If you only go on one hike this year, this is the one. IF you are up for some adventure. Read the entire description on this one before signing up- this event requires more full-body skill than any other we do.
Tar Creek cuts a canyon through Las Padres National Forest, eventually crashing into the Sespe Creek. Before it gets there, several stunning waterfalls, cascades, and pools come in rapid succession, making you wonder if you've hiked all the way to southern Utah or northern Arizona. This is truly a unique hike for our area.
The hike begins with a short ascent, then nearly 2 miles of gradual downhill on dirt single track to the creek. Although surrounded by scrub, the distant mountain views are lovely. Now the trail appears and disappears with the creek, though it's not too difficult to make your way if you're comfortable on stream rocks. After a half mile, the reason you came emerges- the first of the cascades and rock chutes into a deep pool. There are several chutes on our path, worn smooth by eons of rushing water, and made slick by green algae- water slides for the daring.
The sandstone and Sespe brownstone continue to drop away at an increasing rate, and the waterfalls become more spectacular the farther we hike. A bi-level 70' fall, which you can walk behind, is the highlight for some people, but those who stop there are going to miss out on an astounding sight. Just a bit further, around a bend, the world drops away at a wide cliff and fall that's more than twice the height of the 70 footer. Our hike ends there, at the top of the waterfall, with an expansive view of the Sespe Wilderness and more mountains.
The overall out and back hike is about 6 miles, with 1500' of elevation gain/loss. In a truism of hiking physics, what goes down, must come up, and after the fun and adventure, we have to return the way we came, with that gradual 2 mile descent we started with becoming a gradual 2 mile ascent. The trail down and up is exposed, and the sun can drain you on the way back especially, so bring more water than you think you'll need.
This is an adventure hike. There is some Class 3 bouldering, which means you'll have to be comfortable clambering around on some big rocks. Another option is diving in and swimming some of those areas, which is certainly doable. Note- I said "swimming," not "wading."
We're not going to rush once we get to the falls, and I plan on swimming, doing some of the slides, and maybe jumping off a rock or two. I'll bring a towel, wear clothes that dry quickly, and my water shoes for the creek portion (I'll wear hiking boots to get down there). I'll bring enough food and water to last me more than several hours, because we'll be there a while (we should get back to the cars at between 3 and 4). I got a little burn the last time, so I'll bring a hat and sunscreen.
That's what I'm planning for me- you can enjoy this place however you choose, just prepare accordingly. The further downstream you go, the more skill you'll need. I expect us to get spread out once we hit the falls, as each person decides how far they want to go and what they want to do there. It's almost impossible to get lost in the canyon, or to go too far, and everyone is returning the way we came.
In addition to the things I've mentioned, you'll probably want your hiking poles if you tend to use them. You might want gloves for the rocks, and you'll want to give some thought to what you wear on your feet. For me, trail runners are the best one shoe option- they're good on trails and for bouldering, adequate on loose rocks and climbing, and are okay when wet.
See photos of last year's trip here: http://www.meetup.com/The-Weekday-Trailblazers/photos/all_photos/?photoAlbumId=8865952
From the Valley, Santa Clarita, and point east of there, take the 5 Fwy to the 126 west to Fillmore. See below.
From Moorpark or anything close to the 23 take the 23 N to Fillmore. See below.
From Ventura take the 126 east to Fillmore. See below.
In Fillmore you want to go north on A Street. A Street is exactly where the 23 intersects with the 126. Take A Street about 1.1 miles to Goodenough Rd., turn right. After about 2.7 miles Goodenough Rd will end. Turn right here on Squaw Flat Rd. Stay on the main road, which will be obvious. After about 3 miles you will see the Oak Flat Ranger Station on your left and a sign that says " Condor Observation Site 7 Miles". This means you're headed in the right direction. After another mile you'll see a gated road on the left with a "Seneca Resources" sign on it. You are just about to the trailhead. In less than a half mile you'll see a pullout on the left and right where you can park.
The stretch from Fillmore to the trailhead will take you at least 20 minutes. The access road is winding (think of the 23 south of Westlake) and not entirely paved. It gets narrow in places, so take care with vehicles coming in the opposite direction. You can go up there in a car, but an SUV or truck is much better. Read the carpool note below, and make arrangements.
If you are late and miss us, it's not hard to find your way. Get on the trail (it goes up for a quarter mile before going down), go down to the creek, then follow the creek downstream. You'll find us easily.
If you haven't already carpooled to get to Fillmore, we'll have a vehicle consolidation meeting right before we make that final stretch detailed above so we can pack the available SUVs and trucks.
At the corner of the 23 (A Street) and the 126 (Telegraph Rd/ Ventura St) is a strip center with a Vons in it. Across the parking lot from Vons is a Starbucks. We'll meet there and leave at 9 so anyone who wants to leave their Porsche behind and jump in an SUV can. Make arrangements ahead of time to ensure yourself a spot in an SUV. SUV drivers- please leave a message in the comment section stating how many people you have room for, and update it as you fill up.
The address for Starbucks is: 650 W Ventura St, Fillmore, CA.
This location does not require a National Forest Adventure Pass for parked vehicles.
DISCLAIMER / RELEASE OF LIABILITY
IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ BELOW IN ITS ENTIRETY:
The hike host is a volunteer and not responsible for the group. Safety should be a priority for everyone in the group. Please treat this meet-up as hiking with a group of friends. If you become fatigued and unable to continue the hike, it is expected you will advise the hike host of this and return to our starting point on your own. If you are able to proceed, it is expected that you will maintain line of sight with other members of the group at all times and help to promote the group’s safety and fitness goals.
Outdoor sports and other events we plan can be inherently dangerous and accidents may happen. By participating in any posted event, you are taking responsibility for your own safety and well-being. The Weekday Trailblazers Meetup Group and its organizers are not trained leaders and we do not confirm the qualifications of any of its members to lead or participate in trips. All participants take full responsibility for their own actions.
If you choose to sign up for this or any Weekday Trailblazers Meetup event, you are releasing the Weekday Trailblazers Meetup Group and its organizers from all liability in case of possible injuries. Your personal safety depends on your own judgment and experience.
All participants must be 18 or older, or accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.