17 January 2012

Cozy Dell

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trail head.

I decided to go hiking down in the Ojai area, specifically a little trail I keep seeing the sign for when just barely out of the city going along highway 33. It just says Cozy Dell, which sounds nice and unexpected so close to the city, and usually has a few cars near it. Looking up the trail, I found it isn't a very long thing, but looking at the map, I could see that it actually connects with an unimproved road which further connects to some more trails. I decided upon a route that would head up the canyon on the road to where it ended at a couple springs, then head back to the intersection and head up to a campground as my turn around point. I printed out the upper right corner of the Matilija quad and took off for the trail.

orange groves
Orange groves and such down in the valley as the road wiggles its way toward Wheeler Gorge.

There is a large parking area across the highway from the trail, which heads out between the end of a bridge and the wall of Sheldon Canyon to head up the canyon a little bit and climb with a few switchbacks. The orange groves stretch out below as the trail climbs. It reaches the top, then travels along fairly flatly, with a few spots of dropping and climbing as it goes and finally drops a little into Cozy Dell Canyon. As I went, there were many birds playing among the grasses. The top gives a good view of Ojai below. A number of trails lead up to the main trail and proceed further up the mountain. There are a few small streams as it dips and climbs, but save a few pools none were flowing. One looked like it has a cute little waterfall in the right season.

a red breasted character
Somehow I do not expect this red breasted character is really the first sign of spring.

Ojai valley
The Ojai valley stretching out below.

dried out flowers
Some very late flowers looking a little bit old and dry.

a good trail
A bit of the trail as it travels over to the actual Cozy Dell area.

maybe a waterfall, but it turns out to be quite dry
A possible waterfall, in some seasons. In spite of the color, it seemed to be quite dry up close.

purple flowers
Wishbone bush. Nice, frilly purple flowers along the trail.

The trail ends at the road up Cozy Dell Canyon and the trail there is designated by a sign. I turned up the road and walked up its gentle slope along the pleasant canyon. At a split with no sign, I continued up the canyon by on the left fork. The road ends at a location with a couple of springs, according to the map. I found a possible location of one by the many pipes coming out of it. One more pipe was leading to it from the creek flowing along. I poked along a trail that looked to be going toward the other spring on the map, but although some of it had cut branches, most of it was just high enough for bears so I quickly tired of it. I sat for a bit for some lunch, then continued on.

road and trail intersection
Walking along the trail, meeting up with the road. Cozy Dell Canyon is a pleasant, wide valley with a few oaks, but not much flowing water.

more purple flowers, this time hanging
Wild sweet-pea. Hanging out beside the road as they seem prone to doing.

a capped spring
This could well be a capped spring. It looked like the pipes weren't in all that good shape, but probably are still supplying water to those below.

dammed up creek
The source for the last pipe is a pool produced by cemented rocks with a rather random roof structure to the side.

the end of the road
The last of the road isn't heavily traveled. The pipes follow along the side of it with a few particularly green spots.

After heading back down the spur of road, I took the right fork to continue toward my destination. The road dips into a then empty ford and continues upward. Noises ahead told me there was working going on on the road. I came upon a group of rangers trimming the trees all around the road to a very high clearance. The canyon starts to climb more steeply and I came to the spur road I took to be the road heading off on my map since I was just counting intersections rather than studying the land and comparing it. I passed another group of rangers clearing the road and got to the saddle where the road actually heads off and got confused since I though I was on the last bit of spur road that turns into the trail. The trail is signed and it was the right number, so I knew it was the right trail, just wasn't sure what was happening with the road.

white puff flowers in a gully
A bit of white that is all seed delivery mechanism.

road snaking around the mountains beyond
A spur road leads up to the right at a saddle. From the saddle, more road can be snaking away around the mountains. A use trail leads from the saddle to the road below.

the intersection of road with trail
At the next saddle, the road heads back down into Stewart Canyon while the trail breaks off to climb another 4 miles to Nordoff Ridge.

Very soon on my way up the trail, I came upon an abandoned mountain bike. I looked around to see if there was anyone, but couldn't see someone. It didn't seem like the kind of place you'd fall off your bike and vanish, so I continued on. Around a few corners, I came upon the biker, sitting and reading on the trail. He said he drank as much as he could at a drinking fountain far below, then rode until it couldn't and walked a little more to read as a regular thing. It didn't seem like a good idea to me since you still need some energy to get back downhill safely and sitting in the sun all by itself can bring on heat stroke, but it was a cool day so I let it be.

Meanwhile, the views just get better and better as the trail switchbacks up the side of the mountain. More and more of the city came into view. Lake Casitas could be seen as a shiny spot in the distance with the ribbon of creek flowing down to it. The trail never gets far into Stewart canyon as it climbs, staying on the very edge. Then the valley floor just about jumped up to the level of the trail and I suspected the campground would be soon. A little more hiking and I spotted a small trail forking off to the right. I followed it down to the campground on the valley floor just above the large drop off.

Ojai and Matilija
The Ojai valley and Lake Casitas.

Stewart valley
Hills and more city below. Close at hand is Stewart Canyon.

purple flowers with floppy petals
Purple nightshade. These petals seem particularly floppy to me.

succulent with thin and tall flower stalks but dried flowers
These are great little plants, although this one in particular was huge.

trees along the side of the trail into the campground
The trail into the campground was much smaller than the main trail at first, but very variable to follow.

metal fire ring and grill
The fire ring is a metal thing with a grill and the chairs are stones found locally for Valley View Campground. One chair is quite interesting as it has a back.

I poked around the campground a bit. First I followed the well used areas upstream to find a couple pools that seem a little deep for such a small stream. Coming back, I spotted an ammo can in a hollow tree. I flipped through the log book a little bit. One person asked for cigarettes in it and another said "hope you enjoy the..." and had left a cigar container with a little cigar in it, but no one had yet. Someone else said they'd not been able to finish their whiskey and left it for others to enjoy, but since it was no longer there, it must have already been enjoyed. I then went downstream, which became more and more difficult. There were more pools and little cascades, then there was a big drop off. I poked my nose over the drop, then went back to the previous pool to draw a bit. The wind came up as I drew. Then I went to climb back up to the trail and stroll back down.

stream through the camp
Reeds on one side, a wall of rocks on the other with a stream flowing through in the lower camp.

the last pool before the drop
The very last pool before a bit of a drop and the valley beyond.

a little crack with a fall in it and over it
This is the little waterfall into one of the last pools before the drop with a cute little crack with water dribbling through it, too.

a perfectly V shapped valley
This valley is the perfect V shape a child might draw to represent a valley with the perfect slope that a child knowing something of perspective might draw.

I hurried down as I went as it was late and I would probably do that last two miles after the sun went down. Still, I was game for traveling a slightly different route on the way back. There is a trail that leads from the road further along to Cozy Dell Canyon which I expected would be easy to find since it was signed and easy to see on the other side. I went up the road I thought I needed to follow to get to the trail, only to find that it was just a spur that got to the local peak and stopped. I didn't really want to follow the use trail down from the saddle, so ended up returning the same way I had come.

sun setting over the hills
A lovely sunset on the way back to the trail head.

rabbit on the path
In the gathering dusk, a few of the denizens of the bush came hopping out.

little sunflowers
Some of the local sunflowers, not much bigger than daisies, after the sun has gone down.

Wheeler Gorge in the gathering dusk
One last stretch before I am done.

As I was nearing the end of the trail, there were still people coming up. The first part of my hike seems to be used for short walks quite a bit.

the light reflected from a planet making the first evening star
Finished up with the evening star still high in the sky.

©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 6 March 2012

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