Chief Peak, at 5,587 feet, is the highest summit along the Nordhoff Ridge Fire Road, north of the town of Ojai, and is located in the Los Padres National Forest. This high point requires a fun bit of class 2, high-step-hiking to get to the top where you are rewarded with gorgeous ocean and mountain views. From the town of Ojai, Chief Peak is easily identified by it's white, barren southwestern ridge.
Routes to the Top
The most common routes to the top are the Southwest Ridge via Horn Canyon Trail
from the south (14.5 miles roundtrip, 4,200 feet gain), and the North Ridge via Rose Valley Lake Road
from the north (8.6 miles roundtrip, 2,000 feet gain).
An Adventure Pass is required to park in the Los Padres National Forest, but the rules for the pass are changing at the time of this writing. Stop by a ranger station to be sure.
When to Climb
The best time to hike in this area is in the fall, winter and spring, when temperatures are cooler. Hiking here in the summer is possible but can be brutally hot if you don't start at sunrise. Water along trails to the summit are seasonal and unpredictable. Snow is possible in the winter but rare, and the amount of snow that does fall never lasts very long. Winds in this area can be high during all seasons.
Campgrounds along routes to Chief Peak include The Pines Campsite, 2.5 miles up Horn Canyon Trail, and the Rose Valley Campground, at the beginning of the Rose Valley Lake Road route. These campgrounds are supposed to be first come, first served, but always check with the local ranger station first: Ojai Ranger Station, 1190 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai, CA 93023, phone: (805) 646-4348.