(Taken from “Day Hikes around Santa Barbara” by Robert Stone 2010)
Hiking Time: 2 hours
Elevation gain: 600ft
Features: Potrero John Canyon is tucked into the southern face of Pine Mountain in the Sespe Wilderness. The trail is lightly used and directly located off Hwy. 33 and starts at an elevation of 3,655 feet at the confluence of the Potrero John Creek and the Sespe Creek.
The trail follows Potrero John Creek up through a narrow canyon, across an open field with Manzanitas, and has views of the surrounding mountains and the Sespe Wilderness. The trail concludes at Potrero John Camp on the banks of the creek.
Trail Directions: Hike past the trailhead sign, immediately entering the narrow canyon on the west side of the creek. After three creek crossings, the trail enters the Sespe Wilderness. There are eight creek crossings in the first mile (when the creek is flowing and at higher levels). After the first mile, the trail opens up into a meadow. The trail ends at the far side of the meadow at the designated walk-in campsite. Return on the same trail to exit the canyon. An unimproved trail continues up the canyon from the campsite through dense vegetation alongside the creek with pools of water and waterfalls (during higher water).
Driving directions: From Ojai drive 21 miles north on Hwy. 33 to the trailhead parking pullout on the right shoulder of the road. The trail is on the north side of the bridge.
Caution: Weather and road conditions can change in an instant. Always check with the managing agency before embarking on a trip. Always hike with a friend and carry a cell phone for emergencies. Bring plenty of drinking water, food, and clothing for changing weather conditions. Let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back. Remember, California’s wild places are beautiful but they can also be dangerous to the unprepared and unwary. The California Wilderness Coalition assumes no liability if you intend to visit any of the wild places featured in our materials.