Windswept Sandstone in the Sespe Wilderness, Ojai

The Los Padres Forest behind Ojai is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts.  Nestled like a jewel in the mountains is the Sespe Wilderness, about 20 minutes north of Ojai up Hwy 33 at the end of Rose Valley Road.

“Sespe Wilderness provides ample evidence of past violent geological upthrusts. The landscape is bleak and jagged, and if you climb high enough, you’ll find pine trees growing at odd angles on boulder-swept hillsides.” – wilderness.net

My car, “Sally”, in view of the Piedra Blanca formations

Joining me was Matthew, my agreeable new compañero for hiking, who warded off mountain lions with his stately presence, or so I imagined.  Matthew is new to this area of California; he grew up in various places in the Western United States and is eager to practice his photography skills at all the intriguing spots to be found.   While we were on this excursion, little Phoebe played at preschool for the day, giving me the unusual opportunity to hike a little farther and relax a little longer than I normally would.

Our destination was the Piedra Blanca formations.  To get to this spot, we followed Rose Valley Road to its end.  At the far point of the parking lot is the trailhead.  There are markers to point the way left at the first T-intersection of the path and right at the Y-intersection.  The path to the formations took us 30 minutes and was easy to moderately difficult.

When we arrived, we were treated to a cool, brisk wind that swept through the boulders and across the gritty sandstone.  The impressive formations of this sediment are approximately 20 million years old from the Miocene epoch.  You can see a neat graph from the U.S. Geological Survey of the types and ages of the sediment along the San Andreas fault here.

Photo credit: Matthew Phelps

Photo credit: Matthew Phelps

Photo credit: Matthew Phelps

Photo credit: Matthew Phelps

Photo credit: Matthew Phelps

Photo credit: Matthew Phelps