Gridley Trail.

Gridley Road Trail

February 2011.

Elevation Gain: Around 4000 feet.

Distance: Around 7 miles up. 14 Miles round-trip.

Time: All day (8-9 Hours).

Rating: Moderate to Advanced to Insane (Depending on when you stop).

Nearby Cities: Ojai.

Directions: Google Maps

Note:  If you drive up to the top of Gridley Road, you should find it. Once you come to a private gate and a bunch of cars parked around, you’ve found it. There is another trail-head on the way; it’s for The Shelf Road Trail, pass it up and park at the end of the road. As with any other place keep everything locked in your trunk to avoid theft.

This is what you should see right as you step off of the road. There are a few signs for trail distances and information, as well as some trail-maps for when anyone wants to use them. Please put them back as the Forestry Service doesn’t have the budget to keep up these stations as well as they should.

Right away the trail starts to show its colors. For a good part of the beginning, this trail has trees on either side providing decent shade, which is a nice relief on a hot day.

Miners Lettuce, wild grasses, and other herb-like plants litter the trail on either side as you meander your way up the mountain. This is an edible plant and isn’t that bad actually.

Vines and flowers compete for the sunlight in this everyday battle for survival.

As I walk through sections where the trees have almost closed in overhead and vines hang down here and there; I feel a sense of tranquility wash through me.

Another example of the trees that provide shade to help keep not only you but the trail itself cool. There’s a little shoot of a harmless plant reaching out into the path; I wouldn’t touch it because I don’t know what or who else has. It’s around dog level and I know that most people don’t rein their dogs in when hiking and they roam freely, passing through poison oak sometimes. All it takes is the dog to rub against the branch; it looks harmless now, but actually will give you the same nasty, itchy, miserable rash as the three-leaf menace lurking on the sides of trails.

I have to warn you that there is part of this trail that is narrow and I advise hiked with the greatest of care. It may seem that there is plenty of room on the trai but all it takes is one not paying enough attention and making a wrong move. That is a fifteen to twenty-foot drop next to the path. Later on, there are larger drops next to just as narrow ledges. Don’t be deterred, pay attention to your footing and walk with an alert ready mind.

Here is another example of the trail being right next to a cliff or drop. This one is more intense. I wouldn’t want to meet that drop.

This post is more than just one trip. One time stopping here, another all the way to Nordhoff Peak. I like this spot. Although its right on the trail, there are some rocks to sit on and you get a great view of the Valley below.

Hikers descend from their trek. I was snapping some shots of the sun over the mountain when they walked past, it worked out well adding a little more action and movement to the picture.

I thought these red cacti were very interesting. I love the color and pattern of spots. When I googled it, I couldn’t find out what kind these are. Feel free to leave a comment and I’ll update the post with a shout-out to whoever figures out what it is.

Here is a view from the rock I was sitting on in the last few pictures. From here on out the trail is mostly like this; not very shady and it sort of climbs through small hills.

Further on, the view becomes more and more amazing if you stop and look behind. That is the trail cutting through the Chaparral behind me.

The first sign of snow. This is really neat for me because I haven’t been to the snow since I was little. Later on it covers the ground in some areas.

Here we are at Gridley Springs Camp. This is a nice spot to rest for a good lunch or even camp, if you leave really late in the day. I’ve never camped here but heard its great.

Here I am about three-quarters of the way to Ridge Road. You can see the trail if you look hard enough on the hill, just right of center.

The highest point on the left is Chiefs Peak. It is further than Nordhoff Peak which is where I went this time. Chiefs will have to wait for another time.

Later on again, the snow started to get thick enough to crunch underfoot. Kinda cool if you aren’t from areas where it snows often.

From here on up, snow littered the ground wherever there was shade. Snowball fight!

Grass pokes through the snow gladly gulping in the nutrients from the air aided by the water from the snow.

I had to take a picture of this rock. It was too perfect not to.

This is looking back towards Ojai. I’m five and three-quarters of a mile from civilization, three miles from a decent campground of any kind, and tired from hiking for nearly three hours.

Here you can see into the upper hills of the Sespe Creek Valley. It’s one of my favorite destinations to hike, backpack or just take a short walk into the wilderness for a picnic and some relaxation.

Snow dots the ground on the side where the sun doesn’t shine. You can see Ridge Road cutting across the top of the hills.

This is a Ranger Tower that sits on the top of the peak. Behind it you can see lots of snow on the mountains. There was probably snow here a few days before but the sun quickly set to work melting it.

The mountains running through the middle of the picture is most likely Black Mountain because the trees are so green, they look black. That small mountain range separates the Ojai Valley from the Cañada Larga Canyon.

I was sure glad I brought that wind-breaker, it got really cold up on the peak. I always bring something like that they are easily stow-able in the bottom of a pack for times like this.

The Ojai Valley. Lake Casitas. The Santa Barbara Channel and The Channel Islands. Even the faintest hint at the curvature of the Earth.

This is why I hike. Other than being good for my health, there is a feeling within me I get only when I’m at places like this. I can’t put it into words, but that is why it’s so great. There are things in life that don’t belong in words. We can only hint at the true meaning and beauty of the Universe between the lines of our poems, songs and theories.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave comments!




2 thoughts on “Gridley Trail.

  1. Nice post, Josh! The views are awesome from Nordhoff tower. Great exercise, too. I wonder why they call it Gridley Springs — plural — when all you’ve got there 340 days per year is one spring. The other one is a short lived stream that’s only there when it rains. Keep adding more trails to the mix. You are Ojai’s ultimate nature guide!

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