Subject: Fw: hiking trails of sespe wilderness

Visitors Info> Ojai
----- Original Message -----
From: Paul Sailer
To: paul sailer
Sent: Tuesday, May 28, 2002 6:58 PM
Subject: hiking trails of sespe wilderness

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Nordhoff & Potrero Seco Vehicle Access Road Wildlife,
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District overview


Trail Name and Miles: Description:
Agua Blanca

11.2* miles

Moderate with some steep sections.

Not recommended for horses.

*Need to hike 5 miles on road before coming to trail.

From I-5, drive 10.5 miles west on Highway 126, turn
right on Piru Canyon Road. From Fillmore, drive 7.3 miles east on Highway 126
and turn left on Piru Canyon Road. Drive 6 miles to Lake Piru gatehouse. Park
as directed. Hike 5 miles north on Blue Point Road to Blue Point Campground,
where the trail begins. Walk through the gate on left before the stream
crossing. Follow the dirt road up Piru Creek for 1.2 miles and at the junction
turn left (west) onto the Agua Blanca Trail, where the Sespe Wilderness begins.
Log Cabin Camp, which is just above Devil's Gateway, is 3.3 miles up from this
trail junction. This is a portion of the trail that is difficult to keep in
good condition for horses. The trail junctions with the Pothole Trail just
above Devil's Gateway at 3.1 miles. Continuing on the Agua Blanca Trail, it is
passable for hiking, but is definitely not recommended for horseback riders,
due to a bad section of trail in a gorge east of Ant Camp. Trail
ends at intersection with Alder Creek Trail 2.5 miles north of Dough Flat. The
Agua Blanca is one of the most scenic trails on the Ojai Ranger District.
Alder Creek

10.4 miles

Length 10.4 miles from Dough Flat to Johnston Ridge

Moderately difficult.
Take Highway 126 to Fillmore. Turn north on A
Street/Goodenough Road (at Von's) and drive toward the Sespe Oil Field. After
3.8 miles the road ends. Turn right at the sign that says Oak Flat is 3 miles
and Dough Flat is 10 miles. This is a narrow, rough road that is traveled by
large oil trucks. Be very cautious as you continue on to the parking area at
Dough Flat at the end of the road. From the trailhead you enter the Sespe
Wilderness. Hike north to the first trail junction at 2.5 miles. Go left toward
Alder Creek. Cow Spring is the first camp along the way (.9 miles further), but
water is very low and hard to find here during the summer. There is not much
shade here, so the summer months can be very hot. The next trail junction is
2.7 miles further. If you stay to the left, the trail will go down Alder Creek
and you'll reach Alder Creek Camp after .6 miles. If there is no water there,
continue to hike down canyon .8 miles from Alder Creek Camp. Follo
w the stream to the left an additional .2 miles to reach Shady Camp which
normally has year-round water. Shady Camp is just before a "cliffy" section.
Backtrack to main Alder Creek Trail and continue west for 2.9 miles. Trail
crosses over a summit and drops down to Sespe Creek. Trail follows creek to
Johnston Ridge Trail junction. From here, Sespe Hot Springs is 1.5 miles north.

Chorro Grande

5.1 miles

Steep climb to Pine Mountain Ridge.
Take Highway 33 north 25.6 miles to Chorro Grande Trail
sign. Hike 1.7 miles to Oak Camp where there is year-round water. It is another
2.6 miles to reach Chorro Springs Camp which has year-round water, beneath the
conifers. The trail ends at mountain ridge at Reyes Peak Campground after
another .8 miles. On clear days you can see the coastline and the Cuyama
Badlands from the top.
Cozy Dell

1.9 miles

Easy to moderate.
This trail takes off from Highway 33 (3.3 miles north of
Ojai) near Friends Ranch Packing House. Park on left side of highway. It ends
at Cozy Dell Creek, where it ties into the Foothill Trail and Cozy Dell Road,
1.9 miles from the start. From this junction, a loop hike can be made by
following the Foothill Trail and then continuing along the road from Stewart
Canyon back toward Cozy Dell. Although there are no camps or water along the
way, this is a nice scenic hike due to the large, shady oak trees.
Gene Marshall-Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail

9.9* **miles

First half easy, then very steep climb.

