HiddenCalifornia-1.jpg


Willet & Sespe Hot Springs


 

 

Willet & Sespe Hot Springs

34.582194, -119.052311

Los Padres National Forest


Article & Research by Tyler Buck.  Photos by Jack Cure:


Willet & Sespe Hot Springs

 

This is the first of many guides highlighting hikes and backpacking adventures to Southern California natural hot springs. The Sespe River Trail is unique because the trail crosses the year-round flowing Sespe Creek ten times, boasts secluded and shaded campgrounds along the length of the trail, and best of all, is home to two natural hot springs.

 

Willet Hot Springs is 9.5 miles from the Piedra Blanca trailhead. The trail is moderate with no major elevation gain. On weekends Willet Hot Springs and the Sespe Creek are a popular backpacking destination. Don't be surprised to find dozens of backpackers staying the weekend near Willet Hot Springs. I've heard this trailhead referred to as the "highway." The more secluded Sespe Hot Springs is another six miles from Willet Hot Springs.

 

Why you Can Do It:

9.5 miles to Willet Hot Springs or approximately 15 miles to the Sespe Hot Springs sounds far. In reality, the Sespe River Trail is easier than most long distance hikes in Southern California for the below reasons:

 

 

1) Weather

The Sespe wilderness typically experiences mild climates. During the spring and winter, temperatures will be too cold. Along the river trail there are also micro climates ranging from ten to fifteen degrees warmer or colder.

 

2) No Intense Elevation Gain

You won't be climbing summits. You'll meander and weave near and above the Sespe River.

 

3) Shaded Campsites

There are plenty of shaded rest areas to cool off. If you get too tired to continue you can always rest and camp for the night in the many primitive campsites along the trail.

 

4) Abundant Water

You won't need to be carrying in gallons of water. There is generally plenty of water year round along the trail since the Sespe River is also partially fed from natural springs and several watersheds.

 

Willet & Sespe Hot Springs


(swimming area near Oak Grove campgrounds)

 

5) Swimming Holes

Cool off along the trail by jumping into the river. There are a number of spots deep enough to swim.

 

 

Willet & Sespe Hot Springs

 

How to Get There:

 

 

The trailhead to Willet and Sespe Hot Springs is a trek from downtown San Diego. On average expect a four hour drive to the Piedra Blanca trailhead. The roads to the trailhead require no travel on dirt roads but Route 33 and the forest roads to the trailhead are windy. Cell phone reception is non-existent in Los Padres NF so plan accordingly.

 

Willet & Sespe Hot Springs


(Willet Hot Springs)

 

Finding Willet Hot Springs

At a main river crossing you will see a trail sign. The trail continues through the river and onto the other side. Instead of continuing, take a left, crossing rocks and primitive campsites. Depending on the season, you will cross a swampy area and further up you will see cabins. These cabins are available first come first serve. Before reaching a group of cabins, there is a large rock tower and the trail continues up into the hillside. Take this steep portion of the trail up and around the bend to Willet Hot Springs. A nice gentleman has been maintaining the hot springs. When I visited Willet, the water was crystal clear. Beware of mosquitoes.

 

 

(Directions to Willet)

 

 

Willet & Sespe Hot Springs

(Sespe Hot Springs)

 

Finding Sespe Hot Springs

The further hot springs is much more rewarding. On our way out on a Saturday, only one other couple was headed towards the hot springs. Cross the Sespe River past Willet Hot Springs. Continue until you reach Johnston Ridge Trail and take it left. You will eventually cross a stream of warm water and notice a well established campground to your right. Continue upstream until you reach another trail fork. Before the trail fork, there will be a primitive campground and a couple Sespe Hot Springs Pools nearby. The pools become substantially hotter the further upstream you go.

 

Willet & Sespe Hot Springs

(Directions to Sepse)

 

Required Permits:

 

An adventure pass is required to park at the often crowded Piedra Blanca trailhead. The visitor center closes early (3 or 4 pm), so plan accordingly if you need to purchase an adventure pass. The cost of a pass is $5.00. I would recommend purchasing an annual forest adventure pass for only $25.00 more. If you find yourself without an adventure pass and headed up after the closure of the visitor center, no need to worry. Your car will not be towed, but you may be issued a "Notice of Required Fee" as a warning. Simply go online to resolve the fee.

