In 1769, the Spanish Portola expedition, first Europeans to see inland areas of California, traveled north through Sepulveda pass into the San Fernando Valley on August 5 and stayed two nights at a native village near what is now Los Encinos State Historic Park. Fray Juan Crespi, a Franciscan missionary travelling with the expedition, named the valley "El Valle de Santa Catalina de Bononia de Los Encinos" (The Valley of St. Catherine of Bononia of the Oaks). All of Crespi's name was later dropped except "encino".
Rancho Los Encinos (Ranch of Oak Trees) was established in 1845 when a large parcel of former Mission San Fernando land was granted to three Mission Indians by governor Pio Pico. Many ranchos were created after the secularization of the California missions, which began in 1834. Encino derives its name from the rancho.