Believe it or not, the mountains around Los Angeles are some of the most aggressive in the world. The San Gabriel Mountains aggressively shed more debris than any other mountain range in the world. These landslides, rock falls, and mudslides are happening because they are actively rising and, in turn, the mountains must discard any loose debris off of their steep slopes. The Santa Monica’s are by all means not tepid, but a slightly more reserved terrain makes for amazing trail running.
What Makes It Great
Cheeseboro-Palo Camado Canyons are the most northern range of the Santa Monica Mountains. A network of trails runs throughout the canyons that originally were used by the Chumash people and 18th century cattle ranchers. Today, Cheeseboro is a haven for all likes of outdoor recreation, but it is particularly famous for horseback riding, trail running, and mountain biking. The trails are mostly singletrack on loosely packed sandstone, with areas of dense chaparral as well as grassy clearings.
The lap between these two canyons is not particularly steep, which allows runners to go at a decent pace. Visitors will remember the fast canyon runs and then the short run/hike up Sheep Corral to an amazing vista.
The best trail run is a counter-clockwise lap that goes up Cheeseboro Canyon and descends Palo Comado Canyon. The trailhead for Cheeseboro is in the northeast corner of the dirt parking lot, right next to the large map and restroom. This trail is fire road width for the first mile and a half and then turns to singletrack for the last mile. Additionally, this section is slightly uphill, but with small descents as you drop into smaller drainages. After, 2.5 miles you will encounter Sheep Corral Trail, go left. Sheep Corral is a short, but steep climb up the ridge. There are large sandstone outcrops and the views are worth stopping. After 1.3 miles, Sheep Corral will drop you off onto the Palo Comado fire road, head left. Another 2.4 miles on Palo Comado will take you back to the cars (the last half mile is a paved residential street). There are countless options alternative routes, but bring a map or take a photo of the one provided at the trailhead. There is signage throughout, but certain trails can be quite steep. Remember to watch out for snakes and, in a few spots, poison oak, but neither is particularly prominent.
Who is Going to Love It
Cheeseboro is ideal for the Sunday outing or an endurance racer looking to work out and enjoy the scenery. The large trail network will entice you to come back and explore.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Highway 101 exit at Cheseboro/Agoura Hills and head north on Palo Comado Road. Comado Road is intersects Cheeseboro Road on the north side of the highway, turn right and continue northeast for 1.8 miles and the dirt parking lot will emerge on your right.