Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Southern Los Padres Drought 2013 [Updated 06/24/13]

It's spring again in the Southern Los Padres and wouldn't you know it? Our back yard is dry. This is the third year in a row of below normal rainfall totals for this part of the state and as we proceed into the later part of spring and into summer we will once again find ourselves questioning the reliability of various watersheds. What I'd like to do with this post is give and receive accurate and up to date information regarding specific creeks, springs, and drainages. So now I am asking you all to send me a quick note which I will update to this post. To do this I need audience participation so please let me know how our backcountry watersheds are doing and I'll hopefully be able to cobble together a pretty clear picture of what areas have water and what areas to avoid.

What I'll do with this information is to rate each creek or spring as one of the following:
-Good: normal, reliable flow of clean water
-Fair: decent water with some flow, but well below normal
-Poor: intermittent or spotty water, unreliable flow
-None: Non-filterable or nonexistent flow, dry creek
So how about I start things off with areas I know from recent travel, and from drainages that I've received reports on from friends of this blog. So please take a little time to email or comment with updated info on our local water situation.

Ventura County
-Upper Sespe Creek (Potrero Seco to Tule Creek): Poor with areas of subterranean flow
-Middle Sespe (Tule Creek to Willet): Poor (pools)
- Lower Sespe (Willet to Goodenough): Poor (pools)
-Ladybug: Poor to None
-Tar Creek: No flow (very green)
-Agua Blanca Creek: Poor to None
-Piru Creek: Poor
-Alder Creek: (Upper Alder and E Fork): Poor to None (reported)
-Alder Creek: (Lower Alder to Sespe): Fair to Poor (reported/Bardley)
-Cow Spring: None (reported/Craig & Bardley)
-Squaw Flat: None (reported/Craig)
-Dripping Springs: None
-Santa Paula Creek: Fair 
-Sisar Creek: Poor (pools)
-White Ledge Spring: Very Poor
-Cedar Creek: Poor
-Mutau Creek: Poor
-Fishbowls Creek: Poor
-Piedra Blanca Creek: Fair
-Potrero John Creek: Poor
-Chorro Grande Creek: None
-Chorro Springs: Fair to Poor
-Raspberry Sring: Fair (per Conant)
-McGuirre Spring: Poor (filter)
-Matilija Creek (Falls Trail): Poor (pools)
-Murietta Creek: Poor
-Murietta Spring: None
-Matilija North Fork: Poor to None
-Beartrap Creek: Poor (per Conant)
-Reyes Creek: Poor

Santa Barbara County
-Rancho Nuevo Creek: Poor (per Conant)
-Deal Junction: Poor (per Conant)
-Santa Barbara Canyon: Poor to None
-Madulce Station: Fair to Poor (per Conant)
-Chokecherry Spring: Fair (reported/Nico)
-Upper Sisquoc (Lower Bear): Fair to Poor (reported/Nico/Mateus)
-Lower Sisquoc: Fair to Poor from Bear to Sycamore (per Conant)
-Big Pine Spring: Poor (per Conant)
-Manzana Creek: Fair to Poor, worsening (per Conant)
-Twin Oaks: None (per Conant)
-Coche Creek: No Info
-Redrock Canyon: No Info
-Agua Caliente: No Info
-Lower Indian Creek: Fair to Poor
-Upper Indian Creek: Fair
-Mono Creek: Fair (reported/Nico)
-Jackson Spring/Montgomery Potrero: Poor to None (reported/DS)
-Other Sierra Madre Springs: Poor to None (reported/Nico)
-Oak Spring (Judell): Poor
-Camuesa Creek: Poor
-Escondido Creek: (at Camuesa Rd): Fair (reported/Nico)
-Middle Santa Ynez: Fair (at Juncal), otherwise Poor (reported/Nico)
-White Ledge Creek: Poor (per Conant/Mateus)

Thanks everyone for your help updating.
Take a moment to remember how it was in

SP Creek Punchbowls.
Me, Tar Creek.
Matilija west falls
Davi Rivas, White Ledge Falls.


  1. re: alder creek.

    was out there march 14 from dough to shady.

    water level was, using your grades, "fair" from the alder creek / east fork alder creek junction to shady. alder creek was the supply - north fork was dry.

    squaw flat had water, cow springs was a muddy puddle, and drippings springs had pools.