*to Haddock Camp

** Need to hike in 1 mile on road before trail starts.

Drive north up Highway 33 14.7 miles from Ojai, turn
right on Sespe Road, go 4.8 miles to parking area. Hike down road 1 mile. Take
the trail across the wide stream bed and take the trail to the left. After .4
miles turn right at the junction. This will bring you through the impressive
white rocks and to Piedra Blanca Camp after 2.1 miles. Twin Forks Camp is .3
miles further. Both camps have water most of the year. Trail to Pine Mountain
Lodge Camp is another 3.3 miles, very steep in places, but well worth the
visit. This camp is nestled in the conifers and has water close by. From the
junction at Pine Mountain Lodge, the Piedra Blanca Trail continues northwest to
Three Mile 1.8 miles and an additional 2.0 miles to Haddock Camp. From Haddock
Camp the trail is an additional 8.2 miles to Reyes Creek Trailhead/Campground.
The trail which goes northeast from Pine Mountain Lodge Camp leads to Fishbowls
or Cedar Creek Camps on the Mt. Pinos Ranger District.

5.8 miles

Moderate, with the last portion being steep.
Drive east .2 miles from Ojai Ranger Station on Highway
150. Turn left on Gridley Road, go to end and park. This trail starts at the
north end of Gridley Road and ends on top of Nordhoff Ridge. Gridley Springs
Camp, at 2.7 miles, is the only camp along the trail. It has a water trough for
horses. This is the most popular hike from Ojai to Nordhoff ridge because it is
not as steep as other trails in the area (Pratt, Horn Canyon).
Horn Canyon

4.9 miles

Moderately steep trail with some rocky sections.
Drive east 1.6 miles from Ojai Ranger Station on Highway
150. Turn left on Reeves Road and continue to Thacher School. Keep to the right
on school property, follow dirt road to trailhead. The trail begins at Thacher
School and ends along the ridge top, just east of Chief Peak and west of Topa
Topa Bluff. The Pines Camp is located along this trail at 2.5 miles. After the
1948 fires, pine trees were planted at this camp. A few of the trees were lost
during the Wheeler Fire of 1985, but the majority remain to provide a nice camp
Howard Creek

2.8 miles

Moderately difficult hiking trail.
Go north on Highway 33 14.7 miles to junction with Sespe
Road. Turn right on Sespe Road, go .4 miles and park on right. The trail starts
on a dirt access road to a large landslide disposal site; the trail veers to
the left after .2 miles. This is one of the shortest hikes to Nordhoff Ridge
where there are fantastic views of the coastline and the Ojai Valley. A trail
camp with fire ring and table is located where trail ends on Nordhoff Ridge.
Johnston Ridge

8.9 miles

Drive north of Ojai on Highway 33 approximately 38 miles
and turn right on Lockwood Valley Road. Go approximately 12 miles and turn
right on Mutau Road. Follow Mutau Road to Matau Flat trailhead. From this
trailhead located on the Mt. Pinos Ranger District, it is a steep drop down
into the Sespe. There is no water and little shade along the trail. After 7.9
miles, a side trail turns sharply left and leads .5 miles to Sespe Hot Springs.
Sespe Camp is an additional .6 miles from this junction. Sespe Creek is an
additional .4 miles from the camp. Prior to the June 1992 wilderness
legislation, this was a popular motorcycle trail. It is now open only to
horseback riders and hikers.
Lion Canyon

5.5 miles

Easy for first 2 miles, then a moderate climb.
The trail starts at Middle Lion Campground. Cross Lion
Canyon Creek and keep to the right. You will reach two trail junctions along
the way. The first one is at 1.3 miles where the Rose-Lion Connector Trail to
the right takes you to Upper Rose Valley Lake. At the second junction, you can
follow the trails to East Fork Lion Camp (left) which is within the Sespe
Wilderness, West Fork Lion Camp (right), or stay on the main trail 3.6 miles to
Nordhoff Ridge for spectacular views.
Matilija Canyon

8.9 miles

Nice for a day or overnight.

