Serrano Valley – La Jolla Valley Scenic Loop

Lynn and Frank at the ranch in Serrano Valley.

This is one of my favorite medium length trail runs in the Santa Monica Mountains. It starts at the Ray Miller trailhead and explores the scenic grasslands of the Serrano and La Jolla Valleys. Along the way there are spectacular ocean and mountain vistas from the Ray Miller Trail and the summit of Mugu Peak.


Serrano Valley
Most of the route is on single track trail, and except for a short out & back segment to “The Ranch” in Serrano Valley, it is a complete loop of about 20 miles. Many variations are possible.

One of the better online maps I’ve found of the area is an Interagency Trail Management Map produced by the NPS Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area GIS Lab. It shows the status of trails and public lands in the Santa Monica Mountains and is broken into three parts: WestCentralEast. Additional NPS SMMNRA trail management plan maps include Proposed Backbone Trail Facilities and Trails and Proposed Regional Trails.

Here is a Cesium browser View of a GPS trace of our route from the Ray Miller trailhead and through Serrano and La Jolla Valleys.

Related post: Serrano Valley – La Jolla Valley Loop, Serrano Valley from the Chamberlain Trail

Serrano Valley – La Jolla Valley Loop

Boney Mountain and Serrano Valley from the Ray Miller Trail.

The idea was to do an interesting trail run that wasn’t quite as long and strenuous as last week’s Bandit 30K Course Preview. That was the idea. I could have calculated the mileage and elevation gain of our projected route, but sometimes part of the fun of trail running is not knowing the exact route, how long it will take, or how strenuous it might be.

This particular exploration would visit two of the most scenic areas in the Santa Monica Mountains — Serrano Valley and La Jolla Valley. Many variations of this loop are possible. Our base route included the Ray Miller/Backbone Trail, Fireline Trail, Serrano Canyon Trail, Serrano Valley Trail, Old Boney Trail, Wood Canyon Vista Trail, La Jolla Valley Loop Trail, La Jolla Canyon Trail and connecting roads.

In addition to its wonderful scenery, this course is characterized by moderate uphills that are generally very runnable. The side trips to to the old ranch site in Serrano Valley, and to Mugu Peak pushed the route beyond the 30K mark, but were worth every step. Here’s a Google Earth image and Google Earth KMZ file of a GPS trace of the route. Since none of us had done the eastern leg of the La Jolla Valley Loop Trail, this time we did Mugu Peak from the east. The route around the valley to the western side of Mugu Peak is also shown.

Here is a Live Browser View of the run.

Some related posts: Serrano Valley from Wendy Drive; La Jolla Valley & Mugu Peak from Wendy Drive; Laguna Peak, La Jolla Valley, and the Channel Islands

Chamberlain Rock and Serrano Valley from the Chamberlain Trail

Chamberlain Rock and Serrano Valley from the Chamberlain Trail

From today’s New Year’s Day run over Boney Mountain to Sandstone Peak and Serrano Valley from Wendy Drive.

Some related posts: Over Boney Mountain to Sandstone Peak and Serrano Valley, Chamberlain Rock

Running to Serrano and La Jolla Valleys from Wendy Drive

Serrano Valley in Pt. Mugu State Park

Illuminated by the rising sun and partially enveloped in cloud, Boney Mountain’s Western Ridge looked so inviting I thought about abandoning my planned run and climbing the ridge instead.

Boney Mountain's Western Ridge from the Old Boney Trail
Boney Mountain’s Western Ridge from the Old Boney Trail

Pt. Mugu State Park is a great place for long, self-supported trail runs. The scenery is superb, the trails are generally in good condition, and water is usually available in several locations.

Today’s run took me to two of the most scenic areas in the Park — Serrano Valley and La Jolla Valley. This PDF map from LAMountains.com shows many of the trails in the area. The Wendy Drive trailhead is in the upper right corner of the map. La Jolla Valley is marked and Serrano Valley is near the “PARK” in the label “POINT MUGU STATE PARK.”

The marine layer kept the temperature cool for most of the run, but the sun finally broke through as I ran up Sycamore Canyon on the Two Foxes trail, on the way back to the Wendy Drive trailhead.

Although much of the run was overcast, a good selection of wildflowers added some bright color to the cloudy day.

