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JAUNTS : An Up-Close Look at One of the Few Waterfalls in Area : The Thousand Oaks Sierra Club will lead you on a 2.5-mile afternoon saunter through Wildwood Park.

September 23, 1993|JANE HULSE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A hike with striking vistas is nice, but a jaunt that takes you to the edge of a cascading waterfall--now that will give you a rush.

If you have a thing for waterfalls, join the Thousand Oaks Sierra Club Sunday for an afternoon saunter through Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks.

Your reward for hitting the trail at 2:30 p.m. (mid-day temperatures here can still hit the 80s) will be an up-close look at Paradise Falls, one of the county's few waterfalls.

From a height of 30 feet, water streams over rocks into a pool at the bottom that is surrounded by cattails and other marshy growth. The water looks clean and inviting, especially if you're hot, but don't even think about dangling a toe. It's actually runoff from city streets that feeds the falls year-round.

On this 2 1/2-hour outing, hikers will take a leisurely 2.5-mile route that stops at the falls, and then loops back to the park's entrance on Avenida de Los Arboles.

Along the way, the club's Kathy Myers will highlight the plants, trees, animals and the park's natural history. The 1,700-acre park was once home to the Chumash Indians, and shell beads, arrowheads, basket fragments and stone tools have been found here.

Myers will offer some snippets about the Chumash. They made bowls from the calabazilla gourds that are still growing in the park. "They smell like dirty socks," she offered. For aspirin-like relief, the Chumash sought the willow tree, and for poison oak, the trusty mugwort plant.

The park also holds a chunk of movie and television history. From the 1930s into the 1960s, movies like "Wuthering Heights," "Wagon Train," "Shenandoah," and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" were filmed here, along with television shows "Bonanza," "The Virginian" and "The Rifleman."

Suburban development now backs up to the park, which is jointly managed by the city, the Conejo Recreation and Park District, and the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency. With its rugged mesa and tree-covered canyon, it is like an urban oasis. The views are spectacular.

Hikers Sunday will follow Indian Creek Trail, which is shaded by big oak and sycamore trees. The route will take them past the park's nature center and Little Falls before reaching Paradise Falls. Myers calls it an easy to moderate hike.

Along the way, they may see rabbits, owls, hawks, quail and maybe a coyote, according to Myers, who also is a recreational leader for the district. Few flowers are still blooming. Spring is the best time for that. Still, the yucca and the prickly pear cactus are impressive.

* WHERE AND WHEN

WHAT: Hike and natural history talk, sponsored by the Thousand Oaks Sierra Club.

WHEN: Sunday, 2:30 to 5 p.m.

WHERE: Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks. Entrance to the park is at the west end of Avenida de Los Arboles and Big Sky Drive.

COST: Free

FYI: Bring water and a snack, and wear shoes with tread. Restrooms available on the hike at the nature center. For information, call 495-8661.

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