||near Highway 33 bridge almost to the Santa Clara River
||Class V with many portages, harder at higher flows
||33.1 miles, 3 to 4 days, fair weather only
||kayaks 400 - 800 cfs at take-out
||7.0 - 8.0' on Grand Rd. stick gauge near take-out
||122 fpm average, gorge contains 190 fpm in one place
||Lion Campground off highway 33 north of Ojai, 2980'
||highway 126 bridge west of Fillmore, 400'
||45 miles (over 1 hour) one-way, 5 miles on dirt
||USFS Los Padres NF, AAA San Luis Obispo and Bakersfield
||winter and spring, from recent rain and snowmelt
||© 1998 Preston Holmes,
This run starts with easy gradient and becomes an expert run
where it turns south and cuts thru the Sespe rock formation.
The wilderness is as deep or deeper than anything encountered in the Sierra,
so make sure to bring extra food and adequate first aid supplies.
In dry years, the ideal flow window comes very early,
but in wet (El Niño) years, good flows could last into May.
Low flows are reported to be easier,
so do not start this adventure when rainy weather is predicted.
Kevin Moracek sent this description and the following photos:
I have kayaked Sespe Creek twice: once in 1991 and again in 1996.
I have always wanted to try rafting it.
On April 13-16th 2005, Brian Baker and I ran
what is most likely the first complete raft descent of Sespe Creek.
We used a 10' SOTAR during our self-supported trip.
Flow was about 100 cfs at the put-in and 400 cfs at the take-out.
More water would have been welcome, but not much more,
especially down in the canyon where there are some must-catch eddies.
Toward the end of the run is a seemingly endless portage around,
over and under giant house sized boulders.
It was a major undertaking with a raft but well worth the work.
The Sespe ranks right up there with any river in the Sierras
in both difficulty and beauty.
For more photos and a day-by-day guide, see
Sespe Creek by Preston Holmes.
Map of Rivers