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Trail Head Location:
Fees: free to park and hike
A great hike through rolling hills, shaded by trees with a nice water feature at the end.
The Grotto at the Circle X ranch is a trail I have returned to many times. There are two main areas you can park at, the upper area where you will see the sign and small wooden building, or if that is full, just go down the road a hundred yards or so until you see the parking area on the right. I personally like the trail from farther up the road, you can see the start in the GPS data to do that route.
There is camping available here too, but I have never personally camped here, and never even seen anyone setup with a tent. You might have to look into that aspect of this place if you wish to camp. This Link should give the info you need for camping here.
Once you get down towards the Grotto, you will see a lot of large boulders and rocks that have apparently filled in this small canyon. You can climb down around some right before the drop to the grotto and find a sort of Fake Cave. Don't be mistaken and think this is the Grotto.! The first time I hiked this, I though that was the Grotto, and turned around thinking I saw the Grotto. I did not! So I came back here shortly after to go all the way. You will see the trail on the right go slightly up the hill, then down do the Grotto Area, through a bunch of spaced out thin trees that you can use as helpers to grab onto as you make your way down.The Fake cave above the Grotto Area
You can go farther down the mountain side beyond the Grotto if you like. The second GPS map at the bottom of this shows the extended version. You will eventually get to some very dense trees and brush and probably have to call it quits, unless you really wanna push your way through.
Weather in this area is usually good for the most part year round. Only a few weeks of summer does it ever get really hot up here, and a few times I have hiked this, it was cold enough to need to wear pants and long sleeved flannels. The hike is a lot of fun and if you live anywhere near this trail, I would recommend checking it out. If you have enough time, you can do this trail and then go a few miles up the road to The Sandstone Peak Trail if you want to check out the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains.
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