June 25th     –     Wildwood Park Loop

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10 hikers arrived in the main parking lot in Wildwood Park at the west end of Avenida de los Arboles in Thousand Oaks on a cool foggy morning. After taking a group photo, we headed west on the Mesa Trail were soon greeted by a seemingly unending string of runners coming toward us; they were participants in a 10K run scheduled for that morning.

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As a result we avoided the Stagecoach Bluffs Trail and took a trail north of the runners’ route to Lizard Rock by which time the fog had lifted though there was still a nice breeze. We then hiked down into Wildwood Canyon and followed its shady trail to a large shady picnic area where we took a rest/snack/bathroom break and then headed on to Paradise Falls which was quite crowded but still had water. Continuing on upstream we spotted over 20 mallard ducks in Wildwood Creek. Eventually we reached the shady Indian Creek Trail and followed it as it climbed upward, passing a nice display of blooming Chalk Live Forever plants. We followed a short connector trail back to the main parking lot and headed home having completed an enjoyable 5 mile hike with about 865′ of elevation gain/loss – and we “beat the heat”!

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June 11th     –     Matilija Falls

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Thirteen hikers met at the trailhead at the west end of Matilija Road a few miles northwest of Ojai on a pleasant late-spring morning. The hike began along a road that headed west through the private Matilija Canyon Ranch Wildlife Refuge where we passed by a large cage housing several peacocks. The stream crossing at the 0.4-mile mark was easy since there was no water in the creek at that point.

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After a little over a mile our route crossed through a lovely private ranch via a dirt road that hikers are restricted to; several of us spotted a grazing doe. At about the 2-mile mark the dirt road became a narrow trail as it wound through a shady poison-oak-paradise stretch. In fact, since the route closely followed Matilija Creek the rest of the way, poison oak was frequently present [long pants and a long-sleeved shirt are recommended]. After a while we stopped by the flowing stream at a particularly lovely spot and took a short break (and some photos). Continuing upstream the maintained trail ended and we began to scramble and boulder hop, frequently finding short open stretches of trail. Occasionally we were required to cross the stream in order to continue. We were rewarded for our effort by beautiful scenery including the flowing creek, several large pools of water, vast expanses of sedimentary rock layers, an extensive riparian oak woodland, towering canyon walls, and many wildflowers including Matilija poppies. At about the 4.5-mile mark we reached a cascade with a beautiful shaded campsite just above it. We took a rest-and-lunch break in this idyllic location. Continuing on upstream we soon reached the fabled waterfall(s) which were unfortunately completely dry and rested briefly. The scrambling and boulder-hopping going downstream seemed considerably easier than going upstream and the scenery was just as beautiful. When we reached a large deep pool of water we spotted the rarely seen “Matilija Merman” frolicking in the water. After we made it back to our vehicles we returned home having completed a strenuous 10.25 mile hike with around 1,250′ of elevation gain/loss.

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