Sespe River Trail to Willett Hot Springs

MODERATE 50 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
2982 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

hot springs

river

wild flowers

wildlife

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.

7 days ago

backpacking
14 days 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
15 days 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
21 days ago

22 days ago

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

backpacking
28 days ago

1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Long endurance hike if you choose to do it in 1 day, as I did. Def. will be back to go past Willett to the Sespe Hot Springs.

backpacking
1 month ago

Beautiful trail. 5 small creek crossings in the first half mile. Well maintained. Trailhead parking fills up quickly.

backpacking
1 month ago

backpacking
1 month ago

Took my bf here for his shakedown and we had a blast. Be careful with the river crossings shortly after Bear Creek as they are easy to miss and we ended up off trial along the river.

2 months ago

2 months ago

3 months ago

Beautiful wilderness, lots of birds. Be aware that there are five pretty serious river crossings - I went just after a storm, and the fords were chest deep at times. Probably best to attempt the hike in the spring, when there's less water. trail can be quite exposed in places.

backpacking
3 months ago

4 months ago

backpacking
4 months ago

Fun little hot spring nook. Lots of plant life surrounding Willet Spring. Make sure to hang a left about a half mile after you see the sign reading that Willet is a mile away. Went over Christmas 2016 and had plenty of water options between a couple rivers and ponds. Weather ranged from a day of rain and a day of small snow flurry to 70*F. Happy travels!

hiking
4 months ago

backpacking
4 months ago

don't underestimate the temperature drop when staying overnight because gets mighty cold especially in windy areas. be sure to bring enough water and to fill up when you can some spots offer water but bring some to be safe because it's quite a wall between sources depending on season.

backpacking
4 months ago

Nice shakeout hike. Super bowl weekend. Back in time Sunday for the game! Tons of water