November 20, 2006 by Phil Houtz

Hike to Two Trees

Two Trees

Two Trees, Ventura’s favorite spot for vandalism, is a quick but stiff hike with an amazing panoramic view at the top. This hike is on private property and foot traffic is not allowed.

Perched on rolling hills like twin sentinels over the town, these trees have become an icon for the preservation of nature and open space. But the truth is that Two Trees aren’t natural at all. They are blue gum trees (eucalyptus globulus) imported from Australia. Thirteen of these trees were planted at the request of property owner Joseph Sexton in 1898. Sexton, who resided in Goleta, thought of California as a kind of empty canvas that needed to be filled with exotic plants from other countries. He is perhaps best known for introducing Evil Pampas Grass to the state.

One Tree

In 1903 a brush fire destroyed eight of Sexton’s trees. This fire also set off a gas flare from a hidden natural oil deposit that killed Ralph Lloyd’s horse and touched off Ventura’s oil boom.

Five trees remained at the top of the hill until 1940 when a few Halloween pranksters hacked down three of the trees. Marcel “Slim” Sap, owner of the local Motor Mart and vigorous civic booster, replanted the three deceased trees and all was well until 1956 when football hooligans cut down one of the orginal trees and two of the replacements.

Even though Two Trees is on private land, a lot of Venturans seem to feel the landmark is part of the public trust. And others still see it as a blank canvas–to be painted with spray cans and fat black markers. Pen knives. Nails. Glass. And in one case I’d guess a hatchet was taken to the bark to carve “Blake + Lindson.”

A friend confessed to me today that she, too, tried to leave her mark on this spot. She and her best friend in high school struggled up the steep hillside dragging a trash bag containing a douglas fir and thirty pounds of soil, along with two shovels and a flashlight. In a sweaty fit of midnight skulduggery they planted the fir between the two gum trees.

And that’s the story of how Two Trees almost became Three Trees.

Two Trees with Paint



  1. Sovereignty Soldier
    June 27, 2012 - 1:54 pm

    R. Atmore obviously had no luck in his bullying! 5yrs later and I am reading this site: )

  2. kim
    June 5, 2012 - 6:38 pm

    Hi everyone,
    I was just telling my children the bedtime story of “when Mom climbed Two Trees when she was little.” I was five, and a small group of us was taken by a friend of the family to climb Two Trees. It was a warm day, and my mother had bought my sister and me some juice boxes in honor of the hike. I was very excited about that. We had our packed lunches, and got in our friend’s car, and sat on laps in the back seat.
    We started climbing. Being the youngest, I was the slowest, and was feeling a bit sorry for myself as I was all alone at the end of the line on the trail. Soon enough, I saw my sister and friends, and I thought they were waiting for me.
    It turns out, they were looking at the cows. There was a barbed wire fence, and when I got up to it, one of the cows urinated. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. First of all, a cow, second of all, and unbelievable amount of urine. We all said to each other, “like a waterfall!”
    We continued on our way, sans hats, in the harsh, dry heat, and I trudged my way up the hill. I was very excited to get to the shade of the two trees, where we commenced to eat our lunch. The juice box was excellent, as were the sandwiches.
    We climbed the trees and played and played, and then Miss Mary, our guide, told us to gather up all the trash, and hike back down.
    We walked down, happy, tired, and satisfied with our adventure.
    It was a wonderful hike, and one of the few hikes of my childhood.
    I’m glad that I was able to make that trip.

    It was a nice bedtime story, and it was great to find these pictures to show my kids, on my laptop, as we laid in bed.

  3. Jordan
    November 2, 2011 - 11:11 pm

    I have hiked there several times and it is a very beautiful view and almost everyone from my old highschool used to go every weekend and I have never heard of any of them causeing trouble, I beleive it is sad that people deface the property though because I wish it could be open to more to enjoy the view I have expirenced twice of the town I was born and raised in and I apologize for trespassing Mr. Atmore but I did bring back some trash I found up there back to help clean up

    sincerly Jordan

  4. Phil Houtz
    September 24, 2011 - 10:39 am

    I suggest contacting Richard Atmore through the information on his website He’ll probably appreciate your request, though because it is private land and a working ranch he may not be able to accommodate a scout troop. Good luck and if you get to hike up there let me know how it turns out!

  5. Maribel
    September 23, 2011 - 4:30 pm

    Hi I would like to take my girl scout troop hiking on this trail. Can someone tell me who I can contact?

  6. Kathy
    April 22, 2011 - 8:31 pm

    Wow I just found this site. Back in the’60’s I used to go hiking up to the trees all the time with my cousins. We didn’t cause problems, do damage or leave garbage. Just hiked up there & climbed the trees & then came home. One of my fondest memories & yes we knew we were on private property but being kids (Jr. High) It was just a nice afternoon exploring. Kids today need more of that & less threats with law suits.

  7. Phil Houtz
    January 24, 2011 - 1:55 am

    I’ll have to look into this for you. It’s difficult to get a good clean shot from most places.

  8. Julie
    January 18, 2011 - 8:50 pm

    We are truck drivers and would love to get some pic’s of
    the trees. Can some one suggest a location that we could park to be
    able to see the trees and perhaps get some pic’s with long lenses.
    I would love to ask the owner about permission to actually get
    close. Thanks for any input. Julie

  9. jeremy
    November 21, 2010 - 2:59 am

    I plan to hike this from my back yard, check me out at

  10. Bill Fedde
    July 5, 2010 - 6:22 pm

    Dear Mr. John W. Strobel III,

    You sound more than a little arrogant when it comes to your opinion on unauthorized use of other people’s fee or leased land. Attitudes like this appear to be almost epidemic in today’s society.

