Nordhoff Peak

Easy to get to hike in Ojai.  There are two routes to get to Nordhoff Peak from town – Gridley Trail and Pratt Trail.  I have read that Gridley is the longer, rockier but more scenic trail, while Pratt, the route I took, is shorter and steeper.  It was a tough hike, around 11 1/2 miles long, but the natural beauty of Ojai has few rivals in Southern California.

1     2   The hike began on a very rocky trail through private property.


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After a mile the super rocky portion of the trail ends at Foothill Road.  I took a right and walked up the paved street.  I then took the wide fire road toward the mountains.  There are several trails breaking off the road, including one signed for Pratt Trail, but it’s easiest to just stay on the fire road.  The road rises above the valley and I soon reached a turn-off.  The sign doesn’t read “Pratt Trail” but rather “Nordhoff Peak – 4”.  The trail changes from a fire road to a single track trail.



Views while climbing

11     12   Walls of crumbly rock stand next to much of the trail.  The trail is sometimes covered with loose dirt and rock.

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15   There are a few short sections that are a bit hair raising because of the narrowness of the trail and the steep drop-offs.  After about a mile and half on the single track trail there is a turn-off that leads down to a camp.  I would explore this on the way back.  Photo 3 – Now nearing the top of Pratt Trail, which leads to another dirt road, I spot the lookout tower that sits atop Nordhoff Peak.


Once I got up to Nordhoff Ridge Fire Road I was able to get a view of the mountains to the north.  That’s Highway 33 carved into the bottom of the mountain across the way.

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Beautiful Lake Casitas lies to the south.

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Photo 1 – Close-up of an interesting looking trail off of Highway 33.  Photo 2 – From the junction of Pratt Trail and Nordhoff Ridge Road, there is still about a mile to the peak.  The trail is steep in places.  Photo 4 – I followed the signed turn-off to Nordhoff Peak, which spirals up to the tower.


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26   I climbed the steep stairs to the top of the tower.  The floor is a metal grate which bowed under my feet as I walked across it.  I’m sure it was perfectly safe but it didn’t feel like it.


From Nordhoff Peak, huge views

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Photo 1 – Close-up of nearby Chief Peak (I believe it’s that cool looking pointy one on the right).  Photo 2 – Close-up of Topa Topa Bluff

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More views from Nordhoff Peak


To the west are these spectacular mountains.

35     36   Photo 1 – Also in view, Pine Mountain.  Photo 2 – Rorschach test on the hills below

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40   I was very thankful for the cloud cover on this day.  I ate lunch on Nordhoff Peak and made for my car.  Photo 2 – Pratt Trail from Nordhoff Ridge Fire Road

41     43     42   Plants and rocks

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48       49   Half way down Pratt Trail I took that previously mentioned turn that leads to Valley View Camp.  After about a third of a mile down the hill I reached the small camp – just one fire ring an some chairs made from rocks, next to a stream.  This is a nice, shady place to rest – quiet an peaceful.

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54   Photo 2 – Ojai Valley from Pratt Trail  Photo 3 – Getting closer, you can make out Ojai’s landmark Post Office Bell Tower in the lower, middle of this photo.

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Photo 1 – Very close to that paved road junction of Foothill Road is this popular climbing rock known as Foothill Crag aka “The Foot”.  As you can see, a climber was making his way to the top as I passed.  Photo 2 – A shot out my car window of Ojai’s Bell Tower.  Someday I’ll stop and get a decent shot of this thing.



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