Illustration for article titled Rewarding hike from Saturday in the Matilija Wilderness

On this past Saturday, I set out on a hike in an area I have never been to before called the Matilija Wilderness. Not quite sure how to pronounce that but Im gonna assume its not Mah-till-ihh-juh like I want to say when reading it. But probably more like Mah-Tel-Lee-Hah. Anyways, I was concerned about it being crowded since I got a late start and it was a quarantine Saturday. But within the first five minutes of the hike, you come across this:

Illustration for article titled Rewarding hike from Saturday in the Matilija Wilderness
Advertisement

The only way across was to trudge through knee deep rushing water. This almost scared me off from doing the trail but I am glad that I decided to continue on, taking off my boots and wading across bare foot. Having done the entire Narrows Hike at Zion that you can do without a permit, I figured this was cake in comparison. Water was just as cold as Zion but thankfully it wasnt as deep. No chest high water here! But with this current, there would be no safe way across with water that deep anyways.

Illustration for article titled Rewarding hike from Saturday in the Matilija Wilderness
Advertisement

Just up the road from there, I took a fork in the trail that was from the “suggested” route that I found online. There were no reviews so I had no idea what to expect. Well it became more and more overgrown and included more river crossings. It was all fine until a campground about a mile and a half in where the trail just entirely disappeared. According to the map it was supposed to continue for a few miles and then link up with a larger parallel trail up on the ridge to continue all the way to the peak. Well where the trail “entirely disappeared” it was still a trail but was so deep in brush that I would have needed to do serious bushwacking to continue. So I turned back, backtracked all the way to the other trail and then continued the hike. This was basically an hour delay but at least the woods were a nice setting to get lost in the bush for a bit.

Illustration for article titled Rewarding hike from Saturday in the Matilija Wilderness
Advertisement

As the hike continued steadily up along the fire road, the views became more grand and the road less wide and well maintained. Naturally I saw nobody along my deserted overgrown route but saw at least a few people along the well groomed path. Still plenty of room here at least to keep my distance and not feel crowded one bit. Around 1300, which was 2 hours and 5 or so miles into my hike, I reached the junction where things got really real. From here, it was about another 1.5 miles to the peak with a 1000+ foot climb in just under a mile. That climb was definitely abusive but well worth the effort.

Illustration for article titled Rewarding hike from Saturday in the Matilija Wilderness
Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Rewarding hike from Saturday in the Matilija Wilderness
Illustration for article titled Rewarding hike from Saturday in the Matilija Wilderness
Advertisement

As I reached the top of the ridge, the channel islands and the ocean came into view on the other side. I had finally reached the reward from all of my effort! At this point it was another half mile or so along the ridgeline to the final peak where I could have some lunch and take in the view for a while. The ridgeline was apparently a popular dirt bike trail since I shared the trail with a half dozen or so dirt bikes along the way. Two stroke exhaust is always a decent aroma.

Illustration for article titled Rewarding hike from Saturday in the Matilija Wilderness
Advertisement

From the peak, I could see all the way down to Santa Barbara which was pretty neat. Cant quite make out the oil rigs in this pic but they are tiny black dots out off the coast as well. I really need to make a trip out to the channel islands some time and hike there, seems like a neat spot! Lunch time was a great relaxation before heading back down to make it to the car and make it home before sunset.

Illustration for article titled Rewarding hike from Saturday in the Matilija Wilderness
Advertisement

The total hike ended up being just over 14 and a half miles with over 3800 feet of elevation gain along the way. I had no idea what to expect going into it and it certainly did not disappoint! Weather was ideal with clear skies, mid 60s the whole time, and not too many bugs out. Looking forward to some more quarantine hiking the following weekend since I have nowhere else I can go and nothing better to do. Sure beats staying at home at least.

Illustration for article titled Rewarding hike from Saturday in the Matilija Wilderness
Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Rewarding hike from Saturday in the Matilija Wilderness
Illustration for article titled Rewarding hike from Saturday in the Matilija Wilderness

Share This Story

Get our newsletter