    Let me know where you live so I can sponsor a picnic on your front lawn at a time of my choosing. I can’t guarantee that a few of the guests won’t bring spray paint cans. They may chose to leave a few carvings on your trees or even sue you if they happen to trip, fall and/or claim to have hurt themselves while either at or en route to your property.

    I don’t know Mr. Atmore personally, though I have bought firewood from him before. I came across your ridiculous post as I looked for his phone number online to make another purchase.

    Bill Fedde, Ventura

  11. Phil Houtz
    May 7, 2010 - 5:26 am

    Two Trees sit on the Ventura foothills just southwest of the Sulphur Mountain range. Along with the Topa Topa range to the north they are part of the Transverse Ranges.

  12. judy
    May 6, 2010 - 11:57 pm

    what is the mountain range called that two trees sits on? thank you..

  13. John W. Strobel III
    February 20, 2010 - 3:07 am

    Richard Atmore; You seem to think that you are the last of the land baron cattle growers who can go on forever on under utilized land just so you can raise a few head of cattle. And in doing so you deny the citizens of Ventura access to a landmark iconic and idylic place of rest and inspiration. Your tactics were used years ago at the old Fleishman hunting (Duck) club (The Olivas Adobe) until the Governor, Earl Warren and his party was arrested by a DFG warden who caught them baiting ponds…The excuses of privacy used then were as useless as the unfounded restrictions you place on the trails leading to the trees. You know there are effective “Hold Harmless” agreements that would exclude you from liablilty and effective fencing could be utilized to make passage to and from the trees safe and simple. I’m sure the Ventura Hillside Consevency would gladly take possession of such trails and a generous area around the trees which would lessen even further any liability you might fear. I think you have adopted a hard headed approach to a growing problem and I hope you will be wise enough to change your attitude before other means are used to wrest control of the trees from you.

    PS. I bought an Appasloosa and another horse from you and I ended up giving them away as they could not be trained. I never bothered you about it, just another lesson in life learned the hard way…I hope you can be as gracious about access to the trees…

  14. Johnny Walkmore
    January 7, 2010 - 1:00 am

    Richard Atmore – you need to take some meds and calm down. The people who created this site say right in the opening paragraph that “the hike is on private property and foot traffic is not allowed”. I can easily understand your upset at vandals or people cutting your barbed wire fences, and the dangers your wandering cows pose to motorists, but you should realize that 99% of hikers who go up there cause no damage and even look out for your property for you. I know that if I saw anyone cutting wire up there or doing any vandalism, I’d confront them immediately and tell them to stop. Not because I like your threatening and aggressive ways, but because I respect nature and property. People are always going to go up there. Get used to it. Threatening everyone with lawsuits, subpoenas – putting notices on their cars and so on – is like some neurotic response to it. Leave the hikers and outdoorsmen alone and calm down.

  15. Stefan
    September 22, 2009 - 2:54 pm

    @ Phil:

    Hi, I found that along foothill road. But that was kind of difficult to get up there. This is much easier:

  16. Phil Houtz
    May 27, 2009 - 2:05 pm

    Hello Stefan. Back in 2007 there was a large opening in the fence along Foothill road. That may be repaired now. I will say that there is no public access to Two Trees, it is all on private property. If you go up there, you do so at your own risk.

    Rattlesnakes are always a danger in Southern California’s foothills. The trickiest situation is when you’re stepping over a large rock and can’t see what’s on the other side.

    There have been a few reported mountain lion sightings in the foothills above Ventura. It doesn’t seem likely that a mountain lion would come this close to civilization but they do have a wide range. I don’t think there’s much chance you’d run into one in the middle of the day.

    If you want to avoid crossing a fence into private property (probably a good idea) I suggest the trails behind Arroyo Verde park. A great resource for local trails is the book Day Hikes Around Ventura County

  17. Stefan
    May 27, 2009 - 1:27 pm

    Hey there, i tried to hike up to the trees but the fence is 6 foot tall and with barbed wire. No other way? What’s about snakes? And mountain lion?

  18. Phil
    March 29, 2008 - 8:08 pm

    Somebody has created a wikimapia entry for the best hiking trail to Two Trees. Note that this is on private property and you should probably contact the landowner for permission before entering.

  19. Phil
    June 26, 2007 - 5:53 am

    Heh. I guess I’ve “arrived” as a blogger. I just got my first legal threat!

    A couple of thoughts about the post above. For one thing, I don’t have any way to know if the poster is actually Richard Atmore, or if perhaps it’s from a spoofer. I suppose I’ll find out if I get a scare letter from Atmore’s lawyer.

    That said, I don’t advocate trespassing on private property. When I posted on Stingley’s Hot Springs I intentionally left out the directions (you can easily find directions elsewhere on the web.) As a point of editorial consistency it makes sense to omit directions in this post as well, so I am removing the sentence that makes reference to the trailhead and the link to the Google map.

    It should be said that there are other sites that give directions to Two Trees, and there is even a Geocache listed on I advise you to follow these at your own risk.

  20. Richard Atmore
    June 25, 2007 - 5:19 pm

    Two Trees is on private property. When you climb through the barbed wire fence, your trespassing begins. The people that you send to the fence line above Shamrock constantly cut the fence creating a very dangerous hazard on Foothill road. If a cow were to get out on the highway and a vehicle hit it, the people would probably die. We are filing a subpoena for your domain name and information for possible prosecution at a later time, please cease this web site immediately.

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