After 3 miles of rolling hills, the climbing begins next to the Ojai Quarry. The start of the climb starts out at 10 to 12% for about a half a mile. It's intimidating, but it is short, and it is the longest steep section of the entire climb. The rest of the climb is between 4 to 8% the rest of the way. Look ahead for a white guardrail, that is where the grade tails off. For the first 6 miles, the road is at the bottom of the gorge, so cell service is spotty to nonexistent. The road follows the North Fork of the Matilija Creek, and it crosses and recrosses the road several times. The gurgling of the creek is a nice part of the ride. Matilija Creek, itself, is currently trapped behind Matilija Dam in the canyon to the west. Matilija Lake is silted in, and the dam is slated for demolition soon.
Next along the road are three tunnels. The first tunnel is the longest, about 100 feet long, but is has a curve in it. I keep envisioning a car plunging from bright sunshine to darkness and a curving tunnel
Out in the open country, you keep climbing with the occasional hawk overhead.Depending on the time of year, it could be 20 to 30 degrees warmer here than by the Pacific Ocean, 20 miles away. There usually is a breeze going up the valley as a tailwind. On the way up, it helps to survey the opposite roadside, keeping an eye out for rockfalls and sand. The highway is very well maintained by CalTrans, so there are no potholes or patches. But rocks and gravel do occasionally fall on the road and coming back downhill at speed and hitting a rock would be bad.
With a little over 1 mile to go, you can look up ahead and see two levels of the road above the level that you're on. It's shown in the first picture above. Slowly, you
From Rose Valley, the way back is easy, it's all downhill. If the headwind is not too strong, then you can easily get back to the Ojai Quarry going 20 to 30+ miles per hour. The turns are sweeping and not hairpin, and there are some straight sections, so it is easy to scoot back quickly. Please watch the tunnel. Remember that is curved. It is easy to fly into the tunnel doing 25 miles per hour, forget about the curve and find yourself in the wrong lane in the dark. Then it just a matter of tackling the rollers back into Ojai.