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Park View: Beginner Hikes in 2024

Do your New Year’s resolutions include some easy-to-accomplish activities related to fitness? Are you heading to the gym? Will you be dusting off the treadmill? Do you have plans for regular activity breaks at the office or daily walks around the neighborhood at the end of the day?

How about adding some simple hikes on local trails to your daily or weekly regimen this year? The combination of getting outside, enjoying nature and striving to improve your fitness level is a great way to start the year off right.

There are more than 150 miles of trails within the Conejo Valley’s parks and open space, most of which are under the guardianship of the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA). While I have hiked on most of the trails, there are still some stretches I have yet to cover since COSCA regularly adds to and improves the trails. For those uncertain about how or where to get started, here is a list of eight trails I think you will enjoy that are relatively easy and present few, if any, challenges.

Conejo Creek Walking/Bike Path. This is a 1.3-mile paved, all-weather loop around the Conejo Creek Playfield that is level and has minimal elevation gain and loss. At the south end of the loop, the path extends along Paige Lane to the recently completed Paige Lane Neighborhood Park. Access is available from the Conejo Creek Playfield, Paige Lane Park or the terminus of Gainsborough Road at Galsworthy Street.

Oak Creek Canyon Whole Access Trail. This is a one-mile loop with access from the Los Robles Trailhead, off Greenmeadow Avenue and South Moorpark Road. The western leg traverses an oak woodland and has a hardened surface to accommodate strollers and wheelchairs. There is also braille signage and guide cable for blind people.

Botanic Garden Nature Trail. This one-mile loop encircles the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden, with access from the Conejo Community Park parking lot off Gainsborough Road. Not only are there a multitude of gardens and plants to enjoy, but there are many side paths as well. The Nature Trail has some gentle grades but is considered easy, with abundant shade along the riparian stream.

Rancho Potrero Loop. Located adjacent to Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa, access to this 2.8-mile loop is at the Rancho Potrero Community Equestrian Center trailhead parking lot (across Lynn Road from Dos Vientos Neighborhood Park). This hike has gentle slopes and dramatic views of Boney Mountain.

Prickly Pear Trail. This 1.1-mile loop, also in the Dos Vientos vicinity, is accessed from the Del Prado Playfields on Calle Del Prado. If you want to extend the hike, you can do so by using the sidewalk and trail that encircles the playfields.

Lindero Creek Trail. For those in the North Ranch area, this trail is best started at the North Ranch Playfields. The one-mile walk (one direction) is alongside Lindero Creek and beneath a shaded canopy of native oak trees. There is very little elevation change, and a portion of the trail is decomposed granite.

Mesa Trail. Located in Wildwood Regional Park, this was one of the very first trails in the Conejo Recreation and Park District. The two-mile route passes through the center of the Wildwood Mesa out to Lizard Rock and back. If you haven’t been there before, you don’t know the Conejo Valley!

Lake Eleanor Trail. The Lake Eleanor Open Space has a very rewarding up-and-back 2.6-mile trail with views of three lakes in the South Ranch area of Westlake. This is the most challenging of the eight trails, as it is considered an easy to intermediate hike, with 450 feet of elevation gain and loss. Access to the trailhead is on Highgate Road, off Triunfo Boulevard.

For more details about these and other COSCA trails, visit the COSCA website at conejo-openspace.org or the Conejo Open Space Foundation website at cosf.org.

We have an abundance of natural beauty to enjoy in our community. We see it every day on our travels around town. If you haven’t already, make the effort in the new year to get out and enjoy it up close and in person while at the same time getting some much-needed exercise.

Doug Nickles is a director/board member for the Conejo Recreation and Park District, the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency and the California Association of Recreation and Park Districts. The views expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of the district, agency or the respective boards. He can be contacted via email at [email protected].

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