Upper Tar Creek Falls – Los Padres National Forest

Where: Los Padres National Forest
Mileage: 5.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation gain/loss: 1500 feet
Recommended: Water, bathing suit, towel

To get to the trailhead: About a 2 hour drive from Downtown Los Angeles. In Ventura County, once you hit the city of Fillmore, take A Street one mile north. When you hit Goodenough Road turn right and continue 2.7 miles to Squaw Flat Road (Dough Flat Turnoff). Turn right and drive another 4.8 miles up the dirt road.  Take the wide path to the northwest through the metal gate.

Reason why we came: We wanted to go cliff jumping or just dip in cool water somewhere near Los Angeles.

Reason why we were unhappy: Barely any water (of course it’s LA).

Tar Creek Falls is named in best cliff jumping sports in Southern California on several sights. Beginning from the parking lot, the trail is all downhill, 1500 feet downhill. Just the thought of coming back on it, didn’t sound too fun. Did it matter? No, we wanted water, jumping and a good afternoon hike, so we kept going!

After climbing down the canyon and dropping off of huge house-size boulders one to the next down the creek bed, we finally found the 3 “pools”. I put that in quotes, because they were pools, but little was left of them. We headed on with a bit of scrambling, make sure you wear the right shoes, cause pain will follow. The jumps range from 15-25 feet at the Upper Falls and at the lower falls 10-20 feet. Do not go in the summer if you would like to cliff jump. Looks like we’ll have to return to this hike (though I like to keep the path of never go on the same hike twice).

We didn’t go further as time didn’t permit, but if you keep following Tar Creek you will hit Sespe Creek, which is said to have sandy beaches and cascades.

Note to self: Visit this hike early spring, when there is enough water to have some fun.

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