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The Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa park area is one of many under-utilized, natural resources in the area that quietly waits for you to discover it. Managed by the National Park Service, this great open area is filled with trails, stellar views, and Indian lore.

The area was originally home to the Chumash Indians and later became the Spanish Rancho El Conejo. In 1937, it was converted into modern ranch lands. It was finally designated for public recreational use under the guidance of the Park Service in 1980. You can now stroll through serene hills, view the nearby Stoney Mountain, or learn about Native American traditions at the Satwiwa Native American Indian Cultural Center.

For generations, the Chumash and the Tongva cultures dwelled in the Satwiwa are and were sustained by the Santa Monica Mountains. Sycamore Canyon, which cuts through Satwiwa, was a part of the Chumash trade route. Satwiwa means “bluffs” and was also the name of a local Chumash Village.

The Friends of Satwiwa and the National Park Service created the Cultural Center, and a Native American Ranger is on hand every weekend, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to answer questions. There is also a wide variety of workshops, lectures and guided tours throughout the year.

There are four main trails to explore, as well as a variety of connecting routes into Point Magu State Park.

Satwiwa Loop Trail is an easy 1.5 mile stroll through grasslands and chaparral. In effort to preserve the natuaral terrain, horses and bicyclists are not permitted – providing a very picturesque route for any level of hiker.

Wendy Trail is even easier and shorter. The 1.2 mile jaunt also serves as an access way to other trails, but is a great beginners course or for young children.

The Waterfall is a moderate 1.5 mile trek that descends into a canyon, crosses a seasonal stream and then heads back uphill towars the local waterfall landmark.

Big Sycamore Canyon Trail is an 8-mile moderate to strenuous hike from Satwiwa through Big Sycamore Canyon in Point Magu to the sea. This is a great hike to really get a feel of the area, but should be reserved for for skilled hikers. Be sure to bring appropriate boots and plenty of water.

The park offers maps and there are a variety of trail signs posted along the way to help keep newcomers on course. Or, stop in and chat with the Ranger before you depart for a few local tips about what to expect.Fearless readers interested in free Monday and Wednesday night hikes may contact Scott Regberg at 310-475-5735.

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