Cheeseboro Canyon is located in the northernmost section of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. It is from these hills that water in the canyons flow to the Pacific. The Chumash Indians lived in these canyons for thousands of years. Many trails within the canyons were original Chumash trails before they were expanded by cattle ranchers. In this large expanse of habitat, deer, bobcats, coyotes and rabbits roam. Stroll to Sulphur Springs or hike to the top of Simi Peak and view the cities you’ve left behind. Walk quietly amid the oaks and grasses, or picnic beside a streambed.
Today, a great diversity of plants and animals live in the canyons. Wide-spread oaks and outcrops of sedimentary rock provide excellent nesting sites for owls, hawks and other raptors (birds of prey). The abundance of raptors indicates a large prey population, especially small mammals and reptiles. In more rugged areas where cattle didn’t graze, we can still find a variety of native plant communities, including chaparral, coastal sage scrub and riparian woodlands.
There are several unique facts regarding these canyons: • Cheeseboro Canyon has the largest concentrations of birds of prey nesting areas in the U.S. outside of Alaska. • The Valley Oak tree, the largest oak native to the United States and possibly the world, live in these canyons in what might be the largest southerly stand of trees left.
Modelo Spur: 0.7 mile, moderate hiking trail meanders from the parking lot through grasslands to a lone coast live oak on the ridge. The trail drops east and joins the Cheeseboro Canyon Trail.
Modelo Trail: 1 mile, easy hiking trail starting at the ridge line of the Modelo Spur and continuing north along the ridge. This pathway offers views of both canyons. It ends at the Palo Comado Connector Trail where you can turn right, and travel east to Cheeseboro Canyon, or left, and travel west to Palo Comado Canyon.
Palo Comado Canyon Trail: 4.4 miles, moderate to strenuous, 800' elevation gain. The first 1.2 miles of this trail is a gentle stroll along a creek to the old ranch center. The dramatic elevation gain begins a mile past the ranch site where you will climb from 1,200 feet elevation to scenic China Flat at 2,140 feet elevation.
Palo Comado Connector: 1.5 miles, moderate. Travel this old ranch road across the ridge and through a section of Modelo Shale to reach either Cheeseboro or Palo Comado Canyons.
Cheeseboro Canyon Trail / Sulphur Springs Trail: 4.6 miles, easy. Follow an old ranch road along a streambed through a valley oak savannah and coast live oak riparian zone. A picnic area is located 1.6 miles from the parking lot. Near Sulphur Springs, at 3.3 miles, you can smell the odor of sulfur. As you pass under the Baleen Wall, the canyon opens up and chaparral slopes replace the savannah. The trail continues to an old sheep corral where you can picnic near the creek bed or watch the sky for birds of prey.
Canyon View Trail: 0.7 mile, moderately strenuous. This trail splits to the east of the Cheeseboro Canyon Trail and climbs to a knoll above the Lost Hills landfill. Looking back towards the west, you can see most of Cheeseboro Canyon.
Ranch Center Trail: 1.1 miles, moderate to strenuous. This trail crosses a chaparral hillside and connects Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons.
Simi Peak Trail: 0.8 mile, moderate. This trail winds from China Flat to Simi Peak, the highest point in the area. Enjoy a spectacular view of Oak Park, Agoura Hills and Simi Valley.
Baleen Wall Trail: Two miles, moderate to strenuous. Begin 1.25 miles up the Cheeseboro Canyon Trail to an uphill climb towards a large water tank. Follow the fire road north along a ridge for great views of the canyon below.
China Flat Trail: Four mile loop, strenuous, 1,000' elevation gain. China Flat sits beneath Simi Peak (2,043'), the highest peak in the Simi Hills. The China Flat Trail can be reached from the Ventura Freeway/Highway 101 in Westlake Village, exit Lindero Canyon Road. Drive 4 miles north and park on Lindero Canyon Road by the China Flat Trailhead on the left. The trailhead is located between King James Court and Wembly Avenue.
Directions: From the Ventura Freeway (US 101) in Agoura take the Cheeseboro Road offramp and turn north following the signs and Palo Comado Canyon Road. Turn right onto Cheeseboro Road and continue to the end where you will find parking and a picnic area. Additional access can be reached via Lindero Canyon Road to Simi Peak, at the highest point in the area.