Field Trips

Field trips are typically held on Saturday and/or Sunday, and started back up again in March 2022 after a two year hiatus. Watch this page and our Facebook page for announcements. Meanwhile we invite you to explore the many trails open in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. Hit the trails early during the summer months and keep cool and hydrated!

Botany and Bird Hike
Wheeler Gorge Nature Trail, Los Padres National Forest, Ventura County
**NEW DATE: Saturday February 17, 2024 from 9am-1pm (if it rains the date and time will change to February 24th from 1-5pm)
Leader: David Torfeh

RSVP REQUIRED: (805) 794-5334. This is so if rain cancels, or date/time change, we can contact you as soon as we know.
Plant List

Local biologist David Torfeh will lead a hike with slight elevation gain at Wheeler Gorge Nature Trail (and vicinity) to see what’s blooming and what’s not.  Participants will get practice at identifying plants and birds of this portion of the western Transverse Ranges.  There are chaparral, riparian woodland, and a bit of oak woodland habitats at the site.  Found along the creek are western sycamore (Platanus racemosa), white alder (Alnus rhombifolia), mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana) and coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia var. agrifolia).  In the brushier areas, one finds birch-leaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides var. betuloides), holly-leafed cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ssp. ilicifolia), hollyleaf redberry (Rhamnus ilicifolia), California coffeberry (Frangula californica), hoaryleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius var. crassifolius), hairy ceanothus (Ceanothus oliganthus), coffee fern (Pellaea andromedifolia), southern honeysuckle (Lonicera subspicata var. denudata), golden-yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum var. confertiflorum), woolly blue curls (Trichostema lanatum), and purple sage (Salvia leucophylla).  Some of these may be in flower.  Birds such as California towhee, Bewick’s wren, red-tailed hawk, California quail, and dark-eyed junco can be seen or heard at this location. Nonnative plants such as smilo grass (Stipa miliacea var. miliacea) and white horehound (Marrubium vulgare) will also be pointed out.  Bring water, snacks, a hat, and binoculars.  Wear lug-soled [hiking] boots/shoes and sunscreen.  Temperatures in the mountains are hard to predict, so dress in layers.

 Meet at 9:00 a.m. 0.6 mile north of the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center on the east (right) shoulder of Hwy 33 just north of the north end of the closed Wheeler Gorge Campground.  This is where the Wheeler Gorge Nature Trail begins.  There are restrooms and additional parking available at the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center.  Note: parking at the trailhead is very limited.

Directions: From Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo, Thousand Oaks, and Los Angeles, take the 101 Frwy to Hwy 33.  Exit onto Hwy 33 going north toward Ojai.  Hwy 33 will merge with Hwy 150 and veer east to Ojai after it crosses Baldwin Road.  If you want to carpool (because parking at the hike site is limited to about 3 vehicles), meet at the Rotary Community Park parking lot on the right (catty corner from the Vons shopping center) in Ojai at 8:20 a.m. just past the traffic signal where Hwy 33 separates from Hwy 150 (Ojai Avenue).  Take Hwy 33 north 9.6 miles from Hwy 150 (Ojai Avenue) into the Los Padres National Forest.  On the right (immediately past a small bridge) will be Wheeler Gorge Nature Trail.  If you can’t find parking at the trailhead, backtrack 0.6 mile to the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center and park there.  Please allow an extra 4 minutes of travel time (for a total of  up to 25 minutes) on Hwy 33 north of Ojai due to the presence of two solar-powered temporary traffic signals for one-lane portions of the road which can each have up to 2-minute delays.  From Goleta, Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria, take the 101 Frwy toward Ventura and exit onto Hwy 33 just as you get to Ventura.  From there, follow the directions above.  An alternate route would be to take the 101 Frwy to the Hwy 150 exit in eastern Carpinteria and proceed on Hwy 150 about 22.5 miles to just past the traffic signal at the Vons shopping center in western Ojai. Then follow the directions above starting with “If you want to carpool…”  From Santa Paula and downtown Ojai, take Hwy 150 to the Rotary Community Park parking lot on the left just before the traffic signal at the Vons shopping center in western Ojai, then follow the directions above starting with “If you want to carpool…”