PICTURED: Carpinteria Bluffs, Trail and Seal Sanctuary. Photo by Warren Barrett

by Warren Barrett, Bret Hooper, Barbara Kroon, Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer and Kimberly Rivers

Warren Barrett, Sales Director

Carpinteria Bluffs Trail and Seal Sanctuary

Recently my family has been enjoying this easy hike in Carpinteria. It’s a short walk from the parking lot at the end of Ballard Avenue (take the Ballard Exit and head toward the ocean) to the Carpinteria Harbor Seal Sanctuary aka The Rookery and the trail is absolutely beautiful, with amazing ocean views. My kids enjoy climbing on the fallen eucalyptus trees along the trail. If you follow it a little further, you’ll reach Tar Pits State Park, which is great for tidepooling. Popular with bikers, too. It can get busy, but there’s enough room for everyone to easily spread out. 

Potato Harbor Trail, Santa Cruz Island

Potato Harbor, Santa Cruz Island. Photo by Warren Barrett

We take the Island Packers boat out to the Scorpion Anchorage at Santa Cruz Island. The Potato Harbor Trail is a 5 mile loop. In just a few minutes you are up on the cliffs and enjoying picturesque views of the island. 

Arroyo Verde Park
Foothill and Day Roads, Ventura, 805-652-4551

This park is another one of our go-to hiking spots. It’s easily accessible — the entrance is at the corner of Foothill and Day roads in Ventura — and there’s a lot to do.There are a bunch of trails to choose from, a little playground, plenty of grass for throwing a Frisbee or tossing a ball around and lots of picnic benches for lunch. We always see cool birds and lizards.

Bret Hooper, Graphic Designer

Ventura Community Park
901 S. Kimball Road, Ventura, 805-658-4726

I really like the Ventura Community Park on the corner of Telephone and Kimball roads. The path around the park is about 1.5 miles, and it’s a nice place for a stroll or a jog. It also has picnic tables, softball and soccer fields and a playground. And, of course, there’s the Ventura Aquatic Center — which has some lap swimming, even though the water slides and playground are closed at the moment. 

Except for the noise from the 126 Freeway along the north side and traffic along Telephone Road on the south side it can be a pretty quiet walk. I usually see some sort of wildlife during a walk around this park. I’ve found that sunrise and sunset are the best times to see rabbits. During the day, the rabbits go home and the squirrels take over. More than once a gopher snake has crossed my path, making its way to the other side of the walkway.

Overhead I usually see hawks and/or condors. Probably hunting for those rabbits, squirrels and gopher snakes. 

On rare occasions I’ve seen coyotes and one time was surprised to see a bobcat during an early Saturday morning walk. The bobcat sat near some trees in the distance and kept an eye on me as I walked by. I kept just as much of an eye on him as I passed.

Barbara Kroon, Sales Associate

Ventura Ranch KOA
7400 Pine Grove Road, Santa Paula, 805-933-3200

The KOA holds Bigfoot Nighttime Adventure Walks where groups are led by a guide.  Everyone brings their own flashlight and they find “evidence” of Bigfoot such as broken branches, sleeping spots, etc.  Kids get a big kick out of it.

Steckel Park
8080 Mistletoe Road, Santa Paula, 805-654-3951

A nice walk along the riverbed.  Good spot to hunt for river rocks.  In addition to the bird sanctuary, featuring several different types of birds, they have many wild peacocks that roam the park.

Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer, Arts Editor

Ventura Botanical Gardens
567 S. Poli St., Ventura, 805-232-3113

I feel like I talk about this place all the time, but I just love it. Gently winding paths and switchbacks with so many flowers and plants and interesting vista points. On a clear day, you can see all the way out to the Channel Islands. It’s right downtown, too, so it’s perfect for a brunch-and-stroll kind of experience; just park once and enjoy your urban adventure. Whenever I have company in town, we try to take them here at some point; I love being able to show them the whole city and the coastline from a short, pretty hike that’s just a few blocks from wherever we’ve parked!

Wildwood Regional Park
928 W. Avenida de los Arboles, Thousand Oaks

This is such a diverse area, nestled right up against the suburbs: grasslands, oak woodlands, chaparral, sage scrub, pretty Paradise Falls. It’s part of the Conejo Open Space Conservancy, and there are easy hikes and strenuous hikes galore. We really enjoy walking through the grasslands along the Mesa Trail towards Lizard Rock, and climbing up the ridge. The slope’s a bit rough, but the views are incredible. Shows like Gunsmoke and The Rifleman were filmed here, and it’s easy to see why: You definitely feel as though you’re in the Old West.

Kimberly Rivers, Staff Reporter

Potrero John Trail

Potrero John Creek. Photo by Kimberly Rivers

This trail is just far enough away to really feel like you are getting out there, but it’s only 20 miles north of Ojai off Highway 33. This is a great hike to do when you take the day, so you can enjoy the falls at the end and the small pools along the way. The narrow single track follows Potrero John Creek. Keeping on trail at some spots is challenging, so just take the time to find the correct trail. The landscape is a great example of chaparral habitat, with stands of live oak and Douglas fir trees, manzanita, yucca and plenty of yerba buena. 

The last bit of trail is challenging, as it scales the sides of the canyon and is narrow. Some rock scaling is required, but easily done by the adventurous.

It’s cold now at about 45 degrees even on a sunny day, and the wind can howl down the canyon. Bring a hoodie or a hat!

Another quick tip: Do a tick check on your return!