Hiking Horn Canyon Trail to The Pines

There’s nothing quite like a hike up Horn Canyon in Ojai, California. You have to weave through Thatcher School to find the trailhead, but it’s not hard just stay to the right.

Horn Canyon Trail

Accessible behind Thatcher school in Ojai California, Horn Canyon Trail is a really nice moderate hike in the east end of the valley.

It starts out with a gradual increase in slope and difficulty, but eventually becomes an incredibly difficult hike later on.

It shouldn’t be tackled by people who aren’t in shape.

A view from just down from ‘The Pines’

Horn Canyon trail - view from the pines

Looking back at the quant little town of Ojai from just down below The Pines campground.

Horn Canyon Trailhead

Horn Canyon Trail - trailhead

The trail is muddy and torn apart in places from the recent rains and people with horses. It’s not too bad though, you can easily walk around the mud with a little care.

Coming to the first river crossing

Horn Canyon Trail - Dry river crossing

The first river crossing is completely dry. Last time I was here the creek was spilling over those rocks. California seems to be showing it’s true desert colors now. It had been raining a decent amount this winter though.

Taking a little break before the going gets tough

Horn Canyon Trail - taking a little break

We took a little break at the last river crossing. There are two streams that converge here so usually it’s a nice and cool spot to rest. We saw a few groups of people come down the trail at this point.

The steep, long haul

Horn Canyon Trail - Steep long trail

This is the start of the rather steep incline to The Pines campground. After this long uphill tunnel you start the switchbacks, which continue almost all the way up to the camp.

Further and further up the ridge

Horn Canyon Trail - taking a little break

After the switchbacks the trail winds up the canyon before turning back and heading up a ridge. This doesn’t look as steep as it is, but it’s a good hike for working out your glutes!

Rewarding views from behind motivate us to push on

Horn Canyon Trail - View from high up

At this high up we’re able to just start seeing the ocean, a rewarding part of such a steep hike. Ojai will always be beautiful from this vantage.

Watch out for ticks in thick brush like this

Horn Canyon Trail - Chamis

This is the last section of the hike to The Pines. At this point most of the elevation has been tackled by the switchbacks so this isn’t as steep.

Notice the plant on the left, called chamise, it can help with erosion and does well where other plants wouldn’t. A friend of mine claims that ticks love the stuff, especially after a rain. Suffice it to say I’ll avoid touching it as much as I can in the future.

Finally, we made it to the campground

Horn Canyon Trail - The Pines Campground

Here is The Pines campground itself. All but a half dozen or so of the pine trees are felled due to the severity of the drought. The spring is dry, which is a bummer because it’s nice to be able to fill up water bottles there.

Taking a break and refueling before the hiking down

Horn Canyon Trail - The Pines Campground 2

We kicked back at the little side camp to catch our breath and behold the loss of the trees. With huge rounds all over and tall piles of dead branches, the place looks like a graveyard. Truly a sad sight indeed.

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