Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
4,410.00 ft (1,344.17 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
31.00 mi (49.89 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

There are three ways to access Sespe Hot Springs, and the Sespe River Trail is the longest of the three. Begin by parking at the Piedra Blanca Trailhead at the end of Rose Valley Road. Follow the Sespe River Trail as it enters the Sespe Wilderness and closely follows the creek. In about 4.5 miles, you’ll arrive at Bear Canyon. There are multiple campsites here and a deep swimming hole.

Cross Sespe Creek several more times before coming to a side trail, which leads to Willett Hot Spring (at about mile 9.5). This short trail climbs steeply up to the spring but is worth the detour. There are also a few old abandoned cabins around this area that are cool to check out.

After getting back from Willett Hot Spring, continue to follow the Sespe River Trail. Again the trail follows the creek closely with several crossings and a few epic vistas. When you arrive at a trail junction, take a left and follow the Johnston Ridge Trail for about a mile. You’ll come to another junction; take a right and follow the small creek, which is flowing with warm water, for another half-mile.

Sespe Hot Springs are a series of small pools within this creek. The further upstream you travel, the hotter the pools will be. Be warned, this is one of the hottest springs in California, and water temperatures can exceed 190 degrees near the source. One of the best spots to soak is directly across from the palm tree oasis. There are several great campsites here, including directly under the palm trees. After you’ve had enough fun at Sespe Hot Springs, return the way you came back to the trailhead.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Adventure Pass required

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Hot springs. Scenic trail. Many swimming holes along river.

Cons

Requires a long hike in to reach the hot springs.

Trailhead Elevation

3,040.00 ft (926.59 m)

Highest point

3,050.00 ft (929.64 m)

Features

Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Historically significant
Wildlife
Fishing
Big vistas
Big Game Watching
Wildflowers
Bird watching
Horseback riding

Typically multi-day

Yes

Suitable for

Horseback

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Adventures

Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California
Santa Barbara + Sierra Madre/San Rafael Mountains, California

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