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North Fork Matilija Trail - Los Padres National Forest
Trail Distance 7.82 Miles

Southern access point is the same trailhead as the Murietta Trail (24W07). Leading off to the right after the second stream crossing, the trail enters the wilderness and follows the year-round creek. From the gate you'll reach Matilija Camp after 1.48 miles. Further up the canyon are three more camps: Middle Matilija (4.1 miles), Upper Matilija (5.7 miles) and Maple (7.5 miles). All four camps offer shaded stream-side sites. After another 1.6 miles, the trail ends at a seasonally open dirt road that leads north down Cherry Canyon to Highway 33. For the northern access point, go 27.4 miles north of Ojai on Highway 33 and turn left on rough dirt road up Cherry Canyon. Travel 3.0 miles to the trailhead at the ridge top. Please check with the Ojai Ranger District before your visit.

Trail Details

  • Trail #: 23W07
  • Wilderness Area: Matilija
  • County: Ventura County
  • Ranger District: Ojai Ranger District
  • Water Sources: Water available from the Upper North Fork Matilija Trail
  • Trail Condition: Good - Trail is easy to follow and is in good shape
  • Topo Maps:
  • Activities & Features:
    • Backpacking
    • Camping
    • Creek
    • Day Hiking
    • Horseback Riding
    • Wildlife Viewing
    • Wilderness Camping



Trail Stats

  • Total Elevation Gain: + 3817 feet.
  • Total Elevation Loss: - 467 feet.
  • Overall Average Slope Gain: + 10 %.
  • Overall Average Slope Loss: - 6 %.
  • Kilometers: (km)
  • Meters: (m)
  • Miles: (mi)
  • Feet: (ft)
  • Average Slope: (%)

Trail Camps

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Survey This Trail

Survey Photos:


  • Sharalyn - 03-22-2014

  • Sharalyn - 03-22-2014

  • Sharalyn - 03-22-2014

  • Los Padres Forest Association - 11-09-2014

  • Los Padres Forest Association - 11-09-2014

  • Los Padres Forest Association - 11-09-2014

  • JO - 11-09-2014

  • JO - 11-09-2014

  • JO - 11-09-2014

  • JO - 11-09-2014

  • Chester - 09-6-2015

  • Craig R. Carey - 01-09-2016

  • Craig R. Carey - 01-09-2016

  • Craig R. Carey - 01-09-2016

  • Los Padres Forest Association - 03-19-2016

  • Craig R. Carey - 03-05-2017

  • Craig R. Carey - 03-05-2017

  • Craig R. Carey - 03-05-2017

  • Craig R. Carey - 03-05-2017

  • Craig R. Carey - 03-05-2017

  • Oh Three - 11-10-2017

  • Oh Three - 11-10-2017

  • Oh Three - 11-10-2017

Submitted Trail Reports

North Fork Matilija Trail Survey - 11-10-2017 - by Oh Three
Link: North Fork Matilija Trail
Date: 11-10-2017
Surveyor Name:Oh Three
Trail description:

Following in the footsteps of Ventura Troop 111's March adventure, the intrepid mountain men of our Boy Scout Troop backpacked the length of the Upper North Fork, north to south, Friday 11/10 to Saturday 11/11. Our Scouts reached Middle Matilija at 1pm Saturday, so they decided to continue on out.

The trail is overgrown, washed out, wild and scenic. Beautiful. Hiking this route teaches young hikers trail finding skills.

We saw no one else for the first 8 miles. Lots of bear scat. As you get within a couple miles of the south end, you start running into day trippers.

Individual reports will be submitted for the various trail camps, all of which were in good condition, and all are with water.

There's 100's of good Eagle projects in rebuilding steps, retaining walls, etc, at any number of places on this route!
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Images:




North Fork Matilija Trail Survey - 03-05-2017 - by Craig R. Carey
Link: North Fork Matilija Trail
Date: 03-05-2017
Surveyor Name:Craig R. Carey
Trail description:

The intrepid mountain men of Boy Scout Troop 111 (Ventura) backpacked the length of the Upper North Fork (from Cherry Creek Road at Hwy 33 to lower Matilija TH) Friday 3/3 to Sunday 3/5.

