A favorite among rail-trail enthusiasts, the Ojai Valley Trail extends about 9.5 miles north of Ventura from Foster Park in Oak View to the southwestern outskirts of Ojai. Combining this trail with the Ventura River Trail
, which extends southward from Foster Park, makes for a memorable, lengthy rail-trail experience.
The smallest city in Ventura County, Ojai is located in the scenic Ojai Valley, surrounded by the peaks of Los Padres National Forest. The city has long been known as a haven for artists, musicians and outdoor enthusiasts. The Chumash Indians were the first known residents of Ojai, and the town's name derives from their word for moon, "A'hwai."
The Ojai Valley Trail follows the former Ventura and Ojai Valley Railroad and runs along the Ventura River into the valley. This is a gorgeous ride, providing sweeping views of the surrounding mountains. This trail is more rural than the Ventura River Trail to the south, especially where it moves away from State Route 33. There is a gradual uphill grade as you make your way north from the Foster Park trailhead.
The trail is paved and in generally good condition, with a parallel woodchip path for equestrians. Near the 2-mile mark, you pass through an oak grove and then cross a low-lying cement-and-railroad-tie bridge that spans a creek at its confluence with the Ventura River. The trail section close to the bridge is sandy and may be underwater during heavy winter rains. Continuing north, the trail crosses several driveway entrances and roads. Between Loma and Hermosa roads, near mile 7, a sturdy shade structure framed by two large oak trees is equipped with a bench and recycling bins.
At the 8-mile mark, the trail crosses the major intersection of Routes 33 and 150. Cross carefully here and pick up the trail on the other side of Route 150. At mile 9, you pass through grassy Libby Park, which offers parking, restrooms and access to a trail leading to downtown Ojai. You might want to time your visit to coincide with the Ojai Music Festival, which takes places at the Libby Park Bowl amphitheater in early June. Libby Park also hosts a number of free summer concerts.
To reach the Foster Park trailhead, from downtown Ventura, take Highway 33 heading north. Exit Highway 33 at Casitas Vista Road. Turn right on North Ventura Avenue, and then right again on Casitas Vista Road. The entrance to Foster Park is on the north side of Casitas Vistas Road. Parking is available here.