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HIKING: TOP VIEWS AWAIT STALWART HIKERS VISTAS OF OJAI VALLEY, LAKE CASITAS, SANTA YNEZ MOUNTAINS PART OF TRAIL.

Byline: Robert Stone Special to the Daily News

This loop hike just north of Ojai follows Stewart Creek up the canyon, passing meadows and rock gardens to the Foothill Trail. The route heads west through McDonald Canyon and drops into pastoral Cozy Dell Canyon by the creek. Cozy Dell Road winds up the forested canyon, climbing to sweeping overlooks beneath Nordhoff Peak.

Take the posted Pratt Trail, and curve north up Stewart Canyon. Parallel Stewart Creek to an unpaved road and junction. Continue straight ahead, following the trail sign. Weave through boulders on the distinct trail to a second junction. Take the left fork and walk through a eucalyptus grove, heading up the east wall of Stewart Canyon.

At one mile, the trail reaches a plateau above the canyon with great views of the Ojai Valley. Descend into the canyon, staying on the trail past a few hillside homes, a creekside rock garden and a paved road crossing.

Cross Stewart Creek and take the Foothill Fire Road to the right, following the trail's signs. Continue along a beautiful rock wall. Pass a gate and water tank to the posted Pratt and Foothill Trail junction on the left.

Begin the loop to the left and climb rock steps, ascending the east-facing hillside to a trail split. Curve left and continue uphill along short switchbacks with great views down Stewart Canyon and across Ojai Canyon to Sulphur Mountain. Cross a saddle to views of Lake Casitas and the Santa Ynez Mountains.

Drop into McDonald Canyon and cross another saddle. Descend a sloping meadow bordered by oaks. Head into Cozy Dell Canyon to the Cozy Dell Road. (A hundred yards to the left is the Cozy Dell Trail.)

Bear right on the fire road toward the posted Pratt Trail, meandering through the rolling, forested glen. Steadily climb out of the canyon to a junction on a saddle. Bear left and continue uphill, curving right around the mountain to a posted junction with the Pratt Trail to Nordhoff Peak. Stay on the fire road to the right, and head downhill into Stewart Canyon to an open flat and road split.

The left fork is the Gridley Fire Road. Descend to the right a quarter mile and complete the loop. Return down Stewart Canyon to the trailhead.

--Directions: From downtown Ojai, drive 0.8 miles north up Signal Street (on the west side of the arcade) to the Pratt/Foothill Trailhead sign by the water tower. Turn left and drive 0.2 miles to the parking area on the left.

FOOTHILL TRAIL TO COZY DELL CANYON

Location: Ojai, Ventura County

Hiking distance: 5.8-mile loop

Hiking time: 3 hours

Elevation gain: 1,200 feet

Maps: USGS Ojai and Matilija Sespe Wilderness Trail Map

CAPTION(S):

box, map

Box:

FOOTHILL TRAIL TO COZY DELL CANYON (see text)

Map:

FOOTHILL TRAIL TO COZY DELL CANYON
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 16, 2003
Words:478
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