Sespe River Trail (Old Sespe River Road)
Los Padres National Forest
Highlights: The Sespe River Trail (20W14) is a long, but easy to moderate backpack of 17½ miles (one-way) on an old road that eventually leads to Sespe Hot Springs, the hottest natural springs in California. From the Hot Springs, most people retrace their steps back to the trail head. A more elegant finish, and certainly one of the best treks in the wilderness, continues downriver to Alder Creek and then to Dough Flat for a 27-mile trek. An alternate finish follows Johnson Ridge 8 miles north to Mutau Flat. Because the car shuttles on these variations are horrendous, it is best to make arrangements to be dropped off and picked up.
Directions: The drive takes about 2 hours from Bakersfield. From Highway 33 between Cuyama and Ojai take Rose Valley Road (6N31.3) and drive 6 miles to Lion Campground at the end of the road.
Trailhead: From the campground, cross the stream bed and head downstream (east) on the Old Sespe River Road. The next river crossing is at Bear Canyon after 4½ miles, with six more crossings before reaching the Sespe Hot Springs at 17½ miles. There are several campsites with deep pools along the river. However, the pools may be dry during summer.
Maps: Devils Heart Peak, Lion Canyon, and Topatopa Mountain 7½ minute topographic quadrangle are needed.
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