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Sespe Creek




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General Information

Description - Interesting geologic formations, unusual gorges, and riparian vegetation provide excellent scenic diversity and recreation opportunities. This stream is considered an outstanding rainbow trout fishery and provides critical habitat for the endangered California condor.

Attractions - This stream is considered an outstanding rainbow trout fishery and provides critical habitat for the endangered California condor. Interesting geologic formations, unusual gorges, and riparian vegetation provide excellent scenic diversity and recreation opportunities.

Designated Wild and Scenic Sections: The main stem from its confluence with Rock Creek and Howard Creek downstream to where it leaves section 26, T5N, R20W. Wild -- 27.5 miles; Scenic -- 4.0 miles; Total -- 31.5 miles.

Recreation - This creek offers opportunities for fishing, hiking, viewing wildlife and scenery.

Climate - Days in California are typically clear with less than 25 percent humidity. Temperatures are most comfortable in the spring and fall, with an average high of 85 degrees F and a low of 50 degrees F respectively. Winter brings cooler days, around 60 degrees F, and freezing nights. It occasionally snows at higher elevations. Summers are hot, over 100 degrees F during the day and not cooling much below 75 degrees F until the early morning.

Location - Sespe Creek flows through the Los Padres National Forest, near Santa Barbara.


Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Dan Begley (Running Springs, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: I began hiking the Sespe in 1969. I was a 13 year old looking for advebture, and convinced my parents that I would be OK backpacking there with 2 of my buddies. Little did I realize how rugged the Sespe is. Over the years, I learned to piece together the trail from Fillmore up to Lions Camp. Getting to West Fork from Fillmore in a day was a challenge. To be sure, in some places it took us 30 minutes to go 10 feet. And if the creek was up, it added no small amount of danger, but I was a kid, and therfore Superman. Making out in a day was not as bad, being downhill and all. My younger brother and I learned to run atop boulders with full packs, and still retain that skill today. The young bucks can kick our butts uphill now, but on downhills and over really tough terrain, we can still leave most of them in the dust. I became a self-taught backpacker with the Sespe as my teacher. I knew of no one else who backpacked, and did not know where to purchase gear, so I made much of what I needed. Typically, I would buy something from the general store in Thousand Oaks that I thought I could modify into a useful piece of gear. Much of the modifications took place on my trips. Somethings worked well, while others didn't. Some of this stuff I still have, but is relatively heavy. The result was I had unique gear that was tough as nails. I was becoming resourceful and independent. I remember dreaming of having a nylon pack mounted on an aluminum frame... hopefully with a "belly band." I had no idea the leasons the mountains were teaching me, but came to recognize them years later. My first trip outside Sespe was to hike the John Muir Trail as a highschool graduation present to myself. That was in August of 1974. I was amazed how easy hiking the Sierra was, and a few years later read in a Sierra Club magazine that the trail I had cut my hiking teeth on was rated a 9 on a 10 scale, 10 being impassable. By 1976 I was rock climbing. Again, I knew no one who did this, and so taught myself. There were no Friends or sticky soled rock shoes then. As the deacdes passed, my backpacking and climbing took my to the Artic in Scandinavia, Germany, the Rockies, Cascades, and more and more of the Sierra. I was absent from the Sespe for 10 years, returning when I was 30 for a solo trip. The fishing was fantastic, as usualy, I ran into a bear on the trail that leads up from the creek to the old oil refinery and onward to West Fork. By the way, that oil refinery at the top of the road up from the creek was a full blown wooden barn-type structure in the '70s. By the '80s, it was almost gone. I have wonderful and fond memories of the Sespe, and am grateful for the opportunity in my life to have experienced such a place. The Sespe holds lessons for us all, and needs to be protected. Years ago there was a proposal to dam the Sespe, and many of us wrote Congressmen and supported a "Keep the Sespe Wild" ca,paign. I still have the t-shirt urging that message, although it's getting thread-bare. Backpacking and hiking has always been a very personal activity for me, and I share it with few. Hiking groups and clubs are cool, but for me it changes things too much. Please continue to protect the Sespe. The lower 10 -15 miles of the Sespe is tough, and I'm not even sure of access anymore, but maybe that's all for the better. We really respected the wilderness and practiced low impact camping, and I pray the Sespe survives to teach new generations about respect, resourcefullness, and strewardship.

Filed By: Don
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: We hiked the trail from Lions to Willet Hot Springs it was a tough hike and you cross the sespe an ungodly number of times don't plan to keep your feet dry, It is easy to lose track of the trail and end up boulder hoping done the sespe. Staying at Willet was extremely nice they have 2 cabins there and several cotts to sleep on each cabin had a wood burning stove to keep it toasty warm. We met roger there with his Camel and Zebra (not joking) and he was pleasant company Sunday morning we went the .6 miles from camp to the hot tub which was just about the perfect temp to ease some of the aches and pains. Then we hiked the way back this would be a much better 3 day trip than a 2 day


More Information

Contact Information:
Los Padres National Forest, 6144 Calle Real , Goleta, CA, 93117

Additional Information:
California Rivers - This section mainly describes California's designated Wild and Scenic Rivers.
Central Coast Region - The Central Coast Region covers a tranquil expanse between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Dramatic seascapes and coastal resorts, together with the pastoral atmosphere of its inland agricultural communities, make this region an idyllic destination.

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