Potrero John Canyon. Photo: Lanny Kaufer

Nature Hike to Potrero John Camp

June 15, 2019 @ 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Maricopa Plaza for carpool to trailhead
1207 Maricopa Highway
Ojai, CA 93023
$25/adults, $20/seniors 62-up, $15/students 13-17. Kids 5-12 free, one per adult, pending request and approval. No dogs, please.
Lanny Kaufer
Lanny describing the ecology of Potrero John Creek to 2017 hikers. Photo: Enrique Villaseñor


Thanks to a wet winter and spring, the wildflowers and herbs in the mountains above Ojai are thriving, even as we approach the summer months. Join me, native plant guide Lanny Kaufer, on Saturday, June 15, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for a Nature Hike to Potrero John Camp, deep in the Sespe Wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest.

The hike will take place on Potrero John Creek, 20 miles north of Ojai. The group will cover 1.7 miles each way on a gradually ascending but mostly level trail through chaparral and riparian settings, beginning at 3700 feet. The destination is a (bring-your-own) lunch stop in the shade of a large oak along the creek at Potrero John Camp.

Hikers traversing scree on the way into the canyon. Photo: Enrique Villaseñor

I will focus on identifying useful wild plants and sharing the many ways they are used by the indigenous Chumash people, herbalists, campers and gardeners for food, medicine, wildcrafting, survival, landscaping and more. The canyon is home to Mariposa Lilies, Incense-Cedar, Bigcone Douglas-Fir, Giant Stinging Nettle, Yerba Santa, Matilija Poppy, Wild Rose, and many more native plants.

We will also look for birds, butterflies and other wildlife and discuss the ecology of the southern Los Padres National Forest, traditional and modern methods of sustainable foraging, resource conservation, and other topics generated by the participants’ interests.

Butterfly Mariposa Lily along Potrero John Creek. Photo: Melinda Angle
Lanny teaching on the trail to Potrero John Camp. Photo: Rondia Kaufer

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 13-17.  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 adult guardian. Toddlers must be in a carrier. No dogs or smoking, please.

Register at HerbWalks.com or by calling 805-646-6281. Registrants will receive a confirmation email with all necessary info. After the hike they will receive a detailed follow-up email including a list of all plants identified. No pre-payment is required from prospective hikers, just a promise to let me know as soon as possible if their plans have to change.


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


2 thoughts on “Nature Hike to Potrero John Camp

  1. Hi Lanny, This walk (Potrero to John’s Camp) is going to be going down mostly? Did I read that correct? I am an experienced hiker but with some rotten knee issues that I can get around on 1.7 miles each way. Going up is just a bit difficult for me, not something that will keep me from going but preferrably not too much up. Please let me know. Thank you.
    Lisa MT

    1. Hi Lisa. The hike goes gradually uphill, very gradually except for one place where the trail climbs over some loose rocks. Then it’s gradually downhill on the way out.

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