Point Mugu is portrayed in just about every other car commercial because if of its unsurpassed natural beauty. Point Mugu State Park was named after the Naval station near Oxnard, located just north of the state park, but the name Mugu meant beach to the native Chumash people who lived on the land prior to the settlers. Today, Mugu is known for an iconic stretch of road along the Pacific Coast Highway where the road cuts through a rocky bluff. East of the ocean-side road cut lies hundreds of acres of state park and more than 70 miles of trails. Point Mugu is on the western margin of the Santa Monica Mountains where the mountains begin to dwindle and the valleys widen as Los Angeles turns into Ventura County.
What Makes It Great
The ocean’s marine layer defines Point Mugu’s terrain. With more moisture in the air, the soil becomes a warmer shade of brown and the grasses are a brighter green. The moisture means the trails are less dusty and grip a bit better than elsewhere.
Begin by running south on PCH and then turn left into the Sycamore Canyon Campground. Stay on the main road through the campground, at the end of the camping area the road turns to the Sycamore Canyon fire road. Continue onto the fire road, take the first left onto Scenic Trail. This single-track climb up atop the bluff and then continue along the ridge. After ¾ of a mile the trail will intersect the Overlook Trail, continue along this ridge trail for 3.5 miles. This stretch has views of the valley below and the high peaks up at Circle X Ranch, it climbs ever so slightly but is not particularly strenuous.
After 3.5 miles you will encounter the Backbone Trail on the right. This is a small part of the famous 65-mile long ridge trail that traverses the entire Santa Monica Mountains. Descend the Backbone Trail; this will take you to the Sycamore Canyon fire road. Turn right in order to return to PCH, take a left if you wish to explore farther.
Who is Going to Love It
This trail run begins and ends with a short paved section along the beach just outside of the park. This makes for a calm warm up before the dirt and the hills, but also gives you the option of a quick jump in the ocean after the workout. After the warm-up on pavement, the rest of the run is all dirt with variable terrain and surfaces. If you love running on a diverse set of trails with views of the ocean, then you will most likely love Mugu.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Park entrance is on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) just south of the town of Oxnard and north of Malibu. Parking is free on PCH, so, if you’re coming from LA; continue past the entrance at Sycamore Canyon and park around the next bend along an extensive stretch of beach. Ride back south and enter the park, continue through the campground along the main road. At the end, the road turns to a dirt fire road.
From Malibu, drive north along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). After you pass County Line Beach and Neptunes Net, a great local restaurant, look for the Sycamore Canyon State Beach and the entrance to Point Mugu State Park at Sycamore Canyon Road. Continue past the entrance and round the next bend, then park along PCH (just look for the long beach and enormous sand dune on the east side of the road). This is free parking and allows for you to start at the water.