Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Southern Los Padres Drought 2014

Between you and me I'd really like to not feel compelled to have to do this again next year.

Last year I wrote a post which listed most of the water sources that hikers and backpackers rely on while exploring the backcountry of Ventura County and Santa Barbara County. Well, if anything this years situation is even more dire. You'll recall that it rained this last winter... once. So yeah, things aren't peachy. 

This year's page is a community effort, hopefully more so than last year's. This is my appeal to you, the readers, for your help in filling the blanks so we can all benefit. Thanks in advance.

Last year's format was more of an experiment than anything else, but the response was large and apparently of value to more people than I could have guessed. This one will follow a similar vein but I'll be including a few creeks and springs that didn't show up last time, and for clarity's sake I've chosen to make how we grade the water supply in those sources less subjective to interpretation. I will try to group sources first by county, and second by the general region (where applicable), so water sources should be located next to other nearby sources. 

Here's the 0-5 scale I'm putting in place for rating individual water sources, and it goes like this:

0.) dry as a very old bone
1.) damp enough for mosquitos to successfully reproduce but of little use to humans
2.) scummy, muddy, murky and questionable as even an emergency water source
3.) scant flow (if any), relatively clean standing pools, filter friendly water
4.) clean and reliable flow, totally good water for building strong bones and teeth
5.) Happy times, care free swimming, happy little fish, you get the point... 

Please don't email me these nuggets of information. Instead, I'd prefer that you all use the comments section of this post to briefly share this info with everybody. This way there's room for everyone's comments and for updates to that information, and I don't have to continually update this page with scattershot email beta. Examples of how I'd ideally like these comments go would be:

Mission Pine Springs, #1, JT Kirk
Upper Manzana Creek, #4, JE Hoover
Here we go...

Ventura County
Front Country
Matilija Creek: #5, DS
Murietta Creek: #2, DS
Murietta Spring: ?
The Pines Spring: ?
Sisar Creek: #3, DS
White Ledge Spring: ?
Lower Santa Paula Creek: #5, DS
Upper Santa Paula Creek: ?
Cienega Camp Spring: ?
Tar Creek: #3, DS
Piru Creek: #4, DS

Back Country
Upper Sespe: #3, DS
Middle Sespe: #4, Beth 
Lower Sespe: #4, DS
Rock Creek: #4, Beth
Bear Creek: ?
Piedra Blanca Creek: #4, Nico
Alder Creek: ?
Agua Blanca Creek: #2
Choro Grande Springs: #3, Nico

High Country
Reyes Creek: #4, DS
Beartrap Creek: #4, DS
Pine Mtn Lodge: #3, Nico
Cedar Creek: ?
Fishbowls Creek: ?
Mutau Creek: ?
Little Mutau Creek: ?
Cobblestone Spring: #0, DS
Mesa Spring: ?
Sheep Camp Spring: #4, S. Byrne

Santa Barbara County
North East 
Rancho Nuevo Creek: ?
Deal Junction: ?
Santa Barbara Canyon: #0, DS
Madulce Station: ?
Chokecherry Spring: ?
Upper Sisquoc: #4, 02/14, Grizz

Sierra Madre Springs
Hog Pen Spring: #3, Mike
Montgomery 1: #0, Mike
Montgomery 2:, #4
Jackson Spring: #1, Mike
Black Willow Spring: #1, Mike
Oak Spring: #2, KFox

South East:
Agua Caliente Creek: ?
Lacosca Creek: ?
Juncal Creek: ?
Mono Creek: #0 in 02/14, Nico
Mono Narrows: ?
Indian Creek: #4, David B.

Central San Rafael
Oso Canyon: ?
Redrock Canyon: ?
Little Pine Spring: ?
Santa Cruz Creek: ?
Peach Tree Canyon: ?
Mission Pine Spring: #4, 04/14, Bardley, Grizz
McKinley Spring: ?
Lower Sisquac: #3, 02/14, Grizz
Montgomery Spring: ?
Jackson Spring: ?
White Ledge Canyon: #4, 03/14, Grizz
Upper Manzana Creek: #4, DS
Fish Creek: ?
Lower Manzana Creek: #0 (at Schoolhouse), #0 (at Dabney) KFox
Tunnel Spring: ?
South Fork Brea Creek: ?
North Fork Brea Creek: ?
Bear Canyon: ?

As you can see, there's a lot of blanks on this page. Notice anything important that I missed? Please let me know. I look forward to helping you all help this work. Bring it.
Additional resources of this nature may be found at: HikeTheLosPadres.com


  1. Chorro Grade Spring, #3, NB
    Pine Mtn Lodge, #3, NB
    Piedra Blanca Creek, #4/5, NB

    1. Old observations from before our March rains, but lower Mono Crk around the Mono Debris basin and Lower Indian Creek (where it intersects with Mono) were both #0 back in Feb.

  2. Mission Pine Spring: #4, bardley, 5.3.14

  3. Sheep Camp Spring, #4, SB
    Agua Caliente Creek, #3, SB

  4. Middle Sespe #4, BW
    Rock Creek #4, BW

  5. Upper Sisquoc, #4, in 02/14, Grizz
    Lower Sisquoc, #3, in 02/14, Grizz
    Lower Manzana, #3, in 02/14, Grizz
    White Ledge Canyon, #4 in 03/14, Grizz
    Mission Pine Spring, #4 in 04/14, Grizz

    1. I Saw your card on the McKinley Mountain summit. I am glad to read that there's still some water out there.

  6. SIERRA MADRE RIDGE -- 5-10-14

    Hog Pen Spring = #3
    Montgomery Spring 1 = #0
    Montgomery Spring 2 - #4
    Jackson Spring - #1
    Black Willow Spring- #1

    Recommend filtering due to the bovine neighbors.

    Mike S.

  7. Indian Creek = #4 as of early April - DB

  8. Lower Manzana (To Dabney Cabin), #3-4, 5/16/14, JB/AG
    Sisquoc River (At Manzana Schoolhouse), #0, 5/16/14, JB/AG

  9. I noticed Oak Spring on Santa Barbara Potrero is not listed with the Sierra Madre Springs. Any info on this one?

    1. Oak spring is #2 - Had some folks up there last week

  10. Here is a bunch of info current the last week of May for the San Rafael Wilderness

    Nira - Dabney Cabin #4
    Manzana SH #0
    Manzana School House to Lorna #0 - #2
    Lorna #3
    Lorna to Cliff #0
    Cliff #3
    Cliff to Sycamore #2 - #3
    Sycamore to South Fork #4
    South Fork to Mansfield #4
    Mansfield to Heath #4
    SB Potrero (oak spring) to Cox Flat #0


    Pines Campground Spring = 3 (barely)

    Trough located in campground still reliable though reduced to a slow dribble. Several small/clean puddles present at actual spring site (15 min hike--follow irrigation hose)

    Mike S.

  12. Little Pine Spring 3-4. Reliable low flow rate out of pipe into an overflowing horse trough. Clean water, but a lot of bear scat around the campsite so camp at your own risk.