I was introduced to this beautiful coastal location by writer and hiking guide James Wapotich who says “Arroyo Hondo is considered by many to be the jewel of the Gaviota Coast.” The Preserve is managed by The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County. It features a year-round creek surrounded by oak forest, coastal chaparral, grassland, and coastal sage scrub. It is where the Chumash village of Tuxmu was once located.
The diversity of plants and plant communities at the Preserve is exceptional. In the creekside riparian habitat, for example, we’ll see a wide array of Southern California native trees including
- White Alder
- California Bay
- Blue Elderberry
- Bigleaf Maple, and
- Coast Live Oak, among others.
Under the canopy we’ll look for
- Giant Horsetail
- Humboldt Lily
- Stream Orchid
- Hummingbird Sage, and
- Giant Chain Ferns
In the sunnier sage scrub and chaparral areas Toyon, Black Sage, Coastal Sagebrush and Greenbark Ceanothus are thriving. The Preserve is also home to California Newts, California Tree Frogs, Gray Foxes, and other wildlife.
We’ll start with a carpool from 23 S. Hope Avenue in Santa Barbara. At 10 a.m. we’ll drive from there about 30 minutes up the coast to Arroyo Hondo Preserve. A little earlier, at 9 a.m., those of us in Ojai who want to carpool from there to Santa Barbara will meet at Maricopa Plaza (1207 Maricopa Highway, Ojai). Another carpool may be organized from Ventura to Santa Barbara, if needed. Carpools are optional, of course. Those who choose to drive directly to Arroyo Hondo will receive detailed directions in a confirmation email.
After some easy walking, identifying plants, and stopping for a lunch break, we’ll regroup at 3:30 at the parking lot for an optional, direct-from-the-grower, native plant sale hosted by Santa Barbara Natives (SBN), a beautiful native plant nursery founded by Arroyo Hondo Preserve manager John Warner. SBN carries an inventory of about 100 of the most popular local California native plants, normally available only to commercial growers. John will bring a selection of those we will see on our walk. People who register in advance will have the opportunity to request specific plants.
The cost for the day is $30 for adults, $25 for seniors 62-and-up, and $15 for students 13-17. Kids 5-12 can come along for free, one per adult, pending request and approval. The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County also requests a suggested $5 donation at the site to cover stewardship of the land. There is no pre-payment required to register. Once you are registered you will receive an email during the week prior to the walk with more information and directions to Arroyo Hondo. No dogs or smoking, please.
Participants will receive an email afterwards with notes and a complete list of all plants and animals observed.
On Wednesday evening, August 14, we’re continuing what has become a really fun and popular new tradition. We’ll take an Herb Walk up to a vista point above the Ojai Valley where we can watch the simultaneous sunset and moonrise. The actual full moon occurs at 5:29 a.m. on Thursday, making Wednesday the closest night to it and an earlier, more convenient, time in the evening to witness it. The moon will rise at 7:39 and the sun will set at 7:45.
We’ll meet at the Park-and-Ride lot downtown between 5:30 and 5:45 p.m. and carpool to the trailhead to minimize the crowded parking situation there. From there we’ll gradually walk about 1 mile to the vista point, stopping along the way to meet some valuable native plants including:
- Coastal Sagebrush
- Purple Sage and
After witnessing the rising of the moon and setting of the sun, we’ll walk back to the trailhead by remaining daylight, moonlight, and flashlight, returning to the Park-and-Ride by 9:00 p.m.
From there you’re invited to join me and Rondia across the street for beverages, appetizers or dinner at the combined Azu Restaurant and Ojai Valley Brewery where brewmaster Jeremy Haffner has created some truly delicious lager-style craft beers and ales using some of the same local plants we’ll meet on the trail. His brews change with the seasons and reflect the plants of Ojai. Three staples you’re likely to find on his list any time of year are Sugar Bush IPA, brewed with wild local Ojai “Sugar Bush” Sumac; White Pixie Ale, brewed with Pixie tangerine zests and orchard blossoms; and an amazing Chaparral Ale flavored with White and Black Sage and local Sagebrush instead of the usual hops. He describes it as “built to mimic the scent on Shelf Road.” That’s where we’ll be walking! Non-alcoholic offerings also change with the seasons and may include an Elderflower-Blackberry Spritzer.
