Summary: Santa Paula Canyon is one of the best hikes in Ventura County. The trail takes you through picturesque St. Thomas Aquinas College, then along the shady banks of Santa Paula creek with plentiful swimming holes, capped by a spectacular 25 foot waterfall just past Big Cone Camp.
Trailhead: From downtown Ojai, drive 11 miles east towards Santa Paula on Highway 150. Park in the trailhead parking on the right side of the road just east of the bridge, across from Thomas Aquinas College. Note that you must walk through a portion of the campus to reach the trailhead. (Lat:34.427571 Lon:-119.089664)
Trail Guides for Santa Paula Canyon:
Day Hikers Guide to Southern California
by John McKinney (Olympus Press)
Day Hikes in Ventura County California
by Robert Stone (Day Hike Books)
by Tom Stienstra & Ann Marie Brown (Foghorn Press)
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs, Bikes, Horses
Ranger Contact: Ojai Ranger District, 805-646-4348
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Jim Zuber, who has posted 104 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 20 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Rk on 1/27/2014
Good hike but the place has been left a mess of graffiti, trash old sleeping bags clothes. The only nice thing I saw was a boyscout troop going out of their way to pickup and hike out with as much trash as they could. Made the place that much nicer .
Reviewed by Vidya on 7/28/2013
I came here for the sheer delight of a swimming hole close to the Valley, and to do a recon trip to see if I could bring my dogs out to beat the summer heat. Reading much reviews about this one, I knew what I was getting into. 1) Trash is bad. I packed out 40 pieces and counting on my way out. PLEASE DO NOT LITTER, PEOPLE. 2) Graffiti is bad. Tagging is not art, nor is it nice to look at. Especially when it says, "Check me out on instagram". Seriously? 3) The terrain is a BEAST on your feet. DO NOT WEAR VIBRAMS, ONLY PROPER HIKING SHOES WITH GOOD SOCKS. 4)DO NOT GET LOST. I felt like Hansel and Gretel following the trails of graffiti, trash, and ribbons stuck on twigs. (sucks, I know) PREPARE! READ UP ON THE TRAIL! IT IS
Reviewed by clara on 2/6/2013
Best hike i have been to in the Southern California region. Ahad an absolutly fun and adventurous time, especially at the waterslide.
Reviewed by Caitlin on 9/21/2012
Trash ALL over the trail. And I'm not just talking about the illiterate bros and drunk neo nazis...
Reviewed by KP on 5/6/2012
I have been doing this hike about once a year for 7 years now. I hiked it on 5/5/2012 and don't see myself ever going back to do it again. The Graffiti was bad before but now it is horrible. Just in the last year there has been a huge increase in vandalism. Entire rock walls and house sized boulders are completely covered with spray paint. It's sad that this once beautiful place has been destroyed. Maybe a good flood will wash it out. On a positive note the trail is in excellent shape (best I've ever seen it) but the water level is already very low.
Reviewed by LM on 4/15/2012
The hike was great, other than the graffiti everywhere. Damn cholos... respect nature man, just because you're a cholo doesn't mean you have to spray paint everything! Is it written in the cholo manual that you have to deface everything? The trail was good and easy to follow. Never made it to the waterfall, but looking forward to the next time.
Reviewed by Leslie on 12/1/2011
Hiked on 11/26/11 with my sister and new friends we met at the trailhead. Other than the graffiti on the punchbowl walls (WHY?) the hike is really lovely, moderately paced, and along the stream most of the way. Trail is well-marked only through the college campus. After passing the oil field, many have marked the trail with spay paint and Hoodoos (stone cairns). We found that the orange spray paint arrows and stripes were the best to follow. After descending the the stream from the old camp site, go downstream and the punchbowl is only 200 yards around a bend that could be rather difficult for some to navigate. Enjoy!
Reviewed by The King on 7/25/2011
Took this hike 7/12 with 8, 10, 11, 40s & 60 year olds. Still plenty of water for a great time. It is a long hike and you often feel like you are not going the right way but stay with the stream and you'll get there. There are a few markers that are hard to find. Getting to the second set of pools is very challenging and slippery. Bring a water filtration system - you'll need it. You will go through much more water than you think. The college you walk around is absolutely beautiful. We left at 9:30 a.m. and weren't back to car until 8:00. It was a great day. We've done many hikes and the kids said this was their favorite. Kevin the 8 year old was stung by wasps on way back and still said it was his favorite hike! AWESOME!
Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
Keys: California Hiking, California Trails, California Hikes, Ventura County Hiking, Ventura County Trails, Ventura County Hikes