Sespe River Trail to Willett Hot Springs

MODERATE 63 reviews
#1 of 3 trails in

Sespe River Trail to Willett Hot Springs is a 20.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Ojai, California that features hot springs and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
20.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2483 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

hot springs

river

wild flowers

wildlife

no shade

The best time to hike this trail is in the Spring or Fall. In the summer it is too hot and there may not be water in the river for parts of the year as well. Choose your timing wisely based on the time of year and weather and be aware of heat and flash flood potential. You need an Adventure Pass for overnight parking.

hiking
5 days ago

12 days ago

The hot spring is a beauty , loaded with lots of sulfur. Spring seems like it's running colder than other times I've been here ...measured at 106 at the source , 103 coming out of the pipe into the pool . Just position yourself below the pipe , and you should be able to get your core temperature up . A Beautiful November hike and soak . Pick up trash if you see it and keep it pristine!

hiking
19 days ago

backpacking
1 month ago

Wonderful trail and plenty of water at the pond 5 miles in.

backpacking
2 months ago

My favorite trail. Super hot in august, and dry. Water is scarce and so is the shade. Bear camp is an oasis. Can't wait to return when it cools down a bit 113 in the shade is no fun. Well it is but it hurts.

backpacking
4 months ago

Easy to follow not very difficult to find the hot springs and definitely so worth it.

4 months ago

This hike is best done in April

backpacking
5 months ago

My boyfriend and I did this hike at the wrong time. We're both athletic and still had a very difficult time getting to Willet. Heat was in the high 90's to low 100's and the trail has no shade whatsoever! Be wary of summertime here, in the later months I could see the watering holes possibly drying up which would make the hike lethal. We camped out at Bear Creek (4 miles in) and had it all to ourselves. Then the next day hiked to Willet and back to camp. I was extremely disappointed in the amount of trash we saw along the trail. I tried to pick up as much as I could but couldn't carry much for weight purposes. PLEASE PACK IT IN PACK IT OUT!

backpacking
5 months ago

This was my first time out at Willet Springs. We took off at around 10:30am and arrived at Willett Springs around 2pm. On our way we passed a couple of cool spots along Sespe Creek. There is one campground about 7 miles in that looked like it would have been a cool spot to camp. We went all the way to Willett Springs and after setting up we hiked up to check out the hot spring. I don't know if we were at the right spot or if there are other hot springs near by but the hot spring is routed into a big metal tub. We tried it out but wasn't what I expected. We took off early the next morning and the hike back wasn't as bad. I definitely recommend going early in the day to avoid the heat.

backpacking
5 months ago

Nice hike. Went over Memorial Weekend. Only reason I'm giving this 2-stars is to bring attention to the numerous people we witnessed carrying rolls of TP to do their business and not packing it out (or even attempting to bury it) as clearly evidenced by the amount of TP littering the grounds behind Bear Creek Campground.

backpacking
5 months ago

Such a nice weekend getaway from LA! A group of 7 of us went up last weekend for Memorial Weekend. It was hot and we were moving slow with overloaded packs so we stopped to camp at Bear Creek camp near the water. The next day we Day hiked up the river and spent a second night at Bear Creek.

The campsite itself is clean, sandy, and perfect for swimming. We landed a sweet spot next to a huge rock for star watching at night. Next time we will have to make it all the way to the springs!

Can't wait to go back 
Emily

hiking
5 months ago

backpacking
5 months ago

6 months ago

backpacking
6 months ago

We had a very pleasant weekend hiking out on the Sespe River Trail. I'd agree with the difficulty rating as "moderate," and it was still enjoyable despite rainy weather.

Early May was a great time to go: weather was in the mid-60s to upper-40s, and the creek was still relatively full. (I can see this trail being very hot in Summer months, as there isn't much tree coverage or shade.) As other reviewers noted, there are a few snakes along the path; we ran into a juvenile Rattlesnake and a Gopher Snake.

We stopped a bit after Willett Hot Springs, as we heard from many people along the way that it was pretty crowded. We enjoyed privacy throughout the night, just a few hundred feet away from the river crossing.

backpacking
6 months ago

Heres an honest in depth review. We hiked from piedra blanca to sespe hot springs. It was very hot, in the 90s in the middle of the day, water was available as long as you had at least a 2 liter camelbak, I seemed to just run out as we hit the next watering spot, used a katadyn filter, worked great. The hike was very difficult in the heat and I am an avid biker/surfer etc. We camped out 2 nights, hiked to oak flat and slept, then hiked to sespe the next day, the third day we hiked all the way out, this was very long and grueling. The wildlife is very active, frogs were noisy. mountain Lions and Bighorn Sheep could be heard at night as well as an occasional coyote. BEWARE OF RATTLESNAKES, we saw three, I was almost bit gathering wood, they don't always rattle sometimes they attempt top evade and you can sneak on them accidentally. This is one hell of an adventure if your gonna backpack out, plenty of great swimming holes and fun places to camp. Make sure you are prepared, its more challenging then you think if you are not an avid backpacker. (look for rock piles left by hikers, they are trail markers) Past willet it gets a little hairy as far as where the trail is and there is way more switchbacks. All camps were basically empty, saw a few other hikers but avoiding the weekend warriors was beneficial.

backpacking
6 months ago

6 months ago

Beautiful! When we left there were about 40+ people at the hot springs.

backpacking
6 months ago

7 months ago