Simi Hills

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Simi Hills
Old Stagecoach Trail Santa Susana3.png
Sandstone rock formations of the Simi Hills range.
Highest point
Peak Simi Peak
Elevation 2,139 ft (652 m)
Simi Hills is located in California
Simi Hills
location of Simi Hills in California [1]
Country United States
State California
Districts Ventura County and Los Angeles
Range coordinates 34°13′28.015″N 118°43′0.326″W / 34.22444861°N 118.71675722°W / 34.22444861; -118.71675722Coordinates: 34°13′28.015″N 118°43′0.326″W / 34.22444861°N 118.71675722°W / 34.22444861; -118.71675722
Topo map USGS Calabasas

The Simi Hills are a low rocky mountain range of the Transverse Ranges in eastern Ventura County and western Los Angeles County, of southern California, United States.


The Simi Hills are aligned east-west and run for 26 miles (42 km), and average around 7 mi (11 km) in north-south width. The Simi Hills are part of the central Transverse Ranges System. They lie almost entirely within southeastern Ventura County, with some southern and eastern foothills within western Los Angeles County.

The Simi Hills are on the western edge of the San Fernando Valley. The Simi Valley lies to the north, and the Conejo Valley lies to the southwest. The San Fernando Valley communities of Chatsworth, West Hills, and Woodland Hills are in the eastern hills and adjacent valley floor in Los Angeles city and county. The cities of Thousand Oaks (on west), Agoura Hills (on south), and Simi Valley city (on north) are in the hills and adjacent valleys within Ventura County.

The two nearby mountain ranges are: the higher Santa Susana Mountains adjacent on the northeast across Santa Susana Pass; and the Santa Monica Mountains running nearby along the south.

Wildlife corridor

The Simi Hills are the most critical wildlife corridor linkage from the Santa Monica Mountains — to the Santa Susana Mountains, and beyond to the Topatopa Mountains, San Gabriel Mountains, and other Transverse Ranges further east.

The Simi's undeveloped native habitat provides routes that protect larger land wildlife of the Santa Monicas from genetic isolation. Large sections of the Simi Hills are protected by parks and open space preserves. The Santa Susana Field Laboratory property, a crucial wildlife corridor to the Santa Susanas, has been proposed for public open space parkland after the closed site's cleanup completion.


The hills provide the complete or partial watersheds for several year-round creeks and numerous seasonal streams. They include Las Virgenes Creek (tributary of Malibu Creek), Moore's Canyon Creek, Bell Creek, Dayton Creek, Woolsey Canyon Creek, Brandeis Creek, Runkle Canyon Creek, Arroyo Simi, Palo Comado Creek, Cheeseboro Creek, and Arroyo Calabasas (northern fork). Bell Creek and Arroyo Calabasas are the headwaters of the Los Angeles River, by name its beginning with their confluence in nearby Canoga Park. 90% of the Santa Susana Field Lab property drains into the Los Angeles River via tributaries.


Because of its low elevation, the Simi Hills typically experience rainy, mild winters. Snow is rare in the Simi Hills, even in the highest areas. Summers are warm and dry and wildfires do occur here. Cool winds from the Pacific Ocean come from the Oxnard Plain and blow into the inland areas through the Santa Clara River Valley and the Conejo Valley, though some low hills, such as Conejo Mountain, block these winds from the Conejo Valley. The Simi Hills further block these winds, which bring cool weather in both summer and winter from the San Fernando Valley.


Peaks in this region include Simi Peak, 2,403 ft (732 m),[2] Chatsworth Peak, 2,314 ft (700 m),[3] and Escorpión Peak (aka: Castle Peak), 1,475 ft (450 m).

Panoramic view of the Simi Hills looking north from the Santa Monica Mountains.

Flora and fauna[edit]


The southern lower hills are mostly covered in grasslands and oak savanna. The northern rocky hills area is primarily chaparral shrubland and oak woodlands. The Simi Hills are part of the California chaparral and woodlands ecoregion. The oaks (Quercus spp.) include: the evergreen coastal live oak (Quercus agrifolia), the deciduous valley oak (Quercus lobata), and the scrub oak (Quercus dumosa). Riparian zone plants include California sycamores (Platanus racemosa) and arroyo willows (Salix lasiolepis). Spring wildflowers include the redbush monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus), Plummer's mariposa lily (Calochortus plummerae), and canyon sunflower (Encelia californica). poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) is also an important member of the native plant habitat community here.


The Simi Hills is the principal, and much wider, of only two terrestrial wildlife corridors linking the coastal Santa Monica Mountains with the inland Santa Susana Mountains, Topatopa Mountains, and San Gabriel Mountains, all of the transverse ranges fauna community.

