Volunteer Season & Pine Valley Legend

San Luis Obispo Backcountry, March 2016

NOW is quintessential Los Padres.  Flowers are blooming, grass is green, water is flowing (mostly), days are warm (mostly) and nights are cool.  If you’re not getting out on the trail (or off-trail), you really should find some time for a ride or hike.  When you get back, send us your photos, we’d love to see some good ones and be sure to check HikeLosPadres.com for the most up-to-date trail conditions.



The best time to be in the Los Padres is not limited only to riding/hiking but it’s also the best time for getting out on a trail project, giving back to the trails you love and volunteering.  There are a ridiculous amount of volunteer projects and events lined up over the coming weeks/months across the Los Padres.  We’ll note a few here but feel free to contact us directly for more information or check Facebook/Meetup for updates:
April 8-17: LPFA Madulce Working Vacation, Dick Smith Wilderness

We’re set for a 10-day Working Vacation starting this coming Friday.  There is space available on the project, in particular the second weekend.  We’ll be working the Santa Barbara Canyon, Madulce, Don Victor and Puerto Suelo Trails.  For more information let us know at INFO@LPForest.org, all food will be provided for volunteers.

April 9: ORD Murietta Trail, Matilija
Ranger Heidi of the Ojai Ranger District will be leading this project to brush and clear the Murietta Trail in Matilija Canyon.  The project starts at 0830, email Heidi for more information or to sign up: handerson@fs.fed.us

April 9: SB Trails Council, Bill Wallace Trail, El Capitan State Park

Volunteer with SBCTC as they work the Bill Wallace Trail above El Capitan State Park along the Gaviota Coast.  For more information, click Meetup here.

April 16: Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center 11th Annual Open House
The Visitor Center at Wheeler Gorge will be hosting the 11th Annual Wheeler Open House.  We’ll provide more details soon but there will be booths setup from a variety of local organizations, a guided nature hike, games, food and much MUCH more……..  A super fun event that is a must for families with kids of all ages.

April 16: ORD Chorro Grande Trail, Highway 33
Join Ranger Heidi of the Ojai Ranger District along the Chorro Grande Trail on the south side of Pine Mtn.  The project starts at 0800, email Heidi for more information or to sign up: handerson@fs.fed.us

April 16: Slide Mountain Fire Lookout, Pyramid Lake
This is a cool event focused around California Trails Day.  Slide Mountain is within the Los Padres National Forest but is administered by the Angeles National Forest.  Volunteers will be meeting at Frenchman’s Flat at 0800 and working from there up towards the fire lookout.  Email Chris Fabbro (cfabbro@fs.fed.us) for more information or to sign up.

April 16-17: VWA Santa Lucia Trail, Ventana Wilderness
Join the Ventana Wilderness Alliance as they work the Santa Lucia Trail from Memorial Park Campground.  Meetup here for more information.

April 19: LPFA Wilderness Trails Presentation, Santa Barbara Veterans Hall
The LPFA is hosting a Trails Talk on Tuesday April 19 at the Santa Barbara Veterans Hall.  James Wapotich will give a presentation about the Wilderness Trails of Santa Barbara County and there will be plenty of time to socialize and hang out talking trails – what could be better?  For more information check out Meetup here, event is free for LPFA members.

April 23: Jesusita Trail, Santa Barbara Frontcountry
Another event focused on California Trails Day will be working the Jesusita Trail above Santa Barbara.  The project starts at 0830 and will meet at the water treatment trailhead off San Roque Rd.  For more information see Meetup here.

April 23-24: VWA Pine Ridge Trail, Ventana Wilderness
The Ventana Wilderness Alliance will be hosting a 2 day project along the Pine Ridge Trail working out of China Camp (near Pine Valley, spoiler alert)Meetup here for more details.

