Trails of

La Jolla Valley


Looking north into La Jolla Valley from Mugu Peak Trail, in the spring

Overview

La Jolla Valley lies at the far west end of the Santa Monica Mountains, adjoining Sycamore Canyon in Point Mugu State Park. This is a very popular area for hikers. All trails are well used, well maintained and, with the exception of three trails noted below, have firm, fairly smooth treads and are at most moderately steep. During the springtime, long green grasses and wildflowers are everywhere. It's very pretty, but remember to check regularly for ticks. The southern trails have spectacular views of the coast, and, to the east, Serrano Valley and Boney Mountain beyond. The trails are closed to mountain bikes except for La Jolla Valley Fireroad. Conversely, the two main access trails are closed to horses, so the only equestrian access is by way of the same La Jolla Valley Fireroad from Sycamore Canyon.


Map Key

  Printable map (1.0 MB)

Aerial View

View is from the south-west. La Jolla Valley trails are shown in green; trails in Sycamore Canyon are shown in orange.

 

Trailheads

a - The Ray Miller and La Jolla Canyon Trails trailheads, in the parking area about 300 yards in from the PCH. There is a fee to park here
b - The Ray Miller Trail trailhead, in the group camping area off the PCH. There is a fee to park here
c - Chumash Trail trailhead and dirt parking next to the PCH, directly across from the orange observation tower next to the shooting ranges

Trails

Except for the La Jolla Valley Fireroad, all trails are off-limits to mountain bikes. Similarly, La Jolla Canyon and Chumash Trails are closed to horses. Unless otherwise specified, all trails have gentle to moderate slopes.

[1] Ray Miller Trail

Description: This trail snakes along the steep hillsides up to the Overlook Fireroad in Sycamore Canyon. It has great views that are always changing as you climb and go around corners. As well as the coast in both directions, you can see La Jolla Canyon, Serrano Valley and Boney Mountain. It is well travelled and the tread is mostly firm and quite smooth. However, most of it gets quite soft when wet, so you can expect parts of it to be rough with hoofprints if equestrians use it before it dries properly after a rain.

About a half-mile from the top, a spur heads down and towards Sycamore Canyon. It quickly becomes overgrown, very steep, loose, uneven and washed out.

Download the GPS track to help you find your way.

Technical Rating NB ; T2

 Length (miles)

 2.7

Climb (feet)

 1200

Descent (feet)

 200

Trail Profile      Back to the Top

 

[2] La Jolla Canyon Trail

Description: This trail heads through the La Jolla Canyon, inland and up to the La Jolla Valley Loop Trail. The landscape and views change quite remarkably as the canyon closes in and the trail climbs. It is well-travelled and in good shape, with the first 3/4 miles to the waterfall being widest and firm but pretty rocky. After the waterfall it becomes more rugged but only moderately steep.

It's a little uncertain where this trail ends. A National Park Service map shows that it ends at the La Jolla Valley Loop Trail, but signage on La Jolla Valley Fireroad suggests that it ends there.

Download the GPS track to help you find your way.

Technical Rating HO ; T3

 Length (miles)

 1.2

Climb (feet)

 600

Descent (feet)

 60

Trail Profile      Back to the Top

[3] Chumash Trail and Chumash Overlook Spur

Description: This trail is very steep and rocky, but firm, for the first 0.6 miles until it reaches the Mugu Peak Trail. This is not a good route unless you are in good shape and very sure-footed! The photo at right, taken near the bottom, shows what to expect. And it doesn't get any better until the top. However, if you can manage it, this is the fastest way to get to La Jolla Valley, and have some great views of the coast and, on clear days, of the Channel Islands. Beteen the Mugu Peak Trail and the La Jolla Valley Loop, the trail is as smooth and gentle as the other trails in the valley.

At the top, the Mugu Peak and Mugu Peak Direct trails come together. At that point, there is a spur that heads up and west to an overlook. The first section is very steep and loose, but it eases up a bit and eventually ends after 0.25 miles at the boundary of the state park. At that spot there is an impressive overlook view of Mugu Lagoon and the adjoining wetlands next to the coast.

