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Middle Lion Campground offers an enchanting escape from the city, with its winding road, creek, and chaparral encased mountains. Surrounded by vibrant yellow hues in the spring and fall, visitors can explore the nearby trails for snow play, Piedra Blanca, or Rose Valley Falls for an adventurous journey. Visitors may also follow the Sespe River Trail for swimming holes, but no mountain bikes are allowed on wilderness trails.


Leave the city vibe behind as you meander down a winding, partially paved, narrow road that leads you into wooded Middle Lion Campground and day use area. Relax next to the running creek, take a refreshing dip, or hike the nearby trails. Tucked away in a canyon encased by chaparral and wildflower covered mountains, Middle Lion Campground is particularly beautiful in the spring and fall, but camping is great year-round.


The Lion Canyon Trail (22W06) starts at the back of the campground. After 1.3 miles you will reach the Rose Lion Connector Trail (22W16) on the right. After 0.6 miles you can take side trails to East Fork Lion Camp, which is within the Sespe Wilderness, or West Fork Lion Camp. The main trail continues 3.6 miles to Nordhoff Ridge for spectacular views. No mountain bikes are allowed in the wilderness.


Middle Lion has eight campsites. They are located along a single loop, close to a creek. While tent camping is best enjoyed in this cozy campground, there is room for RVs under 20 feet. Tables and fire rings are provided in each site. There is a vault toilet in the campground. There is no drinking water at this site, so bring your own water.

Natural Features

Middle Lion Campground is surrounded by chaparral covered mountains, shaded by cottonwood trees and is next to a peaceful stream near the Sespe Wilderness area. As the trees seasonally change color, you will find yourself surrounded by vibrant yellow hues!

Nearby Attractions

Hiking trails, biking, fishing are all within 30 minutes from the campground. Day trips to the higher elevation mountains for snow play are an opportunity in the winter. One mile away on the Rose Valley Road (6N31) is the Piedra Blanca trailhead where there are three trails to explore. All trails are located across Sespe Creek. The Gene Marshall-Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail (22W03) in the Sespe Wilderness will lead you to nearby massive white rocks, called Piedra Blanca! It is an easy walk for the first three miles.

A principal attraction to this section of the Sespe is Rose Valley Falls. This trail to the falls begins just before you enter Rose Valley Campground. Follow it for a short half-mile and you will be at the base of the falls. The cliffs at the falls are arkosic sandstone and crumble easily, so tread lightly. Rose Valley Falls is the tallest waterfall in the range and while it is an easy hike to the base of the 100-foot tall lower tier of the waterfall (0.8 miles round trip with 150 feet of elevation gain), it is adventure to reach the more impressive upper tier. Please do not climb around on steep sections or get close to the edge. You will need to park outside Rose Valley Campground to hike the trails.

Another trail, the Sespe River Trail (20W13) will lead you downstream into the Sespe Wilderness. You will find some swimming holes along this walk. Remember, no mountain bicycles allowed on wilderness trails. If you would like to go on a mountain bicycle ride, take the Middle Sespe Trail (22W04) that leads up river eight miles to the west to Middle Sespe Trailhead.
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Campground Matrix

Set alerts at more campgrounds to increase your odds of getting a place to stay! Below is a list of the closest campgrounds supported on Campflare. Or, view all campgrounds in Los Padres National Forest.

Nearby Campgrounds Distance Notification Rate
Rose Valley
Los Padres National Forest
1.5mi 76%
Wheeler Gorge
Los Padres National Forest
6.6mi 77%
Holiday Group
Los Padres National Forest
6.7mi 79%
Reyes Peak
Los Padres National Forest
10.5mi 78%
Pine Mountain
Los Padres National Forest
11.0mi 84%
Reyes Creek
Los Padres National Forest
12.2mi 83%
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