Craving a fun outdoor adventure? Look no further as we share all of our favorite hiking trails in Ventura!
We have lived in Ventura City for a couple of years now and have done quite a bit of hiking in the area. There is no better way to relax after work or to start the weekend than heading out on a wilderness trail.
From rugged mountains to stunning coastal views, our blog post covers all of the best Ventura hiking trails (along with some hidden gems)!
The trails that we share in this post are beginner friendly and many of them allow dogs, so you can bring your furry friend along.
Best Hiking Trails In Ventura:
1. Arroyo Verde Park Loop
If you’re looking for a short trail where you can enjoy nature, hiking, and trail running, then Arroyo Verde Park Loop is just for you! Arroyo Verde Park is dog-friendly and open year-round, making it one of the easiest-to-access outdoor spaces in Ventura.
We like to come to Arroyo Verde Park during the week after work to get some exercise for ourselves and our dog. While you may not find solitude here, you will find plenty of trail options, some of which climb to the top of hills with excellent views along the way!
There are several short trails that you can combine into a longer 2.3-mile loop. Some of the sections are a bit steep so slip-resistant hiking shoes are highly recommended.
Parking is available along the main park road and in the designated visitor lots. Arroyo Verde is a public park that is free Monday to Friday but occasionally there is an attendant at the entrance booth on the weekends requesting a small parking fee. If there is an attendant, you can park off Foothill Road and walk into the park.
Overall, Arroyo Verde Park Loop is one of the best hikes in Ventura offering great views for somewhat little work. Before heading out there you can check out Arroyo Verde Park Trail Map here.
- Length: 2.3 miles long loop
- Elevation Change: 500 feet
- Dogs Allowed? Yes, on a leash
- Google Map Location: Arroyo Verde Park
- AllTrails Map: Arroyo Verde Park Loop
Visitor Tip: In the summer months, keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, especially when the weather starts getting hot. I like to carry a snake venom extractor kit when going on hiking adventures in California, especially in dry coastal areas.
2. Harmon Canyon
Harmon Canyon is another one of our local favorite hiking trails in Ventura County. Harmon Canyon is managed by Ventura Land Trust which has created one of the largest nature preserves in Ventura.
Within feet after entering Harmon Canyon you’ll feel submerged into beautiful nature. Covering 2100 acres of land, Harmon Canyon offers the perfect place to head for walking, hiking, trail running, and mountain biking.
There are several different trails that you can hike within Harmon Canyon. We usually start along the main trail and then venture into some of the narrower side trails like the Price Family Trail where you can enjoy beautiful wildflowers, oak woodlands, and creeks that flow full of water in the spring months.
Harmon Canyon does allow dogs on leashes, but only for the 1.5 miles to the turnaround sign. For us, it’s enough distance to get a quick workout in after work.
If you’re looking for something a bit more challenging, the Harmon Canyon To Overlook Bench is a popular weekend route that’s 7.2 miles long round trip. Come prepared with plenty of water bottles if you plan to do a longer hike.
This nature preserve also allows mountain bikers so you’ll need to share the roads and trails with bikers. Be sure to keep an eye out for them, especially around blind corners.
- Length: 7.2 miles out and back
- Elevation Change: 970 feet
- Dogs Allowed? Yes on a leash, for the first 1.5 miles
- Google Map Location: Harmon Canyon Preserve
- AllTrails Map: Harmon Canyon to Overlook Bench
3. Ventura Botanical Gardens Trail
The Ventura Botanical Gardens cover 107 acres of land including over 100,000 plants. On my visit, I hiked the Ventura Botanical Gardens Trail which is around 2 miles long, and travels to Grant Park at the top with excellent Ventura County coastline views along the way.
The trail starts at the Merewether Welcome Center next to the visitor parking lot. After paying the $7 entrance fee you can walk past the gift shop to check out various pots and plants for sale.
Because Ventura Botanical Garden does require an admission fee, it is rarely crowded. On Wednesdays and Fridays you can bring dogs and Fridays are free to the public.
If you come during the spring season, the pathways are lined with beautiful blooming flowers from all around the world. Different parts of the Ventura Botanical Garden are devoted to various regions such as the Chilean garden, Mediterranean Garden, South Africa garden, and others.
The pathways are well-maintained and can also accommodate strollers. There are some benches along the way where you can stop to take in the ocean views, listen to the birds chirping in the trees, or meditate.