Register now by clicking below or by calling 805-646-6281. You also can return to this website any time and click on the event listing itself in the right sidebar on the homepage or click on the “Register for an Event” link under ABOUT in the top menu. There is no pre-payment required for this walk, just your promise to let us know if your plans change. If it fills up, priority will be given to those who registered in advance. Registrants will receive a confirmation email with all necessary info a few days prior. No dogs or smoking, please.
Photo of July full moon: Kristin Bates
I will lead my 7th annual Fall Equinox Nature Hike in the peaceful Mixed Conifer Forest on the “sky island” known as Pine Mountain (elevation: 7000 feet) at the time of year when the pine nuts are dropping.
According to Craig Carey, author of Hiking and Backpacking Santa Barbara and Ventura, the Reyes Peak Trail along the northern slope of the peak is “quite simply one of the most beautiful stretches in the southern Los Padres.” I promise that first time visitors to this area will be surprised and delighted to find a thick forest of pines, fir and cedar so close to the Ventura coast.
The outing will start at 9:00 a.m. with a carpool caravan of about 35 miles up Highway 33 from the Maricopa Plaza, (1207 Maricopa Highway, Ojai, CA 93023) to the Reyes Peak trailhead. The final 5.5 miles are on a narrow, winding paved road and the very last half-mile is dirt. Trucks or SUV’s are preferred for the last stretch but most passenger cars with high clearance can also make the drive.
We will start walking into the Sespe Wilderness from the trailhead (where there is a restroom) at about 10:30 a.m. and return to the trailhead at 3:00 p.m. or so, arriving back at the Maricopa Plaza by 4:00 p.m. This hike will follow a well-used trail through Mixed Conifer Forest habitat. We’ll stop often to identify and discuss native trees, plants, birds, and wildlife. Midway, we will take 30-45 minutes to relax and enjoy our sack lunches and snacks in the peace and quiet of the forest.
Biogeographers include Pine Mountain in a select group of “sky islands,” defined as isolated mountains surrounded by radically different lowland environments. We can expect to see several high altitude plants and trees like White Fir and Sugar Pine more commonly found in the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains. Weather and marine layer permitting, we will have panoramic views of the Cuyama Valley to the north and the Channel Islands to the south.
This intermediate level hike is suitable for moderately experienced hikers or physically fit beginners. There will be some elevation gain and loss skirting the north side of Reyes Peak, sometimes traversing steep hillsides on a narrow trail. The total hiking distance will be a little over 3 miles.
The hike is another in a series of backcountry walks and hikes under an Operating Permit from the Ojai Ranger District Office of the U.S. Forest Service designed for guides who provide recreational and interpretive services to the public.
There is no prepayment required, just your promise to notify me in a timely fashion if your plans change. You will receive a confirmation email several days before with all necessary info.
The cost is $25 for adults, $20 for seniors 62 and older, and $15 for students 13-17. Kids 5-12 can go free, one per adult, by prior arrangement. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Lunch is not provided. No dogs or smoking, please.
Carpool: If possible, please be prepared to either take a few passengers or share in the gas cost as a passenger. There is no obligation to participate in the carpool but parking is limited at the trailhead and we like to cut down on our group’s gas consumption and exhaust emissions when we can.
Please join me and special guests Professor James Adams of USC School of Pharmacy and plant educator Enrique Villaseñor for our annual Fall Medicinal Plant Workshop on Saturday, September 28, 2019, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dr. Adams has been a frequent and popular contributor to my events for the past six years. This workshop is based on his ground-breaking pharmacological studies on local native plants. All his workshops here have filled up so, as the saying goes, he’s “back by popular demand.”
The plant identification session will take place on the pathways at the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy’s Cluff Vista Park and the Ojai Valley Museum’s Chumash Garden, two native plant gardens in downtown Ojai, where Dr. Adams, Enrique and I will identify and discuss the medicinal uses of a wide variety of native plants. The afternoon hands-on preparation session will be held at a community kitchen nearby. After the workshop, participants will receive a complete list of all plants that are identified and/or utilized as well as recipes and other info.
The morning outing from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. will be a slow-paced walk around the two gardens. They are both wheelchair-accessible although there is a hill entering Cluff Vista Park. The morning session will involve stopping for discussion for periods of time. A few benches are scattered about. A lightweight campstool could be useful as well.