April 29 – May 1: LPFA Alamar Trail Weekend Project, Dick Smith Wilderness
The LPFA will be hosting a 2 or 3 day project based out of Bluff Cabin and working the upper 2.4miles of the Alamar Trail.  All food will be provided and work will involve crosscut sawing, tread and brushing.  This portion of the Alamar Trail is along one of the more beautiful stretches of trail in the wilderness.  Come along…..  INFO@LPForest.org for more information or to sign up.

May 20-30: LPFA Middle Sisquoc Working Vacation, San Rafael Wilderness

The second LPFA Working Vacation of 2016 will be set at Sycamore Camp along the Sisquoc River within the San Rafael Wilderness.  We’ll be working the Sisquoc Trail downstream from Sycamore to Abel Camp.  Access will be provided to Painted Rock Camp and down the Jackson Trail to camp.  The water will be perfect in late May along the Sisquoc.  INFO@LPForest.org


Little Pine Sunset, March 2016

There is no shortage of legendary Los Padres figures who helped shape the landscape, protect the environment or add character to the geography.  Study any local maps and you’ll see dozens and dozens of unique placenames dotted across the Los Padres revealing many of these characters.  Sadly, we lost one of the LP living legends last month with the passing of Jack English.  Jack was able to purchase a private inholding of land in beautiful Pine Valley surrounded by the Ventana Wilderness in the late 1970’s.  Jack and his family built a small cabin on their land, chose a simpler life and called it home.  You’ll find tons of articles about Jack with a quick Google search, a few articles are linked below.  What you might not find is all the stories from backpackers who had the pleasure of meeting Jack and his family at Pine Valley over the years.  Stories about him sharing pancakes with campers, sharing his cabin during storms and most importantly sharing his time and stories with Pine Valley visitors.  Truly a legend and gentlemen, he will be missed but his legend will live on forever……..

English Cabin 2005, Pine Valley, Monterey County

Fire Restrictions Lifted & Trail Project Schedule 2016

Lucky Pooch Recharging by the CampfireJackson


Hi Everyone,

Happy New Year!  The big news across the forest this past week has been the change in Fire Restrictions.  Effective January 9, the fire restrictions dating back to May 5, 2015 have been lifted.  While this is exciting news for those of us who have spent freezing nights in the forest of late, please PLEASE remember to be safe with your campfires.  Only build campfires in cleared spaces, preferably in designated campground campfire-rings and most importantly be sure to completely put out your fires before you leave camp.  It may seem like a pain to spend those extra minutes soaking your fire but it’s so important – think about the alternative.  Take that extra time to run trips back and forth from the creek.  For those of you looking for an easier solution, REI sells a collapsible bucket made by Sea to Summit which carries 10 liters and can easily soak down a campfire with only a few trips to the creek.  Also be sure to get your California Campfire Permit.  Permits are available at any of the Ranger Stations or online at this link.  Just takes a few minutes and it is the law to have a permit.  Enjoy the warmth and be careful.  The change in fire restrictions also reopens shooting ranges across the forest.  Contact your local Ranger District for information on shooting ranges near you.

Happy Trail Workers Along Mono-Alamar Trail, photo Beeman

The LPFA and friends have a bunch of volunteer trail projects scheduled over the coming months, a BUNCH!  We wanted to get the dates out to you now so that you can hopefully find a free weekend (or longer) to help the trails.  If you have any questions or want to sign up, please email INFO@LPForest.org:

February 7: Deal Trail, Dick Smith Wilderness

This is the 4th Annual Super Bowl Sunday trail project hosted in conjunction with UTMC along the deal Trail.  Meet at 8:30am and home in time for the second half of the game.  Lots of fun and you’ll feel great sitting on your couch that evening knowing you deserve it, Mark Subbotin is the project lead.

February 19-21: Location TBD
This is going to most likely be a 3-day car-camping project in the Santa Barbara Backcountry led by Curt Cragg.  We are finalizing the location based on weather and road access.  More to come soon……

March 4-6: Potrero Trail, San Rafael Wilderness
Led by Mike Smith, this will be a 3-day backpacking project based at Potrero Camp along Manzana Creek.  Work will be up the Potrero Trail towards Hurricane Deck.  The project will be stock supported so expect tasty meals.

