Five Little Ojai Hikes

Had a lot of fun.  Every hike was awesome in it’s own unique way.  The whole day just had a magical feel to it.

In order, I hiked:
1. Lake Casitas – Shoreline Trail
2. Wheeler Gorge Nature Trail
3. Piedra Blanca rock formations
4. Rose Valley Falls
5. Meditation Mount
I was hiking or driving all day but the hike miles only totaled about 7-8 miles.

1     2     3   At 6 a.m. I paid $10 for a day pass at Lake Casitas and headed down to the Shoreline Trail trailhead.  After I paid I took the road to the left.  It lead me to a big parking area.  I continued on from here, following a road out of the parking lot that starts at the far left side of the lot.  The road soon dead ends with the lake on the right and a road on the left. The trail is signed.  I walked next to the road and then over the dam.  Photo 3 – Grapes in the foreground, cows in the background.

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Morning Stillness at Lake Casitas

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With the water and the mountains, it’s like looking at a postcard.

6     7     8   The trail ends at a cove and picnic table.  By the table I found a Nitrous Oxide canister, a clear sign of after hours teenage partying.

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13   The Sun came out and the views got even better. In these five photos I am panning from left to right.

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I left the lake and this bear carving and headed up Highway 33.  One of the cool advantages of hiking in multiple locations is stopping and checking out interesting things along the way – like Wheeler Springs Post Office, the USA’s smallest as documented in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”.  There are also three tunnels to drive through.  They are different than the ones I usually drive through.  The first one is narrow and has no lights inside so I needed to turn my headlights on (it’s short).  Tunnels two and three are short, twin tunnels coming in rapid succession.  I had traveled on the 33 a couple of times when I was a teen.  It wasn’t as hairy as I remembered, in fact not bad at all.

18     19   Right off of Highway 33 is the lollipop-shaped, mile long Wheeler Gorge Nature Trail.  I started by going under this bridge which is part of the 33.

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Soon I crossed the creek.  I did this on the way back as well, after I had completed the short loop.

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26   The trail is easy to follow but surrounded by dense vegetation.  There are signs marking various species of plant along the trail.  These signs acted as handy landmarks and let me know I hadn’t strayed from the trail.  At times it felt like the forest enveloped the trail.  I climbed up a ways and popped out above the creek to some decent views.  Then it was back down, cross the creek and back to my car.

27     28   I continued up Highway 33 another 6 miles to the turn-off for Rose Valley Road.  This flat paved road runs past a gun club and also the parking areas for the next two hikes.  Photo 2 – Pine Mountain from Rose Valley Road.

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The Piedra Blanca rock formations come into view.  These two photos pan left to right.

31     32   The trail to Piedra Blanca intersects with other trails, so be sure to follow the signs.

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35     36     37   The main trail runs to the right of the massive rocks and then on for another 17 miles.  When you reach the rocks, explore at your leisure.  There isn’t any true trail, it’s really up to you as to how far out into the formation you want to go.  Wandering among these giants is a mind blowing experience.

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Sandstone Wonderland

41     42   It’s easy to lose the way when hiking on rock.  This tree near the trail, which I named Devil Tree, was a good landmark.

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Photo 1 – Big, flat, smooth area of sandstone  Photo 2 – There are countless rocks carved into weird shapes.  Photo 3 – Nice one man cave  Photo 4 – More caves below

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To give some idea of how big these rocks are, look for the man who has made his way to the top of one of them.  See him standing to the right?

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Close-up of the guy on the massive rock

47     48   Looking back across the way from Piedra Blanca and then to the right.  The parking lot is where that cluster of pine trees stands.

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51   Interesting how these massive rocks are covered in striations.

52     53     54   Photo 1 – I continued on the trail for a short distance and found myself behind the rocks.  Photo 2 – I ran into the guy who was standing on top of that big boulder.  He directed me to a side trail.  I probably could have made it up to the top but it just got a little too steep for my taste.  Had I climbed up this shadowed area and turned the corner I would have been on top.  Photo 3 – Overhang of the big boulder the guy was standing on top of.

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One could spend all day exploring Piedra Blanca.

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I backtracked up Rose Valley Road to the turn-off for Rose Valley Campground.  The campground is less than a half mile from the 300 foot, two-tiered waterfall named Rose Valley Falls.

58   On my way to the falls.

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On the trail the upper falls became more clear.  I think there is some way to get to the upper falls but I read that it’s very dangerous.  This trail takes you to the base of the lower falls.

60                       61     62   Rose Valley Falls – I walked right up to the face.  It wasn’t exactly gushing but there was a good stream of water coming down.

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To the side, water drips from this moss covered rock.  To me it looks a lot like the comic book character Man-Thing.

VIDEO: Rose Valley Falls up close

65     66   I headed back into Ojai and took this photo of the town’s historic bell tower through my dirty windshield.  My last stop was the meditation based community Meditation Mount.  There’s just a short trail here that goes through and then encircles the property.

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Someone in this community likes to work with wood.  Here is a map of the property carved in dead tree remains.

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72   Photo 2 – A place where people make an effort to be quiet – what a beautiful thing.  When passing other people we greeted each other with a wave and a whisper.  Photos 3 through 5 – The doors to the meditation room are carved with the symbols of the zodiac.

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Walk through this pagoda(?) to get to a garden.

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The beautifully landscaped International Garden of Peace

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Other curiosities around Meditation Mount.  A strange offering left on a rock – a fake lobster tail, like the kind you might find in the seafood aisle at the supermarket.  Photo 4 – Looking west

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85   I made my way back up to the parking area and said goodbye to a fun day in Ojai.

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