By Tim the Tour Guide
This past Monday, I joined forces with Totally Cali Tours and Joel Robinson from the organization Naturalist for You, in accompanying a group of 25 visitors staying at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa on a hike up the nearby Sulphur Mountain Road Trail just outside of Ojai. Along the way, Joel pointed out various wildflowers, edible plants, and other sights. Here are some highlights from our 2-hour hike. (By the way, as a bonafide naturalist, Joel hikes barefoot wherever he journeys.)
Our journey began at the Sulphur Mountain Road Trailhead about a half mile from Highway 33 coming out of Ventura and before you get to Ojai.
Our naturalist guide, Joel, points out a flowering Elderberry Bush, which yields berries in the late summer and early fall. The berries are edible, but should be cooked first. Otherwise, they can be toxic, leading to a very upset stomach.
A short distance from the Elderberry, one of our hikers discovers walnut shells that came from a nearby wild walnut tree.
Well, there is a reason they call this Sulphur Mountain. For decades it has been the site of natural oil seepage, as evidenced along the trail. Note the small stream of oil laced water as it crosses the road.
Joel finds another edible plant — the Milk Thistle — and takes a bite from the leaf.
Another edible, he points out, in Minor’s Lettuce, usually found in shady spots along the north side of the trail.
And one non-edible that greeted us along the trail was a friendly King Snake.
There were many wildflowers along the Sulphur Mountain Road trail including the often seen Monkey Flower, loved by hummingbirds and bees. Plus, different varieties of sage.
Sadly, and only a mile and a half in on the trial, it was time to get our guests back to the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa — which we knew was somewhere in the valley just over the hill in front of us.
The Sulphur Mountain Road Trail is an old,11-mile dirt road trial that is open to hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians that has extensive views of the Ojai Valley and its surrounding mountain ranges.