Santa Paula

Some of the most wonderous exploits can be found not far from home, accessible adventure is sustenance for the soul.

To the east of us, not more than thirty minutes, lies a quaint town smothered in sunshine and citrus and adorned with vintage hilltophomes that is the backyard to Ojai and a gateway to beauty.

We’ve taken to wandering here as of late, a weekly pilgrimage to bathe ourselves in thegentle rains that have generously visited us with their magic, shrouding the mountains inwisps of mist causing bursts of wildflowers and fast flowing streams. We are waterfall hunters and Santa Paula is home to a grand one, not far into the hills, found after meandering under canopies of oak.

Roaming is serious business which becomes a holistic experience for us, incorporating the palate, we start the day with fresh roasted coffee and delectable handcrafted beignets followed by homemade granola or spicy creole benedict. We figure we will earn it and acquainting ourselves with the local fare and warm hearted people sets the tone for a joyous escape.

From there it’s all upstream, literally.

The reward is near the end, which some might consider the beginning as it gives way tothe vast Los Padres National Forest. There’s a splendid waterfall and just above it is large white flat rocks that slope into a slot canyon which supplies the rushing stream that pours over the edge into a glorious pool.

 This is the moment we’ve come for, the goal…awash in nature and the experience of togetherness, a Saturday well spent in a quest for kinship and adoration for all things wild.

The list…where we stayed, where we ate:

Southern Breakfast and Beignets Rabalais’ Bistro
861 East Main Street, Santa Paula, CA 93060 — 805.525.2109

Mexican Breakfast and Burritos (delicious salsa)
Vince’s 827 East Main Street, Santa Paula CA 93060

Ventura Ranch KOA
7400 Pine Grove Rd, Santa Paula, CA 93060 — 805.933.3200

Teepees, glamping tents and stylish cabins adorn the creek, not far from the hike itself. Alovely swimming pool, zip line, outdoor movies and guided bigfoot hikes are just some ofthe fun this place offers.
7400 Pine Grove Rd, Santa Paula, CA 93060 — 805.933.3200

Hiking Directions to Punchbowls, Six Miles Round Trip

From the North or South 101 Freeway take CA-126 East and then exit CA-150 W/N Ojai Road Follow Highway 150 to St. Thomas Aquinas College and park just outside the gate.

Enter the school and carefully follow the signs to the trail, the school kindly grantsaccess so it’s important to follow their rules to the trailhead.

The turn-by-turn directions for the hike to the Punchbowl are:

1. Leave the parking area, cross Route 150, and walk west across a bridge over SantaPaula Creek (0 miles)

2. Turn right to enter Thomas Aquinas College (0.08 miles)

3. Turn right on the road around the east side of campus (0.15 miles)

4. Turn right up another paved road to Ferndale Ranch (0.67 miles)

5. Pass through a gate and bear left (0.7 miles)

6. Stay to the left past a road on the right (0.8 miles)

7. Descend a hillside and bear right at a split in the road (0.87 miles)

8. Follow the road through Rancho Recuerdo avocado grove,
making a right turn justafter the identifying gate (1.05 miles)

9. When the pavement ends, bear left and follow a dirt trail along the side
of a fenced-off drilling area (1.3 miles)

10. Meet Santa Paula Canyon Trail on the far side of the fence (1.45 miles)

11. Cross Santa Paula Creek and bear right to head upstream (1.5 miles)

12. Cross a road rising to the left to remain along the creek (1.75 miles)

13. Pass through an oaky area and turn left up the wide, gravel canyon bottom (2.15 miles)

14. Follow the trail as it rises to the left and then bear right on a wider trail (2.35 miles)

15. Reach a shaded log at the end of the wide stretch of trail, coming just before animportant, but faint junction (2.5 miles)

16. Bear right, cross Santa Paula Creek, and proceed up the trail on the otherside alternatively, you can remain on the west side of the canyon and forge a routeto Punchbowl Falls (2.53 miles)

17. Bear right at a split to head up the side of the canyon (2.73 miles)

18. Bear right again to continue up the side of the canyon (3 miles)

19. Pass through Big Cone Camp (3.65 miles)

20. Descend to a junction with trails to the bottom and top of the Punchbowl (3.75 miles)

o Bear left to descend a ravine toward the main fork of Santa Paula Canyon justbelow Punchbowl Falls. Explore the waterfall (3.85 miles) and then return to thejunction or take a steep path connecting to the next part of the trail to the Punchbowl.

o Bear right, cross the bottom of the ravine, and head up to a junction at aswitchback.

o Bear left and follow the trail across a ledge above Santa Paula Canyon to the top of the cascades and chutes called the Punchbowl (4 miles)


Ojai Pixie Blossom