To access from the south, drive north of Ojai 5 miles on
Highway 33 and turn left on Matilija Road. (Do not take South Matilija Road at
4.2 miles). Drive to a locked gate with parking adjacent. Hike beyond the gate
on a dirt road. After the second stream crossing, the trail goes off to your
right, entering the wilderness and follows the year-round creek. Matilija Camp
is 1.3 miles from the gate, Middle Matilija another 2.7 miles, and Maple Camp
is an additional 3.3 miles further. The trail ends 1.6 miles further where it
connects with a dirt road that leads 2.9 miles down Cherry Canyon to Highway
33. For the northern access point, go 27.3 miles north of Ojai on Highway 33
and turn left on rough dirt road up Cherry Canyon. The trail starts at the
ridge top 2.9 miles from the highway. Road closed to vehicles at Highway 33 in
winter and until Sespe Creek dries up.

Middle Sespe

Easy trail, but narrow in places.

7.9* miles

*Need to hike .2 miles on road before trail starts and
1 mile on road if exiting near Lion Campground.
To hike eastbound, drive to Beaver Campground, 17 miles
north of Ojai on Highway 33. Park at the gate above the campground. Walk down
the paved road for .2 miles. Trail begins on the right at the base of the steep
section of road. Campground is closed. Trail crosses stream and follows the old
road for the first mile. Then the trail leaves the Sespe River and climbs over
a steep bluff. Once you have reached the high point, you will drop down and
cross Rock Creek. The trail parallels the Sespe until it reaches Lion
Campground. Lion Campground is closed.
To hike westbound, take Highway 33 14.7 miles north of
Ojai, turn right on Sespe Road. Go 4.8 miles to parking area before locked
gate. Hike 1 mile down road and follow trail across Sespe Creek and take the
trail to the left. After .4 miles continue straight at trail junction toward
Beaver Campground.


2.1 miles

Easy trail following canyon bottom.
Drive north of Ojai 5 miles on Highway 33 and turn left
on Matilija Road. (Do not take South Matilija Road at 4.2 miles). Drive up
Matilija Road to a locked gate with parking adjacent. Hike on road .6 miles
through private property. About 200 yards past the second stream crossing, the
trail will be on your left. It will take you to Murietta Camp after .85 miles.
The trail continues another .7 miles to its intersection with Murietta Road. If
you follow Murietta Road instead of the trail, you will reach Murietta Divide
after 4.4 miles, with steep sections toward the end.
Partial Wilderness

5.9 miles

Moderate to difficult, due to steepness.
From I-5, drive 10.5 miles west on Highway 126, turn
right on Piru Canyon Road. From Fillmore, drive 7.3 miles east on Highway 126
and turn left on Piru Canyon Road. Drive 6 miles to Lake Piru gatehouse. Park
as directed. Hike 4 miles north on Blue Point Road. This trail takes off
westerly from Blue Point Road, about one mile south of Blue Point Campground.
It follows the ridge line for 2.7 miles (difficult) and then enters the Sespe
Wilderness and descends into the Pothole for another 2 miles (moderate). The
trail joins the Agua Blanca Trail after 5.9 miles. A loop hike can be taken by
connecting with the Agua Blanca Trail one mile north of Pothole Cabin.
Potrero John

1.6 miles

Easy trip following stream channel.
This trail provides a beautiful hike into the Sespe
Wilderness. The trail starts where Potrero John Creek crosses Highway 33 21.1
miles north of Ojai. It follows a canyon bottom and has running water most of
the year. It ends at Potrero John Camp, but it can be fun to explore past the

4.6 miles

Moderate, steeper than Gridley Trail.
Trail begins at the trailhead parking area located left
of Signal Street north of downtown Ojai. Trail ends on Nordhoff Ridge, .9 miles
west of the old Nordhoff Lookout Tower. Valley View Camp is located 3.2 miles
up trail. The trail's lower section ties into the Cozy Dell and Foothill
Trails, as well as the Ojai Front Fuelbreak Road. This system of trails and the
fuelbreak provide many different loop opportunities, all open to hiking,
mountain biking and horseback riding. The lower end of the trail goes through
private property, so please follow the signs and stay on the trail.
Reyes Peak

