Murrieta Trail Camp
- Location: Los Padres National Forest northwest of Ojai. In Google Maps, use the address 3970 Matilija Canyon Road for the approximate location. From Highway 101 in Ventura take Highway 33 north for 18 miles, through Ojai. Five miles north of town, shortly before Wheeler Gorge, look for Matilija Canyon Road on the left. Follow it about 5 miles to its ending. Park in a dirt lot on the left side of the road just before it reaches a private wildlife sanctuary that will usually be gated.
- Agency: Los Padres National Forest/Ojai Ranger District
- Distance: 3.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 350 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Best season: October – June
- USGS topo map: Old Man Mountain; White Ledge Peak
- Recommended gear: sun hat; insect repellent
- Recommended guidebook: Day Hikes Around Santa Barbara
- More information: Trip description here; Map My Hike report here
- Rating: 7
If you have time, you can piece together an epic hike or overnighter in this area of the Los Padres National Forest. If you don’t, you can still lose yourself for a few hours on this short hike which offers a nice sampling of the scenery characteristic of the mountains above Ojai. Bugs and poison oak are the only drawbacks.
From the end of Matilija Road, pass through a gate an enter a private wildlife sanctuary. Thanks to an easement, hikers can use the road, which soon becomes dirt, to access the wilderness area beyond. After leaving the shade of the sanctuary, the trail opens up and you get some terrific views of Old Man Mountain to the south and the forks of Matilija Canyon to the north and west.
At 0.5 miles, you cross the stream bed. Shortly after, the north fork of the Matilija Creek Trail branches off to the right. Continue a short distance to the Murrieta Canyon Trail on the left.
The vegetation of the Murrieta Canyon Trail quickly evolves from chaparral and manzanita to oaks and sycamores. The ground is dotted with ferns and poison oak. The trail soon has a jungle-like feel and is overgrown in spots although never too difficult to follow. At 1.3 miles, you cross Murrieta Creek where the trail bends to the left (southeast). Keep an eye out for trail ducks and for the trail on the opposite side of the creek.
After crossing, the trail begins an ascent into more oak woodland, leveling out and reaching the campsite at 1.7 miles. The Murrieta Trail Camp is attractively shaded by many tall oaks; it is a perfect spot to sit and enjoy some solitude before returning via the same route.
Text and photography copyright 2015 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.