Shelf Road: Signal Side

Shelf Road: Signal side

February 2011

Elevation Gain: Between 125-175 feet.

Distance: Between 1.5 and 1.75 miles (To the middle.)

Time: Under an hour.

Rating: Easy to Moderate

Nearby Cities: Ojai

Directions: Google Maps

Note: There are two trail-heads to this trail.  One on the very top of North Signal Street and the other is near the top of Gridley Road.  This trail is from the North Signal side to the Bench in the middle of the trail.

Here is the trailhead and parking lot all in one.  Most of the time it is full of cars so you may have trouble finding a spot.  This is a good sign as it means the trail is often used.  I’ll talk more about that later.  For less hassle and more exercise you can park in town and walk up from there.

I have been by auto burglary.  I spent the day fishing at Matilija Lake one weekend and came back to my passenger side window broken out.  Luckily I was smart enough to lock up everything important in my trunk.  It was still highly inconvenient and I recommend just locking everything in your trunk and leaving your car unlocked.  Sounds crazy but if you think about it makes a lot of sense.  If the desperate person breaking into your car first realizes that its unlocked, he might not break a window.  In any case you risk something, unless of course you get a friend to drive you.

Wanna go hiking, you drive?

Don’t let things like this deter you.  It’s everywhere and just part of life.  As with anything, there are risks and things we can do to avoid them.

Being a very wide and easy trail to hike; there are almost always other hikers walking by, most friendly and talkative.  This is definitely a social hike.  A lot of people walk it regularly, as its right in town and very easy to manage.  The trail is popular so it’s great for running and walking alike.  I wouldn’t recommend narrower ones as you can never know what is under the brush next to you. When you trail-run it’s harder to pay attention to your feet.  A Rattlesnake bite wouldn’t be fun, no matter where you are.

Also, because the smell of people is strong on this trail, larger predators avoid it making it safer.  I’ve hiked it many times and have never seen even as much as a Bob Cat.

After about 100 yards or so, you can see a house on the hillside to the right.  Hidden by trees, it’s roof peeks out at you.  The trail winds closer to it later on, wouldn’t it be nice to live right on the edge of the mountain!

Here there is a fence lining the trail.  This is because it’s private property and they don’t want people picking their fruit.  I think if any hangs over its fair game but don’t quote me on it.

Watch for Poison Oak on this trail as any other.  This one is mean looking, reaching out in menace challenging those who pass by.  At least this trail is plenty wide so you don’t really have to worry.  Stick to the path and don’t bush-whack and you will be fine.

Pretty wildflowers line the way on either side.  Making the trail even more beautiful and majestic.

This is Bermuda Buttercup or SourGrass as I knew it growing up.  You can eat it, although I don’t recommend eating large quantities of wild plants unless you have the knowledge or are in a survival situation.  This plant in particular when eating in large amounts, is toxic to humans and other large mammals.

While being pretty, it harbors a small toxin that is pretty nasty if you read into it.

There are some areas off to the sides of the trail that to the best of my knowledge aren’t off-limits.  I’ve often enjoyed a rest in a shady nook or two on this trail.

Chamise grows where most plants can’t.  Occurring often in serpentine soils and contributing to the control of erosion; it reminds me that most things have a story to tell and something to give.  If only given the chance to tell it.

Here are a few hikers enjoying the nice day.  I don’t think there has been a time when I haven’t seen at least one other person on this trail.  This is reassuring to most but if you prefer relative solitude on your hikes you might want to pick another.

Great views and brilliant skies are the regular thing around Ojai. I often think that most people take it for granted.  I did for a long time until I started hiking avidly; almost as if it turned the part of my brain on that enjoys nature and the simpler things in life.  Great views, brilliant skies and good times.

Orange trees frame the path as you make your way up the trail.  Remember, these are someones livelihood and they depend on it to make a living.  I’ve heard that if it’s hanging over the fence then you can take it.  But again, don’t quote me because I haven’t researched it and it could get you in trouble.  I just enjoy them from a distance and stay on the safe side.

Almost there!  From here you can see the part of the trail where most people stop if only to rest for a minute.  There are two benches installed for the use of all.  It’s really nice to sit down and watch the sunset with a view of The Ojai Valley below you.

Yet another view of the beauty that is Ojai.  Makes me want to move back here.  But for the most part I’m content living only a short drive away.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to move very far away from it.

I thought this was a great picture.  I often wonder how old this gate is.  It seems to me that it has a lot of history and if it could talk, would have many things to say about the people of the trail.

I can’t stress enough to always being alert and aware of your surroundings when hiking.  Especially when you explore off to the side of the trail as I did when I found this.  If gone unnoticed, this little sprig of death could have gotten me good.

Rocks with moss clinging to them are common if you venture into one of the shady alcoves off to the side of the trail.  In this case I’m glad I did because this shot came out pretty good.

Unfortunately there are people who aren’t… enlightened enough to realize that:

  • a.)  You can make money on this stuff.  Pack it out and you can save it over the course of a few weeks and have money to buy some more crappy beer.  (Not that I endorse the usage of unethically brewed alcoholic beverages.)
  • b.) It really makes the hiking experience less enjoyable when you have to look at other people’s trash they were too lazy to take with them.
  • c.)  Other people are going to take it and make money recycling it so why not get back the few cents you paid for when you bought the stuff in the first place?  It’s called CRV or (California Redemption Value).

Anyway, I picked it up with a plastic bag that I always bring with me so I can get the money that someone else could have and clean up the environment I enjoy.


After a little under thirty minutes, more or less depending on how fast you’re walking, you’re rewarded with stunning views of The Ojai Valley and a little into Mira Monte and Oak View.  If you stick around until the sun gets low you can enjoy some of the most spectacular sunsets in the world, just bring a flashlight.  I recommend this hike to everyone, it offers something for all.  From those who want a light hike at a modest pace to trail runners who want a place to train, it works for both.

Thanks for reading and please comment!




2 thoughts on “Shelf Road: Signal Side

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