- Length: 2.1-mile long loop
- Elevation Change: 370 feet
- Dogs Allowed? On a leash on Wednesdays and Fridays
- Google Map Location: Ventura Botanical Gardens
- AllTrails Map: Ventura Botanical Gardens Trail
4. San Buenaventura Beach Trail
If you want to stay close to the beach, be sure to check out the San Buenaventura Beach Trail! This 2-mile-long hike starts at San Buenaventura State Beach and follows a flat, paved trail next to the ocean.
A great option is to walk from the park entrance down to the end of the Pier and back. Come during sunrise and sunset for the best photography colors and least crowded times.
Along the trail, there is some access to the sandy shoreline if you’d rather walk down along the beach. Keep in mind that dogs are not allowed on this State Beach but they can be on the paved bike pathway.
After the walk, be sure to stop by the Jolly Oyster Ventura food truck parked inside San Buenaventura State Park. This seafood truck serves fresh seafood and is one of the best places to eat in Ventura!
- Length: 2 miles out and back
- Elevation Change: 10 feet
- Dogs Allowed? On the paved pathway only
- Google Map Location: San Buenaventura State Beach
- AllTrails Map: San Buenaventura Beach Trail
5. Serra Cross Grant Park Trail
The Serra Cross Grant Park Trail is more of a city walk than a hike, but the sweeping panoramic views from the top are well worth it! This is a route that travels from downtown Ventura up to Serra Cross Park overlooking the City of Ventura.
Serra Cross is a historic monument that you can spot from afar. This viewpoint is recognizable for the giant cross that was planted by a Spanish missionary in 1782 to guide people traveling to Mission San Buenaventura.
You can also drive to the top of Serra Cross if you’re visiting Ventura for the weekend and are short on time. For a longer route, start the walk at the Ventura Pier, head west along the Ventura Promenade, and then head north onto Figueroa Street. The last section will follow a short climb along a wide, paved road.
Once you reach Serra Cross, you can enjoy excellent ocean views and take a break in the grassy area at the top. It’s best to do this trail on a clear day when you can see views of the Ventura coastline.
This short and easy hike combines all the best of Ventura – the beach, historical attractions, and great views of the coast!
- Length: 4.4 miles out and back
- Elevation Change: 400 feet
- Dogs Allowed? Yes, on a leash
- Google Map Location: Serra Cross
- AllTrails Map: Serra Cross Grant Park Trail
6. Ojai-Ventura Bike Path
The Ojai-Ventura bike path is a 15-mile-long pathway that you can start either in Ventura or Ojai cities. This is a great hiking trail for a long run or if you’re looking to take your bike out for a spin on the weekends.
I’ve jogged the entire Ojai-Ventura bike path as part of the Ventura marathon that takes place in February. The motto for this marathon is ‘Just the right amount of downhill’ and I couldn’t agree more!
If you start the Ojai-Ventura bike path in Ojai heading to Ventura, the path goes slightly downhill for the entire time. The route mostly consists of asphalt traveling next to the Ventura River and Highway 33.
Despite being so close to the freeway, the trail still feels very remote, thanks to the scenery and beautiful trees that also provide plenty of shade in the hotter months.
- Length: 15 miles out and back
- Elevation Change: 850 feet
- Dogs Allowed? Yes, on a leash
- Google Map Location: Ventura River Bike Trail
- AllTrails Map: Ojai-Ventura Bike Path
7. Ventura Community Park Loop
The Ventura Community Park, also known as Kimball Park is one of our local go-to parks because it’s located at the center of Ventura City. With a paved pathway that travels in a loop, Ventura Community Park is a great place for walking, running, and biking. This is an easy 1.5-mile walk which is great for families and little kids.
The Ventura Community Park Loop is marked with distances so many people come here for running and tracking their times. In the middle of the park is Ventura Aquatic Center where I like to go for swimming laps in the summer.
This community park is one of the best locations for marathon and triathlon training because you can practice all three sports – running, biking, and swimming in one location!
The west part of Kimball Park borders a small nature space so you’ll see lots of animals like squirrels and rabbits running around. If you want to switch things up or extend the walk, you can continue along the bike path that follows next to the Santa Paula Freeway.
- Length: 1.5-mile long loop
- Elevation Change: 50 feet
- Dogs Allowed? Yes, on a leash
- Google Map Location: Kimball Park
- AllTrails Map: Ventura Community Park Loop
8. Two Trees Trail
The Two Trees Trail is located on a private property managed by Rancho Ventura Conservation Trust that occasionally opens to the public for guided hikes. Last year we were lucky enough and got to hike the Two Trees Trail as part of an organized Ventura Jogging Club event.
