Steep and brushy, overgrown with alder and maple in the canyons with a few stands of conifers in the higher country, the Matilija Wilderness includes the scenic canyons of Matilija Creek, as well as its North Fork. Sixteen miles of the creek have been nominated for Wild and Scenic designation. The creek flows year-round and drains southward, and the elevation climbs steadily and steeply as you hike north. Look for the majestic Matilija poppy, which grows in clumps up to two feet high. You may see black bears, deer, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, hawks, eagles, and California condors. Only one trail exists. It follows about nine miles of the North Fork, gaining about 3,400 feet in elevation as it makes its north-south journey, and leaving the Wilderness at a parking area on Cherry Creek Road. This road is open seasonally, Aug. 1 to Dec. 15. Off-trail, you will probably have an arduous time and see few other humans.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Matilija Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.