Campers who prefer mountains and mountain activities will want to stay at Sycamore Canyon, half a mile or so inland from Pacific Coast Highway. Most of the park's trails can be reached from the campground, which has not only huge, shade-providing trees but also restrooms with flush toilets and showers. (Hot water will cost you 75 cents.)
Sycamore Canyon is a developed campground, complete with hot showers (pay) and flush toilets. These campsites do have shade from the sycamore trees. All 58 sites include fire rings and picnic tables. Since it is located on the inland side of busy Pacific Coast Highway, you can either drive to the beach (Sycamore Cove) or walk under the highway when it is not flooded. There are lots of hiking and biking trails accessible from this campground. Dump station for RV's, but no hookups.
Sycamore Canyon Best Campsites: 11-17, 29, 30 and 45
Sycamore Canyon Campground
9000 West Pacific Coast Highway
TEL: 310 457-8143
To get to Point Mugu State Park, travel 15 miles south of Oxnard on Highway One. Or go north 21 miles from Malibu. . Sycamore Canyon is located on the east side of Highway One.
Point Mugu State Park is located 15 miles south of Oxnard off Highway One in the Santa Monica Mountains. The park contains five miles of ocean shoreline with rocky bluffs, sandy beaches, sand dunes, rugged hills, and 70 miles of hiking trails. The 15,000 acre park includes the jagged pinnacles of the Boney Mountain State Wilderness Area. Activities include: fishing, hiking, and body boarding. Accessibility: accessible bathrooms and showers are available in the Seamier Canyon campsites. Accessible bathrooms and sand wheelchairs are available in the day use area. Dogs on leashes are permitted in the park, conditions permitting. Camping: Thornhill Broome Beach campsite in the park offers RV beach-front camping and tent camping. There are two campgrounds, Big Sycamore Canyon and Thornhill Broome Beach, which are open year-round. Giant sycamore trees shade the campground at Big Sycamore Canyon.
From Big Sycamore Canyon to Deer Camp Junction is 6.5 miles round trip, with 200-foot elevation gain; return via Overlook Trail is 10 miles round trip, with 700-foot gain.
Every fall, millions of monarch butterflies migrate south to the forests of Mexico's Tran volcanic Range and to the damp coastal woodlands of Central and Southern California. The monarch's awe-inspiring migration and formation of what entomologists call over-wintering colonies are two of nature's most colorful autumn events.
All monarch butterflies west of the Rockies head for California in the fall; one of the best places in Southern California to observe the arriving monarchs is the campground in Big Sycamore Canyon at Point Mugu State Park.
The monarch's evolutionary success lies not only in its unique ability to migrate to warmer climes, but in its mastery of chemical warfare. The butterfly feeds on milkweed-the favored poison of assassins during the Roman Empire. This milkweed diet makes the monarch toxic to birds; after munching a monarch or two and becoming sick, they learn to leave the butterflies alone.
The butterflies advertise their poisonous nature with their conspicuous coloring. They have brownish-red wings with black veins. The outer edge of the wings are dark brown with white and yellow spots. While one might assume the monarch's startling coloration would make them easy prey for predators, just the opposite is true; bright colors in nature are often a warning that a creature is toxic or distasteful.
Sycamore Canyon Trail takes you through a peaceful wooded canyon, where a multitude of monarchs dwell, and past some magnificent sycamores. The sycamores that shade the canyon bearing their name are incomparable. The lower branches, stout and crooked, are a delight for tree-climbers. Hawks and owls roost in the upper branches.
The trail follows the canyon on a gentle northern traverse across Point Mugu State Park, the largest preserved area in the Santa Monica Mountains. This trail, combined with Overlook Trail, gives the hiker quite a tour of the park.
During October and November, Sycamore Canyon offers the twin delights of falling autumn leaves and fluttering butterflies. (Ask park rangers where the monarchs cluster in large numbers.)
Directions to trailhead: Drive up-coast on Highway 1, 32 miles from Santa Monica, to Big Sycamore Canyon Campground in Point Mugu State Park (day-use fee). Walk past the campground entrance through the campground to a locked gate. The trail begins on the other