My friend Arpy and I went for a hike at Wildwood Park to check out Lizard Rock, Paradise Falls, the teepee, and Indian Cave. The park is located in Thousand Oaks, CA and we had mapped out a route to make it about a 4-5 mile hike or so we thought. According to some websites the route to Paradise Falls is 2.5 miles, adding on about 1 mile to make the additional trek to Lizard Rock. However, there are so many paths once you are inside the park and head out to Lizard Rock that it starts to get confusing even with a map. Some trails are not on the map while other trails seem to be missing from the land. Our hike ended up being about 8 miles after we were all finished exploring, getting lost, and seeing the different attractions we planned on seeing.
In general, the hike was supposed to be pretty easy. We started out on the main trail, Mesa Trail, and headed toward Lizard Rock. The trail was wide, smooth, had a gradual incline and descend to start and looked promising. You could see the mountains in the distance as we walked through fields of high, dried, golden grass. We passed many cacti and easily followed the signs marked along the pathway.
As we approached Lizard Rock the trail signs became few and far between, but we were able to easily navigate the map and figure out the correct way to go. The route gradually got harder with a steep incline. At the end of our climb we finally spotted Lizard Rock. We took some time exploring the area, climbed up onto the top of the rock, and took pictures. We were excited we made it and it didn’t seem that far from where we started, maybe a little over a mile or so.
Things were going well, so we headed down the zigzag switchbacks, down the steep mountain on our way to our next stop, Paradise Falls. We followed the only trail available which on the map had us believe that it would only take about a mile to reach the waterfall. This route seemed to take forever though. We didn’t see any paths to take along the way and it took us far out of the way, pass a lake that wasn’t even on the map. When we finally passed the water treatment facility on our right I knew we were back on track. At least we were finally in an area where we would hopefully be able to find ourselves on the map.
The path became very narrow with plant growth on both sides and we started to follow a river. We hoped this would lead us to the waterfalls. We crossed the river at this really cool double tree in the middle of it and came to a picnic area. We finally passed a side trail noted on the map and stayed to the trail we thought would be the most direct route. This turned out to be a dead end so we double backed and tried the other trail.
Up and down multiple staircases and down trails with beautiful views and overgrowth of plants we hoped we were heading in the right directions. We finally came to another river crossing and a campground on the other side. We crossed and were at we thought was Skunk’s Hollow. A sign in the area read “Hoegeman’s Hollow.” We found a bathrooms, water fountains, and a really cool fire pit. I scouted the area for a bit to see which way we should go and luckily was able to find another sign nearby that pointed the way to Oak Grove which meant we were headed in the right direction to Paradise Falls.
Just a little father and we finally arrived at the 40 ft waterfall, Paradise Falls. We were so happy to finally have finally reached it. We climbed down the stairs and reached the Arroyo Conejo and Paradise Falls’ pool. No one else was there except a couple people that looked like they were having a photoshoot. I found a dry path to cross the creek and climbed the rocks on the opposite side to get a better view. It was absolutely beautiful with it’s strong flowing water, green algae and yellow stained rocks contrasting against the dark water, green plant life, and brown rocks.
The temperature down by the base of the falls was much cooler than above. If there weren’t signs posted about not swimming due to water quality I would have taken a dip in the pool and swam right under the falls. We hung out for a bit taking it in and resting up for the rest of our hike back.
Eventually we decided to leave. On the way back we stopped by the teepee. I’m not really sure exactly what the big attraction is, but it’s a man made wooden teepee with a fire pit in the middle of it. It took us all of a minute to look at it and then we moved on. Our last stop was at the Indian Cave, which was very interesting. We climbed up inside and through it and it put us out on a few smaller trails that overlooked another field. The view was nice, but the most fun part was crawling through the cave to get there. The rocks were rounded and it looked like there was even a little spot that used to be used for fires and cooking or such.
We headed back to the car, once again picking the not most direct route, but it was a nice walk along another creek and brought us to another smaller waterfall. When we finally reached the road we were grateful to see the parking lot and some civilization. I couldn’t convince Arpy to walk through the field instead of along the road though. She was done.
What a fun hike. So much to see, so many different trails to try. As long as you stay inside the main park you shouldn’t have too hard of a time figuring it out. The signs are pretty clear to Lizard Rock, Paradise Falls, the teepee, and Indian Cave. It’s the trek from Lizard Rock to Paradise Falls that is iffy and hard to figure out. Definitely check it out next time you’re in the area though.