along the Satwiwa Loop Trail during our June 2019 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_059_06012019 - Apparently there were large bee swarms around so the park service set up these indicators to steer clear of the hive during our June 2019 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_061_06012019 - Julie eventually finding her way onto the Satwiwa Connector Trail en route to the Danielson Fire Road, which was the key landmark to pursue the Sycamore Canyon Falls during our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_070_06012019 - Julie hiking through this path flanked by interesting plants along the way to the Danielson Fire Road junction en route to Sycamore Canyon Falls in June 2019
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_071_06012019 - NO CAPTION
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_074_06012019 - Julie ascending the Danielson Fire Road along the contours of Big Sycamore Canyon en route to the Sycamore Canyon Falls during our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_076_06012019 - Looking back at the trail junctions from the Danielson Fire Road as we ascended further towards Sycamore Canyon Falls in our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_081_06012019 - Ascending Danielson Road as we hiked along the northern contour of Sycamore Canyon during our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_084_06012019 - Looking down across Sycamore Canyon towards someone hiking on the Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_085_06012019 - Continuing the ascent along the Danielson Road en route to Sycamore Canyon Falls during our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_086_06012019 - Looking back at the context of the Danielson Fire Road and Big Sycamore Canyon en route to the Sycamore Canyon Falls during our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_088_06012019 - NO CAPTION
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_094_06012019 - Julie hiking on the Waterfall Trail still following the Sycamore Canyon's contours en route to the Sycamore Canyon Falls during our June 2010 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_097_06012019 - Still more wildflowers that we saw along Danielson Road en route to Sycamore Canyon Falls in June 2019
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_104_06012019 - As we got deeper along Sycamore Canyon, it started closing in just as the trail was descending towards its lush interior as seen in June 2019
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_108_06012019 - Still more interesting wildflowers seen during our June 2019 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_110_06012019 - Looking up at some denuded and blackened trees that I'd imagine must have been burnt during the Woolsey Fire in late 2018 (or from a different Springs Fire in 2013). This was seen during our Sycamore Canyon Falls hike in June 2019
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_112_06012019 - Julie entering the lush confines of Sycamore Canyon as the Old Boney Trail joined up with Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_113_06012019 - Still more interesting wildflowers seen during our June 2019 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_116_06012019 - Walking along the seasonal creek within Sycamore Canyon en route to the waterfall in June 2019
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_121_06012019 - Julie looking at the trail climbing up to continue the Old Boney Trail, but we didn't take that trail. Instead, we kept pursuing Sycamore Canyon Falls during our June 2019 hike
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_123_06012019 - Julie continuing towards the Waterfall Spur Trail to Sycamore Canyon Falls on our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_125_06012019 - Julie negotiating a little bit of rock scrambling near Sycamore Canyon Falls during our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_127_06012019 - Finally back at Sycamore Canyon Falls in early June 2019
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_139_06012019 - Looking up towards the top of Sycamore Canyon Falls during our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_142_06012019 - Looking down at other scramblers carefully making their way back down the steep terrain alongside Sycamore Canyon Falls during our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_144_06012019 - Closer look at one of the uppermost tiers of Sycamore Canyon Falls as seen on our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_145_06012019 - This was one of the upper tiers of Sycamore Canyon Falls that I encountered though continuing further up from here required even more tricky scrambling during our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_147_06012019 - This was the uppermost of the Sycamore Canyon Falls that I pursued during our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_158_06012019 - Context of the highest part of Sycamore Canyon Falls that I was able to scramble to during our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_163_06012019 - The cliff on the left was the precarious part that I clung onto in order to reach the uppermost part of Sycamore Canyon Falls during our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_170_06012019 - Last look back up at Sycamore Canyon Falls before we headed back on our June 2019 hike
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_175_06012019 - Looking back at a couple of people who have scrambled to the top of Sycamore Canyon Falls during our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_182_06012019 - Still more wildflowers seen during our June 2019 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_185_06012019 - There was definitely no shortage of wildflowers seen during our June 2019 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_187_06012019 - Julie crossing the creek on our return hike from Sycamore Canyon Falls in June 2019
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_191_06012019 - I think this was a trail junction where the narrower and more overgrown path on the left would have descended on the opposite side of Sycamore Canyon than the way we came from on the right during our June 2019 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_195_06012019 - Looking into Sycamore Canyon as we were returning from Sycamore Canyon Falls in June 2019
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_209_06012019 - Julie descending along the Danielson Road en route to the trailhead after having our fill of Sycamore Canyon Falls in June 2019
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_214_06012019 - Returning on the shortest trail back to Satwiwa after having left the Danielson Road on our Sycamore Canyon Falls return hike in June 2019
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_224_06012019 - Julie descending on the direct trail that we should have taken earlier on as we were approaching Satwiwa Culture Center to wrap up our June 2019 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_228_06012019 - Yet another rabbit we spotted on the main trail as we were returning to the main parking lot to conclude our Sycamore Canyon Falls hike in June 2019
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_234_06012019 - Julie finally returning to the main parking lot to end off our June 2019 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_003_01242010 - Given the saturation rains that lasted a week prior to us hiking to Sycamore Canyon Falls in late January 2010, we could see why the Wendy Trail was muddy. By the way, this photo and the rest of the photos from this gallery came from that visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_005_01242010 - Looking back towards snow-topped mountains over residences near Newbury Park that we were leaving behind en route to Sycamore Canyon Falls in June 2010
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_007_01242010 - Some Native American structures that I believed was part of the Satwiwa Native American Natural Area as seen during our January 2010 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls via the Wendy Trail
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_008_01242010 - The pair of bridges fronting the Satwiwa Native American Indian Natural Area as seen in January 2010
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_010_01242010 - Entering Point Mugu State Park along the multi-use Wendy Trail en route to Sycamore Canyon Falls in January 2010
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_012_01242010 - On our January 2010 visit, we took the Boney Mountain Trail to Sycamore Canyon Falls, which involved a bit more climbing than some of the more popular routes to reach Sycamore Canyon Falls.  I recalled on our first visit back in early 2002, we were on the other side of the creek, which I believe was part of the Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_013_01242010 - Looking towards some protruding rocks on mountaintops with interesting shapes during our January 2010 hike to Sycamore Canyon Falls.  I believe this mountain was called Boney Mountain
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_015_01242010 - The trail we took in January 2010 then entered the Boney Mountain State Wilderness at Danielson Road en route to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_017_01242010 - Mom (with Julie up ahead) crossing the creek en route to Sycamore Canyon Falls in January 2010
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_029_01242010 - Lots of people climbing to the top of the Sycamore Canyon Falls during our January 2010 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_038_01242010 - We weren't kidding when we said Sycamore Canyon Falls was popular. This was shot during our January 2010 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_041_01242010 - Nice panoramas of the Hidden Valley basin along the Old Boney Trail section as we returned from Sycamore Canyon Falls during our January 2010 visit
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_043_01242010 - Panoramic view back towards Rancho Sierra Vista / Satwiwa from the Danielson Road during our January 2010 visit to Sycamore Canyon Falls
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_046_01242010 - A coyote on the prowl for gophers or rabbits, which we saw on the return hike from Sycamore Canyon Falls in January 2010
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_050_01242010 - Almost back at the start of the hike along Potrero Road to end our visit in January 2010
Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_003_scanned_01012002 - How the falls looked the last time we visited back in the 2001-2002 timeframe


