Santa Paula Punchbowl



Directions to Santa Paula Canyon Punch Bowl:From Los Angeles take I5 north to Highway 126 West. Exit 10th street in Santa Paula make a right turn at the exit. From 10th street take Highway 150 North to Ojai, Ca. At the Thomas Aquinas College park across Highway 150 and the hike starts in the College. Follow all rules and signs at the College, they are very strict and you can be asked to leave if you do not follow the posted signs. Proceed into Ferndale Ranch and once you reach the gates you will be at the trailhead. From Ventura take the 101 Freeway South then take Highway 126 East to Santa Paula exit 10th Street make a left at the exit and take Highway 150 North to Ojai, Ca. Park across the Highway and follow the signs at the college. Once you enter Ferndale Ranch you will be at the trailhead.


What to Bring:
Hat, Sunscreen, Tons of Water (at least 3 liters), first aid kit, emergency backpack gear,  
and something to re-energize yourself after the hike (aka- food)!

WARDROBE:   Comfortable clothes that will keep you cool but
properly covered. Hiking Boots or Hiking Shoes- DO NOT wear just sneakers!

Trust me on this…

WHEN TO GO:  Before Noon. If you’re a slow hiker, you’ll want to make it

back before dark.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY:   NOT for the beginner

KID FRIENDLY: For the over 10 crowd

PET FRIENDLY: If Fido can climb boulders, then sure!


FOOD: Bring some for sure!





A Hike of WHINE and ROSES…

Not all my hikes are Wine and Roses…hence the title of this paragraph. Let me explain-

The directions for finding this trail are really hard to follow so here are some tips: Go thru the College gates and follow the paved road and pass all the dorms on the left. Do not be fooled by the dirt paths on the right- that’s NOT what you’re looking for. Eventually, you’ll see a driveway to the right that leads to a chain-linked gate. It says HIKING TRAIL on it with an arrow- enter there.

Stay to the left, pass the ranch on the left. This house will be on your right. 

Look for THIS sign:

Continue on the road and you’ll see the 1st set of OIL PUMPING thingys.

Stay to the right

 of them and continue on the PAVED road until you get here…  

The 2nd set of OIL THINGYS! Walk around the fence to the left and follow that trail until you get:


This is the BEGINNING of the Hike to THE PUNCHBOWL.

I had a MAP and written directions from another hiker as to how to find the UPPER TRAIL. Why do you want to find the UPPER TRAIL? Because you will have to BOULDER HOP for 1.5 miles until you get to the 1st Swim Hole. Guess what I ended up doing? (Hop-Hop-Hop, just call me Bugs Bunny)

Glad I’ve been working on my upper body strength because BOULDER HOPPING isn’t easy. Anyway…

We walked thru this AMAZING wooded area. It was like being in Sherwood Forest. I was looking for Robin Hood and shit-

  Sorry it’s blurry- but you get the picture.

So you get up to this part (after climbing up some large rocks) where there is a fence with a water processing machine type thing. If you look BEHIND you and to the left- I believe that is the UPPER TRAIL. Ummmm…we didn’t go that way. We continue forward, across the dried river bed and crossed over the stream several times until we arrived here…


Not too shabby of a place! This is THE 1ST SWIMMING HOLE and WATERFALL. The BIG ONE is about 2 miles away from here. NOW- the directions said that the UPPER TRAIL is ABOVE this waterfall. Did you see it? ‘Cuz we never found it and decided to head back because we only had about 2 hours of daylight left.

But FIRST:       My “DOGS” were barkin’! Robbie and I kept saying that we HAVE TO GET better Hiking Boots because wearing the type of  HIKING  “shoes” that we had on was like hiking BAREFOOT(ED). Every step was torture….we felt EVERY rock thru the souls of our shoes. You can see how swollen my feet are in the picture!

Heading back we took a few wrong turns and got just a tad lost. I was thinking about the hikers I read about who had to call 911 and get a Helicopter to airlift them out of there last month. That was a little fact that I didn’t tell Robbie about until AFTER the hike!

   Okay- look at what the rock says. See the little part that says “Good Luck?” Yeah…you’ll need it trying to get back. At the beginning of the hike, I was complaining about all the GRAFFITI. On the way back I was HAPPY to see it because that meant that we were going in the right direction!

We hit this ALL DIRT CLIFF at one point that was -like- a million feet above the dried riverbed that we needed to get down to and Robbie decided to RUN all the way down it (as you do). I thought that he was going to break his neck for sure! I, being the chicken that I am- slid on my BUTT to the bottom. I wish I would have took a picture of my million foot BUTT PRINT that was grooved into the side of that hill…it was HYSTERICAL! Regrets, regrets….



With about a 1/2 hour of light left, we emerged from WILDERNESS in one piece. Disappointed that we didn’t make it to our destination but happy that we got as far as we did.


 I actually took off my boots and walked down the paved road in my bare feet for a bit. Quite a menacing sky, yes?

The Wrap Up

We probably won’t be doing this hike again until we get better directions and boots. My advice to anyone who would like to try it is to bring a GPS with you and/or research the directions completely. I actually researched this hike for DAYS but STILL didn’t understand the directions. I thought I did until I got there…every inch of that place looked the same to me. (Heavy, disappointed sigh)!

Our Total Time/Miles:  5 1/2 hours (not including a 30 min. lunch break by the waterfall) / Approx. 6 miles round trip.

This is a SLOW hike because of all the rock and boulders but you can make up time when you’re on the flat sand/rock paths and on the pavement going to and from the trail.


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