Cozy Dell Trail.
Elevation Gain: Around 750 feet.
Distance: Under a mile
Time: 45 Mins
Nearby Cities: Ojai & Meiners Oaks
Directions: Google Maps
Note: I gave a link to the Friends Ranch Packing house on google maps because there isn’t an official trailhead, so google won’t tell you how to get there. You can park in the dirt lot before the packing house. The lot will be on your left about 100 yards before the packing house which is on the right.
Right as you step off the road you see that this trail is loved. People have taken time out of their personal lives to make a river rock stair case for all to enjoy. This lends itself to the name and feeling of the trail. Very inviting to see at the beginning of the hike.
Grasses and native herbs line the path, occasionally protruding into the trail. It’s always a good idea to be aware of what you’re walking through. It might be Poison Oak. If you’ve never had a run in with it, be very glad. It’s nasty stuff and sometimes very hard to tell if it’s actually it at all. Fortunately there are a few simple things you can do to avoid it. I’ll cover it in a separate post and talk a little more about it later on.
Wild grasses and Anise frame the trail and obscure the riverbed from view for a few yards. This was after a few rains so there was ample water to soak the soil. Some of those Anise stalks are much taller then I am. With out the contraints of the city and mainly people, nature really flourishes.
Only a few steps from the car and I already feel as if I’ve stepped into another world. From fast moving cars and straight roads to slow steps up a winding dirt trail. Cozy Dell is one of my favorites because of this. It’s always so lush and full of life and with not very much hiking, will reward you with beautiful views of the Ventura River, Matilija, and Lake Casitas.
From here the trail winds through a dry riverbed that rarely flows. It really has to pour to get this river running. Keep your footing in mind when walking through riverbeds or around rocks like this. An easy mistake could lead one quickly to the hospital or worse. It’s best to enjoy nature with an alert ready mind.
Watch out for the mud in the rainy seasons. It can make even the most seasoned of hikers slip and fall. Wearing appropriate shoes dramatically decreases your chance of spraining or breaking your ankle. Sorry girls no flip flops on this one. Take it nice and slow and be aware of your steps and you should be fine.
Though they pose a risk to the unaware or unlucky, rocks make the trail diverse and natural. These are all packed together neatly on a small switchback making for a natural staircase. This isn’t unique on this trail. It happens all over the hikes I’ve been on around Ojai and Ventura. Thanks nature!
Some part are almost completely overgrown with wild grass. Whenever you have to brush against anything on the trail like this it’s always a good idea to check for ticks. I personally haven’t encountered any at all on this hike, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Stick to the trails and check your legs and front often and you should be fine.
On the side of the trail is the occasional fern sprouting up through the thicket. They are vascular plants which means they don’t reproduce through the use of seeds. It’s quite a process and I recommend clicking the link and reading further.
This is a great example of what snags most hikers. Or at least ones who aren’t paying attentions. Poison Oak just waiting for you. Sure, it’s all good to avoid the plants with three leaves on the sides of the trails, just don’t go up there. But these little guys reach out way into the path of the trail and will catch you right in the forearm or side if you don’t watch for it. Sometimes they’re not even kind enough to have leaves on them to make them easily identifiable.
Another thing to keep in mind when is other peoples pets and that they might have rubbed against some even without their owners knowledge. All it takes is the dog brushing your leg as it goes by or worst, you petting it. Urushiol is a highly potent organic allergen that lasts for up to 4 years after leaving the plant. Worst of all, it only affects us humans. All other animals are off the hook. But they can and do give it to us. So be careful if you go hiking with your pet or see them on the trails.
Her is couple small sprigs that are just as toxic as their bigger brothers and sisters. These ones make me almost as nervous as when the branches have no leaves, then it’s really hard to tell whats what.
Close up of the leaves so you can see how they look from the top. They come from a single stem off the main one, then branch into three leaves from there. Hence the saying; leaves of three let it be.
This on the other hand, this is completely harmless. Especially because it’s shaped like a heart. Everyone loves hearts right?
Another close up of the ground cover, vibrantly green after the recent rain. This was an interesting plant. It wasn’t quite a clover and not a grass. I liked it none the less.
This was also a very interesting plant I came across. It looks like some type of wild parsley or something.
Spotted here and there along the way are a variety of really beautiful wild flowers that can be seen all over.
I got lucky with this one. It was a no brainer. I love these kinds of shots. They shoot themselves. There’s just so much happening in this one picture. The flower. The yellow in the middle. The little bit of light on the leaves above it. The two other flowers. All balanced by the background in a way that I couldn’t reproduce. Especially not on my iPhone.
Here you can see that someone a crew probably built this mini levee to preserve the trail from erosion. These are extremely useful and help maintain our trails so they don’t wash away in the storms every year. If you don’t have anything to do one weekend. Take a few shovels and go build one on one of your local favorite trails. It will feel good and you’ll be helping preserve something that all can use for free.
Please use caution if using shovels in the wilderness. If you are far from civilization there will be no one but you to help in the event of an emergency.
This was a cool vine that was snaking it’s way up a branch and into a bush to eventually suffocate it and fill up fill seed pods to repeat the process… Botanical Homicide! Nature is brutal! Not so cool…
Okay, let me just say that this makes me very mad in the extreme. Ignorance at it’s best. Or worst I don’t know. These bags are sometimes supplied for peoples dogs by the ranger district or whatever manages the trails in the area. Now, ordinary people who have common sense wouldn’t assume that there is some dog doo trail pickup service that just goes about picking up after there lazy behinds. Sadly this is not the case with everyone. There are people who actually go through the trouble of bagging their pets excrement, then leave it there to… what? Why not just let the pooch do his business on the trail and be gone? At least it would biodegrade. Not just sit there in a plastic bag until some unlucky and heroic person picks it up. Not me… I have no qualms about picking up trash. But I refuse to pick that up.
Don’t be a buttface please pick up after your pet. You know who you are.
Further on up the trek you start climbing some decent altitude. There are a few switchbacks but luckily there not very close together so you get a break. There is something about that picture that makes me want to go back there. Very cozy indeed.
About half way up there is a really nice rock to stop and catch your breath or have a bite to eat on. I’ve stopped here many times and enjoyed the shade and the cool rock. The rock itself is sitting on a ledge so if you go far up on it be careful of the edge. It might be about a 10-15 foot drop.
There are many parts of the trail that are shaded by young oaks on either side. It’s very nice on hot days and I often pick this hike because of that. Also the view is starting to be pretty nice looking back.
Another Lucky one. I remember walking slowly through the shade hoping for a shot like this. There is simple beauty in nature, you merely have to pay attention and look for it.
After hiking for about 15-25 minutes. The rewards are starting to look pretty good. That is Highway 33 down there. You can’t really see it in the picture but it’s there.
Huge rock jutting out of the hill at 12:00. I really like this rock. I almost always stop here and take a break. Even if it’s just to drink some water and admire the rock. If your agile you can even climb on top of it and get a better vantage on the trail.
Now on top of the first little crest you can stop at, which I did this time. The views are amazing, especially for how little you have to hike.
A spectacular view of the Ventura River Bottom, with a little bit of Miners Oaks on the left there. Off in the distance there is Lake Casitas, obscured by clouds.
At the end of my journey I rested for a bit on these rocks. After I got sick of the bugs I packed up and headed home.
Oh and there is a Geo Cache up there hidden in the rocks so if you’re into that thing dig in!
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment!