Ojai lies just on the edge of the Los Padres National Forest, making it the perfect gateway to outdoor adventure. There are fantastic hiking and camping around the city including an access to the tallest waterfall in Los Padres. Hiking in a hot desert climate can be intimidating, especially for families with small children, but we’ve compiled a list of the best hikes in Ojai, just for you. Ranging from easy strolls to tougher adventure hikes, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect hike for you and your family. Just make sure to pack snacks and water before leaving your Ojai vacation rental in the morning!
1. Rose Valley Falls
This easy hike is just over a mile and perfect for all ages and skill levels. There’s shade the entire way, and the trail ends at a magnificent two-tier 300-foot waterfall where there are some nice spots for a little family picnic. Any adventure seekers in the family will love the challenge of climbing to the second tier. The trail begins at the Rose Valley Campground which has restrooms and 9 first come first serve campsites making it the perfect place to spend the night. Plus, dogs are welcome too!
2. Sespe River Trail to Willett Hot Springs
This trail is more moderate than easy, but reaching the hot springs at the end makes it well worth it. It’s 20.1 miles out and back if you want to do the entire trail to the Willet Hot Springs, but there are also plenty of swimming holes and camping spots along the way making it a fun place for the whole family to spend the weekend. Keep in mind that it’s best in the spring or fall as the summer months can get too hot and there may not be water in the river.
3. Piedra Blanca Formations Trail
Another great trail for all ages is the Piedra Blanca Formations Trail. At only 2.3 miles out and back, it’s fun for the entire family. It’s relatively flat, there’s no poison oak to worry about the trails are wide and well marked. There are also some great chances for bouldering and bird watching to keep the kids entertained. Bring Fido as long as he’s kept on a leash.
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4. Lion Canyon Trail to Hines Peak
Lion Canyon Trail to Hines Peak is great for hiking year-round, but if you’re with smaller children, it’s best to wait until late spring as the trail starts with a small creek crossing that can be tough for short legs. For the most part, the trail is generally easy with a few different routes to explore. To get to Hines Peak, it’s about 20 miles round trip, but it’s the highest point in the Topatopa Range, so the views are definitely worth it.
5. Horn Canyon Trail
This hike takes you through beautiful fields of wildflowers. Sounds like the perfect place for your new family photo! Make sure to pack plenty of water and snacks because this trail can be challenging. The kids will love splashing around in three river crossings, and the rest of the hike will grant you spectacular views of Ojai.
6. Shelf Road Trail
Here’s another trail that’s perfect for all ages. It’s perfect for a leisurely stroll, or even a run since the trail is well-maintained and relatively easy. It’s fun for the whole family, including the dog! Parts of the trail will even pass you along tangerine and avocado trees. The views are amazing and there’s even a bench at the top to take a rest and soak it all in.
7. Ventura River Preserve Trail
This easy 2.9-mile loop trail features tons of beautiful wildflowers and is puppy-friendly! There’s not much shade so be sure to bring a hat and put extra sunscreen on the littles ones because we’re sure they’ll want to spend extra time exploring. Mountain biking and horseback riding are some other fun activities you can do here.
8. Cozy Dell Via Foothill Trail
This trail is less traveled than many of the others on our list making it the perfect place to take your time and let the kids explore. It’s a short and fun trail full of wildflowers and butterflies! In certain times of the year, the trail can be muddy and be sure to keep a look out for poison oak. There is a steady incline, but the trail provides great mountain views, shaded canyons, and unique geology to keep your hike interesting.
9. Ojai Valley Trail
This neat trail follows the former Ventura and Ojai Valley Railroad and runs along the Ventura River into the valley. The trail is paved and in generally good condition meaning that even a stroller can come along! Time your visit to coincide with the Ojai Music Festival which takes place at the Libbey Bowl amphitheater in early June. Libbey Park also hosts free concerts during the summer, and you’ll pass this grassy park around mile 9 of this hike. If you need to take a rest before then, there’s a shade structure with a bench near mile 7.
10. Potrero John Trail
This 5.1 miles out and back trail is perfect for families that want to get away. There are several creek crossings to cool off in and two campsites within a mile apart if you want to stay the night. The trail starts in a narrow gorge which is just a taste of the beautiful scenery that’s to come. At the end of the trail, you’ll reach the Potrero John Campsite, but keep going for a mile and a half to see a small waterfall. There are no facilities though so make sure everyone takes care of business before leaving your vacation rental!
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