Los Padres Fire Restrictions, Closures, Hunting Season and Openings

Above Ojai, Pratt Trail showing off some new post-Thomas Fire summer regrowth, photo LPFA
Hello Friends,

It’s been a busy few weeks here in the Los Padres featuring additional fire restrictions and the onset of A-Zone South general deer hunting season.  We’ve also had a lot of questions of late about what is and what is not open across the Los Padres.  Lots going up and down the Los Padres, especially for the dog days of summer, lets get to it!

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The Dry and Extra Crispy Little Pine Mountain
ADDITIONAL FIRE RESTRICTIONS

The Forest Service announced on August 9th some additional fire restrictions.  You can read the fine-print at the link here but basically:

  • No campfires allowed across the forest.  PERIOD.
  • No target shooting allowed outside of Winchester and Ojai Valley (Rose Valley) Gun Clubs.
  • No camp stoves outside of designated Campfire Use Sites.
    • Yes, that means no hot coffee or stove cooking for backcountry travelers!

Obviously 2018 has already been a horrendous wildfire year with more than 15 large fires currently burning across California.  So far (knock, knock) the LP has avoided any large fires this season and lets hope it stays that way.  Be safe everyone!

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Big Pine Mountain, sadly the pines have been slow to recover after the 2007 Zaca Fire, photo Taryn AshlockA-ZONE SOUTH HUNTING SEASON

A-Zone South general hunting season started August 11 and lasts through September 23.  While there are many hunts across the Los Padres, the A-Zone South general season is by far the busiest.  A-Zone South covers almost all of the Los Padres from Monterey down through SLO, SB and a large portion of Ventura County.  You can see the map showing the coverage area here.  Each year we hear concerns from non-hunters who are caught off guard coming across groups of hunters.  Be aware that hunters will be out and about this time of year and if that’s not your cup of tea you might want to head elsewhere in the Los Padres.  Pine Mountain above Ojai and the Mt Pinos area are both outside of A-Zone South and should be nicer this time of year due to their higher elevations.  Once again, be safe everyone…..

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While not quite as impressive as the Black Gate of Mordor, it’ll feel just as imposing if you find it closed when you thought it was supposed to be open!YOU SHALL (NOT) PASS!

We get a ton of questions from forest-users asking about which gates are open? is that gate closed? is this trail open? can I go here,? etc….?  BTW, we love helping with these questions so please keep them coming!  While the Forest Service website does a great job of sharing this information, we thought it was probably time to share some of the answers we’ve been helping people with over the past months.  We’re focusing on either the recent changes or the major questions we frequently receive.  For more details please check the Los Padres website linked above or call your local Ranger District:

  • MONTEREY RANGER DISTRICT
    • HIGHWAY 1: After being closed since May 19, 2017, the GIANT slide at Mud Creek finally reopened on July 18.  Highway 1 through what is known as the Big Sur Coast is now open from Morro Bay to Monterey.  That being said, there are still some one lane delays and the occasional nighttime closure.  If you are planning a trip along this section of Hwy 1 be sure to check ahead of time to with CalTrans to make sure you can safely get through.
    • PALO COLORADO ROAD: Palo Colorado Road sustained major damage following the 2016 Soberanes Fire and 2017 winter season.  The road remains closed three miles above Hwy 1 but people can hike up the road to access Bottcher’s Gap and the Northern Terminus of the Condor Trail.  While the road is open to pedestrians, understand that there is no parking along the road so you’ll have to arrange for a drop-off if you plan on hiking up to Bottcher’s. Palo Colorado is scheduled to reopen by the end of October.
    • PINE RIDGE TRAIL & FRIENDS: The Pine Ridge, Terrace Creek and Ventana Camp Trails remain the largest and most substantial closure across the Los Padres as well as the # 1 question we get about closures.  Pine Ridge Trail remains closed from Highway 1 at Big Sur Station up-canyon to beyond Redwood Camp.  This includes Ventana Camp, Barlow, Terrace Creek, Sykes and Redwood.  The trail was damaged in both the Soberanes Fire as well as the 2017 storms.  There is no timetable as to when the trail or access to the camps will be reopened.
  • SANTA LUCIA RANGER DISTRICT
    • HI MOUNTAIN ROAD: Hi Mountain Road was reopened in late April after being closed for over a year due to lack of maintenance.
    • BATES CANYON: Closed above Bates Campground due to road issues and slides.
  • SANTA BARBARA RANGER DISTRICT
    • ROMERO CAMUESA ROAD: The Romero Camuesa Road remains closed to vehicle traffic beyond Romero Saddle along East Camino Cielo.
    • DIVIDE PEAK OHV: Divide Peak is open but riders will need to park at Romero Saddle.
    • FIRST CROSSING: Open.
    • BUCKHORN ROAD OHV: Closed at Upper Oso due to Rey Fire damage and adjustments to the Camuesa Road OHV.  More on that to come…..
    • SB FRONTCOUNTRY TRAILS: Most of the frontcountry trails have reopened but the lower sections of Cold Spring and Hot Springs remain closed as well as the entire West Fork Cold Spring Trail.  More on this to come soon as well……
  • OJAI RANGER DISTRICT
    • MIDDLE LION CAMPGROUND: Open, after being closed due to the Thomas Fire.
    • ROSE VALLEY CAMPGROUND: Open, same as above.
    • NORDHOFF RIDGE ROAD: Open, same as above.
    • ORTEGA TRAIL: Open, same as above.
    • CHERRY CREEK: Open, seasonal.
  • MT PINOS RANGER DISTRICT
    • RANCHO NUEVO / TINTA, MT PINOS RD: The road to Rancho Nuevo TH and lower Tinta TH was closed for an extended period of time due to gullies and washouts.  The road has been recently reopened to both trailheads.
    • WEST DRY CANYON ROAD, MT PINOS RD: Dry Canyon Road, which connects Santa Barbara Canyon to the upper Tinta TH and Cuyama Peak remains closed due to gullies sustained during the 2017 winter season.
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So much brown, dry photos; lets mix in some green and a July waterfall along the Sisquoc

