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Fall Equinox Nature Hike on Pine Mountain

September 26 @ 8:30 am - 4:00 pm


Mixed conifer forest at sunset near Reyes Peak. Photo: Bryant Baker


FYI: Following COVID-19 guidelines as of July 1, 2020, I am limiting participants to 12.  We will caravan instead of the usual carpool. Also, all participants must be symptom-free, allow their temperature to be taken, wear a face covering, and maintain 6 feet of physical distance. I will update this info if things change.

Sugar pine cones (Pinus lambertiana). Photo: Lanny Kaufer

I will lead my 8th 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. I promise that first time visitors to this area will be surprised and delighted to find a thick forest of pines, fir and incense-cedar so close to the Ventura coast.

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.”

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.

Rondia and friends enjoying lunch. Photo: Chris Kudelka

The outing will start at 8:30 a.m. with a car 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.

Lanny examines the needles of a White Fir sapling on the Reyes Peak Trail. Photo: John Griffith

We will start walking into the Sespe Wilderness from the trailhead (where there is a restroom) at about 10:00 a.m., stop for lunch (not provided) in the forest, and return to the trailhead by about 3:00 p.m., arriving back at the Maricopa Plaza by about 4:00 p.m. We will hike on a well-used trail through mixed conifer forest habitat, stopping often to identify and discuss native plants, birds and wildlife.

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 hillsides on a narrow trail. The total hiking distance will be about 3 miles. PLEASE NOTE: Those with respiratory or circulatory issues possibly affected by altitude should consult with a physician before attempting this hike.

View of the Channel Islands from Reyes Peak. Photo: Erika Klohe

This 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. After the hike participants will receive a detailed follow-up email including a list of all plants identified.

PLEASE NOTE: Light rain will not cancel. Heavy rain or thunderstorms will. Once you register you will receive weather updates.

The cost is $45. Senior and student discounts available upon request. Kids 5-12 can go free, one per adult, pending request and approval. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. No dogs or smoking, please.

Please use the REGISTER link at top or bottom of this page to register before using the PayPal button to secure your space.



Fall Equinox Nature Hike (inc. PayPal fees)

View north of the Cuyama Valley from Pine Mountain
Photo: Enrique Villaseñor


September 26
8:30 am - 4:00 pm


Lanny Kaufer


Maricopa Plaza for caravan to trailhead
1207 Maricopa Hwy.
Ojai,CA93023United States
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