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Tapo Canyon Tar Pits – Easy Intermediate

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Tapo Canyon Tar Pits – Easy Intermediate

5.4 miles, 1050′ gain, Easy Intermediate
This hike is one of the most beautiful hikes in Simi Valley. There are 3 extended inclines, about 1000 steps each, on fire road. They are not especially steep, but they do continue for some time, which is why it is rated “Easy Intermediate.” There are also several small hills of 100 steps or less.

The extended inclines will get the blood pumping during this lollipop hike. We’ll be moving through the famous Tapo Canyon and visiting natural tar pits that bubble up from the ground.

The first pit is really a puddle that looks like someone spilled a couple 55-gallon drums of tar that was later contained using a spill rope. The next two are a little larger, again, contained by spill ropes to keep the sticky black tar from getting on the trail. You will see dinosaurs and sometimes body parts, and I’m not kidding.

From the trail head, we’ll start on a leisurely stroll for about 0.6 miles, followed by a steady climb for the next mile, completing the first extended incline.

We’ll turn left at the junction, climb a small hill of a couple hundred steps, and then head down for 1.5 miles.

We’ll make a right turn down a smaller trail and go for about 100 yards until we reach the tar pits. After looking around for a bit, we’ll head back, and after 0.25 miles, we’ll come to another junction where we will stop and share snacks and beverages.

For the return, we’ll turn left and there will be a steady climb for about 3/4 of a mile to another junction. We’ll turn left again and return down for about 1.4 miles to complete the lollipop.

Easy option (no host): 3 miles, 300′ gain.
Park at 5079 Westwood St, Simi Valley, CA 93063. Follow Cottonwood Dr/Yosemite Ave south (down) 1000′ to the trailhead. Enter and turn immediately left. After 350′, there is a split. It doesn’t matter which you take. The right (upper) is single-track, the left (lower) is fire road. After ½ mile, the two trails merge into the fire road. After 600′, you arrive at the tar pits. Keep going another 600′, left at the dead end, and 1/3rd mile to the social event location. Return the way you came.

Tapo Canyon
3802 Tapo Canyon Road
Simi Valley, CA 93063

From the 118:
Exit 27 Tapo Canyon Rd.
Tapo Canyon Rd. north for 1.7 miles.
Trail head on the right, before Lost Canyon Rd.
Parking is free in the gravel area in front of the trail head, and along the road on both sides.

From CA-23:
CA-23 north to CA-118 east.
CA-118 east for 8.7 miles.
Exit 27 Tapo Canyon Rd.
Tapo Canyon Rd. north (left) for 1.7 miles.
Trail head on the right.
Parking is free in the gravel area in front of the trail head, and along the road on both sides.

Distance: 5.4 miles, Easy Option: 3 miles
Gain: 1050′, Easy Option 300′
Distribution: Reasonably well distributed.
Difficulty: Easy Intermediate
Shape: Lollipop, clockwise.
Pace: 2.0 mph.
Trail Type: Fire road and double track. Areas of sand, gravel, and rock, some of it rugged.
Trail Variations:
Several extended inclines of 1000 steps.
Several steep sections of 300 steps, but no hands required.
Duration: 3.5 hours
Dogs: Yes.
Restrooms: No
Drinking Fountains: No.
Parking: Free in the gravel area in front of the trail head, and along the road on both sides.

What to bring:
1 liter of water for every 3 miles.
Snacks and/or beverages to share
Hiking shoes preferred, but athletic shoes will be OK.
Flashlight or headlamp.


Route: The host knows the route.
Navigation: Host memory, enhanced by GPS navigation as needed.
Hike type: Social.

The host may designate stopping points to let others catch up. This hike will include an extended stop for a snack and beverage share at the half way point, which we will pass, and then return to after seeing the tar pits.

We will stop at junctions to make sure everybody makes any turns or chooses the correct direction at splits, else something will be used to mark the direction, usually a large arrow made of baking soda. There may not always be a sweeper designated to be the last hiker.

Each hiker is responsible for knowing their capability, only attending events where they are able to sustain the described pace, for keeping up with the group sufficiently enough to make the turns and not get left behind, and for making sure the host is notified if they are going to split from the group.

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Disclaimer / Release of Liability

November 28 2023


Date: November 28, 2023
Time: 6:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Hiking Group:
RSVP: Visit Meetup Website


3803 Tapo Canyon Rd

3803 Tapo Canyon Road
Simi Valley,US

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Hiking Plus
Website: Visit Organizer Website


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Trail statistics are approximate. For safety purposes always assume they are underestimated. But don’t be disappointed if they are overestimated. Bring more water and snacks than you think you’ll need.

Trail descriptions are based on previous hikes. Current conditions are unknown until arrival. Expect the unexpected and plan accordingly.

The Organizers and members of Hiking With Dean are not professional leaders, guides, or mountaineers. The function of the member or organizer is only to organize the trip. Each person who shows up for a trip/meetup (and their guest or guests) is responsible for his or her own safety. By attending a hike, or any other event organized by this group, you are acknowledging that you and any guests that you bring are aware of the risks, dangers and hazards associated with the activity and freely accept and fully assume all such risks, dangers and hazards, and further agree to release and discharge the Organizers, Members of the Hiking With Dean Meetup Group from and against any and all liability arising from your participation in the group activities per our ASSUMPTION OF RISK AND LIABILITY WAIVER and Section 6.2 of the Terms of Service.