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 hilltop
homes 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 the gentle rains that have generously visited us with their magic, shrouding the mountains in wisps 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.

From there it’s all upstream, literally.

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

• Leave the parking area, cross Route 150, and walk west across a bridge over
Santa Paula Creek (0 miles)

• Turn right to enter Thomas Aquinas College (0.08 miles)

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

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

• Pass through a gate and bear left (0.7 miles)

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

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

• Follow the road through Rancho Recuerdo avocado grove, making a right turn
just after the identifying gate (1.05 miles)

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Reach a shaded log at the end of the wide stretch of trail, coming just before an important,
but faint junction (2.5 miles)

• Bear right, cross Santa Paula Creek, and proceed up the trail on the other side alternatively, you can remain on the west side of the canyon and forge a route to Punchbowl Falls (2.53 miles)

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

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

• Pass through Big Cone Camp (3.65 miles)

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

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

• Bear right, cross the bottom of the ravine, and head up to a junction at a switchback. 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)

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