Ojai Valley News
Published January 11, 2017
By Perry Van Houten
Work has begun to reopen a historic hiking trail built by Ojai forest rangers more than 100 years ago. The six-mile Ocean View Trail (OVT) offers views of the backcountry, and, as its name implies, far-reaching vistas of the Santa Barbara Channel.
The effort to reopen the OVT is being led by the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy (OVLC), in partnership with the Ojai Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Los Padres Forest Association (LPFA).
“It is the hope and plan to one day join OVLC’s Ventura River Preserve to the OVT, via a 10-mile route along the Kennedy Ridge and Camino Cielo trails, that could connect hikers, mountain bikers, trail runners and equestrians to the Matilija Canyon Trailhead some 20 miles distant,” explained Rick Bisaccia, OVLC stewardship director.
The trail stretches from the end of the old Camino Cielo Road on the Ojai Valley side to the Divide Peak route above Matilija Canyon near the Murietta Divide. “It would also be possible to connect via the western terminus of the OVT to an existing route which joins with the top of the Franklin Trail, which begins in Carpinteria,” Bisaccia added.
The OVT lies within the Ojai Ranger District of the Los Padres National Forest. The trail was built around 1903 by Ojai forest rangers, including Bob Clark and George Bald. Clark and Bald were among some of the most colorful and accomplished mountain men of the time, and Bald’s son, Howard, was the first forest ranger for the Ojai Ranger District.
But before the OVT can be opened to public use again, Bisaccia said a study of the route has to be done. “An environmental impact report has to be completed on the trail which has to be cut through heavy brush with a narrow preliminary line, or p-line, to allow the report makers, including a biologist, archeologist and botanist, to complete a series of surveys.”
The effort to reopen the OVT is getting plenty of support from volunteers, young and old, according to Bisaccia. “Several months ago, water was cached by volunteers on the western section of the trail, and on the weekend of November 18 to November 20, several OVLC trail crew volunteers worked a-half-mile east towards Ojai along the trail from old White Ledge Camp, cutting p-line and route-finding using old USFS trail surveys, topo maps, Google Earth images and a topo map app.”
Joining the group was hiking guide author Craig R. Carey and 32 Boy Scouts, along with leaders of Ventura’s Troop 111. “They brought water in as support to the trail crew and helped lop brush on the way into the camp,” Bisaccia said. The troop, with boys mostly in the sixth grade, specializes in backpacking and taking on service projects that benefit recreational opportunities in Los Padres National Forest.
A projected reopening date for the OVT has not been set, but Bisaccia said he’s looking forward to a ribbon-cutting someday. “It’s my hope that the outdoor recreation community will come together to support the eventual approval and completion of this truly epic trail project. The contributions of volunteers and the help we’ve gotten from the U.S. Forest Service, LPFA, and Supervisor Steve Bennett’s and Congresswoman Julia Brownley’s offices are the kinds of backing needed to make such a project successful.