 

A "permit" is required for campfires and open flame cooking. To check fire conditions and print out your free permit, please visit the Los Padres NF website for more information.

 

Willet & Sespe Hot Springs

 

Helpful Tips

 

No Cellular Service

There is no cell phone service for AT&T. I'm not sure about Verizon. T-Mobile? Forget about it. Call, text, and download whatever you need before you reach Los Padres National Forest.

 

Potable Water

Water is in abundance throughout the Sespe River Trail. A water filter or chemical treatment of the stream/river water is required before drinking. For use in cooking, boiling the water is also a safe and effective method. During my 32 mile round trip hike to Sespe Hot Springs, I carried a liter water bottle and refilled at most of the river crossings.

 

Bugs

There will be bugs. Carry some sort of repellent or wear hiking pants and a long sleeve when near the hot springs or pool areas.

 

Trail Condition

The trail to Sespe Hot Springs is a bit overgrown. I would recommend wearing some hiking pants to avoid being scratched up by brush.

 

GPS

The trail is very well maintained to Willet Hot Springs. Follow trail signs to your destination. There is also a very nice map of the Sespe River Trail near the restrooms at the trailhead. However, it's always best to be prepared. Know how to read a map and carry topographic map of the area. In the alternative, you can download an offline version of the area by typing into your phone's google map search bar "okmaps." There are also many third party trail apps that provide good terrain/topography maps of the area.


             Capture

 

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

 

 




Alpine

Alpine Historical Society

 

Anza Borrego Desert

Galleta Meadows

Anza Borrego State Park

 

Bankers Hill

Balboa Park Archery Range

Balboa Botanical Building

 

Balboa Dirt Bike Trails

 

Desert Garden

 

Bridle Trail

 

Centro Cultural de Raza

 

Florida Canyon

 

Free Tuesdays at the Park


Top of the Park


Japanese Friendship Garden


Marston Canyon & Footbridge

 

Marston House

 

Maple Canyon

 

Mingei International Museum

 

Museum of Man

 

Natural History Museum

 

House of Pacific Relations International Cottages

 

Old Cactus Garden

 

Palm Canyon

 

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

 

Spanish Village Art Center

 

Twilight in the Park

 

World Beat Center

 

 

Bonita

 

The Grave of Kathy Fiscus (Lost History)

 


Campo

Campo Stone Store Museum



Carmel Valley

Carmel Valley Cemetery

 

Carlsbad

Batiquitos Lagoon

Carlsbad Flower Fields

Hosp Grove

Leo Carrillo Ranch

LHOOQ/EXREALISM Vintage Bookstore

Museum of Making Music

Self-Realization FellowshipHermitage & Meditation Gardens

 

City Heights 

City Farmers Nursery 

New Roots Community Farm

San Diego Peace Garden

Wat Sovannkiri Buddhist Temple

 

Chula Vista

Living Coast Discovery Center

Proctor Valley Rd.

Zorba's Greek Restaurant

U.S. Olympic Training Center

Upper Otay Lake


 

Coronado

Coronado Sand Dune's Secret Message

Hotel Del Coronado


Dog Beach


 

Cuyamaca 

Cuyamaca State Park

 

Dyar House Ruins 

Green Valley Falls

Stonewall Mine




Del Mar

Cinépolis

Four-o-clock Friday's

Exotic Bird Sanctuary

 

Downtown

Altitude Sky Bar

Chinese Historical District

East Village Tavern + Bowl 

Grant Hotel

Horton Grand Hotel


The Noble Experiment

Prohibition

Zombie Walk

Shout House


Syrah


William Heath Davis House


Encinitas

Good Morning

San Diego Botanic Gardens

 

