I love to hike Ojai. The Ojai Valley and the surrounding mountains have a great trail system. You can choose to roam some of the foothill trails with great views of the Valley, explore nearby canyons such as Santa Paula and Gridley, or go for a longer treks to high peaks and into the Los Padres National Forest Backcountry.

Hikers love the sunsets in Ojai, especially those Pink Moments, like this one captured by The Trailmaster in Ojai Valley Preserve.
Hikers love the sunsets in Ojai, especially those Pink Moments, like this one captured by The Trailmaster in Ojai Valley Preserve.

And then there are those extraordinary sunsets, what the Ojai locals call “pink moments.” Instead of looking west per usual at the setting sun, the hiker looks east to see its reflection on the bluffs of the Topa Topa Mountains, which for a precious few moments glow an amazing pink.

Ojai’s Wikipedia write-up mentions hiking twice: “The town is known mostly for its hotels and services catering to tourism, recreation including strong hiking…” And there’s more: “Ojai’s culture is heavily focused on ecology, health and organic agriculture, walking/hiking, spirituality, music and local art.”

I HEART Hiking Ojai. I spotted this heart-shaped rock on the Gridley Trail.
I HEART Hiking Ojai. I spotted this heart-shaped rock on the Gridley Trail.

If you want to start exploring the valley with an easy Ojai hike, hit the trail to Ojai Valley Preserve. Hikers, bird-watchers and dog-walkers enjoy a multi-use path, signed variously en route as “Way of the Hawk Trail” and “Way of Peace Trail.” You can hike to a pond, an oak savannah, and past swales and vernal pools.

Another great place to hike Ojai: Ventura River Preserve. Well-signed footpaths and old ranch roads weave through the 1,591-acre preserve, a diverse environment with oak woodland, chaparral-covered hillsides and sunny meadows.

And there are more ways to hike Ojai: ascend the area’s lovely canyons. Horn Canyon is a shady retreat watered by seasonal Thacher Creek. I really like the 3-mile round trip hike to pools and the 6-mile round trip climb to The Pines, a green island of conifers floating atop a sea of chaparral. Also check out tranquil Santa Paula Canyon with its waterfalls, wading pools and swimming holes.

And then there’s another Trailmaster favorite if you want to hike Ojai: Gridley Canyon. A favorite 6-miler is the hike to Gridley Spring and if you feel like getting on top of the world, make it a 12 mile round trip to the top of 4,425-foot Nordhoff Peak that forms a dramatic backdrop for the Ojai Valley.

For detailed accounts of the best hikes around Ojai, get a copy of my pocket guide, Hike Ventura County.

Hike On,
John McKinney
The Trailmaster