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.
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.
The road climbs, steeply in stretches.
Looking north at a part of the massive Pine Mountain.
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.
And there, the tower that sits atop Nordhoff Peak.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
View from Chief Peak
Close-up of Topa Topa Bluff
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.