Last year I was lucky to explore the Conejo Valley for the first time. For our family living near the central coast, it’s not a typical location we would drive by on a road trip to Southern California. When it comes to the fewest hours in the car, we are more likely to drive the seemingly endless Hwy 5 and then over the Grapevine into L.A. If we want a more coastal trip down Hwy 101 we usually cruise as far as Santa Barbara, so this area has been bypassed or avoided until now. Two trips and 6 days of fun, I’ve vowed to make this a destination spot to visit more often and tell the world about!
Located less than 30 minutes from the beaches of Malibu and 45 minutes from Los Angeles, the Conejo Valley offers all of the fun without the crowds and that’s what makes a visit even more worthwhile! Just a few weeks ago a group of writers and myself found ourselves back for an FAM tour full of adventure! Here’s a list of 4 great outdoor activities in the Conejo Valley that work for couples, families, or a friends’ getaway!
Pedego 101, Westlake Village
I’m a decent bike rider, I’ll go ahead and say that. I enjoy leisurely rides around town with the kids, or sometimes on vacation along scenic paths . Oh and I only enjoy riding on flat surfaces! Once there’s uphill of any kind I panic and start shifting crazily until I jump off my bike and walk it up the darn road. This makes my husband so sad as he loves to bike, especially mountain biking in Tahoe and he can never count on me! When I learned that we’d be riding Electric Bikes on our Conejo Valley media trip, I got excited. It was definitely my first experience and I imagined the wind in my hair as we cruised along, not the wind knocked out of me from exertion!
Linda Coburn and John Tajiri opened Pedego 101 in Westlake Village after they experienced them last year in Seattle and fell in love with them. I didn’t realize I would too. After visiting the shop, a brief lesson on pedal assist and the throttle, we hopped on and started our 12 mile trek to Malibu Creek State Park and Paramount Ranch. There is definitely a learning curve to electric bikes, when you go to pedal in pedal assist mode you get some immediate resistance and that feels different for sure but then your more natural riding experience kicks in. I feel it gives you a little “boost” every so often during a leisurely ride.
I rode to the park exclusively in pedal assist mode and here we met tour guide, local movie historian Brian Rooney, author of “Three Magical Miles.” Brian showed us around to where the likes of Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck, Charlton Heston, Maureen O’Hara, Roddy McDowall, Elvis Presley, Reese Witherspoon, Rex Harrison and more shot scenes in major motion pictures. Movie locations include “Planet of the Apes”, “How Green Was My Valley”, “Batman”, “Pleasantville”, “Tora! Tora! Tora”, “Love Me Tender”, “The Towering Inferno” and more recently American Sniper as he shows us in the top photo. Television shows like “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” was shot here and currently, “Bones.”
The return 12 mile trip I went for all-throttle. Wow, how easy is uphill when you’re in throttle mode, it was incredible! Linda and John kept tabs on all of us during the trip, making sure everyone was comfortable and getting the hang of the bikes, they’re great guides! Electric bikes are a must-try and they may even make it hard for you to ever have to pedal again.
Park Place Stable, Malibu
Joy Lazarus and her stable guide Roberto focused on safety as they welcomed our group in the Santa Monica Mountains and introduced us to their team of horses. Gorgeous views of the valley surrounded us and we already felt at ease in this serene setting with the sound of light clopping around us. Park Place Stable offers boarding, lessons, trail and beach rides and training at their new facility.
I’ve only been on a horseback ride once in Lanai, other than that it was around an arena for birthday parties with the kids. I was a little anxious mounting Cornelious, as beautiful as she was, our lesson on stop, slow, whoa, right and left threw me for a loop when she’d pull down and want to eat the grass below. The power and strength of the horse was something to awe, but we continued on as a group and headed toward Peter Strauss Ranch. After coming down a steep hill (lean back to balance), the trail was pretty flat and relaxed through a few creekbeds (including smooth rocks), dirt paths, and even some streets to cross over a busy highway.
The horses were safe and sound, their demeanor was from what I could tell normal. Roberto led the pack and on the return trip a few of us dismounted at the bottom of the steep hill we started. We enjoyed the experience and if there’s a next time for me, a beach trail would be my first pick!
Hiking at Wildwood, Thousand Oaks
With thousands of acres of open space in the Conejo Valley, easy to more strenuous trails are abundant. This year we had a horseback ride or hike option and half our group went each way. Though I chose horseback, last year I went on a 2.5 mile hike at Wildwood Regional Park. After a few days of indulging in the Valley’s finest cuisine, the hike was an amazing way to balance it all out. The only downfall was that in the early fall, the heat was in the 90’s and we needed to cut the hike short. The area is beautiful, visitors can expect to see waterfalls, scenic volcanic outcroppings, miles of trails, and several picnic areas. In addition to its diverse multi-use trail system across ridgelines and into lush valleys, Wildwood is rich in historic and archaeological resources, unusual geologic formations, and is home to a wide range of plant and animal life ( I loved all the cacti).
Mud Run/5K, Dos Vientos Park
I participated in my first 5K event earlier this year as part as a sports fundraiser for a friend. It’s one of those events that sounds intimidating and one worries that they need to prepare and train for it before committing. Luckily it was an event that accepted people me-non runners-and there was a large group of walkers who still started and finished the 3.1 mile course. When I learned that this media trip included a 5K Mud Run, I was pleased to learn again that I wasn’t expected to run, but the mud…well that scared a little. I’ve heard stories of warrior dash type mud run where serious athletes compete for time and status and the courses were tough.
The Mud Crazy event held at Dos Vientos Park in Newbury Park was not one of those events, in fact it was very family friendly and is a benefit for The Thousand Oaks Teen Center. With over 25 obstacles including hay bales, climbing walls, spider webs, tunnels, balance beams, a sand bag carry, and of course mud pits I was able to get through the course fairly unscathed. At the start of the race music is blaring and pumping everyone up, participants lead off in a jog and I joined in though I had every intention of power walking the rest eventually. Once the pack started spreading out, I chose to walk the course and many others did as well. A second wave of runners started an hour after us, they were the competitors racing for prizes and bragging rights.
In the end, I avoided personal injury by not climbing the walls and I admit I did not get in the mud pools (one other of our media group members also did not), but I did finish. Chicken, yes, but the information is that the pools of mud were freezing cold at 9am and very rocky as well. This clearly doesn’t mean I won’t try again the next time, I’m happy to report I’m more than willing to do another mud run/5k! Following the event, there is a fun expo to peruse, many local vendors, and gourmet food trucks. Shower stations are set up, so make sure you bring a towel and an extra pair of clothes!
For more great activities and events held in the Conejo Valley, visit http://conejo.com.
Experience were hosted via our Media Tour, all opinions are 100% my own.