Sycamore Canyon Falls sat on the western side of the north-facing foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Therefore, it is best accessed from the US101 near the suburban cities of Newbury Park and Thousand Oaks.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_001_06012019 - Driving into the main parking lot closest to the Satwiwa Culture Center and Chumash Demonstration Village (roughly 1/4-mile away from here)
Driving into the main parking lot closest to the Satwiwa Culture Center and Chumash Demonstration Village (roughly 1/4-mile away from here)

Given that there are a couple of trailheads to choose from to reach the Sycamore Canyon Falls, I’ll describe the directions that’s common to both, and then I’ll present how to get to either one.

So from the US101 and I-405 junction, we’d continue to drive west on the US101 for about 25 miles to the Lynn Road exit.

If we were to go to the main trailhead, then we’d follow Lynn Road for about 7.2 miles to Via Goleta Road, where we’d then turn left onto the Sycamore Canyon Trailhead.

Note that there’s an archway indicating that you’re entering the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Rancho Sierra Vista – Satwiwa (essentially letting you know you’re in the right place).

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_202_01222023 - There is also plenty of (free) parking at the Wendy Trailhead along Potrero Road, which is an alternate starting point for the Sycamore Canyon Falls though the overall hike is extended by around a half-mile if going this way
There is also plenty of (free) parking at the Wendy Trailhead along Potrero Road, which is an alternate starting point for the Sycamore Canyon Falls though the overall hike is extended by around a half-mile if going this way

Follow this road to its end where there’s a parking lot (though there are also spillover parking lots further back if the nearest one is full).

Now if we were to go to the Wendy Trailhead, then we’d follow Lynn Road for about 5.5 miles to its intersection with Wendy Drive.

Turning left onto Wendy Drive, we’d follow this suburban road for about a half-mile to its intersection with Potrero Road, where the trailhead and parking area is directly in front of you.

There’s also the St Matthews Methodist Church across from this trailhead so you could leverage that if you’re using a phone app to route to here.

Sycamore_Canyon_Falls_206_01222023 - Context of the parking area for the Wendy Trailhead across the Potrero Road from Wendy Drive and the St Matthews United Methodist Church
Context of the parking area for the Wendy Trailhead across the Potrero Road from Wendy Drive and the St Matthews United Methodist Church

By the way, if you’re really trying to go for the shortest drive time, it’s also possible to continue on the US101 to the Wendy Drive exit instead of the Lynn Road exit.

Nevertheless, the US101 can be quite prone to traffic so while the stretch between the 405 and Lynn Road can take less than a half-hour, my experiences have shown that it can easily take upwards of an hour if there’s a lot of congestion.

Finally for geographical context, Newbury Park is 45 miles (about 1 hour drive depending on traffic) west of downtown Los Angeles, 24 miles (about 30 minutes drive) north of Malibu, 19 miles (under 30 minutes drive) east of Oxnard, 52 miles (about an hour drive) east of Santa Barbara.

Find A Place To Stay

Upstream to downstream panning of the falls before panning back to the falls again at the end


Back and forth sweep from a closer spot towards the falls before panning downstream and showing the context of the rest of the family looking on, and then finally ending at the falls again


More contextual back and forth sweep from behind the large boulders trying to show how b usy it was as well as some people who managed to scramble to the top


Bottom up sweep of the main part of the waterfall before panning downstream along the waterfall's trajectory


Back and forth sweep near the top of the waterfall


Back and forth sweep of the uppermost drop of the falls and surrounds

Tagged with: santa monica mountains, los angeles, malibu, thousand oaks, canaan, mugu, california, southern california, waterfall, oxnard, camarillo, ventura, satwiwa, newbury park



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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