Nordhoff Peak via Pratt Trail

based on 10 tracks & routes #133 hike out of 473 in
11.7 mi
4 hrs 57 min
3,527 ft
Elev Gain


This is a difficult out and back trail to Nordhoff Peak in Los Padres National Forest.

This trail goes by Foothill Crag "The Foot" and Magic Mountain.

The trail is popular with bicyclists and hikers, so be careful.

The trail starts just north of the Stewart Debris Dam in Ojai. The initial mile of the trail winds up the hill through the neighborhood passing grapevines, and one memorial garden that was beautiful in winter and, I'm told is full of flowers in the spring. The trail crosses an offshoot of foothill road before winding up foothill road before reaching the junction of the Pratt Trail (left) and Fuel Break Road (right). There are side trails to explore to the Magic Mountain and "The Foot" climbing crag, but we ignored those to continue the steep and steady climb up the Pratt Trail. The trail narrows to a single that climbs and climbs and climbs. At 3,000 feet there is a steep downhill trail on the right that undoubtably reached down to the creek with maybe a fall or at least a rapid.

The trail continues to the ridge line where there is a fire road. Turn right and in only a mile, you'll reach the top where there is a old rusty and probably dangerously poorly maintained fire lookout (we still climbed it, however.) On the clear day we were there on January 2, 2022, we could see all the channel islands and snow covered the peaks to the north. We took our pics, enjoyed our snacks, then turned back and took the well-graded trail back to our cars. Quick hikers, it took us only 5 hours. I'd plan on six, and make sure to have plenty of water if you do this any time except winter: the whole trail is exposed after the first 1.5 miles.

Getting Started

The trailhead is known as the Los Padres National Forest Trailhead located at the Stewart Debris Dam in Ojai California. Easy drive through freeways, 2 lane roads and neighborhood roads until you turn off the main road, then the track turns to rocky dirt that's a bit rough, so take your time.The trailhead is just to left after crossing the concrete lined creek traverse.

Taking Children

This might be a fun hike for kids. It's easy as it winds up through the neighborhood and Magic Mountain and The Foot provide some alternate and shorter destinations. The peak is, however, a 12 miles exposed round trip.

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