Topatopa Bluff

6 April 1991

By: Frank Dobos


Leaders: Frank & Ruth Dobos

When you drive up North of Santa Paula toward Ojai, you are looking up at the cliffs of the Topatopa Bluff - massive rounded cliffs divided by horizontal colorful stripes with green vegetation on the higher reaches. It draws you like a magnet, the desire to climb it is compelling. As mountain climbers, we know this feeling. So we decided to lead a hike in April, starting up Sisar Canyon. The cliffs are in view most of the time as we climb. We had three river crossings, the canyon had quite a bit of water running. Roadside flowers added colors, the green canopy above kept us in the cool shade. Then the trail climbed out of the canyon and the dirt road made the going easy. After this, the 21W08 trail merges with the Nordhoff Ridge Road, FS 5NO8, the alternate driving route to Chief and Hines. This road starts at the Rose Valley Campground, goes sharply up to the ridge, and may be driven by permission of the Forest Service.

After a short break, we walked up the road to the base of Topatopa Bluff. Here we find a conspicuous firebreak and then switchbacks showing us the way up to the peak. The hill is steep- 1000' gain in 1/2 mile - similar to Hines in this regard. There was some snow, but we had no problems crossing through as it was soft and not too deep. The hike took 4-1/2 hours to the summit. The summit has a cairn on it. We left a red can and a register in the cairn. Everyone agreed to the greatness of the peak with an unobstructed view in all directions. Unanimous agreement was voiced to add this worthy peak to the HPS list.

After lunch, we walked (ran) down the firebreak, picked up the dirt road, and then the trail. Someone spotted wild (?) horses foraging in the canyon below. We looked at them a while, with mouths open like any city dwellers. Then the real excitement - we saw a red, black, and white California mountain kingsnake climbing gracefully up by the roadside. We were back at the trailhead by 4:30, making the hike 8 1/2 hours long.

Many thanks to all you great hikers: Mitchell Helbrecht, Devra Wasserman, Don Croley, Diane Dunbar, Daniel Bleiberg, Darcie Miller, David Kalifon, Nancy Bell, and Ray Laub who joined us from Ojai and a member of the Ventura Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Topatopa Bluff was recommended for addition of the Hundred Peaks List at the May 9th meeting.


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