Point Mugu State Park
Guide

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Introduction

California’s diverse ecology is one thing that makes the Golden State so special. There are not many other places where mountains, forests, deserts, and beaches come together. Point Mugu State Park is one of the most diverse parks in a diverse state. In one 15,000-acre area, visitors can enjoy five different beaches, explore rocky canyons, discover rolling hills, walk through deep forests, and more.

To fully appreciate all this diversity, visitors should plan on spending at least a couple of days at Point Mugu State Park. Fortunately, the Park has excellent RV camping facilities. A recreational vehicle is definitely the best way to experience a place like this one. You can feel close to nature and at the same time enjoy all the comforts of home.

RV Rentals in Point Mugu State Park

Transportation in Point Mugu State Park

Driving

From Oxnard, take the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) south past the Point Mugu Naval Air Station and La Jolla Canyon. Then, turn left on Sycamore Canyon Road. It’s a short and scenic drive.

From Thousand Oaks, take Westlake Boulevard (Route 23) south from the Ventura Freeway (Highway 101) intersection. Route 23 winds its way past Encinal Canyon to the Pacific Coast Highway. Watch out for the crazy paperclip-shaped turn on Highway 23 in Western Malibu. Then, take the PCH north past the Santa Monica National Recreation Area until you reach Sycamore Canyon. If you want a break on the way, try a stop at Neptune’s Net. Diners eat fresh fish on picnic tables that overlook the ocean.

From Santa Monica, take the PCH north to Sycamore Canyon. Done and done.

If you need a GPS address, use 9000 West Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265.

Parking

Ample parking is available near the PCH and the Park beaches. There is practically no parking in the Park’s interior, and that’s pretty much the point.

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Point Mugu State Park

Campsites in Point Mugu State Park

Reservations camping

Thornhill Broome Campground

Sixty-two primitive tent/RV sites on the beach. The afternoons get pretty windy, so tent campers probably need extra spikes. Campground amenities include picnic tables, fire rings, chemical toilets, and drinking water spigots.

Big Sycamore Canyon Campground

Fifty-six tent/RV sites that are only about a three minute walk from the beach. Reservations are required, but they are not site-specific. The sites are first come, first served. The campsites are rather close together, and that could be a good thing or a bad thing. Amenities include two restroom/shower areas and an RV dump station.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

La Jolla Backpacking Campsites

Lots of shade, a vault toilet here and there, but not much else.

Seasonal activities in Point Mugu State Park

In-Season

Thornhill Broome Beach

The former La Jolla Beach is one of the only SoCal beaches that allows beachside camping. That’s the main activity here, as there is no day-use area and parking is rather limited. There are a few very tall sand dunes which are popular Mount Climb Up and Fall Off places. There’s also a rock pile that prevents beach erosion. Some say it’s an eyesore, but without these rocks, there may be no beach to camp on.

Ranch Center Road/Wood Canyon Fire Road

Wood Canyon is one of the most popular spots in the Park. It’s also one of the most remote areas of the Park, and that’s probably no coincidence. These pathways are technically fire roads, but there is never any vehicle traffic. So, they are essentially double-track trails. They are a tad steep, especially for novice hikers or mountainbikers. The wildflowers are quite pretty in the spring, and since the trail is so wide, there are plenty of chances to take in the scenery.

Point Mugu Beach

The northernmost beach in Point Mugu State Park is also one of the most serene, and the most risky. First, the serene part. The beachfront is about a third of a mile long, and it’s in a triangle shape. The surface is not quite as sandy as some other Park beaches and, because of the beach’s location, the water is very calm most of the time. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer.

Now, for the risky part. Mugu Rock is on the beach’s south side. The Rock has a man-made arch that’s a popular photo spot. But beware the waves. They come crashing through the openings in the rocks. Over the years, a number of people have been seriously injured and even killed on Mugu Rock. Point Mugu Beach is also near the trailheads for the Santa Monica Mountains hiking trails.

Sycamore Canyon Fire Road

This wide, flat trail runs about nine miles from Newbury Park through Sycamore Canyon to the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s mostly a very wheelchair and stroller-friendly trail. However, there are several creek crossings, so hikers can expect to get their feet wet most of the year. The Wendy Cutoff Trail goes past the Satwiwa Indian Cultural Center, where there are flush toilets. Blacktop Hill is the only steep part. There’s a park bench at the top of the hill that’s dedicated to a biker who died of a heart attack while climbing this Hill.

Sycamore Cove Beach

A thick, sandy beach with lots of outdoor grills and picnic tables. The surf is gentle and rolling, making the beach ideal for swimming, surf fishing, and relaxing in the water. Restrooms and rinse showers are available as well. The beach is at the mouth of Sycamore Canyon, and this canyon serves as a very nice backdrop. During the summer months, lifeguards are on duty. Beach bonfires aren’t allowed here. But visitors can build bonfires in the canyon overlooking the beach, and that’s the next best thing. Fire pits are available.

Off-Season

Chamberlain Trail

This three and a half-mile trail connects the Boney Mountain Wilderness Area with the Circle X Ranch. So, it’s a nice combination of a backcountry adventure and a not-far-from-civilization trail. Excellent, sweeping views of Sycamore Canyon, Serrano Valley, and La Jolla Valley.

Hidden Valley Overlook Trail

A somewhat steep two-mile trail that offers excellent views of Satwiwa, Rancho Potrero, part of Boney Mountain, and Hidden Valley. The firm trail is also rather rutted and rocky in places. It begins near the Sycamore Canyon mouth, basically follows the western edge of the canyon, and ends near a camping area.

Old Boney Backbone Trail

One look at the jagged Boney Mountain Wilderness Area, and you’ll understand how this mountain range got its name. The six and a half-mile Old Boney Trail is a great way to explore this area. The trail is not crazy long, incredibly difficult, and/or extremely remote. It runs from the eastern Park boundary to the centrally-located Serrano Canyon Trail. Right around the Fossil Trail, there’s an unmarked trail that leads a little higher up. These cliffs are a good place to take a break and have a bite to eat.

Wildlife Viewing

Remember how we said this park was a diverse one? That’s especially true in terms of wildlife viewing. There’s a pretty steep dropoff not too far from the shoreline, and many of the beaches are rather rocky. So, they are good places to see whales, seals, dolphins, and sea lions. Lots of brown pelicans, cormorants, least terns, and other shore birds abound as well. Further inland, especially in the hilly areas of the Park, visitors can see woodpeckers, deer, warblers, foxes, and thrashers. It’s also not unusual to see a mountain lion or two in the canyons.

Sin Nombre Trail

One of the newest hiking/biking trails in Point Mugu State Park runs 0.9 miles from Big Sycamore Canyon Trail to Ranch Center Road. The trail basically goes through a valley in one of the hilliest areas of the Park. So, the trail is easy to navigate and the scenery is quite pretty.

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