Ojai Herb Walk at Private Ranch @ Meet for carpool to private ranch in the Ojai mountains
Apr 30 @ 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

April 8, 2017 Herb Walk at private Ojai ranch. Photo: Cheryl Cooper

Due to the overwhelming response to the April 8 hike at this venue,I have scheduled a second walk there so that no one has to miss it this spring.

I have been offered the opportunity to lead an Herb Walk on a beautiful private ranch in the Ojai mountains. One of the conditions is that I cannot divulge the location to the public. All I can say is that it’s a rare and special place where I have been longing to lead a walk for years. There are no public trails that allow access to this area. The land includes plants and features beyond what we usually encounter on my outings, including a renowned Mediterranean-climate botanic garden. A docent also will be present to share some of the rare exotic plants found on the property.

Private Ojai botanic garden on April 8, 2017. Photo: Godfred Tong





We will meet at Maricopa Plaza in Ojai for a carpool to reduce the number of cars on the private road. The travel time to the trailhead will be 15-20 minutes. There is an option to stay and enjoy your sack lunch in a beautiful setting. We will plan to arrive back at Maricopa Plaza by 12:30 or  1 p.m. for those not staying for lunch.

There is no pre-payment required to pre-register and add your name to the list. Once you are registered, I will send an email about a week prior with more details. If it is nearing capacity as it did on April 8, I will send out an email requesting payment by PayPal or check in order to guarantee your space. The cost is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors 62-up, and $10 for students 13-18. An additional $5/person donation by cash or check is requested by the nonprofit organization that manages the property to cover the costs associated with making the property accessible to visitors.




Private Ojai nature preserve. Photo: Nathan Whitman

Nature Hike to Potrero John Camp @ Maricopa Plaza for carpool
May 6 @ 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Photo by Jill Forman

Please join me and a friendly group of like-minded learners and lovers of the outdoors for a Nature Hike to Potrero John Camp deep in the Sespe Wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest on Saturday, May 6.

The hike will take place on Potrero John Creek, 20 miles north of Ojai. We will cover 1.7 miles each way on a mostly level trail with very gradual elevation gain through chaparral and riparian settings, beginning at 3700 feet. Our destination is a (bring-your-own) lunch stop at Potrero John Camp.

The focus, as usual, will be on identifying both useful and poisonous wild plants and learning about the many ways that they have been used by the Chumash people, herbalists, campers, and gardeners for food, medicine, wildcrafting, survival, landscaping and more. We’ll also look for birds, butterflies and other wildlife. Discussion will include the ecology of the southern Los Padres National Forest, traditional and modern methods of sustainable foraging, and resource conservation, among other topics generated by the participants’ interests.

This hike is presented under a Special Use 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.

The day will begin with a carpool from the Maricopa Plaza parking lot in Ojai at 9:00 am and return there by 4 pm. The cost is $25 for adults,  $20 for seniors 62 and older, and $15 for students 13-18.  Kids 5-12 can go free, with one per adult, by prior arrangement. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Toddlers must be in a carrier. No dogs or smoking, please.

Register at the link below or by calling 805-646-6281. You will receive a confirmation email with all necessary info. No pre-payment is required, just your promise to let us know as soon as possible if your plans have to change.

(The background photo for this website was taken in the gorge at the mouth of Potrero John Canyon.)


CFROG Benefit Nature Hike in Santa Paula Canyon @ Santa Paula Canyon trailhead
May 13 @ 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Photo of the Punchbowl by Heidi Anderson of U.S. Forest Service.

Here’s an opportunity to visit a local scenic natural wonder and contribute to its preservation at the same time. Santa Paula Canyon in the Los Padres National Forest is home to the Punchbowl, one of the finest swimming holes in Southern California. It’s home to a large community of riparian and chaparral plants native to this region. And it’s also home to an oil drilling operation. For many years, the County of Ventura and the U.S. Forest Service have tried to find a balance between the rights of the drilling company and the needs of citizens who wish to enjoy the canyon and its waters.

Enter CFROG, Citizens for Responsible Oil and Gas, whose mission, as their name implies, is to make sure that oil and gas activities in Ventura County are only allowed when the environment and public health are protected. CFROG and environmental partners (Center for Biological Diversity and Los Padres ForestWatch) are claimants in a lawsuit against Ventura County and Carbon California (part of Colorado based Carbon Energy Corp. who just purchased the lease from California Resources Corp.) regarding an expansion of oil and gas activities along Santa Paula Creek and the Punchbowl Trail. One of the issues in the action involves the County’s failure to fully comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by not assessing impacts on the endangered California Condor and Steelhead Trout. They expect a decision in the suit by the end of the year. 50% of the proceeds from this hike will be donated to CFROG, earmarked for Santa Paula Canyon.

The plan is to meet at 9 a.m. at the entrance to Thomas Aquinas College, also coordinating 8:30 a.m. carpools from Ojai and Santa Paula among the registrants. Parking is limited on Highway 150 (Ojai Road). At 9:00 we will start shuttling people up to the trailhead.  CFROG staff will hike with the group at least as far the drill pads and give a short talk there about the issues. Then those who are wanting and able will continue with me to the Punchbowl, returning to the trailhead by 4 p.m. The complete round-trip hike is 7 miles.

More details will be posted here as they become available.


Memorial Day Nature Hike to El Nido Meadow @ Oso Trailhead, Ventura River Preserve, Ojai
May 29 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Join me on Memorial Day Monday for this 5-mile Nature Hike to the El Nido Meadow on the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy’s Ventura River Preserve where we will visit several different plant habitats including riparian, chaparral and oak woodland.  After rock-hopping across the Ventura River, we’ll take the gradually elevating Rice Canyon Trail up to the Meadow, located in the saddle between two canyons, where we’ll break for lunch and take a moment to honor the meaning of the holiday. We’ll return by way of the Wills Canyon Trail, making a loop. Along the way we’ll discuss and demonstrate sustainable foraging and identify edible, medicinal, and otherwise useful plants.

You can  register now at the link below or return later to this event page or to the “Register for an Event” link in the left sidebar menu. There is no prepayment required, just your promise to notify us 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 13-18.  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. No dogs, please. Payment by cash or check is accepted on the morning of the walk. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the OVLC for maintenance of the trails.