Ray Miller Trail - Point Mugu State Park | Trail of the Week
By Paul Sinclair. Located on the Western front of the Santa Monica Mountain Range is the start of the beautiful Ray Miller Trail in Point Mugu State Park. The park has more than 70 miles of hiking trails. It features five miles of ocean shoreline, with rocky bluffs, sandy beaches, sand dunes, rugged hills and uplands. The Ray Miller Trail has one of the most incredible coastal views in Los Angeles.
This is one of 3 State Parks in the Santa Monica Mountains, including Topanga State Park on the Eastern end & Malibu Creek State Park sandwiched in the middle. The Ray Miller Trail is a well maintained 3 mile single track trail ascending from sea level off the Pacific Coast Hwy to 1,000’, where it intersects with the Overlook Trail. It's perfect for trail running and hiking.
The park opening hours are 8am to 10am, 7 days a week. The starting point is 15 miles south of Oxnard on Highway One. This Google Map links to the entrance into the park. If you arrive early, there is free parking off Pacific Coast Highway. There is also a paid parking lot at the start of the Ray Miller Trailhead. Right off PCH is a nice camp ground, reservations can be made through Reserve California.
The Ray Miller Trail is also the starting or ending point (depending on direction traveled) of the Backbone Trail, a mostly single track trail traversing 68 miles with over 14,000’ gain though all 3 start parks.
While the Ray Miller Trail is itself quite short, from it you can access all of the wonderful trails in Point Mugu State park.
From the top of Ray Miller turn left onto the Overlook Trail & continue for 2 miles to ‘4 corners’, a large intersection with trails branching off in every direction, all with good signage.
A left turn takes you on the La Jolla Valley Loop Trail. This 6.3 mile loop offers spectacular views of Anacapa & Santa Cruz Islands, on a clear day you’ll also be rewarded with views of Santa Barbara & Catalina islands.
From the left turn you’ll descend for 1 or 2 minutes on a fire road while keeping a lookout for the La Jolla single track trail to the left, follow this single track & enjoy the views.
There is approximately 500’ of gain on this loop.
Heading straight out of 4 corners takes you on the Guadalasca Trail, a 4.75 mile loop with almost 1,000’ gain.
This trail starts with 1.5 miles of fire road before turning right & heading down a rugged single track.
At mile 4 you’ll intersect the Wood Canyon Fire Road, turn right & continue for a couple of minutes to ‘Hell Hill’, turn right & head up this aptly named short & steep ascent to return to 4 corners.
Heading right out of 4 corners takes you down the Backbone Trail. Be sure to look for the sign, as taking the wrong right out of 4 corners will take you down Hell Hill.
Head down the Backbone for 1.8 miles to the Big Sycamore Canyon Trail. Turn left here & a few minutes later take the next left onto Wood Canyon, this will take you back to Hell Hill & up to 4 corners.
This loop is only about 3.5 miles.
* There is a spigot on Big Sycamore Canyon at the bottom of the Backbone trail, this is super useful on longer outings in Point Mugu.
If you’re looking for more miles & adventure, from Big Sycamore Canyon you can head out to the Boney Mountain State Wilderness & the Chamberlain Trail, a long single track climb to Sandstone Peak, the highest peak in the Santa Monica mountains at 3,111’.
There are too many options & trails to access Boney to detail here, but all are well marked. If you are ever in the Los Angeles area, the Ray Miller Trail in Point Magu State Park is a great option to run and hike. When you are done with your run, you can jump right in the ocean to cool off, enjoy!!
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