San Rafael Wilderness
Cottonwood Camp is located a mile below Heath Camp on the upper Sisquoc. The nearby waterfall and pools make the camp an attractive place to spend a bit of time.
Elevation: Google Earth says the elevation is 3,201'
Distance: Cottonwood Camp is 1.17 miles downstream from Heath Camp and 1.24 miles upstream from Mansfield Camp. Rattlesnake Falls are located .73 miles downstream from Cottonwood.
Facilities: Cottonwood Camp was buried by debris after the 2007 Zaca Fire. While the campsite on the north side of the Sisquoc still has some useable camping space, the main camp has been relocated to the south side of the creek.
The word "cottonwood" always brings visions of the puffy white seed pods being blown through the air in the springtime when the branches have turned green and the seeds are bursting out of their pods. While the lower Sisquoc is known for its long lines of cottonwood gracing the sides of the river, there are stands of them up river as well in places like Cottonwood Camp where the river slows down enough to allow them to take root and grow tall.
Whenever we've come up from Santa Barbara Canyon and headed down the Judell Trail, rather than opting for Heath Camp, which is the first you hit on the Sisquoc, we've always taken the time to continue downstream the additional mile+ to Cottonwood, to enjoy an evening fire under the trees.
Did I mention that Rattlesnake Canyon and some of the nicest ppols on the upper Sisquoc are just downstream? That's a bonus that really makes Cottonwood an attractive place to stay a day or two. There's even an incredibly nice Chumash rock art painting somewhere downstream if you know where to look for it.
Jim Blakley Notes
A board used to be nailed to a cottonwood tree on the south side of the river at the old camp. It had burned into it, "MILDRED AND LOUIS LUNDSTROM 55-86-57-59-61-64", indicating the years this pair of ranchers from Castro Canyon, in the Cuyama camped at Cottonwood Camp. The board has long since been used by later campers as fire wood.
Named for the Iarge Fremont Cottonwood trees that used to shade the old camp on the north side of the creek. I Ialf of the camp was later moved to the dryer sunny location on the south side of the Sisquoc River. At one time there were three grated stoves and water from the creek:
Bob Burtness Notes
Administration: Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia District Access: 17 miles from the trailhead at Nira Camp via the Manzana Trail (30WI3) and the Sisquoc Trail (27WO7). U.S. Forest Service map coordinates: K-16 Topographical map: Big Pine Mountain Elevation: 3,400 feet (1,040 meters) Terrain: river valley Vegetation: cottonwoods, oak woodland Tables: none Stoves: 3 (grated) Water: Sisquoc River Firewood: yes
Special features: This camp has been extensively used by fishermen because of the nearby deep pools. Another attraction, located downstream and a short distance up Rattlesnake Canyon, is scenic Rattlesnake Falls, one of the most beautiful in the county.
Historical Highlights: This camp was probably named after the local common (or Fremont) cottonwood trees which are found in many areas of Southern California.