Let's venture into Malibu for one of our most varied hikes.
Our journey will take us through enough natural wonders for five hikes. Interesting geology marks the start of the Serrano Trail, which then skips along and over a forest stream a few times (which is dry right now), gradually rising away from it and up. As our ascent stalls, the woodsy curtain rises and reveals an astounding panoramic savannah, ringed like a volcanic caldera by the Santa Monica Mountains, overflowing with swaying grasses.
Picking our way across the prairie island, we'll find views of the Pacific Ocean and Thousand Oaks before making our way down the steep backside on the Old Boney Trail, to an intersection with the Backbone Trail, then over to Sycamore Canyon. Sycamore Trail is a wide, flat stroll among sycamore trees back to our starting point. All Monarch butterflies west of the Rocky Mountains winter in Southern California or Central America, and Sycamore Canyon is a favorite spot for them.
The loop is just shy of 10 miles, with 1250 feet of elevation. If you don't feel you're up to the full hike, there are two easy options to make it an out and back at a lesser distance (up to 8 miles) with no real elevation gain- you can turn around at any time.
Lunch will be at famed biker and surfer hangout Neptune's Net.
Get yourself onto PCH, near the Port Hueneme end of Malibu. You can take Kanan Rd and turn right on PCH, or Las Posas Rd and turn left on PCH, whichever works best for you.
The trailhead is located 5 miles south/east of Point Mugu off of Pacific Coast Highway (between Point Mugu and Neptune's Net), in the Sycamore Canyon campground (across from Sycamore Canyon Beach). The address listed is approximate- turn onto Sycamore Canyon Rd. away from the ocean and head to the day use parking lot.
Parking is available in the campground for $12 (or free with a State Parking Permit). Normally, free parking is available on PCH, 1/4 mile from the campground, but the rock slides of the past year have blocked that off.