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.


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.


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


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


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.


Panorama from Murietta Divide Road

58     59     60   Plants along the trail


Thank you, Ojai.

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