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Fishbowls Trail - Los Padres National Forest
Trail Distance 7.79 Miles

The Fishbowls Trail is a scenic 7.79 mile trail in the Sespe Wilderness in Ventura County County. The trailhead is located off Grade Valley Road (Mutah OHV Road (7N03.2)) at 34.64659, -119.1037. The trail connects the Grade Valley Road (Mutah OHV Road (7N03.2)) to the Cedar Creek Trail (21W10). Once you arrive to the Cedar Creek Trail (21W10), you have two options, if you go left you can make a nice loop trip back to the road and then hike the road back to the car.  If you take a right at the Cedar Creek Trail (21W10), you make for a longer exploration of the Gene Marshall-Piedra Blanca Trail (22W03). The Fishbowls Trail follows the Upper most portions of Piru Creek, the canyon is heavily laden with pine trees. Fishbowls Trail is named after a series of bowl shaped pools in the upper part of Piru Creek. 

Trail Details

  • Trail #: 21W05
  • Wilderness Area: Sespe
  • County: Ventura County
  • Ranger District: Mt. Pinos Ranger District
  • Trail-head Latitude: 34.64659
  • Trail-head Longitude: -119.1037
  • Water Sources: Water is available seasonally from Piru and Ceder Creek and almost always available at Pine Mountain Lodge Camp
  • Trail Condition: Kind of Good - Little to no bushwacking and easily followable
  • Topo Maps:
  • Activities & Features:
    • Backpacking
    • Birding
    • Creek
    • Day Hiking
    • Wildlife Viewing
    • Wilderness Camping



Trail Stats

  • Total Elevation Gain: + 1607 feet.
  • Total Elevation Loss: - 673 feet.
  • Overall Average Slope Gain: + 5 %.
  • Overall Average Slope Loss: - 3 %.
  • Kilometers: (km)
  • Meters: (m)
  • Miles: (mi)
  • Feet: (ft)
  • Average Slope: (%)
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Survey This Trail

Survey Photos:


  • Anonymous Surveyor - 05-24-2015

  • Anonymous Surveyor - 05-24-2015

  • Anonymous Surveyor - 05-24-2015

  • Anonymous Surveyor - 05-24-2015

  • Anonymous Surveyor - 01-06-2015

  • Anonymous Surveyor - 01-06-2015

  • Anonymous Surveyor - 01-06-2015

  • Anonymous Surveyor - 01-06-2015

  • Anonymous Surveyor - 01-06-2015

  • Dave Burnett - 11-17-2016

  • Dave Burnett - 11-17-2016

  • Dave Burnett - 11-17-2016

  • Dave Burnett - 11-17-2016

  • Dave Burnett - 11-17-2016

  • Dave Burnett - 05-09-2017

  • Dave Burnett - 05-09-2017

  • Dave Burnett - 05-09-2017

  • Dave Burnett - 05-09-2017

Submitted Trail Reports

Fishbowls Trail Survey - 06-30-2017 - by Anonymous Surveyor
Link: Fishbowls Trail
Date: 06-30-2017
Surveyor Name:Anonymous Surveyor
Trail description:Stayed there overnight on a 8 day journey...all good till a group of college age group showed up.....terrible at best....pools were great
Mode of transport:Array
Trail condition:Good shape and easy to follow
Fishbowls Trail Survey - 05-09-2017 - by Dave Burnett
Link: Fishbowls Trail
Date: 05-09-2017
Surveyor Name:Dave Burnett
Trail description:Excellent day for a hike from Fishbowls Trailhead to Cedar Creek Trailhead.  Total distance about 11.5 miles.  Time about 6 hours.  Trails are in excellent condition.  Some trees down as noted.  None are significant impediments.  Cool start at around 7:45 am.  Warmed a bit by noon which we spent on the ridge near junction of Fishbowls trail with Cedar Creek trail.  Two vehicles allowed avoiding ~2 mile walk along the road.  Fun hike with three friends.
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Condition details:Trees across the trail in about a dozen places on Fishbowls and Cedar Creek trails. None are difficult to step over or go around.
Images:

Lunch stop.

At Fishbowls Camp

Cedar Creek crossing near end of hike


Snow Flower. We saw several of these on both trails.
Fishbowls Trail Survey - 11-17-2016 - by Dave Burnett
Link: Fishbowls Trail
Date: 11-17-2016
Surveyor Name:Dave Burnett
Trail description:

                Our hike started about 7:45 am.  It was a cool, crisp day with temperature 37 degrees at the start.  Very sunny and completely clear.  We saw nothing in the sky all day other than birds, the nearly full moon and an occasional high flying aircraft.  Our plan was to hike at least to Fishbowls Campsite.  In fact we hiked about 0.6 miles past the campsite to a high sunny ridge for lunch.  Total one way distance was 6.4 miles of the 7.8 mile length of the trail.  Returned to the trailhead at about 2:30, still clear, sunny and warmed to 65 degrees.

