At 2,123 acres, the Harmon Canyon Preserve is Ventura's first large-scale nature preserve. The preserve is open daily from dawn to dusk, and offers free public access to more than 10 miles of trail and road where visitors hike, bike and enjoy a unique combination of mountain and coastal views that carry the eye all the way to Channel Islands National Park.
Over 1,000 acres of coastal sage scrub plant habitat, one of the most endangered in North America, as well as hundreds of other plant and animal species are protected by the conservation of Harmon Canyon Preserve.
Ventura Land Trust partners with Ventura city and county fire protection agencies to implement a fire hazard management plan that includes the expansion of defensible space around structures, reduction of fuel loads, and weather monitoring for conditions that increase fire risk.
Harmon Canyon Preserve visitors can enjoy free monthly guided hikes and field excursions offered in English and
Spanish through hills once inhabited by the Chumash. Ventura Land Trust's outdoor education programs for students offer Harmon Canyon Preserve as a living laboratory, teaching participants how to identify plants and animals and facilitating hands-on fieldwork projects. Hundreds of volunteers work hand in hand with Ventura Land Trust staff in the stewardship of Harmon Canyon Preserve each year, building trails, removing invasive plant species, and ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors.
History of Harmon Canyon
Harmon Canyon is located on the present-day Walker-Hearne Ranch, which was part of the 48,823 Rancho Ex-Mission San Buenaventura. After a series of ownership transitions dating from deaccession of the Mission lands, William Sexton and his brother Joseph purchased the property in 1883. By 1927, the ranch was owned by William’s daughters, Elizabeth Sexton Walker and Agnes Lydia Sexton Hearne.
Grant support from the State of California Wildlife Conservation Board, the California Environmental Enhancement & Mitigation Program, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, The Conservation Alliance, and California Natural Resources Agency provided the resources needed for Ventura Land Trust to secure nearly 2,000 acres of the Walker-Hearne Ranch.
With a generous donation of 324 acres by the following descendents of William Sexton in 2020, the acquisition of Harmon Canyon Preserve was complete and the preserve was opened to the public:
Betty Walker Pfeiler | Binney Walker Moss | The Estate of Michael Freeman Sands Marjorie Sand McKernan | David A. Hadlen Linda M. Hadlen | Martha and Michael Herman | James Sands