  2. I visited Upper Reyes, Beartrap, and Haddock on the weekend of 4/13. Reyes Creek and Beartrap Creek were fair, but the river around Haddock was stagnant/poor.

  3. I passed through Mutau Flat (Poor) and Cedar Creek (Fair) on April 1. I would not expect much water between Sespe Hot Springs and Piru Creek on the Johnson Ridge Tail, though the Sespe-Johnson Ridge-Cedar Creek-Piedra Blanca loop is epic.

    Two weekends ago (4/27) I hiked the White Ledge-Lower Sisquoc-Manzana loop. White Ledge was Fair to Poor and South Fork was Fair. The Lower Sisquoc is Fair from South Fork to Water Canyon. Abel Creek was Fair. Water Canyon to the last Sisquoc crossing is Fair to Poor. Water at the last crossing is Fair (fill up. The Lower Sisquoc and Lower Manzana are both None at the Schoolhouse. Nearest water is up the Manzana about 1/3 mile.

  4. Did an overnighter May 11th at Fishbowls-water lower than last year but flowing...felt good to soak after a hot day.

  5. I bet it was pretty nice back there. Thanks for the info ginnie.-DS

  6. DS, water at Murietta Spring (main feed, across from the cottonwood and old trough) was low but pullable as of Sun 5/26. Murietta Creek proper is just plain low. Thanks for this post.

  7. As of May 11, no water at Squaw, Cow, and only nasty pools at Dripping. No water along East Fork; water at Alder and Shady okay ("fair").

  8. Thanks Red, Mateus, Nico, Conant, and others. Am currently exploring the idea of training a goat to carry extra water for me. -DS

  9. I just went lions trail to Ladybug to Willett, and out to Piedra Blanca.

    I don't remember the water situation along Lions trail that well, but at Ladybug there is almost no water(poor) just a small pond upstream from the camp(8" deep, 10'x5') of stagnant water. There were also quite a few bear, mountain lion, and deer tracks along the trail

    Going down to Willett, there was no water in the creeks along the lower Red Reef Trail, and much of the poison oak is dieing.

    At Willett the spring is running, but is very low(fair), and it could dry up later this summer. The hot springs are still flowing well(good). There was intermittent water along the Sespe, but the usual swimming holes have water, but are at least a foot low.

  10. Chumash Wilderness

    SHEEP CAMP SPRING(6-24-13) = 1 gallon every 3.5 minutes. Yes, I timed it with a stop watch.


  11. Thanks for this update, very helpful.
    Keep your fingers crossed for an El Nino winter!... or at least a normal winter.

  12. Sierra Madre Ridge:

    Oak Spring - down to an drip/intermittent dribble

    Pine Corral Spring - bone dry

    Montgomery #1 Spring - patch of wet dirt

    Black Willow Spring - adequate supply

  13. (9-8-13)

    Gridley Springs (Gridley Canyon Trail) - completely dried up

  14. sisar: poor but flowing above second crossing

    white ledge springs: Spotty, with patchy pools

  15. 10/6/13 -- Sheep Camp still slow, but reliable. 90 seconds for a liter.
    10/8/13 -- Rancho Nuevo Camp very very low. Nasty puddles are all that's left. Not recommended.
    10/8/13 -- Tinta Camp bone dry.
    -- West Coast Red

  16. Want to trade? I need recent info for Upper Bear/Oak/Chokecherry/Upper Bear/Big Pine.

    I offer:
    10/20 19 Oaks. Dry
    10/20 Santa Cruz Camp - stagnant water only
    10/20 Little Pine Spring - good to fair.
    10/20 Trough below Alexander saddle - trough full. Pipe fair.
    10/20 Cottam / Blue Canyon / Upper Blue canyon - dry
    11/2 Aqua Caliente- running by Rock Camp. Dry/Stagnant north of Big Caliente springs

    1. Hi: I was at Big Caliente Springs Oct 30, and
      there was clear, tasty, running water just
      beyond the two big culverts that cross the trail to
      Upper Caliente campground. Are we talking about the same area?