Cave In!

The Cave of Munits is an awe-inspiring cavern of impressive heights. And it's located just outside suburbia. Starting…

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The Cave of Munits is an awe-inspiring cavern of impressive heights. And it’s located just outside suburbia. Starting at El Escorpión Park will get you there quickly, but the cave is best savored after a bit of effort on a 2.7-mile loop hike through the rolling hills of Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve. (Unnamed trails and unmarked junctures are prominent here, so pay attention to the directions below to stay on track.) The trail cuts through golden grasslands dotted with purple sage. (Parts of Django Unchained, Tarantino’s take on the spaghetti Western, were filmed in these hills.) After less than a mile, you’ll be able to spot the cave’s gaping entrance from a distance, looming under the summit of a small mountain, Castle Peak. A moderate scramble is required, and getting into the cave itself requires navigating on your hands and feet. Inside, curving rock walls soar, and rays of sunlight pierce through openings in the ceiling above. The cave was a spiritual site of the Chumash. Oral tradition reports that it was the home of a powerful Chumash shaman who was killed after he took the life of a chief’s son. Inside, the story rings true: the cavernous space feels like a place of mystery and power. The top of the cave can be explored as well—experienced scramblers can climb out of a chimney in the rock to survey the golden land below and peer into the cave’s openings.

From the 101 Freeway, exit at Valley Circle Blvd. and head north for 2.1 miles. Take a left onto Victory Blvd.; Victory Trailhead is at the end of the street. Parking is $3; street parking is also available. This is a 2.7-mile (round-trip) hike. From the trailhead, two skinny trails scale a steep hillside; ascend either one, and at the crest, turn left to follow the ridge’s slight descent. At a junction just past 0.3 mile, take the trail on the right. This path mostly parallels the East Canyon Trail below until cresting at a hill. Here, the trail splits; take a right onto the singletrack that slowly descends to the valley floor. (Note: as you descend, you should be able to see the cave’s vertical entrance in the distance on the hillside.) At 1.4 miles you’ll have reached the valley floor. Take a left on the wide fire road known as the Hunter Allen Trail. After 500 feet, a live oak marks a Y-junction; stay to the left. From here, a well-trodden use trail can be seen climbing straight to the entrance of the cave. Dog-friendly!

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