Why do most of us in the Ventura/Oxnard Sierra Club go north to Ojai or Santa Barbara or south to Santa Monica Mountains to hike? Because very little trail access exists in the southeastern Los Padres National Forest from Santa Paula, Fillmore and Piru. In March 2021, something finally happened that helps change the story.
On the upstream end of Lake Piru is a new Pothole Trailhead.Though the trail has been in place for years, it fell into disuse, overgrown with brush, and was hard to follow due to the lack of access. A few hardy hikers still went over the years despite the road closure within Lake Piru property, owned and operated by United Water Conservation District, and their unescapable fee to park at the dead end ($13+). Not to mention the ~3 mi walk past the road gate to get to the actual trail start. Now none of that is imposed.
The good news is the fee is zero for a day pass to go to the trailhead parking and a few hundred feet walking gets you on the dirt trail. The bad news is it is a HARD hike! Be ready to go up, up, up a couple thousand feet in elevation for the first 2 miles. “What ever happened to switchbacks?” observed hike leader Nina Danza, “views are great but it’s straight uphill’. Being the first time at the location and calling it a scouting adventure, she reports turning back after 1.75 mi and 1,800 feet. Beginners not advised! Hot temperatures are another serious barrier. It's very advisable to use in dry winter/spring and stay off this trail in the summer.
If you miss the gym, need to work out the quads, or just have excellent stamina, then this is the place for you! Details of the trail are available from USFS at http://www.hikelospadres.com/pothole-trail.html#.YEfypmhKiUl