Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
2,193.00 ft (668.43 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
11.40 mi (18.35 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Lion Canyon Trail is an 11.4-mile out-and-back trail located in Los Padres National Forest about 15 miles north of Ojai off of Highway 33. The trail starts from the Middle Lion Campground and heads south to Nordhoff Road. The trail borders the western edge of Sespe Wilderness and provides access to the East and West Fork Lion Backcountry Campsites. The Sespe Wilderness is the fourth largest roadless area in the Lower 48 and the one closest to a major metropolitan area, which makes this trail a popular (and much needed) outdoor destination for residents from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles. The Lion Canyon  Trail can be completed in a day or used as part of an overnight backpacking trip. It is moderately rated and is located in an area that is popular with trail runners, hikers, backpackers, and campers. 

From the Lion Canyon Trailhead at Middle Lion Campground, the trail crosses Lion Creek and passes through chaparral, cottonwood trees, and riparian vegetation. The terrain starts off flat, but gradually ascends with scenic views of the canyon as you go. Nordhoff Ridge Road is the turnaround point, but not before taking in the well-deserved expansive views across the Ojai Valley, out to the Pacific Ocean, and to the east featuring the Topatopa Bluff.

MIDDLE LION CAMPGROUND / TRAILHEAD AMENITIES

There is no potable water at the Middle Lion Campground. Visitors must plan to bring and carry sufficient food and water. Campground reservations can be made at www.recreation.gov

  • 8 campsites (6 reservation sites, 2 first-come, first-serve sites).

  • Picnic tables

  • Vault Toilet

  • Parking area

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Lion Canyon

East Fork Lion Camp

West Fork Lion Camp

Middle Lion Campground

 

Logistics + Planning

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

National Forest Pass

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Canyon Views. Scenic Vistas. Backcountry Camping.

Cons

Some areas may be minimally maintained.

Trailhead Elevation

3,787.00 ft (1,154.28 m)

Highest point

5,159.00 ft (1,572.46 m)

Features

Backcountry camping
Wildlife
Big vistas
Geologically significant
Bird watching
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.

You May Also Enjoy