Friday, February 5, 2016

Nordhoff Peak

Hiked: 2/5/2016
Distance: 11 miles round trip on trail and dirt road
Summit Elevation: 4485'
Prominence: 705'
Elevation Gain: 2700'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 2.16
Round trip time: 4 hours
Recommended water: 64 oz.
Parking/Fees: Adventure Pass
Difficulty: Moderate

Nordhoff Peak is north of Ojai in the Los Padres National Forest. It ranks #18 on the Sierra Club Lower Peaks List. I hiked Nordhoff from the north on the Howard Creek Trail. To get to the trailhead, take highway 33 north from Ojai and go about 15 miles, then take a right on Rose Valley Road. In about 0.2 miles, you reach the trailhead at the first dirt road on the right. Park there and head up the road about 100 yards to find the signed single track trail on the left.

The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. Since it is on the north side of Nordhoff ridge, much of the trail is shaded. The shade and a slight, but steady breeze, kept things on the chilly side. In about 2.5 miles, you reach the junction with Nordhoff Ridge Road. Nordhoff Peak and the tower are in view from here and it's just a matter of following the road to the top. You can chop some distance off by using firebreaks to shortcut the road in a few places. There were great views along the way of Chief Peak, Pine Mountain, and the Ojai Valley. The views were even better from the Nordhoff tower. The tower is only one story and not a fancy live-in affair like Slide Mountain, but it wasn't locked. I clambered up for the 360 view and attempted to create a photosphere. However, it rendered with a jagged polygon missing ruining the whole thing. At least I got some decent photos. I made it to the top a little faster than expected and I kept looking over at Chief along the ridge. I guessed it was maybe 2 miles from the junction with trail, but when I got there, the GPS said 2.95 miles. I didn't have enough slack in my schedule to tack on another 6 miles so Chief would have to wait. This was my third hike in Los Padres but it still felt like an away game.

The moon and Venus over Los Padres

Gate at trailhead

Single track starts almost immediately on the left

Cobbled rocks along the trail

View of Nordhoff from the junction with Nordhoff Ridge Road

Nordhoff near the saddle

Mountain biker heading down Gridley Trail, the only human I saw all day

Nordhoff lookout tower

Benchmark placed 1941

Chief Peak, east along the ridge. I was tempted.

Ojai Valley, Lake Casitas (man-made), Pacific Ocean, and Channel Islands

Pine Mountain from Nordhoff

Other Trip Reports:
Nordhoff Peak the Easy Way


  1. Excellent. I like Nordhoff. Nice shot of Gridley coming in at the saddle. Cool shot of the tower too.

    1. Madison,

      I added a photo of a mountain biker heading down Gridley Trail. He was the only person I saw all day. Your report was very helpful and I linked to it in the post. The trail was so good and the road so smooth that it seemed easier than the stats suggest. It probably would not seem so easy mid-summer.