Located outside of Ojai, California, Willett Hot Springs offers a relaxing, secluded oasis for those willing to make the nearly ten-mile hike from the trailhead. Situated in the heart of the Sespe Wilderness in Los Padres National Forest, Willet Hot Springs provides visitors with an unforgettable, primitive hot spring experience characterized by stunning mountain views.
Hike on the Sepse River Trail
After arriving at the Piedra Blanca Trailhead, which is approximately thirty miles outside of Ojai, California, hikers hoping to soak in the Willett Hot Springs must hike 9.5 miles along the Sespe River Trail. Although this hike is long, it is a scenic journey following the Sespe Creek all the way to the springs. On warm days, hikers have the option to cool off in the creek that runs beside the trail.
Willet Hot Springs is best enjoyed in the Spring and Fall when the flow of the Sespe River is strongest. Unfortunately, during the hottest months of the year, the Sespe Creek often runs almost completely dry. While the Willett Hot Springs continue to flow, the Sespe Creek is generally the water source for campers hoping to spend time at the springs.
Note: While there is no fee to visit the hot springs, hikers must have a Forest Adventure Pass or NPS Interagency Pass in their car at the trailhead.
Hot Spring Pool
Those that conquer the ten-mile riverside hike acquire access to a secluded man-made pool filled with relaxing 100° F geothermally heated mineral water.
Due to its primitive nature, the hot spring pool occasionally becomes dirty. In that case, visitors have the option of draining it, via a plug, and scrubbing it with brushes that are tucked behind the pool. After being replugged, the hot spring pool naturally fills in about an hour.
Since Willett Hot Springs is located inside Los Padres National Forest, backcountry camping is free, and spots are readily available. For those who make it all the way to the springs, there is a campsite just fifty feet from the primitive pool. Otherwise, there are numerous sites along the Sespe River, many of which feature fire rings.
It should be noted that fire permits are required for campers hoping to have a campfire or camp stove. Firewood is generally abundant, and gathering deadwood is permitted.
Due to there being no official campsites in this area, there are no amenities. Although there are basic restroom facilities at the trailhead, visitors to Willett Hot Springs must be prepared to carry out everything that they bring in.
Another hot spring to try in Ojai, CA is Ecotopia, where soakers need to reserve their two-hour slot in advance.
Address: Ojai, California 93252
Season: Year-round (Best seasons to visit are Spring and Fall)
Passes Required: Forest Adventure Pass or NPS Interagency Pass