Santa Paula Canyon (Echo Falls)
Los Padres National Forest
Highlights: The hike up Santa Paula Canyon is a moderate backpack of 7 to 9 miles (roundtrip distance) that vists waterfalls, swimming holes, rope swings, and water slides in a tree-lined canyon with sunny rock slabs and rock-walled side canyons.
Directions: The drive takes two hours from Bakersfield. Head south on I-5 over Tejon Pass. Just before Magic Mountain, take Route 126 towards Ventura. In Santa Paula, take the 10th Street Exit and follow Route 150 north to the entrance to Thomas Aquinas College, which is midway between Santa Paula and Ojai. Park in dirt lots on either side of the bridge that crosses Santa Paula Creek, but DO NOT DRIVE ONTO THE COLLEGE CAMPUS.
Trailhead: The hike begins at the entrance to Thomas Aquinas College. Walk through the front gate and up the paved road for half a mile to a gate at the top of the hill. Please stay on the road as you pass through the college - the security guard is quick to reprimand you if you stray from the road. Continue through the gate, past several oil wells to where the pavement ends. The trail then winds along the south side of the creek, crossing to the north side when the foot path vanishes. The trail reappears on the opposite side of the creek where it eventually becomes a road again. A long mile on fairly level ground leads to another creek crossing, after which the road heads up a very steep hill for half a mile to a wonderful oak glen at Big Cone Camp, about 3½ miles and 850 feet elevation gain from trailhead. The elevation of Big Cone is about 1800 feet. A more secluded camp is found at Cross Camp, another mile up the trail, which is reached by dropping to the creek, crossing it immediately, and taking the left-hand trail at a Y junction midway up the first hill.
Maps: The 7½-minute topographic quadrangle is Santa Paula Peak.
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