                No difficulty following the trail except at one point about 3.25 miles from the trailhead.  The trail descends a steep, three foot bank towards the creek bed.  One path stays on the south side of the creek, which we took.  The correct path crosses the creek.  So we had a short detour around a small hill, but soon got back on track.

                We noted a couple of obstacles on the path.  One was a 2 foot diameter tree lying across the trail about 100 yards beyond the Sespe Wilderness boundary.  The other was a fallen tree about ¼ mile before the Fishbowls campsite.  More details on both of these in the images.

                All-in-all a great hike.  Trail appears to be lightly used.  However, we saw no one from the time we left the Lockwood Valley Road until our return there except one person in a pickup truck driving near the trailhead.  There was also very little trash along the trail.

Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Good shape and easy to follow
Images:

The trail beyond our lunch spot. Great views all around from this ridge.

An ancient signpost. The post has bolts in it that apparently held a sign. Remnants of the sign are scattered on the ground, but we were unable to determine what it may have once said. Speculating that perhaps this was once the boundary of the Sespe Wilderness. Does anyone know the real answer?


Two foot diameter pine log fallen across the trail. Image was taken on our return trip from the west side of the log. Location is N34° 39.514', W119° 8.646', about 100 yards inside the Sespe Wilderness.

Fallen pine tree about ¼ mile before Fishbowls Campground. Location is N34° 38.749', W119° 9.873'. This tree apparently fell very recently based on the fresh cedar branches from the tree it fell through.


Cleaning up the fallen pine tree. Many branches were broken off by the fall. We moved all the larger branches off the trail and were able to break most of the other obstructing branches off the trunk. Trail is easily passable.
Fishbowls Trail Survey - 06-25-2015 - by Donna Spencer
Link: Fishbowls Trail
Date: 06-25-2015
Surveyor Name:Donna Spencer
Trail description:   If you like serenity and solitude, you will love this hike.  Once you finish the small climb up and over into the watershed.  You will treated to island of pine forest and oak tress.  While navigating the creek area be mindful of (pink or yellow) tape for trail directions.  Two areas of trail has been washed out, however easily found tape shows you the way.  The Fishbowls Campground is an excellent site, graced with beautiful rock formation and forest.  However depending on water levels (the day that I went) was disappointing.  However great hike I did it as a loop to Cedar Creek Trail Head and was picked-up by my DAD.
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Good shape and easy to follow
Fishbowls Trail Survey - 01-06-2015 - by Anonymous Surveyor
Link: Fishbowls Trail
Date: 01-06-2015
Surveyor Name:Anonymous Surveyor
Trail description:This loop (Fish Bowls to Cedar Creek) is a good overview of the Sespe Wilderness.  It follows the Piru creek to it's headwaters (North facing drainage) then follows a ridge that divides the North and South drainage systems, then drops down into Cedar Creek on the North side of the range.  Surprisingly big Cedars that look a lot like Redwoods in the stream valleys in both drainages.
One can walk about a mile on the Forest road connecting both camps to complete the loop (approx 9 miles).  Hard to find the "Fishbowls" from the camp.
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Condition details:Hard to pick up trail in some areas where it crosses Piru Creek
Images:

A stately Cedar near Fish Bowls camp.

The Piru creek at a low flow point.


The switchbacks from the ridge down into Cedar Creek

Nice, stately Cedar


Very nice camp at Fishbowls
Fishbowls Trail Survey - 05-24-2015 - by Anonymous Surveyor
Link: Fishbowls Trail
Date: 05-24-2015
Surveyor Name:Anonymous Surveyor
Trail description:The trail was in good shape. I walked the entire loop and came across plenty of water in all of the expected locations. It had rained the day before I arrived so that may have accounted for the abundance of water. Cedar Camp and Fishbowl Camp were both in good condition. The fishbowls were flowing well.
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Good shape and easy to follow
Images:

The first fishbowl

Cedar Creek


Piru Creek

Overlooking the Sespe Wilderness
Fishbowls Trail Survey - 05-24-2014 - by Los Padres Forest Association
Link: Fishbowls Trail
Date: 05-24-2014
Surveyor Name:Los Padres Forest Association
Trail description:
Information gathered by James Wapotich while on a VWR Patrol.  
You can follow James on his blog: http://songsofthewilderness.wordpress.com/
Mode of transport:Hike
Trail condition:Needs some work
Condition details:Lots of downed trees but the trail is very followable.
Number of trees down:10


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Last Updated: Wednesday, February 24, 2016



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