- Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Southern California Trails
Summit School - #SummitSchool
Socal - Ventura County - Ojai NickNames: #SummitSchool
First, you have to get to Sisar Road, 8 miles north of Santa Paula on Highway 150. Park along 150 next to Summit School and the Fire Station. Strong riders might ride out of Ojai or Santa Paula, but be aware of an added 8-9 miles with an 800 foot climb. Thomas Guide page 453 C1
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- Trail UpdateFirst Rain Ride-Yesterday I had plans on doing the Sisar to Gridley Loop, I awoke to light rain and had second thoughts but since my dad had already agreed the day before to drive me to upper Ojai and drop me off I decided not to bitch out. I got dropped off at Sisar&150 at 10:00 and had told my girlfriend to meet me at Seafresh in Ojai for lunch at 1:30 Started riding in a light rain, by 11:00 real rain. I was having a blast, I was amazed how good the traction was due to the road being comprised of rock particles as opposed to dirt, it wasn't very muddy at all. After passing Chief Peak and starting my descent on Nordhoff ridge road toward Gridley I realized my brakes weren't doing such a good job. Two miles into the Gridley descent NO BRAKES,NO TOOLS, plenty of rain. This was going to be interesting to say the least. Usually the downhill is the most enjoyable part of the ride(even on a hardtail) became a less enjoyable matter of survival. After a few jump off and run it out type of manuevers I realized I wasn't going to make lunch on time. I resigned myself to the fact that to avoid serious injury I would be walking the rest of the way. Made it home cold, drenched, and an hour and a half late, but made it home nonetheless. To me that is what mountain biking is really all about. By the way the entire trail was in great shape all the way through, just wish I would've had something to slow me down. This has to be one of my most memorable rides to date, my first ride in the rain will most definitly will not be my last.
Chris Sutton a 27 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Cannondale F3000 Hardtail from Meiners Oaks
- Trail UpdateSisar Canyon is in great condition. That is if you enjoy mountain biking on what would be a very rough road at times. I went up it on 5-9-98 and had a blast. You need to be strong and patient because you climb and climb and climb. Every minute of climbing is worth the pain because when you turn your bike around you are in for the time of your life. Take note of the trail conditions on the way up so you can be prepared for some of the more nasty sharp rocks that are coming up on the fast decent. I also suggest getting there fairly early in the morning so you can get a parking spot at the end of gate at the beginning of the trail up. You might want a vehicle with some clearance as well. A Porsche might have some difficulty. We didn't get a chance to get onto any single track so I can't report on the conditions off of the main road.
David Bailey a 33 year old Weekend Warrior riding a Fisher from Ventura, Ca .com
- Trail UpdateSisar Road To Gridley Trail-This 32 mile loop begins and ends at the Ojai Ranger District office. Take Route 150 east about 7 miles to Summit school. The highway is narrow with lots of traffic so its best to get this leg out of the way early in the morning. From Summit School take the fire road up Sisar Canyon. The two water crossings required portaging on the day I rode it. I also noticed that the poison oak is going to be a bumper crop this year--Beware! (Note: I have used Tech-nu after exposure with great success). The Sisar Road climbs seemingly forever but the grade flattens a bit after the first 4 miles or so. The road is in pretty good shape with the exception of ocassional slides. After about 10 miles Sisar Road becomes Forest Service Road 5N08. Continue west on this road as it circumnavigates Chief Peak where there was snow on the ground on the north facing slopes the day we rode. The road continues along Nordoff Ridge with some gentle climbs and descents. The ridge is exposed to wind and during this time of the year it can easily be 20 degrees cooler than the Ojai Valley so bring a windbreaker (at least). The trailhead for the Gridley Trail is easy to spot. The upper half of this 4 to 5 mile single track is in good shape and lots of fun. Unfortunately the rains have wasted most of the lower sections. Its definitely ridable but gets progressively more rocky and rutted on the way down. Updated March 7, 1998.
Singletrack=15% Dirt Road=65% Paved Path=20%
Jim Kemp a 40 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a Litespeed Obed hardtail from Santa Barbara .com
- Trail UpdateThe recent rains have left Sisar Road fairly rutted. The rains have also closed the roads (Hwy 33) into the back country so expect more people than usual. The trail to White's Ledge was maintained by the USFS ending in December and is pretty good shape despite the weather. The trail work ends about a mile below the ridge (the upper portion about 1/2 mile from the camp), above that it is heavily rutted and in pretty bad shape. Not for the timed. "A+" ride in any case.
a Cross-Country Rider from Ventura
- Trail UpdateSisar Rd To Topa Topa Bluffs-11-29-97 Did this three days after latest rain. Soil conditions near perfect. Some snow at top. Hike from Wilderness boundary to top of cliffs about two miles. Unfortunately, views obstructed by haze and clouds today. When clear it must be stunning. Descent on White Ledge Trail (four miles single track) technical but fun for ambitious intermediate riders. Evidence of very recent trail maintenance (brush clearing) from top down to trail camp. My arms and face thank those who did this. Ride length 25 miles, fire road 85%, single track 15%.