March 18-20: Buckhorn Trail with SBMTV, Santa Barbara Backcountry
Led by Curt Cragg and cosponsored by LPFA and SBMTV, we’ll be working the legendary Buckhorn Trail down from the top towards the first creek crossing.  We’ll be camping at Happy Hollow Camp with opportunities for day volunteers as well.  Gonna be a fun one!

April 8-18: Madulce Working Vacation, Dick Smith Wilderness
This is the first of 3 LPFA Working Vacation scheduled for spring 2016.  We’ll be based at Madulce Camp and working the network of trails radiating from the old guard station.  Our main focus will be working the Madulce and Puerto Suelo Trails.  While we’ll be up there for 10 days, there will be opportunties for shorter stints.  Backpacking 7 miles to camp is required and there will be stock support.  April is a great time of year in this part of the forest.  Mike Smith will be the project lead.

April 29-May 1: Alamar Trail, Dick Smith Wilderness
This project will be based at Bluff Cabin and focused on completing the final mile of trail down Alamar Trail from Alamar Saddle.  Curt Cragg will be leading this project.  This was a project we started in September 2015 as part of National Public Lands Day.

May 5-8: Lost Valley Trail, San Rafael Wilderness
Mike Smith will be leading a gutsy (Mothers Day) extended weekend project along the Lost Valley Trail.  This will be a backpacking / stock-supported project based somewhere along the trail with the goal of working from the Manzana up to the Hurricane Deck.

May 20-30: Middle Sisquoc Working Vacation, San Rafael Wilderness
This is going to be a fun one as well.  We’ll be based at Sycamore Camp along the Sisquoc River and working the trail down-canyon to Abel Camp.  The Sisquoc should be epic this time of year with deep pools and green slopes.  Access will be along the Jackson Trail.  The project will be stock supported with shorter length stays possible as well.

June 3-5: National Trails Day, Location TBD
We’ll be partnering with REI to host a 3-day project in the Ventura or Santa Barbara Backcountry.  Location and specifics are in the works.  Stay tuned…….

June 11-19: Mission Pine Working Vacation, San Rafael Wilderness
There have been quite a few projects over the past few years attempting to reopen the Mission Pine Trail from McKinley Saddle to Big Pine.  Talk about epic trails, this Working Vacation will be focused on completing the work across Mission Pine and down the top mile of the Santa Cruz Trail.  There is lots of potential for this project as far as where it is based and all that.  In the works and we’ll share when we know more……..

Wheww, that is a lot, isn’t it?  We hope you can make it on at least one of these projects.  We’ll be covering many different types of trails at many fantastic locations.  There is really something for everyone on these projects.  If you haven’t been on any LPFA project, try to make it this spring, you’ll have a great time!


Snowy Hwy 33 Pine Mountain Winter Wonderland, photo Humphrey


National Public Lands Day 2015: Alamar Trail

Alamar Canyon Overview


The LPFA is proud to announce that we’ll be hosting our third consecutive National Public Lands Day (NPLD) project during the weekend of September 25-27.  NPLD is officially Saturday September 26.  NPLD is the nation’s number 1 day for volunteerism.  You can learn more about NPLD here.  In 2013 we hosted a project in the Mt Pinos Ranger District along the Boulder Canyon Trail and in 2014 we worked the Davy Brown Trail in the Santa Lucia Ranger District.  This year we’ll be doing sawyer work and trail maintenance on the Alamar Trail in the Santa Barbara Ranger District.

Details will be announced as the date approaches but the plan is to drive into either Bluff Camp or Alamar Saddle on Friday September 25 and set up a basecamp.  Dinner will be provided for the volunteers.  On the morning of Saturday September 26, we’ll get to work clearing the trail of downed trees and brushing as needed.  The hope is to work approximately 2miles down the canyon to where the trail reaches the headwaters of Alamar Creek.  We’ll reconvene Saturday afternoon back at basecamp, where once again dinner will be provided for the volunteers.  Sunday morning will be set aside for exploring the area and Sunday afternoon we’ll pack up and head back home.

