Matilija Creek Trail / Murietta Canyon

Beautiful creek-side hiking in Ojai.  Turned out to be a little longer than I anticipated, a bit over 13 miles.  The terrain is almost all flat but there is some rock-hopping involved.  I needed a good hike to get back on track and Ojai delivered.

1     2     3   From Highway 33 I took Matilija Canyon Road 4.8 miles to the parking lot.  It is a beat up, sometimes narrow paved road.  You must pass through a couple of private ranches on this hike.  The first is a wildlife refuge known as Matilija Canyon Ranch.

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The trails all break off of this main road.

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Photo 2 – This is the view looking into Murietta Canyon, which I would explore later in the day.

7     8     9   I stayed on the main road for about a mile.  There was a trail that heads to the left marked “All Trails”.  It took me right up to to a kiosk and a ‘T” junction.  Things got a little confusing here as the kiosk is marked “No Trail” and the gate to Blue Heron Ranch is marked private.  Photo 1 – I turned right at the kiosk and went through the gate.  I stayed on the trail through Blue Heron Ranch, a little paradise out in the wilderness.

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Good Boy

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14   Photo 1 – The trail winds on beyond the ranch and then down to the creek, marked by that center strip of the bright green trees.  Photos 2 and 3 – Interesting looking mountain ahead.

15   There are many little waterfalls and pools along the trail.

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The thing to do here is to explore all the spur trails along the way, that’s where all the fun surprises are revealed.  A spur took me to this awesome slab of rock.

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There are little camps set up next to the creek as well.  Photo 3 – Charcoal drawing on a rock next to one of the camps

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Camp set up – stone chairs and a cooking area complete with a pot and knife someone left behind.

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There are many of these stone staircases along the trail.  I hopped out to a rock in the middle of the creek for photo 1.

27     28     158   There is a lot of crumbling rock like in photo 2 – I was told by another hiker that this section was clear a month ago, so a slide must have happened within that time.  Photo 3 – As I approached I thought this sharp rock was an old wooden marker sticking up out of the ground.  Instead, a stone spire standing straight up, about the height of a large orange cone.

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VIDEO: Quiet Time along Matilija Creek

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The trail disappears quite often, but just scramble over that big rock in your way or walk a few yards along the next large slab and you’ll pick it up again.  It’s almost impossible to get lost here as the trail never strays far from the creek.

34   I came to a spot, about three miles in, where I couldn’t easily find a way around.  I could have taken my boots off and trudged through knee high water but decided to turn around.  Although I could see the trail continue on ahead, my guidebook said that it ended in a half mile anyway and I had a lot more hiking left to do.

35     36     37   Photo 1 – On my way back now – under this slick layer of mud is solid rock.  It made for slippery going even with my hiking poles.  Photo 2 – Wonder what kind of bird made this big a mess.  There is a condor sanctuary nearby.

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The mountain in photo 2 looks like Jabba the Hutt.

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Back at Blue Heron Ranch – there are beautiful stone walls lining the road that runs through the property.  Photos 2 and 3 – Ancient Alien Text  – Crop circles at Blue Heron Ranch

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I headed back on the main road and turned off at the marker for Murietta Canyon.

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How cool is this guy?

47     50   I was surprised at how overgrown the trail is, mostly with tall grasses and weeds, but there’s also a lot of poison oak.

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I crossed over the rocky creek bed a few times.  I just kept moving to the other side and soon saw the trail.

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I reached Murietta Camp 1.7 miles from the turn-off.   The trail continues beyond the camp but is quite overgrown.  The trail was crowded with green.  Every plant started to look like poison oak after a while.  I’m beginning to think I must have a low sensitivity to the stuff as I have never developed a rash.  I would think that if any trail would have me scratching, it would be the last 0.8 miles of this one.  Photo 4 – I reach the end of the overgrown trail and am spit out on Murietta Divide Road.

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I started down the road and thought it might swing down to Blue Heron Ranch.  I was wrong.  I walked a little over a mile down hill and finally turned around.

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Panorama from Murietta Divide Road

58     59     60   Plants along the trail

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Thank you, Ojai.

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