After a one-hour lunch break, the afternoon kitchen session from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. will focus on preparing seasonal edible and medicinal products from wild foraged plant material. Products to be prepared onsite include:
- Datura hand soak
- Black Sage foot soak
- California Buckwheat Apple Cake
- Yerba Santa steam inhalation
- Chamise balm
- Prickly Pears (“Tunas”)
At 3:00 p.m. Dr. Adams will sign copies of his books.
If you’d like to stay overnight, here is a guide to camping and lodging options.
ABOUT JAMES ADAMS, PH.D: Dr. Adams brings to Ojai a wealth of scientific knowledge and field experience as well as a singular perspective on herbal medicine. As he tells it, “My family came to Virginia in 1635 and has always survived by using American Indian healing. On the frontier, there were no doctors. American Indian healing was better than European medicine anyway. I continue this tradition.”
Dr. Adams is the co-author — with the late Chumash healer Cecilia Garcia — of the groundbreaking book, Healing with Medicinal Plants of the West: Cultural and Scientific Basis for Their Use. The book can be purchased beforehand at that link and will also be available for purchase and signing at the event.
As an Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the prestigious University of Southern California, Dr. Adams has been teaching pharmacy students, medical students, doctors and other healthcare professionals for over 25 years while researching the natural pharmaceutical compounds in native plants. He has over 200 publications.
Running parallel with his academic career, Dr. Adams has worked with the Chumash people since 1998 and studied Chumash healing with Cecilia Garcia for almost 15 years. In addition to their book, they wrote 30 journal articles together. Jim is now the carrier of the healing knowledge passed to him by his teacher. Dr. Adams will have copies of all his books with him for purchase and signing.
“Humans have used plant medicines ever since humans came into existence, about 200,000 years ago,” Dr. Adams explains in Healing with Medicinal Plants. “That means that our ancestors experienced an intense natural selection. Those who responded to plant medicines survived and passed their genes on. We are the products of this natural selection. Our bodies are designed to respond to plant medicines.”
Please note: This workshop will go on RAIN OR SHINE with the exception of a heavy downpour in the morning and/or a 100% chance of heavy rain that day. No dogs or smoking, please.
The cost for the Fall Medicinal Plant Workshop is $75, including all materials for preparing plant medicines. After the workshop, participants will receive a follow-up email including plant lists and recipes.
To pre-register, first use the REGISTER button below. Then, to complete registration and secure your space with a payment, please use the PayPal button. Registrants will be emailed a receipt from PayPal and also receive a confirmation email from email@example.com with all necessary information including directions, what to bring, etc.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you prefer to mail in a check.
The 2019 Ojai Herbal Symposium on “The Wisdom of the Body” is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, November 16-17, at Krotona Hall.
- David Crow, LAc — Floracopeia
“Prana and Qi: Homeostasis and the Wisdom of the Body in Classical Asian Medicine
- Zhena Muzyka — ClubMagicHour.com; Founder, Zhena’s Gypsy Tea
“Marketing Magic: 7 Secrets to Building a Profitable Purpose-Based Business as a Healer”
- James Adams, PhD — USC School of Pharmacy
- Amanda McQuade Crawford, MFT, Dip. Phyto., RH (AHG), MCPP
- David Crow, LAc — Floracopeia
- Jake F. Felice, ND, LMP — DrJakeFelice.com
- Nathan Kaehler, DACM, LAc, Tibetan Amchi, MA Psychology — Ojai Herbs and Acupuncture
- Jess Starwood, Clinical Herbalist — Sunraven Apothecary
- Jena Sussex, MD — Department of Internal Medicine + Pediatrics, LAC + USC Medical Center
- Ron Teeguarden, Master Herbalist — Co-Founder, Dragon Herbs
- Carol Wade, RH (AHG) — Ojai School of Herbal Studies, Earth Island Medicinal Herb Garden
The inaugural 2018 Ojai Herbal Symposium on “Natural Resilience” featured widely respected authors, teachers and experts representing modern herbalism, integrative medicine, integrative pharmacy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and Chumash healing. Internationally recognized cannabinoid researcher Kevin Spelman, PhD, presented the keynote address along with two other lectures.
We’re in the planning stage for 2019 now so, in the meantime, here’s last year’s flyer to give you an idea of what to expect when we bring together some of the top minds and most effective practitioners in the field of botanical medicine.