Memorial Day Nature Hike in Matilija Canyon | May 27, 2019

With the weekend workers in mind, on Memorial Day Monday, May 27, Ojai naturalist Lanny Kaufer will lead a group 2 miles into Matilija Campground in the heart of the Matilija Wilderness, one of his favorite locations in the Los Padres National Forest. The views of the surrounding mountains are stunning and there is a great diversity of riparian and chaparral life to identify, sample and discuss. The chaparral plant community has made a striking comeback since the December 2017 fire, and bears witness to nature’s resilience.

As usual, he’ll stop along the way to discuss and demonstrate the many uses of native plants and explore their relationships with birds, insects, and other organisms in their environment. The fire ecology of the chaparral will be another topic of exploration. Once at the campground, the group will practice cracking open and eating sweet Southern California Black Walnuts, one of the foods that foragers covet.

This hike is one in a series of backcountry hikes under Kaufer’s Special Use Permit from the Los Padres National Forest for guides offering interpretive services to the public. It is an easy-to-moderate hike on a well-used trail with little to no elevation gain, suitable for anyone physically fit enough to walk a total of 4 miles and stand for periods of time. There will be three  creek crossings that involve some boulder-hopping or wading. A walking stick or trekking poles make this quite easy.

The day will begin at 9:00 a.m. with a carpool to the trailhead from the Maricopa Plaza, 1207 Maricopa Highway, Ojai, CA 93023. There is no obligation to participate in the carpool but there is very limited parking at the trailhead and Kaufer is always interested in cutting down on his group’s exhaust emissions as much as possible. Participants who wish to participate in the carpool should be prepared to either take a few passengers or share in the gas cost.

The group will start walking from the trailhead at 9:30 a.m., walk about 2 miles to the campground for a lunch stop, and return to the trailhead at approximately 2:30 p.m.. That should put them back at the Maricopa Plaza by about 3:00 p.m. Light rain will not cancel the hike but heavy rain will. Status will be updated for those registered as the day gets closer.

There is no prepayment required, just a promise to notify Kaufer in a timely fashion if plans change. Registrants will receive a confirmation email several days before with all necessary info. After the hike they will receive an email with a complete list of all the plants and wildlife identified, including common and scientific names.

The cost is $25 for adults, $20 for seniors 62 and older, and $15 for full-time students 13-18. Kids 5-12 can go free, one per adult, by prior arrangement. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. No dogs or smoking, please.

Information and registration at or by calling 805-646-6281.


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Dina O. Rodriguez

Do we take our own lunch?

Debra Tash

We suggest you contact the organizer.