This years NPLD Alamar Trail Project will be a great opportunity to work on a remote trail within the Dick Smith Wilderness, meet like-minded volunteers, give back to the trails you love and get involved in the effort to help the Los Padres National Forest.  The project is open to all levels of trail volunteers and will be limited to 20 volunteers.  For more information contact the LPFA at INFO@LPForest.org.


We’ll be working the section shown in BLUE heading down-canyon from Alamar Camp into the Dick Smith Wilderness.

Hunting the Chorro Fire

Alamar Camp, Fresh after a LPFA Summer cleaning, photo Humphrey

Hi Everyone – hope you are staying cool and enjoying your summer,

We’ve had another busy week on the LP, to say the least.  Great work to the Forest Service and fire crews for knocking down the Chorro Fire, which started earlier this week near the junction of the Chorro Grande Trail and Hwy 33 above Ojai.  At the moment the Chorro Fire has burned 282 acres and is 90% contained.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.  As a result of the fire, the following roads/trails/camps are temporarily closed:  Pine Mountain Rd (Reyes Peak), Oak Camp, Chorro Grande Trail, Potrero John Camp and Trail, Boulder Creek Trail and the pine mountain portion of the Piedra Blanca Trail.  Please be sure to use extreme caution with your campfires, outdoor equipment or other potential fire related activities.  For more information on fire prevention and education, check the One Less Spark website below:

photo Humphrey


This weekend marks the start of deer hunting season in Zone A South.  You can see a map of Zone A here, but it basically covers all the Los Padres other than the section in Ventura and Kern Counties north of Sespe Creek and east of Hwy 33.  Zone A season is from August 8 (Saturday) through September 20.  For those heading into the forest this weekend, expect to see a lot more people than usual, especially at the popular deer hunting locations.  Depending on what activities you have planned, you may want to rethink your plans and be sure to wear bright colors.  Hunting occurs mainly in the hours around sunrise and sunset.  For those of you who will be hunting, be safe and good luck.  More information on hunting regulations and Zone A can be found here.



In case you weren’t aware, the LPFA has a small social media presence with both Facebook and Twitter accounts.  We try to post forest-related news, updates, articles and stories every day or two.  In fact trending right now is a topic involving the now infamous Lizard Man of Rancho Nuevo.  Check us out on Facebook if you haven’t already.


The Ojai Ranger District will have a booth at the Ventura County Fair.  The Fair starts today and lasts through August 16.  Rumor has it that the Ojai District has won awards in the past for their great booths and that this years booth will be the best ever.  If you’re in the neighborhood be sure to stop by and say hello.  More information here:  http://www.venturacountyfair.org/

If you haven’t heard of Ray Strong, chances are you’ve seen his work many times.  Ray Strong was a Santa Barbara based painter who is famous for capturing the soul of the Los Padres within his paintings.  He’s probably most known for painting many of the exhibit backgrounds within the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum.  In honor of Ray Strong, this summer there are a number of exhibits featuring his incredible work.  For those interested in art with a Los Padres flavor, be sure to find your way to one of these showings.  You can learn more about the Ray Strong Project and see a list of exhibit dates here:  http://www.theraystrongproject.com/

April 11: Busy Day on the Los Padres Forest

Hi Everyone,

The weekend of April 11 is going to be a busy weekend on the Forest.  There are quite a few volunteer activities and events scheduled.  Of course, our big event is the Wheeler Gorge Open House along Hwy 33.  COME TO THAT, OF COURSE.  Here is a list of some of the projects and today we’ll be focusing on the Alamar Hill Trail Project, more to come:

