Ojai Valley Guide Summer 2020

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Wheeler Gorge Nature Trail A nice hike when the mercury soars, this loop trail is less than one-mile-long and starts and ends creekside, beneath the plentiful shade of alders. The trailhead can be found at the upper end of Wheeler Gorge Campground, about 15 minutes north of Ojai on Highway 33. Noncampers can park at a turnout just before the bridge over North Fork Matilija Creek, but don’t block the locked gate. The trail takes you under the bridge and climbs slightly past stands of poison oak. There’s one easy creek

crossing at the start and a number of little pools and waterfalls. Soon you leave the creek and enter a brushy area in the full sun before the trail loops around and rejoins the creek. Signposts along the trail identify a wide range of native plants and shrubs including laurel sumac, toyon and chamise. Learn more about the forest at the nearby Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center, which offers drinks, snacks, maps, books and other literature, Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m


Reyes Peak Trail At roughly 7,000 feet elevation, this six-milelong trail along the jagged spine of the Pine Mountain range might remind you of the Sierras. Majestic Jeffrey and sugar pine, white fir and incense cedar tower above and offer plentiful shade, while outstanding views of the Sespe watershed and the Cuyama Valley unfold far below you. For the more adventurous, an obscure path to the south of the main trail climbs to Reyes Peak, at 7,514 feet the third-highest mountain peak in Ventura

County and the former site of a fire lookout tower destroyed in the 1932 Matilija Fire. Following the main trail, hike four miles to Haddock Peak. The trail then drops steeply to Haddock Camp and the junction with the Gene Marshall-Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail. Water is usually available at the camp. From Ojai, drive 31 miles north on Highway 33 to the turnoff for Reyes Peak Road (aka Pine Mountain Road). Drive another 7 miles to the trailhead. There are restrooms at the trailhead but no water is available.

The Ojai Valley can be hot in summer and early fall, but good hiking options exist if you pick the right trail and plan ahead. All four trails described here are easy walking and have plenty of shade. A few offer shallow pools for splashing. Start early in the day and bring plenty to drink.