Sisar Canyon to White Ledge Camp

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Sisar Canyon, Ojai, CA
View from the Red Reef Trail
Woodland poppy, Los Padres National Forest, CA
Woodland poppy, Red Reef Trail

Sisar Canyon to White Ledge Camp

    • Location: Los Padres National Forest between Ojai and Santa Paula. From Highway 150, nine miles east of Highway 33 and nine miles west of Highway 126, head north on private, one-lane Sisar Road. In half a mile, you reach a Y-junction where the road becomes dirt; if you have a low clearance vehicle, bear left and park in a small turnout beneath a water tank. If you have a vehicle that can handle rocky terrain, continue north onto Sisar Canyon Road for half a mile to a locked gate. The approximate coordinates are N 34.4497, W 119.1342.
    • Agency: Los Padres National Forest/Ojai Ranger District
    • Distance: 8.4 miles (add one mile if you are starting at the water tank)
    • Elevation gain: 2,100 feet (add 150 feet if you are starting at the water tank)
    • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Distance, elevation gain)
    • Suggested time: 4.5 hours (5 hours from the water tank)
    • Best season:  October – June
    • USGS topo map: Santa Paula Peak
    • Recommended gear: insect repellent; sun hat
    • More information: Trip description (to overlook) here; Trip descriptions (to Nordhoff Ridge) here and here; area trail map here
    • Rating: 8

Nestled in a grove of bay trees, oaks and sycamores, White Ledge Campground is a popular overnight destination for Ojai area backpackers, often incorporated into a 17-mile loop. It can also be rewarding as an out-and-back day hike, as described here. While the distance and elevation gain are not trivial, the hike presents no navigational challenges and other than a few stretches of trail that are slightly overgrown and poison oak on the side of the road in the canyon, the conditions are easy. Peaceful oak-lined canyons, a seasonal stream and panoramic views are among the highlights. (Note that this White Ledge Campground should not be confused with the site of the same name farther north in the Los Padres National Forest.)

Sisar Canyon, Ojai, CA
0:00 – Start of the hike on Sisar Canyon Road (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

Begin by passing the metal gate and ascending through oak and alder-shaded Sisar Canyon. You cross the stream almost immediately and again about a mile from the beginning. At 1.4 miles, the trail enters a clearing where a wooden bench, fashioned from oak limbs, provides a nice resting spot.

Bench in Sisar Canyon, Ventura County, CA
0:42 – Oak bench (times are approximate)

At 1.8 miles, the trail makes a hairpin left turn and climbs out of the woodlands. An overlook with several boulders for sitting and views of Ojai Valley marks the approximate halfway point to the trail camp. The trail then makes another sharp turn and continues north with the Topatopa Ridge towering above.

Sisar Canyon Trail, Ojai, CA
1:06 – View of Ojai Valley, approximate half way point

Just after passing another metal gate, at 3.2 miles, a single-track (known variously as the Lower Red Reef, White Ledge and Sisar Canyon Trail) branches off and continues north. Follow it through the upper reaches of Sisar Canyon, with a few Coulter pines mingling in among the oaks at this higher elevation. After more ascent, the trail drops into the recess of White Ledge Campground (4.2 miles), a good turnaround point for a day hike. Those up for more of a challenge can continue to Nordhoff Ridge, a climb of 1,400 feet in just under two miles.

Red Reef Trail, Los Padres National Forest, CA
1:36 – Start of the Red Reef Trail

Text and photography copyright 2016 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.

White Ledge Camp, Los Padres National Forest, CA
2:06 – White Ledge Camp

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