Wildwood Park is a wonderful wilderness retreat in Thousand Oaks with
several popular hiking trails. The Santa Rosa Trail offers some of its wildest views. This hike covers much of the same ground as the Lower Butte Loop, but continues a little further beyond where that hike ends, to the hills above California Lutheran University. You'll enjoy even more great views of the Santa Rosa and Conejo Valleys and the mountains beyond from the high-altitude vantage points at the end of this out-and-back trail.
To follow this route, take the Mesa Trail a quarter mile from the parking lot to the Santa Rosa Trail, then follow that trail for a little over two miles. At the end of the Santa Rosa Trail, make a loop using the Mount Clef Ridge Trail and University Trail, then follow the Santa Rosa Trail back to the Mesa Trail and the parking lot. This route offers the benefit of not coming as close to roads and sidewalks as the Lower Butte Loop, allowing you to stay on hiking trails for the entire route. Even with the views of the urban landscapes beyond, it feels a little wilder this way, as you work your way through fields of golden grass, past thickets of woody sage scrub, and up hillsides flanked with prickly pear.
If you want to make a full day of it here, consider adding some additional hikes to your agenda. The
Paradise Falls hike starts from the same trailhead, is relatively easy with little elevation gain, and can be completed in under two hours. In the shady canyons, you'll see different plants and animals interacting in different ecosystems, including turtles and several species of amphibians ambling through oak groves and beds of cattails on their way to the creek.
However long you spend here, you'll appreciate the richness of this place long after you've returned home.