Memorial Day Nature Hike in Matilija Canyon

May 27, 2019 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Maricopa Plaza parking lot for carpool
1207 Maricopa Highway
Ojai, CA 93023
$25/adults, $20/seniors 62-up, $15 students 13-17. Kids 5-12 free, one per adult.
Lanny Kaufer


With the weekend workers in mind, on Memorial Day Monday, May 27, we’ll walk 1.5 miles into Matilija Campground in the heart of the Matilija Wilderness, one of my favorite locations in the Los Padres National Forest. The views of the surrounding mountains are stunning and there is a great diversity of riparian and chaparral plant life to identify, sample and discuss. The chaparral community has made a striking comeback since the December 2017 fire, and bears witness to nature’s resilience.

Swallowtail on Yerba Santa
Swallowtail on Yerba Santa

As usual, we’ll stop along the way to discuss and demonstrate the many uses of native plants and explore their relationships with birds, insects, and other organisms in their environment. The fire ecology of the chaparral will be another topic of exploration. Once at the campground, we’ll practice cracking open and eating sweet Southern California Black Walnuts, one of the foods that foragers covet.

Matilija Campground. Photo: Rich Kot
Matilija Campground. Photo: Rich Kot

This hike is one in a series of backcountry hikes under my Special Use Permit from the Los Padres National Forest for guides offering interpretive services to the public. It is an easy-to-moderate hike on a well-used trail with little to no elevation gain, suitable for anyone physically fit enough to walk a total of 3 miles and stand for periods of time. There will be three creek crossings that involve some boulder-hopping or wading. A walking stick or trekking poles make this quite easy.

The day will begin at 9:00 a.m. with a carpool to the trailhead from the Maricopa Plaza, 1207 Maricopa Highway, Ojai, CA 93023. There is no obligation to participate in the carpool but there is very limited parking at the trailhead and I am always interested in cutting down on my group’s exhaust emissions as much as possible. Participants who wish to participate in the carpool should be prepared to either take a few passengers or share in the gas cost.

We will start walking from the trailhead at 9:30, walk about 1.5 miles to the campground for a lunch stop, and return to the trailhead at approximately 2:30. That should put us back at the Maricopa Plaza by about 3:00 p.m.

RAIN: Light rain will not cancel the hike but heavy rain will. Status will be updated for those registered as the day gets closer.

Raindrops in the Upper North Fork of Matilija Creek

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. After the hike you will receive an email with a complete list of all the plants and wildlife identified, including common and scientific names.

The cost is $25 for adults, $20 for seniors 62 and older, and $15 for full-time 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. No dogs or smoking, please.


4 thoughts on “Memorial Day Nature Hike in Matilija Canyon

  1. Hi Lanny, I plan on going on this hike. The last time I went on the hike was a couple of years ago it it was very rewarding.
    Thank you ,

    1. Hi Lisa. Yes, it is. Maybe you were looking for a PayPal button. There is no pre-payment required for this one. I’ll send you the info in an email right now.

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