Week 241: Rocky Oaks Park Malibu

June 27, 2021

Day Hiking Los Angeles #13, Rocky Oaks Park, 1.9 miles.

Barbara and I attempted to take this hike several times, but extensive damage from the 2018 Woolsey fire—the biggest in SoCal history—kept Rocky Oaks Park closed until recently. Third time was the charm for us. Tucked at the center of the wine corridor in the inland Santa Monica Mountains at the intersection of Kanan Road and Mulholland Drive, the 200 acre park is a wildlife refuge administered by the National Park Service. We arrived early to beat the heat, and began our clockwise hike above and around the pond at the Rocky Oaks Loop Trailhead on the SW end of the parking lot. Rocky Oaks is great for beginners and kids—there's elevation, but not too steep or tricky, and you can hike the whole park and its four trails in less than 2 miles. The main attraction—a manmade cattle pond created when Rocky Oaks was a ranch—was dry, but when Mother Nature gets it together and serves up rainfall the pond will become a watering hole for the rabbits, coyotes, bobcats, and deer in the area. The first hopeful signs of regeneration were the wildflowers at the start of the trail. Blackened trees sprouted green foliage, and as we began to climb higher, the real promise of what Rocky Oaks will be again someday came into view through lush green vineyards high on the nearby mountains. The dirt trail, lined with sagebrush, has no shade as it circles the pond below, but about a mile in we picked up the Glade Trail and completed the hike through the former picnic area's oaks and sandstone rocks (Rocky Oaks!) Somehow the amphitheater nestled under a cathedral of canyon oaks managed to survive the fire, another promise of what can be when the park fully recovers. Short, sweet, very SoCal winery-ish, with a ton of lizards and bunnies for company. Exactly the dose of nature we needed to beat the heat this morning.




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