Chief Peak

Great hike.  I was proud of myself after this one.  Cool and cloudy but the clouds didn’t obscure any of the awesome views this hike provides – Pine Mountain, the white rocks of Piedra Blanca, the Channel Islands, Lake Casitas, the Santa Monica Mountains, Topa Topa Bluff, and more can be seen on this hike.  I was glad to be back in Ojai after six months away.

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Photo 1 – The turn-off for Rose Valley Campground and the trailhead for my hike to Chief Peak is about 14 miles past Ojai on Highway 33.  I pulled over on the drive up as I passed this natural landmark on the mountainside.  I recognized it from my Nordhoff Peak hike.  It sort of looks like an arrowhead or a bird with it’s wings spread.  Photo 2 – After turning on Rose Valley Road from the 33, I took the signed turn-off for Rose Valley Campground.  On the way I stopped to take a photo of the upper tier of Rose Valley Falls, there in the middle.

3   Rose Valley Campground is small.  I parked by the side of the road.  On the right side is a gated, paved road.  This is the trail you want.  The pavement quickly turns to dirt.

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The road climbs, steeply in stretches.

8     9   For 2.1 miles I traveled up and up on this steep dirt road.

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Looking north at a part of the massive Pine Mountain.

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The last third of the way to the top is the steepest.  Every time I thought I needed to climb just one more hill or turn just one more corner, I was greeted with one more hill or one more corner.  Nearing the ridge I looked down and saw the bird-looking rock formation that I photographed on my way up.  The road I was on ends at a T-junction. Go right and you will head toward Nordhoff Peak.  I went left on Chief Peak Road.

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Looking down on the road headed toward Nordhoff Peak, 3 1/2 miles away.

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And there, the tower that sits atop Nordhoff Peak.

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19   I began hiking east.  The views are spectacular. Here you can see Point Mugu and Boney Mountain.

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Photo 1 – That body of water in the foreground is Lake Casitas.  In the background is Santa Cruz Island.  Photo 2 – In the background – Anacapa Island

20     23     24   By the side of the road I found some poodle dog bush.  I had been warned a couple years ago by a hiker in Ojai to watch out for this toxic plant with purple flowers.  It was the first time I had heard of it.

25   Marked on my map is the tiniest pond, you can barely see it.  It was dry on this day.  It makes a good landmark.  Once you pass this on your left you have only about another 3/4 of a mile to the turn-off to Chief Peak.

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As I approached Chief Peak I was gripped by a bit of trepidation.  The peak looks really steep.  To get to the top you have to go up and over that lower and rounder hill first.

28     29     30   Photo 2 – This is a good clear photo of the challenge that lay ahead.  The road led me right up to a firebreak.  The firebreak runs very steeply up to the right, and then makes a sharp left to the top of the lower peak.  Chief Peak is hidden behind the lower peak in this photo.  Photo 3 – I passed the firebreak and continued down the road to get a good vantage point of the peak from beneath.  I kept wondering how the heck I was going to get to the top.

31     32     33   I backtracked and headed up the firebreak.  This was very steep and slippery.  I wore my MicroSpikes and that helped a lot.  The steep incline uncomfortably bent my feet back until they formed a ‘V’ shape with my shins.

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From the top of the smaller peak I look toward Chief Peak.  It looked bigger than I thought it would from this point.  From here I dropped down into a small saddle which put me at the Chief’s foot.

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38   At the bottom of the saddle I continued to follow the trail up and right under the rocks of Chief Peak.  I followed the trail to the right.  To get to the top I had to do some scrambling.  I went to the right, scrambled up a few rocks, went to the right, scrambled up some more, and so on.

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42   There are a few areas like the one in photo 2 to scramble over.  Stacked rock markers help guide the way.  Photo 4 – Near the top I looked up and saw these flowers and the Sierra Club register tucked inside a hole in a boulder.  I pulled myself up and over the final rocks to the top of the Chief Peak.

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48   At the top there is a small, flat area nestled between boulders.  Photo 3 – Looking down at the road which goes past and down from Chief Peak and connects to the trails in Horn and Sisar Canyons.

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View from Chief Peak

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Close-up of Topa Topa Bluff

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50   There is a great view of Point Mugu and much of the Santa Monica Mountain Range, Lake Casitas and Santa Cruz Island, and Pine Mountain.

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At the foot of Pine Mountain is the Piedra Blanca Rock Formation.  The trailhead for that hike is just a couple miles from the campground where I parked for this hike.

53   Although only about 8 1/2 miles, this was a tough hike.  Very rewarding day.

 

 

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