Download the GPS track to help you find your way.

Technical Rating HO ; T4

 Length (miles)

 1.2, but just 0.63 miles to Mugu Peak Trail

Climb (feet)

 900

Descent (feet)

 150

Trail Profile      Back to the Top

 

[4,5] La Jolla Valley Loop Trail (NB ; T2 ) and La Jolla Valley Fireroad (T1.5 )

Description: This is what La Jolla Valley is all about! The valley is mostly grass, but there are several small, oak-tree-lined creeks that cross it and empty into La Jolla Canyon. The trail is well travelled, mostly smooth and has only gentle hills. Starting at the top of the La Jolla Canyon Trail and going counterclockwise (as shown in the profile below), the trail runs along the edge of the canyon until the Mugu Peak Trail turns off. From there it follows a stream, crosses it, then enters the grassland proper. After another third of a mile, it meets the Chumash Trail and starts to turn north-east, then recrosses the stream. Shortly after the junction with the La Jolla Valley Center Trail, you cross a bridge to arrive at the La Jolla Valley Fireroad. From here there are two shortcuts back to the La Jolla Canyon Trail. The first, the Pond Trail, goes past a small pond just before it meets the easterly leg of the loop. This last leg goes south-west through a deep valley, rich with vegetation,until it meets back with the top of the La Jolla Canyon Trail.

During the spring, the grass is green and blowing across the trail as shown in the picture. It's impossible to avoid touching the grass so you should check for ticks from time to time. The rest of the year, the grass is dead and the canyon can have an overall golden to grey-brown color.

The La Jolla Fireroad ends at the Overlook Fireroad in Sycamore Canyon. This trail only is open to bikes, and is also the only way that equestrians can get to the valley.

Download the La Jolla Valley Loop GPS track to help you find your way.
Download the La Jolla Valley Fireroad GPS track to help you find your way. 

Technical Rating NB ; T2 (Loop Trail) and T1.5 (fireroad)

 Length (miles)

 4.4

Climb (feet)

 600

Descent (feet)

 600

Trail Profile      Back to the Top

 

[6] La Jolla Valley Center Trail

Description: The Center trail is very similar sections of the Loop Trail. The southern half winds through some low hills (photo at light) while the northern half is in the grassland. It can be used to cut off part of the loop trail.

Download the GPS track to help you find your way.

Technical Rating NB ; T2

 Length (miles)

 1.1

Climb (feet)

 280 (south to north)

Descent (feet)

 90

Trail Profile (shown south to north)     Back to the Top

 [7] Mugu Peak Trail and Outlook Path

Description: The Mugu Peak Trail branches off from the Loop Trail in the east, starts with a moderate climb (see photo at right), then descends more gently to meet the Chumash Trail. You can expect great views along the whole length, first overlooking La Jolla Canyon, then of the coast east or west. There is a 600' spur, the Outlook Path, about 1.6 miles from the east end that runs along the top of a ridge, almost directly above Mugu Rock.

Download the GPS track to help you find your way.

Technical Rating NB ; T2

 Length (miles)

 1.9

Climb (feet)

 800

Descent (feet)

 520

Trail Profile      Back to the Top

[8] Mugu Peak Direct Trail

Description: This trail breaks off from the Mugu Peak Trail and takes a very direct route to the top of Mugu Peak. It is quite steep and a little loose, especially near both ends. You'll want good tread on your boots for this trail. The profile is shown above, with the Mugu Peak Trail profile.

Download the GPS track to help you find your way.

Technical Rating NB ; T3.5

 Length (miles)

 0.65

Climb (feet)

 220 (East to west)

Descent (feet)

 370

Back to the Top

[9] Pond Trail

Description: This short trail cuts off the north-east corner of the Loop Trail and passes a small pond. It dries out between wet seasons.

Download the GPS track to help you find your way.

Technical Rating NB ; T2

 Length (miles)

 0.2

Climb (feet)

 10 (North to south)

Descent (feet)

 80

Back to the Top

 

This page last updated on May 28, 2008

 

Thanks for looking at Steve's guide to trails in Ventura County, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) and other locations.