April 10-13: Alamar Hill Trail Project, Dick Smith Wilderness
April 11: Wheeler Gorge Open House, Ojai
April 11: Lion Canyon (Sespe) Trail Project, Ojai
April 11: State Trails Day, West Fork Cold Spring, Santa Barbara
April 17-26: Working Vacation Upper Sisquoc

Alamar Hill Trail Project
April 10-13
The LPFA is hosting a trail project in the remote Dick Smith Wilderness along the Alamar Hill Trail.  We’ll be starting the trip by driving in Friday afternoon April 10 through the locked FS gate at PBar Campground in the Upper Santa Ynez Recreation Area.  This is about a 1.5hr drive from Santa Barbara.  From there we’ll drive the Loma Pelona Don Victor Fire Road (4×4 only) out to the Dick Smith and our camp.  Starting Saturday we’ll be working the 1.2 miles of trail from Loma Pelona down to Pens Camp along Indian Creek.  This is the focus of the trip, to work from the Lomas down to Pens Camp.  Work will be primarily cutting brush, reestablishing the tread and logging out any trees across the trail.  Work will continue Sunday along the same stretch.  Of course, some strategic swimming in Indian Creek will help keep the workers refreshed and there will be time for exploring the nearby trails and features.  This is not a backpacking trip, we will be car camping each night.  The LPFA will be providing dinners Saturday and Sunday nights.  We’ll be returning Monday morning and should be back in cell range by the early afternoon.

This is a great opportunity to explore an extremely wild, rugged, beautiful and seldom visited corner of the Dick Smith Wilderness.  If you would like to sign up or have any questions, please contact Rick Humphrey: rhsbsurf@cox.net

Here are some photos to help entice your participation.

Lomas in Spring

A Loma local

Pens Camp

Area Map, working from Loma Pelona down to Pens camp

Overview Map

So Many Trails, Lets Get To It!


Greetings Trail Users,

I hope you are having a great week and enjoying the interesting spring-like weather we’ve been experiencing.  Today’s message is a bit different than usual.  I’m not not providing updates or announcing projects but rather asking for your help.  The LPFA has a full slate of trail projects scheduled for the Spring and early Summer and WE NEED YOUR HELP!  We have trail projects in the works ranging from 10-day Working Vacations along the Santa Cruz Trail to 1-day projects down the Cold Spring Trail.  All these projects take time and money.  The LPFA works hard to organize, schedule and complete the work that keeps our trails open.  At the same time we love to provide our trail volunteers with the necessary great food, sharp tools and safety equipment that keep them coming back for more and heading home with smiles on their faces (albeit with sore backs).  I’m reaching out asking for your support as we get started on the busiest and most ambitious season of trail projects and Forest support in the history of the LPFA.  Become a LPFA member and donate to help our trail projects.  Listed at the bottom of this email is a quick list of projects we have in the works for the next few months.  I always say that every little bit of trail work helps, and similarly all the support we can get helps just as much.  Your help is greatly appreciated.

Click the image below and become a LPFA supporter.

Thanks and enjoy your weekend on the trail,



  • Hurricane Deck: Schoolhouse towards Potrero Canyon
  • Alamar Hill Trail: Indian Creek up to Loma Pelona
  • Santa Cruz Trail: Little Pine to Santa Cruz Station
  • Santa Cruz Trail: Kellogg Camp to Mission Pine Basin
  • Mission Pine Trail: McKinley Saddle to Mission Pine Basin
  • Cold Spring Trail: Mono to the Emerald Pools
  • Gene Marshall/Piedra Blanca: Reyes Trailhead to Haddock Camp
  • Ranger Peak Trail: Shooting Range towards Peak
  • Franklin Trail: Jameson Lake up towards East Camino Cielo
  • Blue Canyon Trail: Forbush to Escondido Trailhead
  • Upper Sisquoc: TBD (trail report coming soon)
  • Alamar Trail: Alamar Saddle towards Bill Faris
  • Madulce Trail: Buckhorn Rd down to Madulce Camp