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Backpacking The Sespe Creek Trail in Ojai, CA

The endless grassland plains of the Sespe Creek Trail in Ojai

The seemingly endless grassland plains of the Sespe Creek Trail in Ojai, CA

Two of my roommates and I recently did an overnight backpacking trip along the Sespe Creek Trail, and I took a bunch of pictures. I think some of them turned out kinda cool.

The endless grassland plains of the Sespe Creek Trail in Ojai

The seemingly endless grassland plains of the Sespe Creek Trail in Ojai, CA

Our original plan was to do a car drop and then backpack from Gene Marshall to Piedra Blanca, but an inclement weather forecast (including temperatures in the 30s, rain and snow) had us exploring other options. We decided to do Sespe Creek instead – the lower elevation seemed like a better bet, since none of us really have the gear for camping in the freezing cold.

Scattered yellow leaves, Sespe Creek

Scattered leaves along the Sespe Creek Trail

We ended up driving north of Ojai to the Sespe Wilderness. We started at the Piedra Blanca Trailhead and went east (on the Sespe Creek Trail), making our way through seemingly endless grassland plains.

Initially I was a little concerned that it’d be super dry out there, and that there wouldn’t be much in the way of colors. This turned out not to be the case at all – lots of beautiful greens and yellows to be seen along the way.

Paul and Andy looking into a valley from Sespe Creek Trail

Paul & Andy looking into one of the many valleys of the Sespe Wilderness

Much of the river bed had dried up, which made it difficult to stay on the trail at times. We found a few spots where there was running water, and we were able to filter some drinking water near our campsite.

Paul & Andy at our campsite

We snagged a pretty awesome campsite right next to the Sespe creek bed.

We came across some awesome boulder fields along the way. Some of them were in areas where the river had dried up, which made for some fun rock scrambling.

Large boulders of the Sespe Creek Trail

Hanging out on some boulders along the dried up Sespe Creek.

The wilderness campsite that we found was awesome. It was right along the creek bed, with plenty of space for tents, and a sitting area with a primitive fireplace. It was too dry for campfires, but we were happy to just lay around and stare at the stars, which were extremely visible. There were a crazy amount of shooting stars as well, it seemed like one of us would spot one every 2-3 minutes.

It was a pretty short trip, but very cool nonetheless – not overly difficult, and lots of beautiful scenery along the way. I plan on going back when there’s more water and doing some swimming along the way. I definitely recommend that you check it out, but if you plan on swimming (or checking out the hot springs) you may want to call the Ojai ranger station first (805-646-4348) to find out about the water levels.

Here are a few more photos for your enjoyment:

Paul, through a writhing blackened branch along the Sespe Creek Trail in Ojai

A view of Paul through a writhing blackened branch

Looking down on Paul and Andy from above

Looking down on Paul and Andy from the top of a large boulder.

Witch pod looking things along the Sespe Creek Trail

These “witch pods” were all over the place along the trail. Kinda creepy looking.

I’m not sure what kind of plant this is, but it’s pretty cool looking.


  1. Brad

    I see you were planning on doing the Gene Marshall Piedra Blanca Trail. I’m going there tomorow and pretty sure things are dry and im planning on carrying extra water. I was wondering if you had any information on the water up there and if it had rained alot like the forcast said? I am assuming Bear Trap to Haddock is probably dry but hoping for water at Twin forks camp or Piedra Blanca camp.

    Looks like you had a good trip and great pictures. I am also planning on going to Willette from the GMPB trail.

    • Comment by post author


      I’m not sure if it rained or not, we actually did Sespe Creek on the weekend of the 11th, so the water situation for the Piedra Blanca trail may have improved since then. If you call the Ojai Ranger Station they should be able to tell you about the water levels. You could always hike in one day with a good amount of water and if you don’t come across any water sources, hike back out as opposed to going further. I hope you can make it work!

  2. Brad

    I spoke with the ranger but they didn’t have any recent information, i was hoping maybee you had some. I was though there before in april and may and the water was flowing really well but since then ive heard its mostly all dried up. its a great hike if you haven’t been.

  3. Comment by post author


    Yeah, I was bummed that we didn’t end up doing it, we’re gonna try to go early next year, with the option of doing Reyes Peak and Fish Bowls/Cedar Campground along the way to make it a 3 day trip.

  4. Derek

    Hi, im planning on doing a trip up there soon. A little backpacking, hiking, and camping, does anybody know what the water levels are, as of recent? (May2017)

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