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Middle Lion Canyon - West Fork Waterfall

Ranking :
County : Ventura
City : Ojai
Terrain : Mountain
Difficulty : Average
Camping : Yes
Fishing : Yes
Historic : No
Length : 5.00 miles
MountainRange : Unknown
TrailType : There and back
Access : Dogs Allowed, Permit Required
Water : Creek, Waterfall
Exposure : Trees and Shady Areas - A fair amount
Description :
This was my first hiking trip into the Los Padres National Forest and I can tell you it certainly won't be my last. This place is beautiful. Heck, even the drive there along the Maricopa Highway is amazing. As you turn into the Middle Lion Campground you'll definitely want to pull over and take a good look at the massive "Piedra Blanca" (White Stones) that this area is famous for. Drive on into the campground. Hopefully, you'll find an empty spot where you can squeeze in. If not, just park on the side of the road and make sure to have your day use pass displayed.

This hike starts in the campground at the north end of Lion Canyon and takes you all the way to an awesome waterfall at the southern end. There are a couple of water crossings with this hike, so be prepared for at least one or two that are "thigh high". I always have a couple of tall kitchen trash bags with me for this specific purpose. I don't like to get my feet wet and I’m not a fan of wasting time taking my boots and socks off. When I’ve crossed I simply shake off the water and throw them back into my pack and I’m on my way. From the campground, head south down to the creek, you'll see a trail on the opposite side and yes, this is your first water crossing. From there you'll continue to head south and start a gradual ascent up the east side canyon where you will get some fantastic views of the canyon and creek below. There will be a few technical areas "single track" along this trail and with the elevation factor; you'll want to be careful. There are signs to keep you on the right path, but definitely bring your GPS and download our GPX file for this hike. I also like to link out to Google earth and print out a satellite view of the area and trail to use as a backup. Towards the southern end of the canyon to get to the waterfall you will have to do some tricky boulder hopping up the creek, but the effort you'll spend will definitely be worth it. Take a look at the pictures and see for yourself.

Directions :
A day use pass is required. Pick one up at your local Big 5 or Sport Chalet. You cannot buy one at the campground.


From the 101 freeway take the 33 North for 13.5 miles, the road splits at this point and you'll want to stay left onto the 33 North/ Maricopa Hwy. Travel 14.6 miles to Forest Route 6N31/Rose Valley Rd/Sespe River Rd. You'll stay on this road 3.6 miles where you'll come to a fork, stay right on to Forest Route 6N31 and head another 1.2 miles.