The hike to the Cave of Munits is short but thrilling.
Angelenos are truly lucky to have incredible landscapes to explore with hiking opportunities just a few minutes away from the city. We’re not just talking about flat roads winding around the hills, but the plethora of varied terrain and fauna that leads to anything from stunning waterfalls to unique rock formations or storied caves, where legendary artists are rumored to have created masterpieces.
This Cave of Munits hike offers a lot with a short 2.1-mile loop. You’ll get to explore the chimney-shaped cave with sweeping views of the San Fernando Valley while you contemplate its place in Native American history and marvel at the fascinating rock formations.
The caves are believed to have been used as a ceremonial site by the Chumash (a Native American tribe) during the solstices. According to legend, it was home to a powerful Chumash shaman who was killed after taking the life of a chief’s son.
This hike may be relatively short but it does involve some scrambling and a sprinkling of adventurous spirit. Your journey begins at El Escorpion Trail at the end of Vanowen Street in West Hills, where you’ll already be treated to a stunning view of Castle Peak—and the scenery only gets better as you go up. At the right time of year, there’s an abundance of wildflowers carpeting the hillsides, but there isn’t much shade so pack sunscreen and bring enough water to keep you hydrated.
When the trail reaches a fence marking the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve, you’ll cross through it and take a right at the fork. In about 0.8 miles you’ll reach the Cave of Munits. Once you make it to the entrance you should see something that resembles a mini slope along the left side where you’ll need to carefully pull yourself up over rocks to get in. From there, you’ll see the stunning cathedral-like ceiling with a few natural skylights illuminating nooks within it.
If you turn back as soon as you’re inside, the narrow entrance creates a beautiful silhouette framing the changing hillside landscape outside. There’s a lot to explore from here and there’s the option of continuing on to the nearby Castle Peak if you have the energy for it.
Location: 24501 Vanowen St, West Hills, CA
Trailhead coordinates: 34.195322, -118.658543 (34° 11′ 43.15″N 118° 39′ 30.75″W)