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.
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.
The trails all break off of this main road.
Photo 2 – This is the view looking into Murietta Canyon, which I would explore later in the day.
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.
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.
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
Camp set up – stone chairs and a cooking area complete with a pot and knife someone left behind.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The mountain in photo 2 looks like Jabba the Hutt.
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
I headed back on the main road and turned off at the marker for Murietta Canyon.
How cool is this guy?
I crossed over the rocky creek bed a few times. I just kept moving to the other side and soon saw the trail.
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.
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.
Panorama from Murietta Divide Road
Thank you, Ojai.