Volunteer Projects FOR YOU!

The Lower Sisquoc & Its Most Famous Wilderness Sign, January 2018

Hello Friends,

Quick reminder on some upcoming volunteer projects that you might want to help with and a cruz’in Thomas fundraiser.  Lets get to it…..

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LOWER SISQUOC TRAIL PROJECT
February 16-19, Manzana Schoolhouse

“COFFEES READY!”  The LPFA will be leading a 4-day trail project working on the Lower Sisquoc Trail from Manzana Schoolhouse up towards Water Canyon Camp.  The project will be led by Mike Smith.  We’ll have drive-in times to the Schoolhouse on both Friday and Saturday mornings and using the Schoolhouse as our base for the 4 days.  We plan on leaving Monday morning 2/19 (President’s Day) with the hopes of being back home by early afternoon.  Work will be primarily brushing the trail corridor and clearing slough from the trail-bed but there will be some opportunity for crosscut sawyer work as well.  The Lower Sisquoc is a special location with a rich history.  It’s really neat being able to drive in and enjoy this backpacking style campsite with all the conveniences of a car-camping setup.  The Lower Sisquoc is also part of the Condor Trail (although we cannot guarantee you’ll see the rare and illusive CT through-hiker while on this trail project).  All food will be provided by the LPFA, compliments of backcountry cook extraordinaire Rich Scholl.  While we’ll be out there for 4 days, you are welcome to join us for any part of that time as long as you can hike in via the 8 miles from NIRA or 5 miles from Zaca Cedros Saddle.  This is a great opportunity to explore a new corner of the forest or revisit one of your favorite haunts from the past.  For more information or to sign up please email: INFO@LPForest.org
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CHERRY CREEK CLEANUP

February 10, Cherry Creek off Highway 33

The Ojai Ranger District and LPFA will be partnering again this Saturday to cleanup some of the areas that were recently burned in the Thomas Fire.  Last weekend was Rose Valley, this weekend we’ll be moving a little further up Hwy 33 (which is now open!) and focusing on Cherry Creek.  Until recently Cherry Creek was a popular target shooting destination off the Upper Sespe along Hwy 33.  To put it bluntly, the area was trashed over the previous decades by target shooters blasting the trees and leaving target remains up and down the road.  A few years ago target shooting was prohibited and a series of cleanups organized to haul away much of the target remains and trash.  The Thomas Fire burned much of Cherry Creek, revealing in the absence of brush a new wave of trash.  Our objective is to get in there and pick up as much remaining trash as we can.  The Forest Service will be providing lunch for all volunteers so please RSVP with Mike Porter and let him know if you want veggie or meat sandwich:

mporter@fs.fed.us – 805.646.4348

We’ll be meeting at the Ojai Ranger Station (1190 E. Ojai Ave.) at 8:30am and plan to be back by 4pm.  All supplies will be provided but please wear closed-toe shoes and bring snacks, water, sunglasses and gloves if you have them.  Hope to see you there…….

Hey, we could have used those! 
You never know what “trash” you’ll find after a fire?
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SANTA CRUZ BIKES – THOMAS FIRE FUNDRAISER
There’s been quite a few Thomas Fire related fundraising events over the past month or so and we wanted to share a really cool fundraiser that Santa Barbara Mountain Bike Trail Volunteers (SBMTV) is working on with Santa Cruz Bikes.  You can read all about it at the link below but basically you can buy $5 tickets to win one of two brand new Santa Cruz bikes!  And even better, the proceeds from the ticket sales are going to support trails impacted by the Thomas Fire.  There is a little more to it than that as SBMTV will be splitting the money raised with a Santa Rosa based mountain bike group who will be using their share of the money to work on trails damaged in their fire.  Again, you can read all the fine-print below.  This is a great fundraiser that supports our trails, huge kudos to Santa Cruz Bikes for being so supportive and SBMTV for making it happen.  Check it out, get your tickets while you can and good luck with winning the second bike – since I’ll be winning the first bike!  😉
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He’s not kidding!  Don’t mess with Smokey……

Los Padres is Totality Hot!

