La Jolla Valley Canyon Loop – Point Mugu State Park

Where: Point Mugu State Park
Mileage: 11.75 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain: 1250 feet
Recommended: Water, food, binoculours

To get to the trailhead: From Los Angeles take 10 West to PCH North. Stay on PCH for 34 miles. After passing Sycamore Canyon 1.5 miles, turn right onto La Jolla Canyon Day Use Area. There is parking in the parking lot on the left for a fee or you can park out on PCH for free (which is what we did).

Before picking this hike, I noticed that there were many hiking trails. Because of this we were able to put together a loop that hit 11.75 miles rewarding us with incredible views, cool weather and a nice work out on a Sunday Morning.

La Jolla Canyon Valley Loop 001

We started our hike at 0800 in order to get back in time to watch the super bowl. Ray Miller Trail took us up the east side of the canyon, steadily gaining 1000 feet elevation. After 2.75 miles we hit Overlook Fire Road junction. At this point the trail had turned inland towards Ventura County. We had ocean and canyon views as we hit the junction finally running into some people (mountain bikers).

After turning left on Overlook Fire Road and greeting mountain bikers/runners passing us by, made me think about making it out here for a trail run or a mountain bike. It was getting windy by this point, but as we entered the valley some more the wind died down with views of Boney Mountains east of where we stood. These are the highest peaks of the Santa Monica Range, which includes Sandstone Peak (a hike we’d like to complete).

4.5 miles into the hike, you will hit a four-way intersection, turn left turn left toward La Jolla Valley and to the “grasslands”. Around .2 miles after you turn, there will be another junction on the left that can cut your hike down to 7.35 miles going past La Jolla Canyon Falls, but missing Mugu Peak, not recommended.

La Jolla Canyon Valley Loop 007

There are numerous side-trails splitting off on your trek in the valley, with little to no green and absolutely no water in the creeks you pass. Once you walk into a dense wooded area, you’ll notice there are some campsites available ($8/person per night). Stick on La Jolla Valley Fire Road until you come to a junction with La Jolla Valley Loops Trail, staying to the right. At this point we were at 6.55 miles and puzzled on where to go exactly.

From here we took the rest of the loop around where ocean views were back in sight. Looking down after climbing up we had a panoramic view of the coast, taking a moment to take in the view of Mugu Lagoon and Point Mugu Naval Base.

We finally hit the junction that would take us to the summit of Mugu Peak, this 200 foot elevation gain got our hearts pumping. Mugu Peak stands 1,266 feet with an American flag standing on top and a complete 360-degree view from the coast to La Jolla Valley. The entire hike we didn’t see too many people until we climbed up to the summit. Of course a popular destination as there is a small trail just under a mile that heads up to Mugu Peak for those who don’t want to explore more of the area.

We wanted to stay atop the mountain, but it was extremely windy; we ate a quick snack and headed down the mountain descending 460 feet in a little under 1 mile as we hit another junction with La Jolla Valley Loop Trail.

Turn right here and head downhill on switchbacks after another mile and a quarter the waterfall would join us, but we did not join it. There was no waterfall, just the remnants that we did not notice until taking a few steps past it wondering why there were two gentlemen hanging out above the 20 foot wall of rock and moss. This was La Jolla Valley Falls that once had cascaded water through the canyon.

At this point we had very little left to the parking lot, but there were several moments that the views around us put a tiny smile on our faces.

Distance of hike, long, but manageable as the elevation gain was not too difficult. 3 and a half hours later at 1130 we reached our cars.

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