Access now legal to Matilija Falls

Published by Steve on

The Matilija Canyon Trail, closed since the Spring of 2010, is open again for hiking.

Source of this article: Condor Call, Journal of Los Padres Chapter Sierra Club, Oct-Nov 2016

IMG_3108adjThe highly popular trek to the seven Matilija Falls is now legally open and the Sierra Club has an outing planned on Nov. 19 so you can see this amazing area.

After many years of trying, a coalition of local trail users and conservation groups announced an agreement on Sept. 21 to restore permanent public access to the falls, which also launches the possibility to buy an 80-acre parcel along Matilija Creek for eventual transfer to the U.S. Forest Service.

National forests are a public resource that should be accessible to all of us, and the community will now be able to access this majestic canyon in perpetuity,” said Los Padres ForestWatch executive director Jeff Kuyper.

The pact was signed by the landowner, the Bonsall family, and members of a community association called Keep Access to Matilija Falls Open (“KAMFO”) and filed in Ventura County Superior Court.

KAMFO will reconstruct one mile of the trail along its historic location east of the creek, install signs and remove illegal campfire rings on private property outside of the trail easement. The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy has agreed to hold the easement.

IMG_3149The public has traveled the route for nearly a century, but in 2009, the landowner discouraged public access, leading to a 2015 lawsuit by KAMFO, represented pro bono by the firm Slaughter Reagan & Cole LLP.

Thousands of people visit the three big waterfalls in Matilija every year, you say? Okay, but do they visit the seven big waterfalls in Matilija?” asks David Stillman on his blogspot He then goes on to reveal “at least four more major waterfalls further upstream, including the grandest of all, the Lost Falls.”

The popular route that ends at the third waterfall, with its sheer surrounding amphitheater, is about a 9-mile round trip. After that it’s really hard and hikers will encounter dangerous terrain, so don’t hike it alone (very few people ever go beyond the third fall because of that).

The trailhead is nearly five miles along the Matilija Canyon Road off of Hwy 33 behind Ojai.

See the Nov. 19 Matilija Falls write-up in our outings section for details, which considers it a “moderate to strenuous 9 mrt hike.”


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