Singletrack=15% Dirt Road=85%
Michael Logan a 48 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a Dagger from Manhattan Beach, CA
- Trail UpdateSummit School, Up Sisar Canyon Road To The Topa Topa Bluffs-This 35-mile off-highway route in the Los Padres National Forest is extreme due to the elevation gain (5,000 feet), the long distance (25-miles), and the descent along the White Ledge singletrack (USFS Trail 21W08) which is rutted, full of boulders, and hasn't had the chaparral cut back for many years. Start early (like dawn) and plan for an all-day ride. You should not attempt this ride if you dislike narrow trails or have little or no experience on singletrack.
From Highway 150 just east of Summit School, Sisar Road heads north, climbing 3,400 feet in about 8 miles. It has an almost continuous grade (steepest in the first 3 miles) and is usually in good condition, although winter snow occurs at upper elevations and in summer it can be very hot. Start at dawn and ride up in the shade on the southwest facing slopes to avoid the worst heat.
As you leave Highway 150, Sisar Road passes homes on both sides of the road. Past the last house, the road turns slightly right an you need to stay on the main road by keeping to the right, avoiding left forks until you reach the Forest Service locked gate. Beyond this gate there is one more right fork, a private road to a remote ranch-KEEP OUT.
The road soon switchbacks up Sisar Canyon and at 3 miles you are at the junction of USFS Trail 21W08. (White Ledge Trail Camp, located about 1 mile up the trail, is a pleasant spot shaded by pungent scented California Bay Laurel trees. The spring there runs all year at considerable volume. You'll be visiting White Ledge Camp on the descent.) Past this junction, Sisar Road leaves the canyon and crosses a ridge out to the west of Sisar Canyon. Along the right side of the road at the 7-mile point, water is piped to a water trough from Wilsie Spring just above the road. Don't drink any water without purification by filter or iodine tablets. From mile 5 to mile 8 the trail rewards you views of the Ojai Valley, Sulphur Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. On clear days, you can see several of the coastal islands: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, and Santa Rosa. There are occasional days of Santa Ana northeast winds when you can see all seven islands, including Catalina, Santa Barbara, San Nicolas, and San Miguel.
Near the top of Sisar Road, Horn Canyon Trail (USFS Trail 22W08) crosses the road. This steep rough trail is not recommended for bicycle use. Just another 0.5 miles and Sisar Road ends at the top of the ridge and meets USFS Road 5N08. From this ridge you get your first view to the north, looking out over the Sespe Canyon, past the Piedra Blanca Sandstone formation to the cliffs of Reyes, Haddock, and Thorn Point Peaks. This marks the end of the 8-mile Sisar Road section of this ride. It's a good turn around point if you must want a 16-mile out and back.
Continuing on to the Topa Topa Bluffs you'll turn right (east) from Sisar Canyon Road and climb the ridge, about another 500 foot climb. A radio facility is a top the mountain to the left. Stay on the main road and you will be treated to a 200 foot descent. At this time the Topa Topa Bluffs will be directly in front of you. At the bottom of the descent the White Ledge trail (USFS Trail 21W08) departs from the main road. This will be the trail you'll take down the mountain on the return. For now stay on the main road for about another mile until you reach the wilderness boundary (a big gate in the road). Bikes are not allowed past this point so stash your bike on the side of the trail and hike the last mile to the top of the Topa Topa Bluffs. The view is well worth it. From the top of the "Bluffs" at 6,400 feet you see views of Fraiser Mountain, Mount Able, and Mount Pinos to the north, the San Gabriels, San Bernardinos, and the Santa Ana mountains to the southeast, and ocean, islands, the Oxnard plains, Santa Barbara, and ocean oil rigs to the south and west.
Once you've made back to your bikes, go down the trail you climbed to the White Ledge trail, now on your left side. The White Ledge trail is the most extreme singletrack around. You may even need to walk parts. It's poorly maintained, and very challenging. The chaparral hasn't been cut back in years, so be sure to do a tick check when you get to the main road. Take a break at the White Ledge Campground. Your body will be begging you! From the campground, it's about one mile of single track to the Sisar Canyon Road. Watch out for hikers and equestrians, they're usually out at this time, especially close to the trail head. Enjoy the ride!
"Mountain Dave" from Mountain Biking Adventures of Lake Forest, CA. Mountain Biking Adventures offers mountain biking tours, lessons, and workshops throughout Southern California. The Exploration Unlimited - Topa Topa Bluffs ride is offered 4 times per year. For more information, check out our web site: http://www.web-guy.com/mtnbkadv/, Call (714) 597-9881, Fax (714) 951-9602, or snail mail us at P.O. Box 1507, Lake Forest, CA 92630. Catalogs and Tour Schedules are available upon request.