Pothole Trail - 18W04

Area Status: Open
Pothole Trail

Pothole Trail (18W04)


Length: 5.9 miles

Difficulty: difficult

Portions of this trail pass through private property. Please respect these areas and stay on the designated trail. 

From Highway 126, turn north on Piru Canyon Road. Drive 6 miles to the Lake Piru gatehouse and inform staff that you are parking at the Pothole Trailhead. Drive approximately 5 miles on Piru Canyon Road to the trailhead parking lot. The trail switchbacks up the ridgeline for 2.7 miles, enters the Sespe Wilderness, and descends into the Potholes for another 2 miles. A loop hike may be taken by connecting with the Agua Blanca Trail (19W10).

This trail branches from the Agua Blanca Trail just upstream from the Devils Gateway and before you reach Log Cabin Camp. It climbs up a small south side canyon with a small stream in its bottom. Reaching the head of the canyon you come to Pothole Sprint; with an old cabin and farming tools that all had to be packed to the cabin area on mule back by William Whitaker. Following the trail south for a short distance, you come to a trail junction. The right hand fork is little used and leads to The Pothole. After leaving the junction, Trail 18W04 climbs steeply to reach the top of a north south ridge. Here there are excellent views of the Devils Gateway far down below you and then on up Piru Creek to the Big Narrows. Finally, it steeply descends to the road between Lake Piru and Blue Point.

The Pothole is caused by a gigantic slide that descended across the canyon forming a large dam. Over the years, the area back of the dam has filled in with sand and silt until it has now formed a floor. This area sometimes floods for a very short period after very heavy rain. A grove of cottonwood trees covers part of the flat area.

Where the trail enters The Pothole the entrance is partially covered by sand, silt and weeds and the remains of an old horse drawn hay rake. The hay rake was used by William Whitaker when he cut the mature grass for hay.

Water seeping into the aquifer at The Pothole seeps out down the canyon to form a small marsh at the spring. William Whitaker filed on 80 acres and by Cash Entry, in 1891 for which he received a Patent. He built a small cabin and packed numerous farm tools up by mule back to farm at the spring as well as The Pothole.


The Condor Trail is a recreational thru-hiking route designed to connect the northern and southern portions of the Los Padres National Forest by a single hiking trail. The hiking/backpacking trail is approximately 400 miles long and extends from Lake Piru (border of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties) in the south to Botchers Gap (just south of Monterey, CA) in the north.

The Condor Trail is being designed to highlight the beauty and unique characteristics of the Los Padres National Forest and the Central Coast of California.  The trail is primarily through rugged wilderness backcountry portions of Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties.  Its important to know that the Condor Trail is not one long trail, but rather a series of smaller existing trails that we are linking together in order to create a route that is passable across the forest.  Backpackers can enjoy portions of the Condor Trail in a weekend, as a dayhike, a weeklong trip or attempt to do the entire trail over a couple months.

Pothole Trail Pothole Trailhead Sign

At a Glance

Operational Hours: Lake Piru Recreation Area is open daily from 6:00am - 8:00pm
Reservations: None. Trail use and trail camps are on a first-come, first-served basis.
Area Amenities: Toilets, Parking
Fees: There is a $14 day use fee when you enter the Lake Piru Recreation Area. Inform staff that you are parking at the Pothole Trailhead and they will provide you with a pass to park at the trailhead. There is no fee to park at the trailhead.
Permit Info: A California Campfire Permit is required. Permits can be obtained at: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/permits/campfire-permit/
Usage: Light-Medium
Best Season: spring
Busiest Season: spring
Restrictions: Campfire permits are required.  Check for current fire restrictions.
Closest Towns: The town of Piru is 8 miles. Fillmore is 16 miles.
Water: No water at the trailhead
Restroom: Vault toilet at the trailhead parking area
Passes: No passes required to park at trailhead. Los Padres National Forest does not issue backcountry wilderness permits.
Operated By: Parking lot is managed by United Water Conservation District. Trail is managed by USFS.
Information Center: Ojai Ranger District (805) 646-4348. For more detailed trail information, go to: www.hikelospadres.com or send an email to: info@lpforest.org.

General Information


Lake Piru Recreation Area Map and Pothole Trailhead Parking

Lake Piru Recreation Area Map


General Notes:

Learn more about the natural resourses of the Pothole Trail and Piru Creek!

Pothole Trail Natural Resources sign


Learn more about the opening of the Pothole Trailhead located in the Lake Piru Recreation Area!

Pothole Trailhead Parking Press Release


From Highway 126, turn north on Piru Canyon Road. Drive 6 miles to the Lake Piru gatehouse and inform staff that you are parking at the Pothole Trailhead. Drive approximaely 5 miles on the Piru Canyon Road to the trailhead parking lot.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking



Parking: Yes
Toilets: Vault toilet at parking lot

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
5.9 miles

  Latitude : 

  Longitude :