Day Trip: Ojai & Highway 33

Many people consider this ride one of the very best in Southern California and for good reason.  The road offers some fantastic riding and the scenery is varied and outstanding.

From Orange County, head out on CA-55N to the 405N and then onto Hwy 101N.  As usual, the traffic will be an issue, but this is Southern California, so there is no avoiding it.  Rest assured, however, that a beautiful ride awaits you once you turn off the 101 and head onto CA-33, the road that leads into Ojai and beyond.

If you stop in downtown Ojai before heading up the 33, be sure and go to the Ojai Deer Lodge located at 2261 Maricopa Hwy.  They are open for take-out, patio and indoor dining Wednesday through Sunday. This is a popular spot for bikers, so you’ll have a chance to swap road stories and check out all of the bikes that will likely be parked outside while enjoying some great food.  The ambiance of the place is exactly as you might expect:  it is very rustic and resembles a hunting lodge inside.  They also have patio seating and oftentimes have live music.

Don’t forget that Ojai was the location used as Shangri-La in the 1937 Frank Capra movie Lost Horizon.  Although only an aerial shot of the Ojai Valley was actually used in the film, it was nonetheless chosen to represent the mythical paradise and you will see why.

As you head out of Ojai, CA-33 is called Maricopa Hwy.  The road has some nice twists and at the top of the ridge, the view of the valley below is stunning and if there is no fog, you will also get a look at the Channel Islands toward the south.

From here, the road has some nice sweeping turns and it is very easy to become distracted by the incredible views, so watch the road and stop if you want to take a longer look.  This road generally doesn’t have too much traffic in the way of cars, so take your time and pull over often.

As you head down into the Cuyama Valley, the road becomes steep and a lot of fun to ride.  Be on the lookout for the turnoff to Lockwood Valley (FR7N11) and head east to continue toward Frazier Park.  This portion of the 33 is insanely fun to ride, but do watch your speed as you can lose control if you don’t actually heed those 10 MPH signs.

Continuing on the 33, you’ll experience thirty miles of beautiful scenery as you pass through the Chumash and Sespe Wilderness areas. Once you reach the end of Lockwood Valley Road, you will have the option of either making a right into Frazier Park which will take you to I5 or turning left toward Pine Mountain Club.  If you choose the latter, you will hit Cerro Noroeste Road and can make a fun and memorable loop out of the ride, however you should top off on gas beforehand by turning right at Frazier Park first.

Cerro Noroeste Road will take you through some truly spectacular scenery.  Towering pine trees will make you feel as if you are in an alpine forest and the road affords a lot of opportunities to twist on the throttle.  The road is a bit tighter at the higher elevation but heading into the valley it loosens up and baring no traffic, offers you the chance to fly without much worry, however it is wise to watch your speed as you wind around the corners.

When it’s time to head back to Orange County, you will be able to pick up I5 again and then head south on the highways, another fun and beautiful California adventure under your belt.

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