To Our Ojai Community:

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we recover from the damage from the Thomas Fire on our trails. In the coming months trails will likely open and close depending on rain and changing trail conditions. Click here for current information and trail notifications »


By on March 17, 2021 in News, Newsletter

Trail repairs are underway at Valley View Preserve! 

If you have ever wanted to go for a relatively short, but intense hike or bike with stellar views right in Ojai, you’ve probably gone on the Luci’s-Foothill-Fox Canyon Trail loop on Valley View Preserve. This local adventure can get your heart pumping as you climb over 600-feet of elevation on the 2.5-mile loop. You are rewarded with unobstructed views of the valley, and for the eagle-eyed among us, you can spot the post office tower down Signal Street. Many locals can access this loop easily, often by walking from town, and that accessibility is one of the best features about this loop. Unfortunately, it is also leaving Luci’s Trail hammered. 

Lately, the iconic switchbacks on the hillside with the water tank are being short cut and a new trail is forming, following the ridge Luci’s Trail meanders up. These shortcuts erode the steep hillside, make the actual trail less enjoyable, prevent the growth of native plants, and are a general maintenance headache. 

Local Eagle Scout Troop 504, led by Brady Vondriska, was joined by family, friends, and the community to repair shortcuts on the iconic Luci’s Trail switchbacks. 

Before the 2017 Thomas Fire scorched the hillside on Valley View Preserve, shortcutting Luci’s Trail wasn’t really feasible; chaparral vegetation alongside the switchbacks served as a natural barrier to keep people on the trail. At first, maintaining the actual trail and encouraging trail users back onto the trail was onerous but manageable. However, going from one crisis to another has exacerbated the problem. 

With Covid-19, more people hit the trails—especially easily accessible ones—and those added rubber soles and tire treads act like water and erode the trail further. Not only do we have more people on Luci’s Trail, but they are (very understandably) stepping off of the actual trail tread to keep distance from other trail users. 

The time has come to stop the erosion, protect the trail, and heal the hillside. We have started to work with a small number of volunteers who hike and bike this trail, to address the problems. We are focusing on the hillside with the water tank, just off of Shelf Road-the rest of the trail will remain unchanged. 

It’s going to be a process to repair what’s taken three years to degrade, but the very first step happened this February when local Eagle Scout Troop 504 closed and repaired the shortcuts. Using native material, the shortcuts were disguised and replanted. Next, we will reroute sections of the trail which have been damaged due to drainage issues on a narrow ridge. Not only will the trail be rerouted to protect degraded land, but the damaged areas will be replanted and given time to breathe and regrow. 

So, keep an eye out this year for activity on the hillside, and when it’s safe for groups to gather, we hope you’ll join us in our trail work efforts because we love to have volunteers help! When it’s all said and done we’re confident you’ll love the new route because it will be more sustainable, less hard on the land, and still get your heart rate up! 

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