Matilija Canyon Trail

#1 of 221 trails in Los Padres National Forest

Join the largest community of outdoor enthusiasts.

Get Started

Upgrade to Pro

Unlimited access to National Geographic TOPO! & Trails Illustrated Maps

Learn More »

Matilija Canyon Trail is a 8.4 mile out and back trail located near New Cuyama, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking & walking and is accessible from March until November. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Share your experience to help other people learn more about this trail:

Write ReviewUpload PhotosUpload Tracks

Jesson D (36)

1 Completed1 Reviews

The trailhead is just 30 minutes from Ojai where you must take care in hiding all valuables in your car at the locked gate to the wildlife refuge. We began our hike at 1130AM, and already starting to feel the heat coming on. Just me and my 13 year old son going for an overnighter, and it was his first backpacking trip. Passing the refuge and continuing on the easement led to more sun exposure. We stayed on the dirt road and passed a couple trails, on either side until we got to a fork in the road with a sign saying ‘all trails’ heading left, and private property to the right. We stay right and enter Blue Heron Ranch, where we see no one on site. We pass horses and continue on the dirt path as the easement turns but generally heads due north. After about an hour and half, we cross a small stream and come into a clearing for a campsite, but it appears we're still on Blue Heron Ranch property. There is a firepit and a quartz rock big enough to sit on. We continue up the path, hop a rock wall next to a closed gate and turn right which looks like the trail that veered left that we passed when entering the ranch. We continue to see stacked rocks from time to time, encouraged to keep going. At last we come upon a campsite marked by a huge boulder and large oak trees. There is a fire pit and walking around, there are several campsites by the creek. We pick a spot a little off trail towards the creek to setup our campsite. We also meet a local who advises us about nearby swimming holes and the waterfalls further up the trail. Packing a small axe was helpful when gathering wood and chopping some down to manageable pieces. Dried leaves and twigs were plentiful for getting a fire started. Be careful of poison oak. They are scattered all over the place, in the campsites and near the trails. Careful of spiders, there were literally hundreds of them in a bunch, which at first glance looked liked moss. The water hole near the campsite was fun. Large boulders to jump off, but the water was dirty, mossy, please use water shoes. We spent about an hour here before sundown. The temperature dipped into the 50's at night. The following morning, after breakfast and packing up, we hit the trail to make it to the waterfall. We pass the first watering hole, and come up on another one, deeper and cleaner because it's more of a rock pool. We press on walking alongside the creek, but an hour later stop for lunch and assess our water. I had only packed 1 bottle of water and forgot the water filter, so we decide not to continue, turn back and spend some time in the rock pool. We grab our packs and head back towards the car. We end up reaching the car in just over 1 hour. As we walked through Blue Heron Ranch, we were advised to take the "other trail" instead of through the ranch. Overall, it was a good quick overnight backpack trip. My son felt proud to accomplish the trek and back, and looks forward to more adventures.

Jessica Judd (37)

1 Completed1 Reviews

It was really fun, want to camp next time, the trail is a little overgrown so make sure and bring pants and bug spray

Cortney Rasura (2132)

58 Completed4 Reviews

Have done this several times. Went to Upper Falls and climbed above them using the ropes. Saw three more beautiful waterfalls, but then it was time to turn around. Saw several groups of people hiking & camping. Was a beautiful day.

Alaina DeGraw LaVella (157)

1 Completed1 Reviews

We just spent a good 5 hours out and back- seasoned hikers- did not find a waterfall with a pool to jump off of...passed quite a few campgrounds, ran into some college kids looking for it as well. They left to meet back with their friends after upper camp. Kind of disappointed we didn't get to swim in the falls pool for our honeymoon trip. Definitely wear pants. We didn't and regretted it

Merrit Panaligan (337)

2 Completed1 Reviews

Very difficult to stay on trail between the creek crossings, foliage and random step ups. However, if you pay VERY CLOSE attention to the cairns, and don't second guess what you think is a trail or not (it probably is a trail) AND often stay to the right of the trail, you will find your way. Loved this hike, bring a swimsuit to enjoy the water pools and plan enough time. Cx

John Roelofs (133)

5 Completed4 Reviews

USEFUL INFORMATION: major foliage overgrowth. pants are a must for this hike. the trail is narrow and surrounded by poison oak in many places. also bring bug spray or you will be swarmed my mosquitoes and flies and pulling ticks off your legs. if you do these things you will be able to enjoy the lush surroundings, beautiful views, and myriad wildlife. also, all trails doesn't give proper directions to the trail head. follow matilija canyon road all the way until it dead ends at the gate. we lost 30 min of our day looking for the trail head in the wrong place.

Nicole Padilla (313)

13 Completed5 Reviews

My friends and I backpacked this trail in early May of this year. Still plenty of water to be able to filter if needed. We camped out at the 2nd campground. It was such a great spot we ended up staying a second night. We day hiked further up the trail to check it out, the poison oak was really over grown and after the 3rd campground it is nearly impossible to get through all of it. Overall, I would backpack this again, it's a great weekend getaway that is not too strenuous. The 2nd campground also has benches that have been made around the campfire by previous hikers, it was pretty awesome!

Levi Baxter (36)

1 Completed1 Reviews

Very good SoCal hike! Easy going until last 1/2 mile at which point it steps up a level. We left early am which was a good thing because you'll be in the sun for most of the way. Every trail reference I saw before starting - including SC - says the hike is 8.4 miles but that's incorrect. From the trailhead, it's a 5.8 there and back. There is still some water falling in August and we had a fun dip in the Falls pool. The private property / no trespass signs along the hike are an unfortunate distraction but you'll be ok if you stay on the trail. If you don't want to stop and play along the way the hike takes just over 2 hours. Onward and upward...

Katy Corlis (101)

1 Completed1 Reviews

Me and my boyfriend went to this trail over the weekend, and actually set up a tent and spent the night. We got there around 11 am, so the hike to middle camp was more brutal since we were right into the heat. We ended up right next to the creek so we ended up in a cooler spot for the night. We had a blast walking up the trail. With plenty of inclines, and not to flat of a hill it was someone difficult. On the way back it was easier since we were refreshed with sleep and left around 8:30 am. The weather was perfect. I suggest going earlier in the day! It was about 2-2.5 hours the second day coming from middle camp down to base. Was worth the whole 8 mile trek. Any time we saw people, everyone was nice. The hike also was super clean. I did see a huge tarantula spider! so be careful not to step on one of those!!

Jan Egge (123)

2 Completed1 Reviews

On a hot summer day this is quite a hot hike. With confusing turns across 2 private properties, meeting the friendly guard dog. Then via a fire road into a slim windy trail mountainside that occasionally has small safety concerns. Tons of poison oak or ivy. But the reward are peaceful waterholes near nice camp sites.

Support