El Cajon

Kuma Bonsai Nursery

Water Conservation Garden

Unarius

Summers Past Farms

Crestridge Ecological Reserve


Escondido


 Altipiano Vineyard & Winery

Cordiano Winery

Daley Ranch

Deer Park Winery & 
Auto Museum

Distinction Gallery

Deer Park Monastary

Dixon Lake

Elfin Forest

Grand Tea Room

Philosophical Library

Felicita Park

Grape Day Park

Harmony Grove Spiritualist Center

Harmony Grove

Kit Carson Park Hiking Trails

Orfila Winery

Lake Wohlford

Lake Wohlford Dam

Plan 9 Alehouse

San Pasqual Cemetery 

San Pasqual Indian Cemetery

Sikes Historic Adobe Farmstead

Street Life

Record Paradise

Questhaven Retreat

Questhaven Rd.

Queen Califia's Magical Circle Garden

Phap Vuong Monatsery

Stone Brewery

Stone Farms


Fallbrook

Dinwiddie Preserve

Grand Tradition Gardens


Masonic Cemetery

Odd Fellows Cemetery

Palomares House & Park

Santa Margarita River & Ruins

 

 Golden Hill

 

Golden Hill Park


Villa Montezuma


Victorian Homes of Golden Hill

 

 

Hillcrest

 

Co-Habitat


Suspension Bridge


 


Imperial Beach

Mt. Olivet Cemetery


Suzie's Farm


Tijuana River Valley Regional Park Community Garden


Jacumba

Desert View Tower

Boulder Park

 

Carrizo Gorge Railyard

 

Coyote's Flying Saucer Retrievals & Repairs

 

Institute of Perception



 

Julian


Wolf Sanctuary

Downtown Julian

Golden Gem Mine

Julian Pioneer Cemetery

Eagle Mine

Three Sisters Falls


Kearny Mesa

 94 Aero Squadron Restaurant


99 Ranch Market


The Fruit Shop

 

La Jolla

Munchkin House 

Seal Beach

Secret Swings

La Jolla's Caves, Coves and Tidepools

Mount Soledad

Salk Institute

Scripps Coastal Reserve

Secrets of UCSD

Sunny Jim Cave

Pottery Canyon Natural Park


La Mesa


La Mesa's Secret Stairs

Mount Helix

McKinney House

Wat Lao Boubpharam Temple


 

Lakeside

Blue Sky Ranch



Linda Vista

Tecelote Park

 

Little Italy

Downtown Little Italy

Washington St. Skatepark

 

 Logan Heights

Chicano Park Murals

Technomania Circus

The Chrch

Writerz Blok



Mira Mesa

Camino Ruiz Trail

 

Misc.

Aesthetigeist Art Collective

Christmas Light Displays

Community Acupuncture

Haunted San Diego Events

Little Free Library

 Urban Ruins of HIghway 80

 

Mission Hills

Pioneer Park

Presidio Park

Presidio Park Historic Spots 

Topiary Garden


Mission Valley 
Adobe Falls


Mission Basilica San 
Diego de Alcala

 

Normal Heights

Folk Arts Rare Records

Herb Shoppe

 

Northpark

Ray St.

 

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach Farmers Market

Sunset Cliffs Caves & Coves


Sunset Cliffs Hiking Trails


Villa Surf Ruins

 

Villa Surf (Lost History)


 

Oceanside

Succulent Cafe

San Luis Rey Mission

 

San Luis Rey Pioneer Cemetery

 



Old Town

Casa de Estudillo

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Dia de los Muertos

El Campo Cemetary

La Casa de Machado y Stewart Museum

Mason Schoolhouse

Old Adobe Chapel

Seeley Stables

Whaley House

Victorian Village Heritage Park



Pacific Beach

Kate O Sessions Park 


Pala


Abandoned Homes of Pala

 

Mission San Antonio de Pala Cemetary

Oceanview Mine & Inn

 



Palomar Mountain

 Palomar Mountain

Palomar Observatory

The Weir



Point Loma

Cabrillo National Monument

  Fort Rosecrans Cemetery

Old Point Loma Lighthouse



Poway


Blue Sky Reserve & Lake Poway 


Meadowbrook Tunnels

Cypress Canyon

Metate Meadows

Lightning Brewery


Old Poway Park


Old Pomerado Rd.


