OJAI VALLEY HIKING
Here are just a few of the many hikes available in the valley.
This is a very enjoyable, but somewhat strenuous hike located near the picturesque town of Ojai. The trail starts out along the banks of beautiful Thatcher Creek, with several crossings, then heads upwards almost 1800 feet to a shady pine-studded campsite with spectacular views.
Directions: Take highway 33 north from highway 101 in Ventura. Stay on Highway 33 until it turns off from highway 150. Then bear right and take Highway 150 (Ojai Ave.) east through the city. Once outside town, turn left on Reeves road. Follow Reeves about a mile to McAndrew Road and make another left, following the signs for Thatcher School. Another mile up the road, take the road to the school grounds. Stay to the right and follow the signs to the gymkhana field. Park near the fire gate at the trailhead.
A short, easy dirt road that’s 1.75 miles long, Shelf Road is a public route closed to motor traffic and gated at each end. It runs east and west at the north edge of Ojai between Signal Street and Gridley. There is a beautiful view of the Ojai Valley. Drive to the end of N. Signal St. and park your car. Walk to the end of Gridley and back. You can also start on the other side by going up Gridley and parking on the left where you’ll see a little dirt turnout.
The Gridley Trail is a versatile out-and-back hike. The initial leg from the trailhead is a brisk incline that quickly rewards hikers with beautiful vistas of Ojai and a more even-grade terrain where the trail intersects Fuel break Road Trail. At the intersection, stay right and follow a dirt road paralleling avocado groves. As the trail enters the northwest side of Gridley Canyon, hikers are treated to cooler temperatures, and a path lined with ferns and maple trees. Gridley Springs is about 2.8 miles along the trail and makes for a nice rest. North of Gridley Springs, the trail narrows from a dirt road into a trail and enters an eastern fork of Gridley Canyon. The trail follows switchbacks past bay trees and the sedimentary rocks of the Topatopa Mountains. Gridley Trail ends at Gridley Saddle on Nordhoff Ridge Road.
Directions: From downtown Ojai, follow Ojai Ave. and turn left on Gridley Road. Follow Gridley Road past the east entrance to the Shelf Road Trail, until the road ends in a cul-de-sac. The trailhead can be found on the left.
This hike follows the Pratt Trail from its beginning near the Signal Street catch basin in Ojai to its junction with the spur trail to Valley View Camp, and on to the camp. By following the stream which runs through the camp for a short distance through the brush, the hiker comes to a series of small waterfalls and a nice view of the Ojai Valley.
Directions: In downtown Ojai, follow Signal street north to the unpaved road leading westward to the catch basin. A sign at the junction points the way towards the trailhead. Go straight ahead past the catch basin, past a private road going off to your right, and proceed to the spacious parking area by the trailhead. The trail passes through private property for over a mile before entering the forest. Follow the trail signs and please respect the private property.
Cozy Dell Trail
The trailhead is located 3.3 miles north of Ojai and .1 mile south of Friends’ Ranch Packing House. It ends at Cozy Dell Creek, where it ties into the Foothill Trail and Cozy Dell Road. From this junction, a loop can be made by following the Foothill Trail and then continuing back along the Ojai Fuelbreak Road. There are no camps or water along the way. Along this trail, large oak trees provide plenty of shade and there are spectacular views of the Ojai Valley.
The destination of this hike is a spectacular section of Matilija Creek that flows over unusual rock slabs. Lovely pools and cascades abound over this half-mile section of water. Getting to this section of the water is somewhat less inspiring, although the mountain views are lovely.
Follow the road northwest from the parking area for about a mike, passing through a wildlife refuge and past side trails to several camps. At the one mile mark, you will come to a T in the road. Take the right branch, follow it through an easement past a house, and along fence made of rocks. At about 2 miles the road narrows to a single-track trail and gets somewhat overgrown. At about the 3-mile mark, you will come upon a very rocky gully at the top of a small hill overlooking the creek. Scramble down the gully and pick up the trail again to the left near the bottom. Travel a few hundred yards upstream on the trail until you see the water cascading over large rock slabs.
Directions: From Ojai, drive 4.9 miles north on highway 33 to North Matilija Road and turn left. Continue 4.8 miles to the parking area on the left by the trailhead gate.
Rose Valley Falls
This relatively easy hike takes you to the base of the two tier 300 foot high Rose Valley Falls. The trail follows Rose Creek for a pleasant half mile before the upper falls come into view, with water cascading over a sheer sandstone cliff. The trail takes you to the base of the lower falls, with water trickling in ribbons through the moss covered cliff. A number of side trails lead up to the base of the upper falls, but these routes are very steep and exposed in places, so use extreme caution if you decide to try this.
I did this hike during a rather dry March, and although there was water coming down the lower falls, I could not see any water on the upper falls. I imagine that this waterfall must be a stunning spectacle a few days after a rainstorm.
Directions: From Ojai, drive 15 miles north on Highway 33 to the Rose Valley turnoff and make a right. Continue 3 miles to the Rose Valley Campground turnoff and make a right. Park at the end of the road, about a half mile up near the trailhead sign.