Lion Canyon Trail is a 20.6 mile out and back trail located near Ojai, CA that features a great forest setting and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round.
Directions from Ventura: Travel north on Highway 33 for about 25 miles. The highway is under restrictive use once it enters the forest. Located 6 miles off Highway 33 off Forest Road 6N31.3. The trail starts at the back of Middle Lion Campground, across the stream.
This hike is in the journey, with amazing views along the way and a satisfying but less impressive summit. Note that the mileage is 5.5 miles one way, and the hike is not a loop. You start out on the right of a creek and need to cross over using rock stepping stones fairly quickly. There are tons of bugs and little to see at the beginning. Keep going! There are not a ton of markers but once you pass the campground area signage, the hike starts getting more interesting. There is a ton of variety in terms of the terrain and the views. There is an interlude of a part that is flat, then the hike gets to be more strenuous, again with amazing views for the majority of the hike.
This is not a switchback hike. You wind around and cover quite a lot of lateral terrain, and we never guessed (correctly!) where we would end up. The end point is an ATV road, and we walked up it to the right for a better view while we rested. There was sufficent variety that returning along the same path wasn't at all boring.
The bug density in mid-April varied based on where we were. Bring buy spray! The hike took us around 5 hours with few breaks. There is no drinking water along the path, and at times, intense sun. The path is fairly narrow, with single file hiking most of the way.
Starts off with a small creek and has many canyon views as the hike progresses; rises about 1K feet and there is a nice picnic/camping area you can use as a turn around spot. My wife, 20 mo. Old daughter and 10 yr old dog completed this in about 4 hours.