Ojai and Mighty

Hike the Kennedy Ridge Trail

Blazed just over five years ago, Kennedy Ridge Trail climbs into a chaparral region above Ojai Valley once accessible only to wild creatures and the most daring bushwackers. Visit the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy’s Ventura River Preserve to hike this 5-mile out-and-back route ascending 1,000 feet to a low ridge of the Santa Ynez Mountains in Los Padres National Forest. Starting at Oso Trailhead, cut west over the Ventura River’s rocky bed and up a slope to an old dirt road adjacent to an abandoned orange grove. From there, junction signs point the way to Kennedy Ridge Trail (via Rice Canyon Trail), leading you past a small stand of peppertrees, eucalyptus, and giant flowering agaves to a bridge over Los Robles Diversion Canal. Walk along a red-soil service road through oaks and grasslands before taking a narrow diverging trail up a sage-covered hillside. The next mile is a series of steep, heart-pumping switchbacks rising to the ridge. Most of the way you’ll be enveloped in a thicket of tall shrubs. Once up, sit at a picnic table to the east and get views of the Nordhoff Ridge and Topatopa Mountains. The path continues west for one mile along an undulating ridge dotted with sandstone outcroppings—its back side rippling up towards the distant White Ledge Peak. A second table marks the trail’s end, where you’ll enjoy a panorama of Lake Casitas, the Ojai Valley, and the Pacific Ocean.

BEER BONUS: Post-hike, head to Ojai Beverage Company, a liquor store with a bar restaurant in the back offering 50 beers on tap and a menu of salads, sandwiches, and gourmet burgers. Order a flight of samplers served in Pilsner-style glasses, choosing beers from both far-flung breweries and local favorites like the Ventura-based Topa Topa Brewing Co., named after the mountains above Ojai.kennedy_ridge101-image-jpeg

From Los Angeles, take US-101 north to Ventura, then CA-33 to Meiners Oaks. Trailhead parking is located at the end of Meyer Rd., just off Rice Rd., next to the Ojai Valley Trail Riding Company. The lot closes at 5:00 p.m. during winter months. Dog-friendly!

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