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Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike

Leo Carrillo Sate Park

Los Angeles Metro Area, California

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Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike

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  • Trailhead for the Nicholas Flat Trail and Willow Creek Trail.- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
  • Coastal prickly pear (Opuntia littoralis) along the Nicholas Flat Trail.- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
  • Coastal prickly pear (Opuntia littoralis) along the Nicholas Flat Trail.- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
  • Nicholas Flat Trail, looking back at Leo Carrillo State Park Campground.- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
  • Nicholas Flat Trail, looking back at Leo Carrillo State Park Campground.- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
  • Purple sage (Salvia leucophylla) along the Nicholas Flat Trail.- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
  • Sugar bush (Rhus ovata) along the Nicholas Flat Trail.- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
  • Nicholas Flat Trail intersection with Willow Creek Trail.- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
  • View east from the top of the hike looking down on Nicholas Canyon County Beach.- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
  • View east from the top of the hike looking down on California Highway 1 and Nicholas Canyon County Beach.- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
  • View west to the Channel Islands from the top of the hike.- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
  • View west to the Channel Islands (Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands) from the top of the hike.- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
  • Coastal prickly pear (Opuntia littoralis) along the Willow Creek Trail.- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Nicholas Flat to Willow Creek Loop Hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Panoramic Views over Pacific and Channel Islands. Kid-family friendly.
Cons: 
Sun exposure. Dogs not permitted on trail.
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Region:
Los Angeles Metro Area, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
610.00 ft (185.93 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Fall
Total Distance: 
2.00 mi (3.22 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
10.00 ft (3.05 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Leo Carrillo State Park contains a number of scenic paths. Hikers often choose to venture along this park’s trails because of their stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains. Nicholas Flat Trail takes you steadily upward toward its namesake, Nicholas Flat. If you choose to go all the way up to the flat, you are facing a 7-mile-long out-and-back hike with an elevation gain of nearly 1,700 feet. Many people opt to hike upward until they reach the junction of Nicholas Flat Trail and Willow Creek Trail, at which point they turn down the latter. This creates a 2-mile loop.

Due to the trail’s lack of shade, the plants and cacti that you see along the way will be hearty.  Purple sage, laurel sumac, chamise, buckwheat, and the prickly pear cactus all do well in direct sunlight. You are likely to see Cooper’s hawks, white-tailed kites, and California quails flying overhead, and if you keep your gaze on the ground you might just see a coast range newt or a Pacific rattlesnake. Large mammals such as mountain lions and coyotes live in the area as well.

If you are visiting from out of town you may decide to spend the night in Leo Carrillo State Park.  The sprawling campground boasts picnic tables and barbecues. You can even take a hot shower for a small fee. Sleeping right in the park allows you to rise early and hit the trail before the temperature rises too much. You will also avoid the crowds, as this trail is quite popular. If you decide to stay for a couple of days you can explore other parts of the park, including the Yellow Hill Fireroad Trail, the Nicholas Ridge Motorway, and the park’s beach. There is an underpass beneath the Pacific Coast Highway that allows you to walk straight from Nicholas Flat Trail to the beach without having to dodge traffic.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

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(35 within a 30 mile radius)

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