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HIKING: SIMI VALLEY

From Peak to City, Medea Creek Trickles the Fancy

November 22, 1998|JOHN McKINNEY

Medea Creek has as many moods as the sorceress Medea of Greek mythology. From its headwaters on the shoulder of Simi Peak, the creek descends the Conejo Ridge among grand old oaks with a nature trail at its side. It continues its epic journey through a suburban greenbelt before coming to a near fatal end in a flood control channel behind a shopping center. Medea's life story is that of many Southland streams: mountain born, suburban tamed, urban annihilated.

After flowing past a couple of 'burbs, crossing two counties (Ventura and Los Angeles) and surviving passage under the Ventura Freeway, the creek manages to merge with famed Malibu Creek (the only watercourse to cross the Santa Monicas) and empty into the Pacific at Malibu Beach.

The Medea Creek watershed was little changed by its ancient inhabitants, the Chumash, or by the livestock that grazed here during rancho days. The Medea Creek environs was owned for a time by Fibber McGee, a celebrity during the early days of radio. Oak Park, a kind of modern-day "Pleasantville," was developed in the 1980s and '90s, and portions of the creek were placed in the care of the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District.

Oak Canyon Community Park, which features picnic areas, playgrounds and a nature trail, embraces the creek's upper reaches. Long, narrow Medea Creek Park straddles a lower segment of the creek.

The nature trail through Oak Canyon Community Park is a 20-stop tour keyed to interpretive signs. It begins in the developed part of the park, then gets more pastoral as it journeys stream-side.

Medea Creek Trail, which extends along its namesake waterway south of the community park, adds a few more miles of walking to the nature trail.

Directions to trail head: From U.S. 101 in Agoura, exit on Kanan Road and drive north three miles to Hollytree Drive. Turn right, then left into Oak Canyon Community Park. Follow the park access road past a small lot located near the duck pond to the main parking area, farther up the road.

The hike: Begin your counterclockwise jaunt on the interpretive trail by leaving the picnic area and following the sidewalk from station to station. The sidewalk gives way to a dirt pathway and passes a cement dam.

The trail changes direction and heads downstream along the willow-lined creek. As the path nears Kanan Road you'll pass a little lagoon and ersatz waterfall.

From the lagoon, you can make your way to Kanan Road, cross it and walk the short distance down Oak Hills Drive and Calle Rio Vista to the beginning of Medea Creek Trail. Those wishing to complete the nature trail will follow a paved pathway back to the trail head.

Medea Creek Trail skirts the ball fields behind the high school. The path branches into two trails, both of which meander along the creek.

This path also doubles as an exercise trail called the Advanced Challenge Course, with stations that offer the opportunity to climb ropes and twist the physique into all manner of contortions.

After a mellow 0.5 mile, you'll cross Medea Creek Lane and soon come to an unsigned trail junction. The left fork bends sharply northeast and leads back to Kanan Road near the Oak Park library. Stay right, continuing south. You'll cross Conifer Street and spot a footbridge over Medea Creek.

From the bridge, Medea Creek Trail enters a grassy greenbelt. Stay on the left (east) side of the creek as you continue another 0.5 mile along the green way between Oak Park residences and the oak-lined creek. The trail ends 0.2 mile after crossing Laro Drive behind shops in the Agoura Hills City Mall.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Nature, Medea Creek Trails

WHERE: Oak Canyon Community Park.

DISTANCE: Nature Trail Loop through park is 1.5 miles round trip; From Oak Canyon Community Park to trail's end is 3.2 miles round trip.

TERRAIN: Oak-shaded creek, suburban greenbelt.

HIGHLIGHTS: Nature trail, new trail system.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: Easy to moderate.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District, 1692 Sycamore Drive, Simi Valley, CA 93065; tel. (805) 584-4400.

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