Poway Back-Trails

Meadowbrook BMX Trail

Midland Tunnel

Xpressive Arts Center BYOB Classes


Ramona

Black Canyon


Devil's Punchbowl


Lake Ramona


Mount Woodson Castle


Oasis Camel Dairy


Sutherland Dam

 

 

Rancho Bernardo

  Battle Mountain

Buddha's Peak

Lake Hodges

Lake Hodges Waterfall

Bernardo Winery

 

 

Rancho Penasquitos

Black Mountain Glider Port

Cara Knott Memorial Garden 


Eichar's Grave


McKamey Manor


Rancho de Los Penasquitos 


Rancho Penasquitos Waterfall 

 


Santee


Kumeyaay Lake & Campground


Santee Drive-In Theater


Old Mission Dam


Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center

 


San Marcos

Double Peak Park

Jack's Pond


Scripps Ranch

Ballast Point Brewery


Hendrix Pond

Lake Miramar


Evan's Pond

 

Seaport Village


B-39 Submarine


Berkely Ferryboat


HMS Surprise Ship


Medea Steam Yacht


USS Dolphin Submarine


Star of India


 

Serra Mesa

Murphy Canyon


 

Sorrento Valley

Pet Cemetery

Seabreeze Organic Farm

 

 

 

Torrey Pines

Blacks Beach

Mushroom House

Torrey Pines State Reserve

 

University Heights

Buchanan Canyon

The Massage Center

Soltan Banoo

Red Fox Piano Bar

Lips Restaurant

Rose Canyon


Valley Center

Bates Nut Farm

Lavender Fields

Metta Forest Monastery

Morning Star Ranch

Old Castle Ranch

Valley Center Historical Museum

Yellow Deli

 

Vista

Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum

Alta Vista Gardens

Butterfly Farm

Koral's Tropical Fruit Farm & Museum

Exotica Rare Fruit Farm

Indian Store

Yellow Deli

Rancho Guajome Adobe

 

 

Warner Springs

Chapel of St. Francis Assisi 

Santa Ysabel Mission

Sky Sailing

Warner Springs Town


 


Big Sur

Andrew Molera State Park

Ewoldsen Trail

The Henry Miller Library

Limekilns

Limekiln Waterfalls

Los Padres Beach

McWay Falls

Cafe Kevah & Nepenthe Restaurant

Partington Cove

Pfeiffer Beach

River Inn

Salmon Creek Waterfall & Cave

Spirit Garden

Soberanes Creek Watershed

Tanbark Trail

Ventana


Carmel

California Market Restaurant

Point Lobos State Reserve


Catalina Island

Trans Catalina Trail System

 

 Los Angeles

Abandoned Zoo (Griffith Park)

Bronson Caves (Griffith Park)

Hidden Treasures (Topanga)

Murphy's Ranch (Pacific Palisades)

Korean Friendship Bell (San Pedro)

Lake Shrine (Pacific Palisades)

Malibu Hindu Temple (Malibu)

Mosaic Tile House (Venice Beach)

The Getty (Brentwood)

The Last Bookstore (Downtown)

Museum of Death (Hollywood)

Sunken City (San Pedro)

Witch's House (Beverly Hills)


Mendocino

Glass Beach (Fort Bragg)


Misc.


Highways 1, 101 & 46


Orange County

Mission San Juan Capistrano (San Juan Capistrano)

 

Riverside

Abandoned Homes of Salton City

Abandoned All-Boys Military School

Cabazon Dinosaurs (Cabazon)

Eagle Mountain Railroad (Bombay)

East Jesus (Niland)

Salton Sea (Salton City)

Salvation Mountain (Niland)

San Jacinto Mountains & Tram (Palm Spring)

Slab City (Niland)

Tios Tacos

 


San Luis Obispo

Bubblegum Alley

 Eberle Winery (Paso Robles)

Madonna Inn

 

Santa Barbara

Solvang


Santa Monica

Willet & Sespe Hot Springs (Ojai)

 

San Simeon

Hearst Castle

 

 

 
 
MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected