Rose Valley Falls

Los Padres National Forest / near Ojai / Ventura County, California, USA

Rating: 2     Difficulty: 1.5
Rose Valley Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Rose Valley Falls was perhaps one of the easier waterfalls that we've visited, especially considering it was near the rugged expanse of the Sespe Wilderness north of Ojai. Therefore, it wasn't surprising to see that this was also the type of excursion where we tended to see families making a visit. Perhaps the only caveat to this place was that it probably stretched the limit on what could reasonably be done in a day from Los Angeles given that the falls was probably closer to Santa Barbara than downtown LA. Indeed, this was one of those places where the next time we go to Santa Barbara or decide to do this place as a day trip again, we'd bring our daughter along.

When we first visited this waterfall, it wasn't lost upon us that this was one of those limestone-type waterfalls that seemed similar in character to say Nojoqui Falls and Limekiln Falls. With its accessible lower drop perhaps tumbling some 80ft or more, it was definitely one of the more scenic local waterfalls to be around. However, we also noticed that there was a plunging upper tier of the Rose Valley Falls, but that tier would only flow impressively immediately after a clearing storm that had pretty significant precipitation. We were able to see the upper tier in such a state back in 2010, but on our most recent trip in March 2017, it didn't flow quite as well as it followed nearly a month after the last of nearly historically significant rains that had battered much of the state during the Winter months.

The hike to the base of the falls was a gently uphill 0.4 miles each way on a well-established trail with a stream crossing or two. We were able to catch glimpses of the upper waterfall from the initial sections of the trail. However, as we got closer to the falls, the views of that upper waterfall became more obstructed. For the best views of the upper tier, we were able to see it from the Rose Valley Campground area as well as the Rose Valley Road. After barely 15-20 minutes on the trail, which passed by some minor cascades and waterfalls (each with steep informal scrambling paths to access them), we'd eventually get right up to the base of Rose Valley Falls.

Most of the views of the falls were obstructed by trees until we got right up to its base. During our first two visits here, we lingered around just to enjoy the water running over the moss-covered wall while also growing the underlying rock as the waters were apparently rich in calcium carbonate (i.e. limestone). But it was that limestone quality that also prompted locals to show us (on our third visit here) that it was possible to crawl beneath one of the small openings of the bottom of the limestone, which then went into a tight cave where we could crawl in on one side of the falls and emerge out the other side of the falls. With a headlamp or strong flashlight, one can see the travertine formations within the mini "cave", and one of the locals even said there were bats and large cave spiders in there as well. Given how wet the crawl spaces were, this would probably be better suited to film on a GoPro instead of risking water damage to the digital SLR camera.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

View of the Upper Rose Valley Falls as we were approaching the trailheadView of the Upper Rose Valley Falls as we were approaching the trailhead
We didn't realize it at the time, but Rose Valley Falls was probably closer to Santa Barbara (a lovely beach shown here) than it was to downtown Los AngelesWe didn't realize it at the time, but Rose Valley Falls was probably closer to Santa Barbara (a lovely beach shown here) than it was to downtown Los Angeles
Julie and I enjoyed Santa Barbara's history and architecture probably because after having been to both Morocco and Andalucian Spain, it really reminded us of our time spent thereJulie and I enjoyed Santa Barbara's history and architecture probably because after having been to both Morocco and Andalucian Spain, it really reminded us of our time spent there
Trailhead parking near Campsite 4 at the Rose Valley CampgroundTrailhead parking near Campsite 4 at the Rose Valley Campground

Tahia and Julie getting started on the hike to the base of Rose Valley FallsTahia and Julie getting started on the hike to the base of the falls

The Upper Falls as seen from the trailheadThe Upper Falls as seen from the trailhead

This was what the Upper Falls looked like about 3-4 weeks since the last significant rain in 2017This was what the Upper Falls looked like about 3-4 weeks since the last significant rain in 2017

Stream crossing can be a little on the tricky side during high flowStream crossing can be a little on the tricky side during high flow

