Ojai Creek Walking - July 2010

V was in town again and she wanted to organize another wildlife outing, this time near Ojai, CA in the Los Padres National Forest to find some swimming holes.

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Got off to a late start and we were a bit wary of the 100+ degree temperatures, but we decided to chance it. The traffic was horrible (took us over 3 hours to get from LA to Ojai)! When we got to the city of Ojai we stopped to get a parking permit, but the ranger station is closed on the weekends. We decided to stop at the Ojai Public Library to ask where we could get a parking pass and they said we wouldn't need one. One of the staff members was also really helpful and gave us a beautiful map of the Ojai region and all the hiking trails and campsites. You can see it a bit here:

She suggested Rose Valley Waterfalls. It would be cool in the rocky pools and the area around it was shaded too and not too crowded. Just perfect for the hot weather. We followed her directions as best we could and ended up at a campsite. Took these photos on the way in:

We could tell where the river/creek was running by the line of bright green trees at the bottom of the valley.

Turns out we did need a parking pass, but one of the campers told us that the offices were closed that day because they didn't have electricity. We ate our delicious sandwiches (prepared lovingly by V) and then started down the trail that was marked Lion Canyon Trail (22W06).

The trail was right along the creek and then went away into the forest so we followed it, but it quickly turned back making a short loop. After questioning one of the campers again we found out that we had made a wrong turn a few miles back on the road and weren't at the Rose Valley campground, but actually at the Middle Lion Campground. Of course, it didn't help that the entire region is called Rose Valley! Still, we decided to stick where we were and see how far we could get on the banks of the creek before the trail ended.

photo by Alanna Hirz

From the information online, it looks like the trail is 5.6 miles and leads to Rose Valley Lake and 3 other campsites with waterfalls and swimming holes along the way but either it's not well-marked/well-maintained, or we just managed to miss it!

We didn't get that far before we had another decision to make. Start walking in the creek? And so we did! Tennis shoes and all. It was liberating! At one point we decided to change into our bathing suits too since the water was getting a bit deeper (knee deep or so).

We didn't see any birds or reptiles (except a dead snake), but there were insects galore. Couldn't capture the beautiful yellow butterflies on camera but here are a few of the others:

This is the shed skin skin of a stonefly nymph (Order Plecoptera). They live most of their lives underwater, but when they're ready to become adults, they clime up onto rocks or vegetation, burst out of their skins, and fly away. They were everywhere!

Water striders. I love their shadows.

Purply caterpillar.

Ladybug (or ladybird) nest? There were a ton of them!

seven-spotted ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata)

damselflies mating (Suborder Zygoptera)

not sure what this is

a few flowers grew along the banks of the creek like this western columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

We continued walking upstream hoping to find a waterfall and pools, but we didn't have as much time as we'd hoped and had to turn back before we found any of that. After looking at a map once we got home I saw that from Rose Valley Road we should have turned right once we saw the abandoned Rose Valley Work Camp, but the road there wasn't marked so we just kept driving. More to explore for our next trip. When the traffic isn't bad it only takes 90 minutes or so to get there and we'll hopefully be returning, maybe even to camp overnight, before too long.

Pretty magical place.