Brrrrr….. A Chilly Mission Pine Basin
– Hello Los Padres –
With the “excessive heat” we’re experiencing around the forest this week we thought it might be nice to share a picture and story of our Los Padres in the snow.  Maybe it will cool you down a little.  This photo was taken around dawn in early March at Mission Pine Basin (5,300′) in the San Rafael Wilderness.  I had backpacked in from Upper Oso, taking two days along the Santa Cruz Trail to get to MPB.  It rained on and off most of the second day and the final 2,000 foot climb up to Mission Pine was like taking a shower each time I rubbed against any of the 7,000,000 manzanita bushes along that 4mile climb.  I was drenched and cold when I saw the campfire at the Basin indicating that my buddy, ‘The Masticator’, had indeed upheld his end of the bargain and backpacked in from Cachuma Saddle.  He had slogged his bike up to McKinley Saddle the previous night and backpacked through mostly snow flurries to the Basin.  We were there to see it snow and knew a storm was forecast that evening.  We spent the night next to a raging fire as 8 inches of snow piled up beside our tents.  The next morning (shown above) was crisp as we explored the Basin, looking between the clouds at the blue Channel, snow curdling off the trees and….. lots of hot coffee.
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The LP Piru Neighborhood
FOREST 411
We’re hiring!  The LPFA is looking for a forest-loving go-getter to help manage our retail sales and grow the public outreach.  If interested, we’d love to hear from you.  More information at the link RIGHT HERE.

• So a bear walks into Reyes Creek Bar and says to Tony, “I’ll have a pint of beer and a……….. tri-tip sandwich”.  Tony responds, “Why the big pause?”   Wha wha wha…..  Okay, did you hear the one about the bear who stumbled out to Rincon Point on a summer Saturday afternoon…..?  Amazingly that isn’t a joke as a black bear did indeed find its way to the beach two weekends ago.  The photos are hard to believe but tragically the bear was euthanized after it was found to be unhealthy.

• Speaking of bears, this weekend at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is a presentation called the Amazing World of Bears by Kelley Swedlow.  It starts at 11am at the Visitor Center, which gives you enough time for a morning on the trailw beforehand or some extra time to sleep in.  It will be interesting to hear what Kelley thinks of the Rincon bear…..

• Do you Piru?  The water agency is charge of the Lake Piru Recreation Area is required to make changes to their recreation management plan for Piru.  They’ve hired an environmental consulting company to assist in the design of that recreation management plan and have released an online recreation survey designed to collect information from the public who use the Lake Piru Recreation Area.  This includes boaters, anglers, hikers, riders, hunters, Condor Trail backpackers, kayakers, campers, etc who use or pass through the Lake Piru Recreation Area.  If that’s you, please take the time and fill out this short online survey.  The surveys asks how often you use the Piru neighborhood, what you do there, what you like about it and what could be improved.  Certainly worth the time if you have an opinion, see link above.

• We’ve heard some questions about accessing the Whittier Fire burn area.  An update was released this week after an infra-red flight showed that some hot spots remain within the fire perimeter.  As a result the fire remains 87% contained and closed to public entry.  It might be a while before the area is reopened to the public.  Stay tuned….

• Last time we mentioned that Cherry Creek Road (6N01) was closed, it has since been opened.

• LPFA is excited to announce that Sunday October 8 will be our 3rd Annual Used Camping Gear Sale at Tucker’s Grove Park in Goleta.  We’ll once again be partnering with Gossamer Gear to provide some incredible deals on great backpacks and camping gear.  We hope you can make it and let us know if you have any camping gear to donate to the sale.  We’ll provide a tax donation receipt and the proceeds go right back to Trail Care.

• Sorry about the bad bear news but we’ve got some great wildlife news to share that might cheer you up.  For the first time since 1985 a wild-born pair of California condors have successfully nested and have a chick of their own.  You can read more about it here.  The nest is located in Southern Monterey County and is an important step showing just how incredible the condor re-population is progressing.  It’s probably not too far off that we’ll be seeing healthy condors on the beaches soon as well.

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Chumash cave 1677 eclipse & Madras, Oregon 2017 eclipse, photo AYoung

The eclipse was all the news this past week, you don’t need to hear about that, although some of you may still be stuck in traffic.  A little different twist on the eclipse was visiting a Chumash cave that very same day and seeing their rendition of a solar eclipse that occurred on November 24, 1677.  They didn’t have the benefit of months of advanced notice, nor did they have CNN covering the PATH OF TOTALITY.  It must have been something truly amazing back in 1677…….