My family — that’s my wife and me, our two girls, their husbands and our three grandchildren — recently went for a Saturday morning hike at Sapwi Trails Community Park; three generations of Conejo Valley residents. We chose Sapwi because of its central location, the variety of trails (we chose an easier one for three little ones and a very pregnant daughter), and the combination of natural open space and improved park facilities it had to offer.
We met at the parking lot on the corner of Erbes Road and Scenic Park Street (referred to as Sapwi Trails Neighborhood Park). There were plenty of open parking spots, a playground, a restroom and a water fountain to help get us started.
Of course, the grandchildren had to spend a few minutes on the playground before we started our hike, so the adults willingly chatted for a few minutes around the shaded picnic table. As we continued talking, several more families began to arrive… some for the playground, some for the bike pump track, and others who immediately headed out for the trails. We then gathered up our group and headed down the trail along Lang Creek.
The trail is well-marked with both directional and informational signs. The Chumash-themed logos on the signs made for interesting teaching opportunities. Crossing over the creek on the footbridge signaled an entrance into the “wilderness” for the grandchildren. As we continued down the trail, we encountered fellow hikers, runners, bird watchers and mountain bikers.
As we passed by the bike park, we stopped to watch kids of all ages (from 3 to around 33) honing their skills. The younger ones gracefully rode up and down the rolling mounds, while the more daring individuals flew through the air on the many jump runs for beginner, intermediate and advanced bikers. The shaded picnic table area was covered with backpacks and water bottles, and those riders taking breaks busily maintained the ramps and carefully crafted the dirt mounds to ensure they retained their shapes.
Back on the trail again, we met up with several family friends from the nearby neighborhood. The first group of friends was out for a run together. The second friend we passed was out for a mountain bike ride; after catching up on the latest family news, he commented about how much he enjoyed having access to the park, and his ability to ride from Chatsworth to the ocean — all on trails.
We continued on and passed the Lang Creek retention basin which provided another teaching opportunity. While the purpose of the basin was certainly not fully understood by the grandchildren, the adults present were impressed with how well-hidden it was! On we hiked to the end of the trail at Westlake Boulevard, where we turned to walk down the sidewalk, around to Avenida de los Arboles and back towards the park using the Arboles Terrace access (where there is also a parking lot, drinking fountain and restroom).
After a quick drink we got back to the trail. We encountered some disc golfers along the way and talked to them a bit about the disc golf course at the park and the reasons why they had an entire backpack full of different discs. Apparently, there are specific discs for various distances and uses, much like golfers use different clubs on a golf course. At $20 each, the discs cost more than a typical Frisbee, but less than a golf club!
At the base of the access trail, we crossed another footbridge over Lang Creek (there are actually four footbridges in the park) and back to Lang Creek Trail. At this point, the grandchildren were slowing considerably, and their attention was focused more on the end of the hike than the trailside attractions and natural wonders. Even darting rabbits and lizards lost a little of their appeal!
After retracing our path back down the trail, we returned to our starting point at the neighborhood park. The playground was too enticing to resist, and the grandchildren somehow mustered enough energy to climb up and down the many features for another 20 minutes. After being satisfied with additional playtime and now feeling hot and even more tired, we gathered our belongings and headed over to the nearby coffee shop for something to eat and drink.
After concluding our family trek, I was reminded of just how many features are available at Sapwi Trails Community Park: A developed playground with lots of equipment, a bike pump track, several hiking/biking trails, disc golf, a remote control gliders field, three parking lots, three restrooms and lots of natural open space. This park is a living example of the many partnerships and activities that make up the Conejo Recreation and Park District. Whether you want to go on a family hike, try the jumps on your bike, play disc golf, or watch your children or grandchildren enjoy the playground, head on over to Sapwi Trails Community Park.
You will be glad you did!
Doug Nickles is a director/board member for the Conejo Recreation and Park District, the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency and the California Association of Recreation and Park Districts. The views expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of the District, Agency or the respective Boards. He can be contacted via email at email@example.com.