8.16.13 – Gridley Springs Camp via Gridley Trail









This has been a pretty good Summer of hiking for me. My three goals going into mid-2013 were to backpack more, get to know the Sierras better, and to further explore Ojai. I’ve gone on 6 backpack trips thus far and have been in the Sierras 8 times thus far. Pretty solid there. Now it’s time for Ojai…

The Ojai front country is new terrain for me. I’ve been up Sisar Canyon and Matilija several times but that’s about it. I’ve heard about Gridley Trail, Nordhoff…well…everythings (road, ridge, trail, peak), Horn Canyon, Cozy Dell, etc… Today was Gridley Trail day for me.

I drove up to the trailhead at the top of Gridley Road and was welcomed by a sign that let me know I was in a “theft zone” and that I should keep my “…cd’s… out of sight because they won’t be there when I come back to my car.” Good to know but as a rule I usually have nothing in my car when I’m hiking anyways. If the thieves don’t see something good enough to break in, a bear might 🙂

Anyways, I left my car around 11am and began the enjoyable singletrack ascent adjacent to an avocado orchard. I had my ipod playing some tunes to keep it a little noisy. I’ve found that this makes me more comfortable when I’m hiking alone in areas that have been known to be very active with bears and mountain lions.








After a half mile or so, the trail opened up to a road. Sign markers helped to determine where the trail is and where it’s not (there are a bunch of agro road offshoots and its important to not get confused, especially on the descent). The daytime heat was sweltering way over 100 degrees and I ascertained early on that this would be a shorter hike. However, with that in mind, I tried to scale back my distance but I amped up my heart rate to be consistently over 80-85% of my max. This would allow me to get a short but worthwhile anaerobic workout. Hey, it’s better than nothing!






After two miles, I was still moving along at a very good clip, about a 2.5 mph pace. The heat continued to swelter, even though I found a nice breeze as I ascended higher. I took a little bit of ice water from my camelbak bladder and wettened my knit hat, to help me cool down. The terrain was bone dry outside of the sprinklers watering the avo’s.



This was my favorite portion of the trail. The trail wrapped around to the north and west and I was greeted with a shade and a whole ton of butterflies (see middle of this picture). It was like Narnia… in Ojai…but still no water 🙂



Finally I came upon the well known landmark on this trail, known as Gridley Springs Camp or the Horse Trough.  There was a barely damp spring that was covered in honeybees…with a hose leading into a horse trough. There were cobwebs hanging off of the open end of the hose, pointed down into the dry trough. During this winter, this could be a useful spot and in the summer in a survival situation, one could probably dig a few inches down in the springbed and collect enough water to count. However, 3 miles up is only 3 miles up and the likelihood of requiring this is pretty low. Nonetheless, this was a great turnaround point for today… a day of some good recon, heartrate training, and alone time.




Upon returning to my car, I realized that the heat had caused me to drink about 2.5L of water…over only 3 miles of ascent! Talk about hot and dry!

The Nitty Gritty

Time: 2:20:00

Distance: 5.7 miles round trip

Landmarks along the way: Hermitage/FuelBreak Rd (.6 miles), Horse Trough/Gridley Spring Camp (2.8 miles)

Ascent: 1471′


Calories Burned: 1218

Calories Consumed: 200 (Powerbar electrolyte chews)

Water Consumed: 2.5L

Albums Played: The Digital Age – Evening/Morning, Anberlin – Dark is the Way, Emery – In Shallow Seas We Sail

How to Get There: In Ojai, take 150 to the west part of town. Turn north on Gridley Road and take to the clear trailhead at the top of the road. No Adventure Pass is needed here.


1. Trail is HOT! I put a lot of ice in my camelbak bladder which made the water more tasteful. 

2. No water on the trail for replenishment, at least during the Summer. If you want to go farther than the horse trough, bring more than 3L of water. 

3. I’ve heard repeated warnings of lions, ticks, snakes, and bears in this area. I encountered none of these, but just be mindful of your surroundings. We are guests in THEIR home 🙂  Let’s be good stewards.

Posted on August 16, 2013, in hiking and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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