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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


View from Chief Peak


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.



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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