Sespe Wilderness Loop

The Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail, Johnston Ridge and the Sespe River Trail

It’s been about 6 years since we lived near the southern Los Padres National Forest. We were overdue for a vacation, so we decided to take a few days off work and pay a visit to one of our favorite hiking destinations: the Sespe Wilderness. The trail was pretty rough – not sure this was the most relaxing vacation – but it was good to get out. Continue reading “Sespe Wilderness Loop”

Hines Peak from Middle Lion

Basics: Hines Peak from Lion Canyon is about 20 miles round trip.  It’s a long hike, but the views from the top of this peak are epic and worth the crazy hike.  Hines Peak is the highest point in the Topatopa Range.  Do not attempt this hike on a hot summer day – the Los Padres can be brutal.

There are at least four different approaches to climbing Hines Peak. The easiest?  Contact the Forest Service to get the gate code for the dirt road leaving Rose Valley, then drive to the end of Nordhoff Ridge Road (4wd required) and begin the hike from there.  The easy hike is around 7 miles roundtrip.  Alternatively, Hines Peak can be reached from Sisar Canyon (20 miles round trip), Middle Lion (20 miles round trip) , Rose Valley (20 miles round trip), or from the Sespe River trail (multi-day trip).  We opted for the 20 mile hike from Middle Lion Campground.  Sisar Canyon seems to be the most common approach – the Sierra Club HPS page has a pretty good description. Continue reading “Hines Peak from Middle Lion”

Backpacking Sespe Hot Springs

Basics: Sespe Hot Springs is located deep in the Sespe Wilderness. There are three possible access points for reaching the springs, but all require either a ridiculously difficult day hike or a strenuous multi-day trip. The Ojai Ranger District has a useful PDF describing the various trails.  We chose to hike from Piedra Blanca (Rose Valley).  Some of the other access points are only open seasonally.  From Rose Valley, it’s a 16 mile trek to the hot springs.  The best time to visit the area is in the late fall, winter, or early spring, though after a large rainstorm, the multiple creek crossings could be difficult.  Summer can be crazy hot in this area.  Sespe Creek has some great swimming holes, but a 16 mile trek to the hot springs might be a bit much when it’s 100 degrees outside. Continue reading “Backpacking Sespe Hot Springs”

Sespe River Trail to Willett Hot Springs

Basics: This scenic 20+ mile (roundtrip) hike follows Sespe Creek through one of Southern California’s most interesting and rugged wilderness areas. At the end of this long hike is a 100-degree hot spring- great for soaking in after the trek. There are numerous campsites near Willett Hot Springs. There are also many great camping opportunities along Sespe Creek – making this an ideal backpacking trip for anyone who is unsure about how far they feel like hiking. This wilderness is great in spring, summer or late fall. Summer is hot, but may be okay as long as the Sespe still has water in it. Continue reading “Sespe River Trail to Willett Hot Springs”