Distance: 11 mile
Elevation gain: 1,500 ft
Happy Camp Canyon Regional Park, in the eastern Ventura County city of Moorpark, offers visitors 12.5 miles of trails in a 3,000-acre wilderness area frequented by hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers. The open grasslands and deep forests are abundant with wildflowers and wildlife including rabbits, bobcats, and golden eagles.
The park is underlain by complex geology ranging from deep water shale outcroppings along the top of Big Mountain, to oyster and clam-rich shales and sandstones along the flanks of the Middle Ridge Fire Road. On the northern and western perimeters of the property are bright red shales which, in places, display a glassy texture – the result of years of burning organic materials trapped in the shales. On the lower slopes of the southern part of the park are flat “benches” – the remnants of old river terraces carved in fluvial sediments of Arroyo Simi and Las Posas Creek.
Happy Camp Canyon was home to several Chumash Indian groups. Later, it was part of the immense Strathearn Ranch, founded by a pioneer Simi Valley family. They ran cattle on the land and enjoyed family vacations in the back part of the canyon. You will see remnants of ranch life in the form of watering troughs, tanks and fences.
In 1990, the MRCA began operating the 3,000-acre wilderness portion of the park under an agreement with the County.