The trail was washed out during a flood in 2005; as a result, at times, the trail can be difficult to follow. There are also steep drop-offs and high cliffs. Weekday use is recommended since this trail is often overcrowded on the weekends as it is one of the most popular trails in Ventura County. Trash and graffiti are not uncommon.
Begin this hike by entering St. Thomas Aquinas College; stay on the pavement and follow the main road east then north. At the north end of campus, turn right at a fork and go through a gate. The road continues past Ferndale Ranch and oil pumps, then continues as a dirt trail. At about 1.5 miles, the trail crosses the Santa Paula Creek joining an old dirt road.
At about 2.5 miles, the trail crosses the creek again and begins to climb up a moderately steep slope to 3.4 miles. The trail levels off briefly before descending to Big Cone Camp. Santa Paula Canyon Trail continues from Big Cone Camp down a slope with some switchbacks. Turn right at the intersection to stay on the trail. From this point on, the trail is even more washed out than below and can be very difficult to follow. Use caution when continuing this direction.
People often connect this hike with Last Chance Trail
by turning left at the intersection, to explore The Punchbowl and Cross Camp.
Thanks to John McKinney, The Trailmaster, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about trails in California, check out his guides at The Trailmaster Store
The lower part of the trail passes through sycamore and alder stands. Big Cone Camp is located in a grove of big cone Douglas Fir.