Safe Adventure: Ojai & Los Padres National Forest
Updated: May 8, 2020
What's high in the middle and round on one end? Ojai! Known for its artsy, chic, cool (and now eerily quiet) town center and for the jaw-droppingly beautiful horse and cattle ranches that surround it, Ojai is the main southwestern gateway to Los Padres National Forest (https://www.fs.usda.gov/lpnf) and where Steve and I started our latest safe adventure. After doing a leisurely loop around Ojai, we headed north along Route 33/Maricopa Highway. Stretching from Ventura to Big Sur along the coast and inland as far as Lancaster/Palmdale, the forest covers nearly 2,000,000 acres (88% of which are public lands) and features over 300 miles of hiking trails and 11 camp grounds (all of which are closed to the public right now). Our drive took us past Ojala, Wheeler Springs, Reyes Peak, the Pine Mountain Buddhist Temple and the Bitter Creek Wildlife Refuge (to name a few). Along the way we experienced nature's full smorgasbord of weather; heavy fog and drizzle in the pine topped mountains of the south end and dazzling sun in the arid valleys and hills up north that faded into a remarkable "golden hour"; leaving us giddy as we headed back to Interstate 5.