Monday, March 25, 2013

A Drive on State Route 33

A six mile stretch along Highway 33, north of Ojai, has been designated a Scenic Highway by Caltrans and a Scenic Byway by the U.S. Forest Service.  It is one of the most beautiful drives in Southern California.

Leaving Ojai, you pass through a series of three tunnels, which were built in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  It took 500 men and 400 tons of explosives to complete this highway in a four year period.  Once finished,  travelers gained access through the mountains.  The road is twisty and slow-going.  Don't expect to go more than 40 mph.  Do expect to stop at the many turnouts for the breathtaking views!
The road follows Matilija Canyon, along the eastern edge of the Santa Ynez Mountains.  Be forewarned, however.  Because you are traveling through national forests, an Adventure Pass is needed if you stop at any of the campgrounds or trail heads for a picnic or a short hike.  We get an annual pass every year and keep it in the glove box of our van for spontaneous road trips such as this one.  Also, this is a popular route for motorcycle clubs.  On this particular Sunday afternoon, we encountered several groups of them.
Groups of backpackers were heading out on the Sespe Creek Trail for a week-long trek.  There were day hikers, as well.  The Piedras Blancas rock formation, shown above, is a popular 2.5 mile hike, and one my travel buddy and I intend to return to and explore ourselves.  We didn't have the proper attire or hiking boots with us that day.  Instead, we had a sassy mannequin in tow who insisted we head back to town.  She was not done shopping!

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