I've done this hike twice before and it's been a fun experience when there's been water. This isn't a review so much as a warning to any hikers that would want to do this trail at this time of year: THERE IS NO WATER (except for a small pond at bear creek).
Turned this into an almost 20 mile marathon. Got to the top gate and took a left on Sisar instead of the trail up figuring I'd make it a loop. Didn't realize how far around that took to get up to where it meets Nordhoff Ridge Road - then a good distance more to get to the top of the trail just under Topa Topa. Was initially going to summit the bluffs but had burned through most of my water. Headed back down the trail (top part great for trail running). Did tear up a heel though which kept me home the next couple of weekends.
This is a beautiful trail that affords many opportunities for wildlife viewing. Beyond the varied animal tracks on trail, we saw several deer and a very healthy black bear. The water is still available in many places but beware the heat. The mid-day temperatures this weekend were staggering. Hike early in the day if you venture out Sespe Creek Trail in the summer. The only downside was viewing the trash left at one of the campsites at Bear Flats. If you pack it in then please pack it out.
Beautiful hike out to Sespe Hot Springs. I counted about 10 river crossings along the way. Beware while exploring near rock piles - I saw (and heard) the largest rattler I have seen in my life when I got too close to one. This place feels truly wild. Recommended reading for the trip is the book "The Sespe Wild."
What an amazing hike this time of year. Hiked out to Oak Flat campground the first night (approx. 8 mi) in about 3 hours and had time to setup camp before sundown. Lots of water in the creeks, and after talking with some locals, this is NOT the norm. Glad we've had some drought relief. Also, this time of year is exceptional. I was trying to count all the different species of wildflowers we encountered, and lost track after 25! Willett Hot Springs was crowded and overrated, but glad I went and sat in for a bit. Too many people yapping about their backpacking exploits to chill and enjoy the springs coming down the cliff outside the tub. The campgrounds are many and laid out along the trail in places where you won't see the other guy even though there was a TON of traffic on this trail. Traffic was definitely a downside.
views were great and you go through a lot of different terrains. But the trail itself is not the best maintained trail. A lot of spots were eroding away and the trail was super steep. if you go from the trailhead towards pine mtn lodge you gain roughly 3000 feet in under 2 hrs.
For So cal, this is an awesome Hike, I did a Day hike went 7.5 miles in To oaks flat ate, waded relaxed and headed back.took 8 hours and 15 miles..... Lots Of People but everyone of the same mindset at least when you get in a Mile or two, close to the trail head is Kind of well....you know....Would love to go deeper in and will some day.
Tana T. on Sisar Canyon/Red Reef Trail
not recommended if it hasn't rained for a bit or for a trail ride, but it's great for outtings with family and rock hopping when there's water.
First time on this trail, been meaning to get into more trail running. Road leading up to the trailhead has a small sign, and is next to a little market called Stagecoach Station. The road is a narrow one, goes through a neighborhood so go slow and is barely wide enough for one vehicle. Trailhead is about a half mile up from Hwy 150. Trail is mostly a fire road and isn't very technical as a trail running path but it does go up at over 400 foot/mile climb. We crossed over a couple places where water can flow over although only one had barely enough water while the other was dry - we are in a drought condition in CA. First couple miles was under some tree cover but the next two was in sunlight. We made it to a little over 4 miles from the trailhead to a vista point overlooking the Santa Paula / southern part of Ojai areas, while to the north you look up to the Topa Topa mountains. Pretty incredible, look one way and you're on top of things and the other way you look up from the bottom. Rating it 4 stars for the ease of entry to trail, easy to stay on trail and not get lost, and wide enough for people to hike side by side - running you can do it a little further apart so as not to miss any rock on which to possibly trip over. Less