Nice job Giants! A whole weekend without a ramble, I know my fawning minions were getting antsy so here we go:
One of Ojai’s more popular trails, Cozy Dell starts at Route 33 and eventually connects to the Pratt and Foothill trails which will take you up to the ridge and the Topas. It truly has something for everyone.
The Basics : Leave the directions and maps to the experts at Ventura County Trails (trail 6). A nice quick workout, strenuous first mile, then some amazing views, then a hilly mile down into the canyon ending at a seasonal creek and the Pratt/Foothill road. Some sections get extremely muddy after rain, about 3/4 of a mile up before you hit the first peak. Rarely see any horses or bikes up here, which I love, sorry riders sometimes we like to have the trail to ourselves. Poison oak is pretty heavy the first mile but the forest service cleans the trail at least a couple of times a year.
The Natives: There are 3 pretty distinct types of landscape here, which is pretty impressive for a 2 mile hike (one way). Science types might call these ecotones, transitional areas between two different types of ecosystems. As you start switchbacking out of the canyon the southwest facing hillsides are covered with purple sage and bush mallow, while the trailsides are a mix of golden yarrow, nightshade and a large population of local dudleya.
I would be indebted to anyone who can give me the species on this dudleya. (Lanceolata, thanks Lanny!). Quite a bit of California Peony as well, in all stages of growth.
After a half mile the oaks and toyons start crowding the trail, the sunlight grows sparse and sages are replaced by monkeyflower, canyon sunflower
and coastal wood ferns. One brutal little hill and you’re at the first peak, with amazing views to your right. As the hills now face southeast we start seeing more traditional chaparral species such as black sage, buckwheat, chamise, bush sunflower and deerweed on the trailsides.. while green bark ceanothus takes over as the dominant large shrub.
Nice leisurely drop back down into the canyon where you may cross up to 3 small creeks, trickles mostly. Mugwort and wood mint return as the oaks reclaim the canopy. Towards the end of the trail we get a nice patch of wishbone bush.
Once you learn this plant you will see it everywhere, from Shelf Rd to Gridley to Sisar and everywhere in between. One of the year’s first blooms you can see the delicate tiny pink flowers from January to June. During the fall it will be reduced to a tangle of sticks resembling wishbones, hence its name.
Recap: One of my favorite trails for wildflowers, seed collecting, panoramic views, and a vigorous workout. You can keep it short and sweet, 1 mile up to the lookout spot and back to your car in under an hour. Or you can make it a full day’s adventure, connecting to the Pratt trail which can take you right up to Nordhoff Ridge. Popular but not crowded its nice on the weekends for families and pets. Just enough shade to keep it cool even during the summer. Abundant parking on 33 but as with a lot of other trailheads in Ojai, tweakers love to bust into parked cars, so leave your valuables at home.