If you get the chance to visit the iconic Ventura Two Trees, it’s so worth it. This hike climbs around 700 feet in elevation in just 1.5 miles offering some of the best coastal views in all of Ventura City. The higher you go, the better the views will get!
While the Ventura hills are mostly bare, this hike is popular for the two recognizable trees that can be seen at the top. Originally, 13 trees were planted here but over the years they burned down now leaving only two trees, earning its fitting name.
From the summit, you can enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean, Ventura City, and Oxnard. There is also a scenic swing at the top hanging down from the famous tree.
- Length: 3 miles out and back
- Elevation Change: 700 feet
- Dogs Allowed? No
- Google Map Location: Barlow Canyon Parking
9. Ventura River Preserve Trail
Ventura River Preserve is an outdoor space in Ojai just a 20-minute drive north of Ventura City. Covering 1600 acres of wilderness, this preserve offers several hiking trails near Ventura that are rarely crowded. This preserve is open to the public and is a great place for hiking, trail running, mountain biking, and even horseback riding.
If you’re looking for a shorter trail option, we recommend the 3-mile-long Ventura River Preserve Trail. This route follows parallel to the river with a few river crossings.
When I hiked this trail in the summer, the river was completely dry, but in spring it can be overflowing with water making the river crossings more challenging. Be sure to check the weather conditions and the latest reviews on the AllTrails hiking app before heading out there.
The Ventura River Preserve Trail starts along a sandy, rocky terrain that is exposed to the sun. If the river level is low, you can cross the creek and continue the hike in a partially shaded forest full of beautiful Coast Live Oak and Western Sycamore trees. Eventually, the trail will loop back around and follow back to the parking lot.
- Length: 3-mile-long loop
- Elevation Change: 100 feet
- Dogs Allowed? Yes, on a leash
- Google Map Location: Ventura River Preserve – Riverview Trailhead
- AllTrails Map: Ventura River Preserve Trail
Read More: Ventura River Preserve Trail In Ojai
10. Potato Harbor Trail On Santa Cruz Island
If you’re looking for great day trip options, put Santa Cruz Island on top of your list! With gorgeous landscapes, rugged ocean cliffs, and pristine turquoise water you’re guaranteed to have a great time exploring this hidden Southern California hiking gem.
Most people who live in Southern California have heard of or been to Catalina Island, but Santa Cruz Island remains much under the radar. Planning a day trip to Channel Islands National Park requires a bit of advanced planning which deters most people from traveling here. I visited Santa Cruz Island as part of my Bachelorette trip (yes, I really did go hiking on my Bachelorette trip instead of going to Vegas) and had a blast!
There are miles of trails that you can explore on Santa Cruz Island, but the most popular trail is Potato Harbor. We did a part of this route on our visit and the views from this trail are just unreal! The hike starts at the Scorpion Anchorage marina and follows next to cliffs with gorgeous views of the ocean and cliffs all around.
If you’re lucky, during your visit you might even spot the adorable Santa Cruz Island Foxes that reside on this island!
To reach Santa Cruz Island you will need to book a boat trip with Island Packers Cruises. The boats depart from Ventura Harbor year-round so Santa Cruz Island is a great outdoor destination in the ‘off-season’ as well.
- Length: 5 miles out and back
- Elevation Change: 620 feet
- Dogs Allowed? No
- Google Map Location: Scorpion Anchorage
- AllTrails Map: Potato Harbor
What To Bring For Hiking In Ventura
Here are a few things that we recommend bringing on hikes in Ventura:
- Pack plenty of water for outdoor adventures on the coast, especially if you plan to hike with your dog. We always bring several bottles of water each along with a collapsible water bowl.
- Some of the trails have steep inclines so slip-resistant hiking shoes are highly recommended.
- I always pack a first aid kit, headlamp, and a portable phone charger, even on short day hikes. It’s always best to go prepared!
- In the warmer months, I recommend wearing sunscreen, lip balm, a hiking hat, and polarized sunglasses to battle the harsh California sun.
- Small day pack. I have a small lightweight day pack that fits all my essentials, water, and camera gear. This Gregory Nano pack comes with a padded mesh back, several adjustable straps, and plenty of pockets where you can put small things.
- While snake bites are rare, we recommend bringing a snake venom extractor kit, especially if you plan to hike with your dog. We’ve also done rattlesnake training classes with our dog Quito so he can recognize and avoid rattlesnakes on the trail.
I hope this list has helped you pick out a few new places to hike in Ventura. Have you done any of these trails? Let us know your favorite ones in the comment section below!
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