Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chief Peak, Ojai's summit. 01/20/13

Chief Peak, viewed from the east while walking Nordoff Ridge Rd.
You know what? The flu sucks, that's what. I feel like Mike Tyson had a go at my kidneys and then threw me in the dryer for an hour. Ughhh. 

Before being struck down by that nefarious pathogen I was having a pretty good life. On Sunday Ruth and I hiked the unrelentingly steep and rocky Horn Canyon Trail, followed the road over to the Chief and climbed that too. I've pretty well documented Chief and it's attendant trails and I'm just extra sick right now so I'm taking the lazy way out (pictures and captions). I do have to congratulate Ruth, topping out on the Chief is a tough day.

Climbing out of Horn Cnyn.

I was a bit surprised by the degree of brush above the Pines Camp. Parts are wide open but other parts were pretty brushy.
The most direct way up Chief's climbs the south facing shoulder.
Ruthie starting up Chiefs...
and a little further along.

Reyes and Hoddock Peak on the left, Piedra Blanca in the middle and Thorn Point on the right.
During our time on the summit a pair of crows entertained us with aerial hijinks.

Ruthie pulling over the top.
One of the two benchmarks on the Chief summit.
Chief Peak's rocky summit.
Lake Casitas, Santa Cruz Island, from the summit.
Santa Barbara from the summit.
The serpentine coils of the Nordoff Ridge Rd.

The route up Chief follows the left-hand skyline. The alternative is to walk all the way around to the eastern side of the peak and ascend from the road on a well established trail.
Afterthought. Thorn Point Fire Lookout from Chief Peak.


  1. More likely it was a pair of ravens who entertained you at the summit. They are my favorite bird in the mountains - curious, intelligent, mischievous and highly accomplished aerial acrobats. Their larger size and guttural calls distinguish them from their corvid cousin the common crow. Cheers, Ted

  2. Nope Ted,
    Just mated pair of plain ole crows.

  3. Hi David,
    Hiking the Chief is something on my bucket list that I've been wanting to do for some time. Is there an ideal time of year to hike it where bears and rattlesnakes are minimized? Also, are any parts of it "scary" like hiking near steep cliffs, etc? I'd love to hear your thoughts. BTW, I'm not an experienced hiker but I would go with people who have hiked the trail before. Thank you, SG

  4. SG, hiking what I have started calling the "Ojai Crest" is steep, rough, and very rewarding. Think about how blessed we are to live in a place which allows the opportunity to have views of a lake, the coast, islands, and interior wilderness, all in the sweep of a single view. As for the Chief, this is the perfect time to go. I especially enjoy the "Crest" in the fall after a cold storm has left the air crystal clear. And the rattlers you worry about are unlikely to be out this late in the year. As for bears, you can run into one any time of year in this region, but they tend to be shy and really just want to be left alone. -DS

    1. Thank you so much for your candid feedback. I really appreciate it. I'm going to work on training for the incline portion of it as well as assembling a group of people who have done it in the past and have expressed interest in going up again. I spoke with someone today about it and he said he accessed it from Cesar Rd. in Upper Ojai. I've never heard of that approach before. I've only heard of accessing from Rose Valley. Anyway, many thanks. I'll let you know when I go up, how it went! :) SG

    2. SG, the traditional trail to access Chief is via Horn Canyon out of Ojai. -DS

    3. The group I'll likely hike with, takes the back side of Chief via Rose Valley. Is the traditional trail better or is it okay to attempt it via Rose Valley on my first hike? Do you by chance know the difference in miles and elevation? Horn vs. the back side in Rose Valley? Just curious. I can't wait either way. It's such a beautiful mountain to look up at every day. Must be amazing to stand on the Chief! Thanks!

  5. SG, just stick with your group's plan as that route is easier than Horn, and Chief isn't Everest, or Whitney. Try not to overthink it. You'll get there. -DS

    1. Thank you, David. I appreciate your insight and advice. Happy Thanksgiving! SG