Rocky Peak is a panoramic 2,715-foot summit on the border between Los Angeles and Ventura counties in the Santa Susana Mountains. The county line-straddling peak stands at the center of a 4,800-acre park bearing the same name. The shortest hike to Rocky Peak takes Rocky Peak Trail from Rocky Peak Road through Rocky Peak Park. Oh boy, we’re off to a rocky start… The first two miles of the hike follow a wide fire road up the center of the park. Then to reach the summit, you’ll have to scramble over boulders on a less used path. It is an exciting 4.75-mile round trip trek to the top of Rocky Peak with 900 feet of elevation gain.
With a rocky and rugged feel akin to the American Southwest, the Santa Susana Mountains are unlike other ranges in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. There is only one tree along this trail big enough to provide any shade, which can make the arid landscape tough for hikers during the hot, dry season. Save this hike for a cool day and don’t skimp on the sunscreen.
The trailhead is easy to reach, located at the end of an offramp along Route 118 between Simi Valley and Chatsworth. Set out north up Rocky Peak Trail into a garden of sandstone boulders. The pavement ends after less than a tenth of a mile giving way to a road of dirt and bedrock that launches up the mountainside. A pair of hairpin turns deliver early westward views over Simi Valley. Push up the main trail past a trio of offshoots on the right. After 0.6 miles, in which 115 feet of elevation are gained, you will arrive at a restful park bench along the left side of the trail, placed to offer a grand vista over Simi Valley.
Shortly after the bench, and 0.75 miles from the start, you will pass a sandstone wind cave on the right side of the trail. While there are countless large boulder formations along the trail, this golden tunnel is the hike’s most impressive natural feature. Climb inside and poke around before continuing up the trail.
Less than a tenth of a mile past the cave, you will reach another bench and a marked junction with the top of Hummingbird Trail on the left side of the road. Stick with Rocky Peak Trail, which continues uphill through walls of boulders. At the one-mile mark (after gaining 335 feet), the trails slips through a rocky pass and tapers out. As you catch your breath, you will catch broad views to the east down a rocky slope toward Chatsworth.
After climbing to a level bend to the right, Rocky Peak finally comes into view, about 1.4 miles from the start. Rocky Peak is made up of a wide cluster of boulder-covered points. The actual summit is the farthest point to the east, though it is difficult to distinguish from this vantage. Rocky Peak Trail crosses rolling terrain for another third of a mile to a solitary oak along the trail. Take a break in the elusive shade, 1.75 miles from the start, before making the final push for the summit.
Proceed up the slopes of Rocky Peak for just over a quarter mile beyond the oak tree. When Rocky Peak Trail bends to the left, tackling the west side of the mountain below the summit, look for a path breaking off to the right that rises above the road to reach the summit. From this unmarked junction, it is another quarter mile up the path to the top of Rocky Peak with 340 feet of elevation to gain.
A tenth of a mile up the path, you will reach a level spot below two rocky peaks. Here the path seems to split. Stick with the most worn path as it climbs up the left side of the western peak.
After 0.15 miles of steep rugged climbing, you will pass a pile of boulders just beneath the top of the point that you have been climbing, which turns out to be a false summit just west of the true summit of Rocky Peak. Between the boulder pile and to the top of this false summit, you will find a footpath heading to the right toward the true summit of Rocky Peak.
The most worn path actually goes northwest toward another boulder-covered point that is also worth inspecting. From this additional false summit, there is a bigger western view over Simi Valley. The path continues north along the bluff beyond this point, eventually returning to Rocky Peak Trail.
To reach Rocky Peak from the central false summit, follow the footpath across the notch, slinging eastward across a saddle toward the summit of Rocky Peak. Forge a course through the boulders and brush, scrambling for a tenth of a mile to the summit of the aptly named Rocky Peak.
A unique summit marker is at the top, representing the boundary between Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Ambling over boulders to the eastern (Los Angeles County) side of Rocky Peak, you will spot another unique feature on the mountain, an impressive summit register in a metal box standing on a short pole. Rocky Peak is one of the highest points in the range, delivering panoramic 360-degree views. More rugged terrain in the Santa Susana Mountains stretches to the north. To the south, you can look back over Rocky Peak Trail and jumbled formations, spotting the Santa Monica Mountains along the horizon. To the east, Rocky Peak makes a dramatic drop to open views of Porter Ranch, Chatsworth, and the San Fernando Valley beyond. The sweeping views are worth the effort.
The shortest way back to Rocky Peak Trail is to scramble down the peak and return the way you came. You may also continue up the path, venturing northwest along the plateau beyond the false summits to another junction farther up Rocky Peak Trail. The short route back delivers a 4.75-mile round trip hike. There are steep sections along the road and the path to the summit, making the trek to Rocky Peak somewhat challenging. Dogs and mountain bikes are allowed on Rocky Peak Trail, but mountain bikers will not be able to pedal their way to the summit. No fee or permit is required to hike in Rocky Peak Park, so get out and enjoy!
To get to the trailhead: Take Route 118 to exit 32 for Rocky Peak Road (ten miles west of the 405 Freeway). At the end of the offramp turn into a small parking area just north of the freeway at the end of Rocky Peak Road. If the spaces by the trailhead are full, there is additional parking at the south end of the bridge over Route 118. There is a high theft risk at the trailhead, so do not leave valuables visible in your vehicle.
Trailhead address: Rocky Peak Road, Simi Valley, CA 93063
Trailhead coordinates: 34.268362, -118.636155 (34° 16′ 06.10″N 118° 38′ 10.15″W)
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