Sespe River Trail

I want to take advantage of the seasonally cool weather and hike in places like Ojai, Santa Ynez, Simi Valley, etc. I think of these as “hot” places, too hot to hike comfortable for most of the year.  This week I was 14 miles north of Ojai in Rose Valley. I got lucky as rain, in various degrees of intensity, was forecast.  It got no worse than an intermittent drizzle. This is a really easy route, both to hike and navigate – great for unwinding.
Distance: About 9 miles

Driving Directions: From Ojai, take Highway 33 14.6 miles north.  Turn right on Rose Valley Road.  Stick with the road to it’s end in just under 6 miles at the large parking lot.  There are restrooms here.

From the lot I followed a rocky, sometimes wet trail 0.4 miles until I reached the main trail, Sespe River Trail, at it’s junction with Gene Marshall-Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail.


I took a right on Sespe River Trail, nice and wide, mostly like a fire road for much of the way.


After about a half mile on the main trail, I rock-hopped over the largest water crossing I would face today – Piedra Blanca Creek. No problem.

            Photos 1 and 2 – My map shows that just beyond the crossing is Patton’s Cabin. I turned on to a wide trail on the left (north) to try and find it. I soon reached a locked gate. If there is a cabin somewhere beyond, I didn’t see it.  Photo 3 – I cross over into the Sespe Wilderness.

The trail runs parallel to Sespe Creek (not really a river despite it’s width and the trail’s name).


I read that this trail is quite popular.  For the first leg, I met no one and nothing but sweet solitude.


There are a few spur trails which lead down to the creek. There are also flat spots and fire rings where people set up camp.  Although the scenery is beautiful from the main trail, it’s even more interesting on these spurs. My advice – explore!



The creek was low at this particular spot, rocky and slick. I hopped out a few yards for a better perspective.


I returned to Sespe River Trail and continued on. Looking back I noticed a large pool of water. I made a mental note to try and find it on my way back.


The twists and bends of Sespe Creek.

            Photo 1 – In short stretches the trail was a muddy mess, but there was always an easy way around.  Photo 3 – The Sun made a brief appearance for about 15 minutes.


Along the way are many of these rocks, odd and other-worldly.



Rocky edges softened by erosion.


At 4.4 miles, the trail runs right through the middle of my turnaround point, Bear Creek Camp. This primitive camp has no amenities, just a few fire rings. There are cool-looking rocks, as well as the concrete foundation to an old outhouse. I pulled up a rock, rested and ate lunch.


   Red Rock Strangeness

        The trail continues, crosses the creek and runs on for many more miles.

        Heading back now.

Rocks in the creek sprawled out like a giant, slumbering beast.


I found the spur trail that leads down to that large pool of water I spotted on my first leg. I headed down to find a gorgeous spot.

Dark and mysterious.


I explored along the shoreline.  Photo 4 – Tree standing on it’s exposed roots.

        On my way back.  The crossing at Piedra Blanca Creek meant I had less than a mile to go.


Some of the extraordinary rocks from the nearby Piedra Blanca formation came into view.

   The final quarter of a mile was the muddiest I had to hike today.

   A few miles drive from the trailhead is Rose Valley Falls, here shrouded in mist.

This was a good day and I very much look forward to hiking more frequently.  Hopefully soon.

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