Trail overall is still very navigable, though there are sloughs, debris, wash-outs, gullying, and storm damage, as well as a few trees down both on Cherry Creek Road and on the wilderness trail. Survey report will be filed with ORD shortly. Water ABUNDANT – very few of the crossings are manageable with dry feet. There was much wading (and joy!). ;-) 

Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Images:







North Fork Matilija Trail Survey - 02-13-2017 - by Anonymous Surveyor
Link: North Fork Matilija Trail
Date: 02-13-2017
Surveyor Name:Anonymous Surveyor
Trail description:I did a quick overnight solo backpacking trip to Middle Matilija Campground. It was my first solo trip and my first time camping in Los Padres. The hike itself was easy, however due to recent rains, the stream was deep and flowing rapidly which made stream crossings challenging. Most stream crossings were impossible to cross without getting your feet wet. Adding to that, there are many stream crossings (I didn't count but there were at least 10). Also, there were two small rockfalls and a fallen tree on the trail around the last mile before the campground but they were easily passable. The bugs were not too bad, mostly small flies and very few mosquitoes. I did see a few ticks, one on my socks after I removed them and one on my pants after going through some bushes around the campsite, so watch out for those. Overall, it was an enjoyable trip but I'd be wary of taking anyone not quite nimble enough to hop across stream rocks without beefing it.
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Condition details:Easy hike to Middle Matilija apart from challenging stream crossings
North Fork Matilija Trail Survey - 10-17-2016 - by Anonymous Surveyor
Link: North Fork Matilija Trail
Date: 10-17-2016
Surveyor Name:Anonymous Surveyor
Trail description:spent two night on this trail. excellent trail and easy to follow up until middle matilija camp. after that trail is still obvious to follow but is slightly overgrown. water flowing up until middle matilija camp. upper matilija camp had water trickling, but still plenty to filter.
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Condition details:Trail is in good shape up to middle matilija camp. after that minor bushwacking
North Fork Matilija Trail Survey - 03-19-2016 - by Los Padres Forest Association
Link: North Fork Matilija Trail
Date: 03-19-2016
Surveyor Name:Los Padres Forest Association
Trail description:A group of 52 Ventura County boy and girl scouts led by Craig Carey joined Ranger Heidi to clean up graffiti along the lower portions of the Matilija Trail.  Great work everyone!   
Mode of transport:Array
Trail condition:Good shape and easy to follow
Images:

Photo Ranger Heidi
North Fork Matilija Trail Survey - 01-14-2016 - by Los Padres Forest Association
Link: North Fork Matilija Trail
Date: 01-14-2016
Surveyor Name:Los Padres Forest Association
Trail description:A recent article in Noozhawk by Dan McCaslin from a hike he took along the Matilija Trail:

http://www.noozhawk.com/homes_lifestyle/article/dan_mccaslin_hiking_north_fork_trail_to_middle_matilija_camp
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Good shape and easy to follow
North Fork Matilija Trail Survey - 01-09-2016 - by Craig R. Carey
Link: North Fork Matilija Trail
Date: 01-09-2016
Surveyor Name:Craig R. Carey
Trail description:The Cubs of Pack 3179 had a great (soggy) hike from Matilija TH to Middle Matilija, with an extended rock-hopping break at both camps and lunch at the crossing near the guerrilla camp. Cleared some fallen alders and mountain mahogany from the trail about 3/4 miles from MM. Tread in good shape; crossings manageable. Could use some light brushing but otherwise all good. Good flow in creek the entire way. 
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Good shape and easy to follow
Images:




North Fork Matilija Trail Survey - 09-6-2015 - by Chester
Link: North Fork Matilija Trail
Date: 09-6-2015
Surveyor Name:Chester
Trail description:

easy to follow, I went as far as middle camp.

lots of poison oak, plenty of water for filtering. 

Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Good shape and easy to follow
Images:

Muttilahound
North Fork Matilija Trail Survey - 11-09-2014 - by JO
Link: North Fork Matilija Trail
Date: 11-09-2014
Surveyor Name:JO
Trail description:

At Middle and Upper Matilija camps there is plenty of water.  The water fall that is indicated on the topo map above Middle Matilija where the trail leaves the creek and switchbacks up the canyon hillside, has dried up.  On our way to Upper Matilija camp we found this note left on a rock just after a creek crossing.  It gave a warning of a bee's nest near the trail.  It was dated 7/11/14.  We left the note in place and decided to take extra precautions.  We put on our jackets and hoods and prepared for the worst.  In the end there was no beehive that we encountered.  We continued up the canyon enchanted by the fall colors and beauty of the canyon's grottos that presented themselves where the canyon narrowed.  In one spot the canyon makes a 90 degree turn with a rock wall on one side of the creek.  I imagined what storm conditions must be like with boulders, trees, and all that water slamming directly into that rock wall.  The wall itself appeared to have pock marks in it where boulders may have hit.  The lushness of the area almost made me forget that we are in one of the worst droughts.  We continued past Upper Matilija in search of Maple camp.  Above Upper Matilija the trail hadn't been worked on in some time.  Although the trail is detectable and easy to follow, it is very bushy and would be unpleasant to hike with a backpack.  Wearing shorts is strongly discouraged.  As I approached one of the many creek crossing, I spooked a deer walking through the creek bottom.  The deer bolted down the creek bed at neck braking speed and was out of sight in an instant.  It literally covered 50 yards of rock strewn stream bed in less than 3 seconds. It was an incredible sight.  We arrived at Maple camp at 10:30 AM and ate our lunches.  While there is moving water at Maple, it emerges out of the ground and is only a trickle.  A cup is needed to gather the water and poor it into larger vessels.  I decided to hike up a bit further to get a good view of the area.  The trail leaving the canyon and heading up towards Ortega Hill looked to be in very good condition.  I found some unidentified strange looking scat left right on the trail.  I stepped in it, on purpose, to see what it looked like below the dried surface.  We left Maple camp at 11 AM and hiked back to the car at Matilija Trailhead, arriving there at 3PM.  A very nice hike.​

Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Condition details:Report covers up to Maple Camp
Images:





North Fork Matilija Trail Survey - 11-09-2014 - by Los Padres Forest Association
Link: North Fork Matilija Trail
Date: 11-09-2014
Surveyor Name:Los Padres Forest Association
Trail description:At Middle and Upper Matilija camps there is plenty of water.  The water fall that is indicated on the topo map above Middle Matilija where the trail leaves the creek and switchbacks up the canyon hillside, has dried up.  On our way to Upper Matilija camp we found this note left on a rock just after a creek crossing.  It gave a warning of a bee's nest near the trail.  It was dated 7/11/14.  We left the note in place and decided to take extra precautions.  We put on our jackets and hoods and prepared for the worst.  In the end there was no beehive that we encountered.  We continued up the canyon enchanted by the fall colors and beauty of the canyon's grottos that presented themselves where the canyon narrowed.  In one spot the canyon makes a 90 degree turn with a rock wall on one side of the creek.  I imagined what storm conditions must be like with boulders, trees, and all that water slamming directly into that rock wall.  The wall itself appeared to have pock marks in it where boulders may have hit.  The lushness of the area almost made me forget that we are in one of the worst droughts.  We continued past Upper Matilija in search of Maple camp.  Above Upper Matilija the trail hadn't been worked on in some time.  Although the trail is detectable and easy to follow, it is very bushy and would be unpleasant to hike with a backpack.  Wearing shorts is strongly discouraged.  As I approached one of the many creek crossing, I spooked a deer walking through the creek bottom.  The deer bolted down the creek bed at neck braking speed and was out of sight in an instant.  It literally covered 50 yards of rock strewn stream bed in less than 3 seconds. It was an incredible sight.  We arrived at Maple camp at 10:30 AM and ate our lunches.  While there is moving water at Maple, it emerges out of the ground and is only a trickle.  A cup is needed to gather the water and poor it into larger vessels.  I decided to hike up a bit further to get a good view of the area.  The trail leaving the canyon and heading up towards Ortega Hill looked to be in very good condition.  I found some unidentified strange looking scat left right on the trail.  I stepped in it, on purpose, to see what it looked like below the dried surface.  We left Maple camp at 11 AM and hiked back to the car at Matilija Trailhead, arriving there at 3PM.  A very nice hike.​
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Images:




North Fork Matilija Trail Survey - 07-31-2014 - by Los Padres Forest Association
Link: North Fork Matilija Trail
Date: 07-31-2014
Surveyor Name:Los Padres Forest Association
Trail description:Water in the creek.  Cool canyon in the shade, even with the temps over 100˚.  GOOD SUMMER TIME DESTINATION.
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Condition details:Trail needs brushing from Matilija to Middle Matilija
North Fork Matilija Trail Survey - 03-22-2014 - by Sharalyn
Link: North Fork Matilija Trail
Date: 03-22-2014
Surveyor Name:Sharalyn
Trail description:We backpacked this weekend to the Middle Matilija campground. Trail is easy to follow, but there were several Boy Scout troops in the area who stayed at the lower campsite. We shared Middle Matilija with a group of 4 people, but it was still a nice experience. Day hiked above the site for ~1.5 RT. Soil is loose on some of the switchbacks and the "waterfall" on the map was dry, although you could see it's site. Plenty of water the entire way. 
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Good shape and easy to follow
Images:






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Last Updated: Wednesday, February 24, 2016



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L.P.N.F. Contacts »

  • Forest Headquarters
    Phone: (805) 968-6640
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    Phone: (661) 245-3731
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    Phone: (805) 646-4348
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    Phone: (805) 967-3481
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    Phone: (805) 925-9538
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    Phone: (831) 385-5434
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