Julie and Tahia traversing the longer of two stream crossings on the Rose Valley Falls TrailJulie and Tahia traversing the longer of two stream crossings on the way to the falls

The trail was pretty obvious to follow though it did slope fairly gently uphill to the Rose Valley FallsThe trail was pretty obvious to follow though it did slope fairly gently uphill to the falls

Context of the upper tier of Rose Valley Falls with the trail leading closer to the base of the falls itselfContext of the upper tier of Rose Valley Falls with the trail leading closer to the base of the falls itself

One of the smaller waterfalls en route to Rose Valley FallsOne of the smaller waterfalls en route to Rose Valley Falls

Arriving at the base of Rose Valley Falls in high flow of 2010Arriving at the base of Rose Valley Falls in high flow of 2010

Julie and Tahia approaching the Rose Valley Falls in 2017Julie and Tahia approaching the falls in 2017

Julie right at the base of Rose Valley FallsJulie right at the base of the falls

Contextual view of Rose Valley Falls at its base. Notice the crawl-sized openings at the bottom of the limestoneContextual view of Rose Valley Falls at its base. Notice the crawl-sized openings at the bottom of the limestone

Tahia crawling into one of the two entrances to the cave behind Rose Valley FallsTahia crawling into one of the two entrances to the cave behind the falls

Looking up from within the cave behind the Rose Valley FallsLooking up from within the cave behind the falls

This was what it looked like as I was about to emerge from the other side of the 'cave' behind Rose Valley FallsThis was what it looked like as I was about to emerge from the other side of the "cave" behind Rose Valley Falls

Looking up towards part of the Rose Valley Falls spilling over moss-covered travertine as seen from the other end of the cave openingLooking up towards part of the falls spilling over moss-covered travertine as seen from the other end of the cave opening

Looking back at a guy making it out of the tight crawl hole on the other side of the 'cave' behind Rose Valley FallsLooking back at a guy making it out of the tight crawl hole on the other side of the 'cave' behind the falls

Unusual view up at the Rose Valley Falls from the other side of the caveUnusual view up at the falls from the other side of the cave

Back at the Rose Valley CampgroundBack at the Rose Valley Campground

Frontal look at Rose Valley Falls in 2002Frontal look at Rose Valley Falls the first time we were here in 2002

Paying closer attention to Rose Valley Falls cutting through the moss wall in 2002Paying closer attention to the falls cutting through the moss wall in 2002


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Up and down sweep of the main drop of the falls before moving to a different spot and showing the cave-like entrance before panning back up to the top


Long comprehensive sweep checking out both sides of the falls including both cave entrances


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

First thing's first. To get to Rose Valley Falls from LA, you have to drive north on the 101 Freeway towards its junction with Hwy 33 near Oxnard (between Camarillo and Santa Barbara). It would take us roughly 90 minutes of driving from Los Angeles to Ojai without traffic.

Then, you have to drive north on Hwy 33, which starts off as a highway before becoming a mix of streets with traffic lights and rural roads (actually even coinciding with Hwy 150) en route to Ojai. Once in the village, you turn left at the traffic light junction with Maricopa Highway. Then, you drive the next 15 miles or so along the winding and rockfall-prone Maricopa Highway (Hwy 33) into Los Padres National Forest.

Along the way, you can purchase an Adventure Pass at the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. All parked vehicles are supposed to display this pass, and from what we could tell, this was the most obvious place to purchase it (we didn't see a place to purchase one near the Rose Valley Campground).

After around 15 miles, you turn right at the signpost for the Rose Valley Campground and Piedras Blancas. Then continue along this road for the next 3-4 miles towards a 4-way stop sign intersection. If you miss this intersection and see the Rose Valley Gun Club, then you went too far. Turning right at the 4-way intersection, you drive a little less than a mile further into the Rose Valley Campground area where there's day-use parking area near Campsite 3 and the trail begins besides Campsite 4.

En route to the campsite area, you may be able to spot the Upper Falls if you're timing's right.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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