Chief Peak

Distance:  8.8 miles round-trip


Time: 3.5 hours


Highlights: There are views all along the trail up to the peak, and from the peak there are spectacular 360 degree views. On clear days you can see six of the Channel Islands, the Santa Monica Mountains, Ojai Valley, Lake Casitas and the rugged interior wilderness. The ridge when viewed from the Ojai Valley has some resemblance to the relief of a sleeping Indian. Chief Peak is the highest point and is the head and bonnet.


Directions: The trailhead is the gated “Chief Peak Road” in the west corner of the campground.  Cross the gate and follow the dirt fire road, which climbs relentlessly for 2.2 miles before it reaches the crest of the ridge and a signed Y intersection.  Turn left onto Nordhoff Ridge Road and continue along the road towards Chief Peak, which is now in view straight ahead.  At 3.8 miles, turn off the road and follow the narrow trail up the ridgeline until you reach the cliffs right below the summit.  



Elevation Gain:  2,100 feet


Difficulty: Strenuous


Similarities/Differences: The distance and elevation gain are about the same as Rancho Alegre’s Nine-Mile Hike, but the climbing here occurs mostly during the first two miles.  Views are exceptional throughout the hike, instead of just at the end.  This trail has no shade, so try to avoid hiking in extreme temperatures, and bring plenty of water.


Restrooms: In Rose Valley Campground


Trailhead: Travel 13.4 miles north, on Highway 33 from Highway 101, to the "Y" junction with Highway 150. Bear left, staying on Highway 33, heading toward Maricopa. Continue 14.8 miles to the Rose Valley/Piedra Blanca turnoff and turn right. Follow this narrow paved road 3 miles and turn right toward Upper Lake and Rose Valley Falls. Rose Valley Camp is 0.5 mile farther. If the campground is full, park off the road outside the campground. National Forest Adventure Pass required for parking or camping. One day passes are $5 and can be obtained from Ranger stations and sporting good stores.


Avoid the dangerous cliffs by taking a trail to the right along the base of the cliff.  Turn left once you reach the ridge and scramble the last .1 miles to the summit.  Sign the trail register, which should be on the north side of the peak, and enjoy the views!

- click on map to enlarge -