Ojai’s Wet Side

Camping, Fishing, and Paddling at Lake Casitas Near Ojai

Just a few miles west of the serene, artsy community of Ojai is the very different world of Lake Casitas—fabled among bass fishers, and delightful for anyone who enjoys playing on or near the water.

While you can explore the Lake Casitas Recreation Area by bike or on foot (a 1.5-mile paved trail traces part of the shoreline), the best way is by boat. This is, after all, the lake that hosted the rowing events in the 1984 Olympics. Rent a kayak or canoe at Lake Casitas Boat Rentals to venture out onto the water. Paddle quietly along the lake’s shallows to glimpse great blue herons, great egrets, American coots, and pectoral sandpipers plying the lake’s gentle shores.

Most of your fellow lake explorers, whom you will find on Focus Fishing's review page are often less intent on birding and more focused on fishing, primarily for largemouth bass—a 21-pound, 3-ounce lunker pulled out of Casitas was just about a pound shy of the world largemouth record. Casitas also has an abundance of smallmouth bass and rainbow trout.

When the sun sets in the valley below and the nearby Topatopa Mountains glow a bright pink, your adventure doesn’t have to end. Enjoy the moonlit lake from the comfort of your own tent. With more than 400 individual campsites, Casitas offers you perfect perches for savoring the sound of waves rippling on the shore. Or, for a spectacular view of the sparkling lake, opt for one of the hillside campsites. Come to think of it, Casitas is as artsy and serene in its own way as Ojai itself!

TIP: If you make it out to Lake Casitas this weekend, you can enjoy a free outdoor screening of Back to the Future at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 19. Bring blankets, lawn chairs, and some Jujubes!

To reach Lake Casitas from the south, take US-101 to CA-33 and head north toward Ojai for 5.7 miles. Exit at Casitas Vista Rd. and continue on Santa Ana Rd. for 6.6 miles to the lake entrance. Campsites start at $30 a night and can be reserved online at theCasitas Municipal Water District website.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Up Umunhum

    Rising from the Santa Cruz Mountains, Mount Umunhum is one of the Bay Area’s highest points, reaching an impressive 3,486 feet. With the new 7.4-mile (round-trip) addition to the Bay Area Ridge Trail, locals can finally step up to its peak.

    View
  2. Cross It Off Your Bucket List

    Crosstown Trail San Francisco may be one of the most beautiful city walks in America, passing through less-visited nooks and crannies while also taking in greatest hits, including mosaic stairways.

    View
  3. Kirby Your Enthusiasm

    Just west of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin is one of the Bay's most-accessible secluded beaches. Kirby Cove is accessed by hiking or biking a 1-mile fire road down to the beach, where the reward is an all-time classic Golden Gate view.

    View
  4. Napa's Wild Side

    It’s wine country’s Amazon. Cutting 50 miles through the famous Napa Valley and emptying into San Pablo Bay, the gentle Napa River is an ecological—and recreational—delight. And Napa Valley Paddle helps you enjoy it.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Sponsored

    Weekend Sherpa Podcast: Take it Outside

    Adventure for your earbuds. What's new in the world of the outdoors? Listen to Weekend Sherpa co-founders discuss local hikes, beaches, bike rides, camping spots and all kinds of travel and adventure in California and beyond!

    View
  2. Secret Trail at Torrey Pines

    Find cliff climbs, sandy strolls, and secret hikes throughout “America’s finest sandy stretch" at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in San Diego County.

    View
  3. Secluded Royale

    Panoramic coastal views and a killer leg workout combine on this 2.7-mile (round-trip) out-and-back hike to secluded Coast Royale Beach in Orange County

    View
  4. Border Field State Park

    Border Field State Park is the southernmost point in California as well as one of the last beautiful undeveloped coastlines in the state. Visit this natural refuge for a 4.5-mile hike featuring important history and wildlife habitats, plus stunning SoCal beach scenery.

    View