Human History[edit]

The Simi Hills were inhabited for over 8,000 years by Paleo-indians and Chumash-Venturaño Native Americans for settlements and hunting grounds.[4][5] The Chumash had the established village of Hu'wam in Cañon del Escorpión (Bell Canyon). It was a multicultural 'crossroads' destination, where Chumash, Tongva, and Tataviam peoples traded and lived beside Bell Creek below Escorpión Peak, at the present day Bell Canyon Park.[6][7] This peak in the Simi Hills (aka: Castle Peak) is one of nine alignment points in Chumash territory and is essential to maintaining the balance of the natural world.[8] Upstream were healing springs and are rock outcrop 'grinding stones.' The Burro Flats Painted Cave, an example of the Rock art of the Chumash people, is nearby.

The Juan Bautista de Anza expedition passed through the area in 1769, being the first European sighting of the Simi Hills. The U.S. National Park Service administers the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail which enters at Moore Canyon in El Escorpión Park and crosses across the southern Hills through Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve and Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyon Park to the Conejo Valley.[9] In 1845 the land grant for Rancho El Escorpión, beside the Peak and named for it, was issued to one Chumash and two Tongva people and a rare instance of Native Americans being grantees, by Mexican Governor Pío Pico. The Rancho El Conejo was to the west, and included that end of the Simi Hills.

In the first half of the 20th century there were four large movie ranches in the Simi Hills for filming motion pictures on location. The gated community of Bell Canyon began development of geographic Bell Canyon in the 1968. To the north of U.S. 101, east of Thousand Oaks, and west of Simi Valley the early 1960s suburban expansion of metropolitan Los Angeles brought the development of small to significantly sized parcels of land in the Simi Hills. Hillside subdivisions regraded natural contours into terraced lots, changing the Hills viewshed, drainage patterns, and habitats in those areas. The extensive planned new community projects at Jordan Ranch and Ahmanson Ranch were eventually stopped by local citizens and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy keeping extensive Hills acreage natural in open space parks.

The Simi Hills were home of the Rocketdyne Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) for open-air testing of rocket engines from 1947 to 1990, and the site of an experimental nuclear reactor experiments one which had a meltdown accident in 1959.[10] The groundwater under portions of the Simi Hills, contaminated with toxins and radionuclides that were also historically used at SSFL, has been and are a key concern in new development decisions and the SSFL property's future limited to parkland use after an impending cleanup, initiating preservation of more open space in the range.[11]

The NPS Rim of the Valley Trail Corridor is in the planning stages and includes the Simi Hills open space parklands and proposed new areas.[12][13][14][15]


Nearby ranges[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Simi Hills". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  2. ^ "Simi Peak". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  3. ^ "Chatsworth Peak". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  4. ^ USA Today article USA Today Accessed 2/22/2008
  5. ^ Mercury News article
  6. ^ SSPSHP Ethnohistory Accessed 2/28/2010
  7. ^ " Ahmanson Ranch Becomes Private Preserve," [Wishtoyo Foundation website. Accessed 10/23/2007
  8. ^ Wishtoyo on Ahmanson Ranch accessed 10-23-2007
  9. ^ National Park Service: official Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail website. accessed 4/06/2010
  10. ^ State DTSC-SSFL_Area IV Nuclear Research section. accessed 4/06/2010
  11. ^ State DTSC-SSFL Groundwater Interactive Database. accessed 4/06/2010
  12. ^ access date: 6/6/2010
  13. ^,0,1520788.story access date: 6/6/2010
  14. ^ access date: 6/6/2010
  15. ^ Kamal, Sameea (March 4, 2015). "Three lawmakers urge Park Service action on Rim of the Valley study". Los Angeles Times. 
  16. ^ Bell Canyon Park. accessed 11/22/2009.
  17. ^ Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyon Park. accessed 6/6/2010.
  18. ^ Cheeseboro Park. accessed 11/22/2009.
  19. ^ Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyon Park
  20. ^ El Escorpión Park. accessed 11/22/2009.
  21. ^ Peak. accessed 4/04/2010
  22. ^ www.lamountains. Rocky Peak Park. access date: 6/6/2010
  23. ^ SMMC-Sage Ranch Park Info. accessed 6/6/2010
  24. ^ SMMC-Sage Ranch Park Map. accessed 2/28/2010
  25. ^ Sage Ranch Park
  26. ^ official Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park website. accessed 1/25/2010.
  27. ^ Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park info. accessed 11/22/2009.
  28. ^ official Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Park website. accessed 4/2/2010.

External links[edit]

Park finders