Measuring more than 60 miles long, Sespe Creek represents a dying breed of waterways in the United States. Located in Ventura County, the creek starts its journey at Potrero Seco in the eastern section of the Sierra Madre Mountains. More than 30 tributaries from the Topatopa and Sierra Madre mountains flow into Sespe Creek. The term “Creek” is a bit misleading, as the width and depth of the waterway resemble a winding river. More than half the length of Sespe Creek has received designation as a National Scenic Waterway and National Wild and Scenic River. The creek flows entirely within beautiful Los Padres National Forest.
Features of Sespe Creek
Los Padres National Forest is where outdoor adventurers find locations to launch canoes and kayaks into the waterway. The federally protected section of the creek requires outdoor enthusiasts to follow strict guidelines to preserve the pristine natural conditions of the creek and the surrounding wilderness. Federal protection also involves the prohibition of the construction of dams, which ensures a constant flow of water that follows wet weather events. The creek begins around 5,000 feet in the Sierra Madre Mountains, before moving through rugged slopes and canyon walls that present scenic vistas for both hikers and visitors moving about in canoes and kayaks. Several deep pools contain a bountiful supply of fish, but you can only fish outside the federally protected area. Most of the rainfall flowing in the creek falls between January and April to provide the Santa Clara River with about 40% of its water supply.
The Ecology Surrounding Sespe Creek
Sespe Creek runs through natural habitats such as Riparian woodlands and California montane chaparral. The remote location of the creek and the spacious gorge offer refuge for wildlife you will not see anywhere else in Southern California. In fact, several species of birds and animals have relocated from other wooded areas because of housing developments and an increase in the number of park visitors. Once considered on the verge of extinction, California Golden beaver thrive in the remote region. Southern Steelhead Trout, which requires cool water temperatures to maintain its health, flourishes in the snow melted waters of Sespe Creek.
Sespe Condor Sanctuary
With one of the wildest wingspans of any bird, the California condor receives full protection in the sanctuary to rejuvenate its dwindling population. The sanctuary spans more than 53,000 acres and with then numerous cliffs and ledges, the California condor feels right home soaring above Sespe Creek. The abundant supply of fish in the creek offers the condor population consistent nourishment throughout the year. Before the establishment of the California Condor Recovery Program, a large number of condors died because of collisions into power lines running across newly built neighborhoods that encroached on the condor’s natural habitat.
Los Padres National Forest is situated northwest of Holiday Inn Burbank and to the west of Interstate 5. Travel Interstate 5 north until you reach the Frazer Mountain Park Road entrance. Follow the map that shows the roads available for use within the wilderness area.