5.8 miles

Moderate but narrow in places.
Drive 31.7 miles north of Ojai on Highway 33. Turn right
on Reyes Peak Road and drive through Reyes Peak Campground (near the end of
Reyes Peak Road). Continue an additional mile along a rough road to a parking
area. Hike about 100 yards on the old road bed, then take the trail on the
left, staying on the north slope until you reach Haddock Peak. The trail drops
steeply to Haddock Camp, located at the headwaters of Piedra Blanca Creek,
where water is available most of the year. Trail ends at its junction with the
Gene Marshall-Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail.
Rose Valley Falls Trail

.5 miles

Easy trail
Drive 14.7 miles north of Ojai on Highway 33 to Sespe
Road turnoff. Turn right and follow paved road 3.1 miles, turn right on Chief
Peak Road and go .6 miles to campground. Limited parking is available at the
upper end of the campground loop; trail starts just to the left and is marked.
Additional parking is available just outside the campground adjacent to the
upper lake. This short walk leads to the base of Rose Valley Falls as it
cascades over an arkosic sandstone cliff. On a hot day, this hike offers a
refreshingly cooler setting and is well-shaded. For your safety, please do not
climb around on steep, cliffy sections, as the rock crumbles easily.
Santa Paula Canyon/Last Chance Trail (21W11)

12.0 miles

Moderate difficulty; partial wilderness
Drive 10.2 miles east of Ojai Ranger Station on Highway
150 (Ojai Avenue in Ojai). From Santa Paula, drive 5.8 miles north of Highway
126 on Highway 150. Park in either of two dirt parking lots adjacent to the
highway at Thomas Aquinas College. Walk up the college road; please respect
signs to stay on road and not cut across open areas of the campus. Follow signs
through campus; route eventually splits off to the right from the college. It
continues through a ranch and an oil well site. The route becomes a trail
approximately 1.3 miles from the highway as it follows along scenic Santa Paula
Creek in a forest setting. From this point on, there are nice pools along the
creek. The trail crosses the creek twice before climbing up through a series of
switchbacks to Big Cone Camp. This camp is 3.4 miles from the highway and
consists of 4 separate sites with firerings nestled in a grove of Bigcone
Douglas Fir. At the far end of this site, a brief series of swi
tchbacks leads down to the main and east forks of Santa Paula Creek. This area,
dotted with polished-rock pools set in a steep gorge, is popular for swimming
and draws large crowds on weekends. Due to the creek crossings, it is typically
not accessible in the winter months. Remember to pack out what you've brought
in to protect this scenic area. Be very careful when hiking this trail due to
the many drop-offs and high cliffs. Continuing north on the trail, Cross Camp
is located .5 miles north of Big Cone Camp. It contains 2 firerings. Mountain
bikes may be legally used up to this point. Beyond Cross Camp, the trail enters
the Sespe Wilderness, where only hikers and equestrians may enter. The trail
crosses the creek and climbs northerly 1.5 miles to Jackson Camp, located along
the creek. An additional 3.5-mile climb ends at Last Chance Camp. The final
trail segment running northwesterly is 3.1 miles long. The trail ends at the
Red Reef Trail 2.4 miles east of the end of the s
pur road off Nordhoff Peak Road at the wilderness boundary. This trail, known
as Last Chance Trail from Cross Camp to its northern end, is not frequently
maintained and may be difficult to follow in places. The trail is not passable
for stock beyond Big Cone Camp.
Sespe River

13.3 miles*

* Need to hike in 1 mile on road before trail starts.

Easy to moderate.
Drive 14.7 miles north of Ojai on Highway 33. Turn right
on Sespe Road and go 4.8 miles to parking area 1 mile before Lion Campground.
Campground is closed. Hike down road to campground, cross the river bed and
head downstream on the old road. Along the way there are 10 more river
crossings before Sespe Hot Springs, the first of which is at Bear Canyon at 4
miles. There are numerous dispersed camping locations and many deep pools along
the river, though they may be dry during the summer. The trail ends at its
junction with Johnston Ridge and Alder Creek Trails.

In June of 1992 this area became part of the Sespe
Wilderness, and mountain bicycles are no longer allowed. Access is by foot or
horseback only.

Sisar Canyon/ Red Reef
Partial Wilderness

16.9 miles

Length 16.9 miles from Highway 150 to Sespe River

Easy to moderate hike.

Drive east of Ojai Ranger Station on Highway 150 7.1
miles to Sisar Road, just past Summit School. Park along north side of Highway
150 at the junction of Sisar Road (private). Hike up Sisar Road one mile to a
locked gate. Respect private property. Hike up the dirt road for 2.1 miles
(from the gate) until the Red Reef Trail leaves the road on the right at a
switchback. (If you stay on the road, it switches back up to the ridge after
4.5 more miles). Follow the sign to White Ledge Camp (1 mile) which is
completely shaded and is nice for the summer months. Water from an artesian
spring is usually flowing year-round. Continue on the trail another 1.7 miles
to the junction with Hines Peak Road. A trail camp with firering and table is
located just east of this junction. Turn right and go .6 miles on a dirt road
to the Sespe Wilderness boundary. Go east for 2.4 miles where Nordhoff Ridge
Trail (old road) ends at it's intersection with Last Chance Trail, just
northwest of Hines Peak. Lady Bug Camp is 2.3 miles from this point and is
shaded by Bigcone Douglas Firs. It has water and lady bugs almost year-round.
The trail ends at the junction with Sespe River Trail after 5.6 miles. Sycamore
Flat is 1.1 miles east. From the junction, the Sespe River Trail takes you west
(left) to Lion Campground after 8.1 miles. Hiking east (to the right) will take
you to Sespe Hot Springs after 6.7 miles.
Wheeler Gorge Nature Trail

1.0 mile

Self-guided nature trail
Drive north of Ojai on Highway 33, 8.5 miles. Park on
right just past bridge over north fork of Matilija Creek; which is a 1/2 mile
north of entrance to Wheeler Gorge Campground along Highway 33. Interpretive
brochure explaining each stop is available from the Campground Host for this
loop trail.


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Off-Highway Vehicle

Trail Name and Miles: Description:
Ortega Trail

8.7 miles

Very rough motorcycle trail

This trail intersects Highway 33 in two locations: Its
southern terminus is 9.6 miles north of Ojai. The description that follows
assumes starting at this point and going northerly on the trail. This direction
is generally uphill. The alternative is to drive 27.3 miles north of Ojai and
turn left on Cherry Creek Road. Proceed 3 miles south to a saddle, where the
trail starts, heading south. Bring plenty of water, as there is none along the
trail. Drive 9.6 miles north of Ojai on Highway 33; trail starts on the left.
This is the only trail open to motorcycles on the Ojai Ranger District. The
trail is recommended for experienced riders only. Hikers, equestrians, and
mountain bikers are also welcome. Trail offers good panoramic views, including
views of the ocean. Wildflowers are common in spring and early summer. An old
campsite is located at the 3-mile mark; it is now overgrown and has no water
available. Ortega Camp is an additional 3.1 miles. It contai
ns 4 usable firerings and 1 table, but has no water available. After an
additional 2.6 miles up the old four wheel drive road, the trail ends at its
intersection with the end of Cherry Creek Road. This last segment is also open
to quadrunners. The trail ascends a ridge separating the Matilija and Tule
Creek drainages. Follow Cherry Creek Road 3.0 miles north to its intersection
with Highway 33. This point is 27.3 miles north of Ojai. This road is gated
closed at Highway 33 on a seasonal basis (typically December through July)
until Sespe Creek near the highway dries up. The gate is used to protect
steelhead habitat. The Ortega Trail is posted closed at times during the rainy
season to protect the trail from accelerated erosion caused by use. Check with
the Ojai Ranger Station for the status of this trail.


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Nordhoff & Potrero Seco Vehicle Access Road

Two very special places on the Ojai Ranger District are
the Nordhoff Ridge area and the Potrero Seco area. These two areas will remain
open to public use only if everyone follows the simple rules discussed below:
As the Forest Service has a limited budget, your help
in maintaining these areas in their pristine condition is important so that you
can have an opportunity to visit them again.

Both roads have controlled access through a locked gate
with a limited number of permits available to maintain this experience. We have
just doubled the number of permits available in response to public demand, but
must ask for everyone's cooperation to ensure future public use of these areas.

Limits and Vehicle Types

a.. Nordhoff Ridge has a limit of 20 vehicles per day
b.. Potrero Seco has a limit of 10 vehicles per day
On both roads, street legal motorcycles are permitted
only. For the Nordhoff Ridge Road the motorcycles have to be trailed up to the
top of the chipseal (surfaced) portion of the road. Quadrunners are not allowed.

How Do I Get a Permit?

Call the Ojai Ranger District office at 805-646-4348
for permit availability. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to
4:30 p.m. Reservations are made by phone only. There are no walk-ins or
mail-ins accepted. You may make a reservation not more than 14 days in advance.
Reservations may be made for a maximum of 3 days in a 7 day period. Each permit
is free... There will be 1 vehicle permit issued per person, no exceptions.
There is a maximum limit of 4 people allowed to each vehicle.

Please plan to pick up your permit before 10:00 a.m. on
the day of your trip or your reservation will be canceled and released to
others who want it. Permits must be picked up at the Ojai Ranger District
office not more than 5 days prior to the date of your starting date. You must
know the year, make model, license plate number of the vehicle, name & address
when picking up the permit.

The following after hour arrangements may be made:

Permits may be picked up after hours when prearranged
with the office. You must call in the afternoon on the day of the starting date
on your permit and give name, address, and vehicle information that is needed.
The locked gate combination will be given verbally at that time. Permits will
then be left outside in wooden box in front of office. You must sign through on
all 3 copies, take the white and green copy, (keep one with you and one in your
vehicle), and leave pink copy signed in wooden box. Permits are only valid when

Special Rules for Each Vehicle Access Road


Nordhoff Ridge Road is a 4-Wheel Drive Road Only. There
are no exceptions made.

Four Wheel Drive must be engaged on the surfaced
portion of the road beyond Rose Valley Campground.


Due to the flood damage earlier this year Potrero Seco
Road will be closed approximately 0.5 miles past the Potrero Seco campground.
There is a locked gate that will block off further vehicle access.

OK. I Have My Permit. What do I do Next?

*All Permits will be canceled during any rain or snow.
Roads will be closed for a 3 day (minimum) clearing period. The closure will
start when the rain or snow stops and will go for a total of 3 days (minimum)
depending on weather conditions.

a.. Permit good on specified day(s) only
b.. Number combination will be given on permit/open
gate with combination listed on permit.
c.. Let only your vehicle through the gate
d.. Lock gate behind you-spin the numbers first to
engage the lock
e.. Engage 4WD as directed by signs for additional
f.. Stay on designated roads Obey all signs-drive
g.. Be careful with fire-serious danger of wildfire
in these areas. Current fire restrictions prohibit fires outside of developed
campgrounds except gas or petroleum jelly stoves with a fire permit.
h.. Use caution if shooting firearms-remember other
users are present (Call the Ojai District Office for specifics on hunting &
target shooting.)
i.. Stand off roadway to shoot
j.. Pack out all your trash
k.. Dig a 6 inch hole for toilet - cover after use
l.. Respect private landowner signing-do not disturb
m.. Comments, questions, problems, concerns?? Call us
at (805) 646-4348 or write to Ojai Ranger District, 1190 E. Ojai Avenue, Ojai,
CA 93023. As this policy is being closely monitored, please take a minute to
send us your comments.
Remember that roads are being monitored for possible
future use level changes. Your cooperation may affect future permit increases.

Thank YOU for Your help in obeying these rules.

Other Info
-Forest Orders
-Campfire Permits
-Tread Lightly
-Safety TIps

Fee Demo

Adventure Pass

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