The Big Cheese

"Say Cheeseboro!" Never has a canyon sounded more appetizing. Cheeseboro Canyon's namesake trail, just off the 101 freeway…

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“Say Cheeseboro!” Never has a canyon sounded more appetizing. Cheeseboro Canyon’s namesake trail, just off the 101 freeway in Agoura, serves up a tasty 8.5-mile out-and-back mountain bike ride. The lower canyon’s prairie scenery is animated by rabbits, squirrels, and roadrunners scurrying along the wide dirt trail as you course upward to gain a modest 500 feet of elevation. Over the first 3 miles, the gradual ascent is flanked by hills covered in tall dry grasses and dotted with oak groves huddled around the dry creek bed. Riding past Sulfur Springs (you’ll smell it), the trail narrows to singletrack with a few challenging climbs across exposed sandstone over the last 1.25 miles. (Novice riders may find the last half-mile cumbersome, but there’s no shame in hiking a bike.) Up here the prairie setting has long disappeared, giving way to rugged rock outcroppings and abundant sagebrush that could easily be a southwest stand-in. Turn around when you reach the T at the end of the trail, otherwise known as a cluster of boulder piles. It’s all downhill from here. Cheesy does it.

Cheeseboro Canyon is located in the northernmost section of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. To reach the trailhead, take U.S. 101 to the Cheeseboro Rd. exit in Agoura. Turn north on Palo Comado Canyon Rd., proceed to Cheeseboro Rd., and turn right. Continue 0.7-mile to Cheeseboro Canyon Rd. and turn right, driving 0.2-mile to the trailhead parking. Start biking and follow the signs for Cheeseboro Canyon Trail, which runs up the bottom of the canyon through several well-marked junctions. Turn around when you reach the T at the end of the trail. If you are feeling energetic, consider looping back to the trailhead on either ridge trails surrounding Cheeseboro Canyon. The higher views require taxing climbs over undulating ridges. Pick up a trail map. Dog-friendly!

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