The Mugu Peak loop trail is a short yet challenging trek that offers scenic vistas, an arduous climb and ocean breezes.
To get to the trailhead from the Pacific Coast Highway, head north toward Ventura County. Once past the La Jolla Canyon exit, prepare to make a right off the highway. Located directly across from the Naval Air Station’s shooting range, the dirt turnout hides the Chumash Trailhead, which leads up to the loop. Click here for Google map directions to the trailhead.
The path rises away from the coast, moving from sea level to over 800 feet in a distance of less than a mile. The climb up is grueling, but the views are spectacular and the wind tends to pick up further into the trek, giving travelers some relief from the blistering heat of the sun.
Climbing in between pockets of laurel sumac, scrub oak and other natives, the sometimes rocky path rises to 900 feet before reaching the Mugu Peak connector.
Moving to the right, the hillside opens up to sprawling views of Mugu Lagoon that are said to be some of the largest coastal wetlands along Southern California’s coast. Click here for a Google map of the loop.
Along the ridge line, the gusts of wind become more powerful, sweeping up moisture from the ocean. Prickly pear cactus, yucca plants and native scrubs litter the sides of the path. Rolling along the ridge line, the trail moves into a surreal landscape as the blue color of the Pacific contrasts against the darker brown and green ridges of the chaparral landscape. Hawks can often be seen here, riding the coastal winds, as they seem to be effortlessly pushed upward to the gorges and hidden valleys of Point Mugu State Park.
The trail moves a short distance further along the mountain ridge, revealing more scenery from below and in about a mile reaches a split. Following the path to the left, the trail zigzags further up the hillside toward the peak. In the distance, the red, white and blue of the American flag can be seen whipping against the wind the higher one climbs.
At the peak, Old Glory flutters in the wind as the foggy marine layer crashes against the rocks surrounding the hillside. Enjoy the panoramic ocean and mountain views as you cool down before beginning the descent back down the loop.
The climb down from the peak can be treacherous, so I strongly recommend a hiking stick on this trail. A word of caution: watching the sunset over the wetlands is both mesmerizing and distracting, pay close attention to your footing on this journey.