A Bit of Old California in the Southland
Click here to learn about FORs current campaign to protect Piru Creek.
Less than a hour’s drive from downtown Los Angeles, Piru Creek offers a diverse outdoor experience for anglers, hikers, and families alike. This scenic creek traces a 50 mile-long arc created by the tectonic clash between the Coast and Transverse ranges around the Sespe Wilderness. The rugged terrain and the need to protect endangered species habitat has limited access to much of the creek. But visitors have easy access to lower Piru Creek from Interstate 5.
Here, the flow of the lower creek is augmented by water releases from Pyramid dam and reservoir. This segment offers one of the few reliable year-round cold water trout fisheries in Southern California and is managed as a catch and release Wild Trout Stream by the California Department of Fish and Game. It is also a popular spot for families to picnic, view wildlife, and catch a glimpse of old California, before it was transformed by the urban megalopolis.
The remote upstream source of the creek is within the existing Sespe Wilderness and is a popular backpacking and hiking destination. Here, the stream flows through water-smoothed rock, creating a series of scenic pools known as the “Fish Bowls.” Experienced canyoneers can also explore the trail-less lower segment of Piru Creek as it cuts its way through a truly wild canyon in the Sespe Wilderness to Piru reservoir near the town of Piru.
Piru Creek is biologically rich, providing important riparian and aquatic habitat for several sensitive, threatened, and endangered species. The creek supports large populations of the endangered arroyo toad and sensitive pond turtle. It also provides habitat for the threatened Santa Ana sucker and California red-legged frog. Lucky visitors may also catch a glimpse of the endangered California condor, floating upon the thermal updrafts above the rugged canyon.
Friends of the River played a key role in the development and passage of the Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act, which passed Congress and was signed by President Obama in March 2009. The bill protected 7.5 miles of Piru Creek in Los Angeles County as a Wild & Scenic River. Another 46 miles of this magnificent creek, upstream and downstream of the segment designated Wild & Scenic, remains to be protected in future legislation.
How To Get There
Directions to Frenchman’s Flat on Piru Creek: Drive approximately 15 miles north from Santa Clarita on I-5 to the Templin Highway exit. Turn left and drive under the freeway and then right on Templin Highway. This road was formerly Hwy 99 before I-5 was constructed. Follow the road north to where it drops down to the parking area at Frenchman’s Flat next to Piru Creek. Anglers can park here and walk 3 miles upstream along the old road to fish the catch and release waters. Only experienced wilderness explorers should try to bushwhack and wade their way downstream through the trail-less Piru Creek Gorge in the Sespe Wilderness.
Recreation And Visitor Information
For up to the minute access and general recreation information, contact the Forest Service’s Santa Clara and Mojave Ranger Station: (661) 296-9710 or visit their web site at http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/angeles/