Some related posts: Serrano Valley, La Jolla Valley

Over Boney Mountain to Sandstone Peak and Serrano Valley

Volcanic rocks along the western escarpment of Boney MOuntain

While running in the Marin Headlands last weekend it occurred to me that it had been at least a couple of months since I’d done a a run in Pt. Mugu State Park. In addition to following the recovery of the area since the May 2013 Springs Fire, I’ve been surveying the effects of the December 2014 flash floods in Sycamore Canyon and its tributaries and hadn’t yet looked to see what happened in Serrano Canyon.

When doing a run in Pt. Mugu State Park I almost always start at the Wendy Drive trailhead. I’ve run from that trailhead to Serrano Valley and Canyon a couple of ways. Both routes connect by way of Satwiwa and Danielson Road to the Old Boney Trail. One follows the Old Boney Trail all the way to the Serrano Valley/Canyon Trail. The other climbs up and over Boney Mountain, eventually connecting to the Backbone Trail, and then descends the Chamberlain Trail and rejoins the Old Boney Trail about a mile east of the Serrano Valley/Canyon Trail.

Today’s run was a variation of option B. After climbing Boney Mountain to Tri Peaks, I ran over to Sandstone Peak using the Tri Peaks and Backbone Trails. Sycamore Canyon Fire Road, Two Foxes Trail and Upper Sycamore Trail were used to get back to Satwiwa and the Wendy Drive trailhead from Serrano Canyon.

Some related posts: Pt. Mugu State Park Debris Flows and Flash Floods, Just Me and the Meadowlarks, After the Springs Fire: A Run Through Pt. Mugu State Park

Boney Mountain – Serrano Valley Adventure Run

Craig running in Serrano Valley

Craig had never done any rock climbing, but was doing a great job of scrambling up the steep gullies, and climbing the short sections of knobby, low angle volcanic rock. We were climbing up through a maze of brush and rock formations on the steep ridge that follows Boney Mountain’s western escarpment. The scramble up the western ridge would be well worth the effort. The route is a shortcut to the Backbone Trail and some of the most spectacular running in the Santa Monica Mountains.



Our run had started at Wendy Drive & Potrero Road in Newbury Park. We were doing a 20 mile loop that was about as varied as a trail run can be. In addition to the 1.5 mile ascent of Boney Mountain, there would be about 13 miles of single track trail, 4.3 miles of dirt road, and even 1.7 miles of paved road.

After getting through the maze to the Backbone Trail we would do the classic run down the Chamberlain Trail to the Old Boney Trail. From the bottom of the Chamberlain Trail there are four major variations. Three of these lead to Big Sycamore Canyon and one loops directly back to the start of the climb up Boney Mountain:

– Turn left (west) on the Old Boney Trail and at the junction of the Serrano Valley & Old Boney trails follow the Serrano Valley Trail and then the Serrano Canyon Trail to Big Sycamore Canyon. This was the route we were doing today.

– Turn left (west) on the Old Boney Trail and follow it all the way to Big Sycamore Canyon.

– Turn right (east) on the Old Boney Trail and at the junction of the Blue Canyon & Old Boney trails, continue down the Blue Canyon Trail to the Danielson Multi-use area in Big Sycamore Canyon.

– Turn right (east) on the Old Boney Trail and at the junction of the Blue Canyon & Old Boney trails, turn up the Old Boney trail and  follow it  over the shoulder of Boney Mountain and back to the point where the ascent of Boney Mountain began.



In Big Sycamore Canyon there are many options. Today we would run up Sycamore Canyon Rd to Wood Canyon Rd and pick up the Two Foxes Trail. This trail continues up-canyon and eventually rejoins Sycamore Canyon Rd, which would take us to the Upper Sycamore Trail, and from there to Danielson Road and Satwiwa. Here’s an interactive Cesium browser View of a GPS trace of our route. This PDF map from LAMountains.com shows many of the trails in the area.

Note: There is an easier alternative to the western ridge route on the north side of Boney Mountain. The route starts near the Danielson Memorial, and ascends a use trail up the eastern ridge on the north side of the mountain. In places the (unmaintained) trail is very steep, eroded, and rubbly but it is more straightforward and less technical than the western ridge.

Some related posts: What a Great Day for a Trail Run, Sandstone Peak from Wendy Drive, Boney Mountain Views