Los Padres 2017 Storm Update

Raging Big Sur River at Pfeiffer Big Sur, photo California State Parks

Hello Everyone,

We’ve had quite a start to 2017 with lots of weather, snow and rain across the Los Padres.  Seems like the meteorologists got their years confused between last years El Niño (aka El Noshow) and what was predicted to be a warm, dry winter this year.  Whatever, we need it and we’ll take it!  As I am sure you all have been witnessing, these storms didn’t just bring weather but in some cases destruction along with the rain.  We’ve had flooding, landslides, snow closures, evacuations, wildfire area debris flows and even a tornado warning.  The Los Padres is well ahead of our annual average rainfall totals and as a result some of the reservoirs are starting to fill up, including Gibraltar Reservoir in Santa Barbara County, which overflowed last week for the first time in 6 years!  While that is great news, there is still more water needed before we can call off the drought.  For example, Twitchell Reservoir above Santa Maria is still only 7% filled even though that part of the Forest has received almost 20 inches of rain already this season.  It’s still early in the season and we have two full rainy months in front of us with another series of storms headed our way by the middle of next week.  It’s already been an exciting winter, who knows what else is in store.  Travel safe and be careful…….
— • — • — • —
San Rafael Mountain Summit, January 20, photo Kevin Cody
WEATHER CLOSURES
As a result of the storms, most of the roads around the Los Padres remain closed.  These closures are fluid, so please be sure to check with the Forest Service or CalTrans before heading out on your next adventure:

  • Just about all non-paved Los Padres roads are closed.  There may be a few exceptions but again be sure to check ahead of time before assuming a road or gate will be open.
  • Hwy 1 along the Big Sur Coast has been closed for most of the past month and remains closed between Big Sur and Ragged Point due to landslides.
  • Hwy 33 in Ventura County was closed this past weekend due to landslides and snow but was just reopened.  There are snow chain warnings still in effect.
  • Hwy 41 between Morro Bay and Cerro Alto in SLO County is closed due to a landslide.
  • Paradise Rd in Santa Barbara is closed at First Crossing Day Use Area.  No time-frame has been set as to when First Crossing will reopen but it probably won’t be anytime soon.
  • Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur remains closed due to road undercutting.
  • Mt Pinos is closed this week due to icy conditions.
— • — • — • —

 HARD HAT STICKERS

Perhaps you’ve seen this, especially if you follow college football…… Some college football teams give their players ‘helmet stickers’ as a way of recognizing either individual or team achievement. Each player has his personal football helmet and if their team wins or that player does something excellent in that game, the team rewards the player with a sticker that he then puts on his helmet. More stickers = more recognition. It’s a cool tradition and in some cases you can hardly see the helmet as it’s covered in stickers, indicating that player is a superstar.

We liked this concept and decided to try something similar with LPFA trail maintenance projects. All LPFA volunteers have to wear hard hats (helmets) during trail projects and many of our regular volunteers come with their personal hard hats. Starting this year we are going to give out helmet stickers to each volunteer after a successful trail project. Hopefully the volunteers will be proud to place those stickers on their personal hard hats and maybe if we’re lucky within a few years there will be a herd of decorated hard hats out there working the trails showing how spectacular all the volunteers are. We’ll see how it works. Look for them soon……  Hut, Hut, LOP!
— • — • — • —
First Crossing, 6 Feet Under, photo Beeman
THIS & THAT

– On January 17 the Los Padres Forest lifted fire restrictions across the forest.

– The Los Padres Chapter of the Sierra Club is once again offering their Wilderness Basics Course designed to teach backpacking skills to hikers of all skill levels.  The classes are offered in Ventura County and start February 8.

– Remember that the Soberanes Fire Closure remains in effect within the Monterey Ranger District.

– We’re getting lots of reports of damaged trails across the Los Padres – thank you everyone!  Remember that HikeLosPadres.com is a great resource for sharing that information and getting those damaged sections of trail onto the inventory of trails to fix.  Check it out!

— • — • — • —
Piedra Blanca & Montañas Blancas, Sespe, photo Humphrey

Fire Openings Across the Los Padres

FIRE OPENINGS & RESTRICTIONS

Hello Los Padres & Happy Holidays – It’s been a monumental day in the LP with quite a few shakeups that most of you will be happy to hear about.  Lets get to it!

Earlier today the Forest Service lifted the fire closures on the REY FIRE, SHERPA FIRE and PINE FIRE.  All regular recreational activities are now permitted within these fire perimeters.  This includes hiking, camping, riding and biking & OHV where applicable and legal.

In addition, the Forest Service reduced the closure of the Soberanes Fire and opened up most of the southern portion of the Monterey Ranger District.  The heart of the Soberanes burn area remains closed and will most likely stay closed through next spring.  For more information on all the fire openings and adjusted closures, check this link here and see the attached map showing the current Soberanes Fire closure.

Want more?  On November 29 the Forest Service downgraded the fire restrictions from Level IV to Level II.  Level II allows portable stoves across the forest, campfires at Designated Campfire Use Sites and target shooting at designated locations.  Check the links for more details.

The changing of these closures is somewhat unexpected but it is good news, at least for most of us.  Please remember that the hillsides and trails within the burn areas are still settling.  Be careful, tread lightly, avoid during rain, listen to your internal ‘common sense meter’ and have a backup plan in case the trail you’d like to explore is impassable.  Otherwise, have at it!

— • — • — • —
2017 LOS PADRES CALENDAR
The 2017 LPFA wall calendars are done, they’ve been sent to the printers and we should have them in-hand and ready to distribute by December 15!  Thank you to everyone who contributed photos for the calendar.  We had over 125 photos submitted by almost 30 different photographers.  It was hard work paring down the photos and selecting the final pictures that would appear in the calendar but we think the calendar turned out really nice.  We’ve got a good collection of photos from across the forest and covering themes from wildlife to wildfire, flowers to trailwork and sea level to almost 9,000ft.  If you like the Los Padres, we think you’ll love the calendar.  If you’d like to purchase a calendar, pre-sale is still available at the following link.  Thanks so much again to everyone who helped out and have a great 2017!
— • — • — • —


Cottonwood Fallburst, photo Heidi Anderson
UPCOMING EVENTS

We spent some time this past week scheduling the 2017 LPFA volunteer trail projects.  2017 will hopefully be highlighted by a Working Vacation based at Manzana Schoolhouse in April and a second Working Vacation at Madulce in May – we’ll keep you updated.  In the meantime, our next backcountry trail project is December 16-18 working down the Judell Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness.  We’ll be car-camping at the trailhead and working down from the top removing fallen trees and brush from the trail corridor.  We’re also working on some sort of holiday theme for the weekend, so you might want to get your ugly Xmas sweaters out of the closet and primed for action.  If you’re interested in helping that weekend, email us at INFO@LPForest.org or email project leader Mike Smith at TrailSmith@LPForest.org.

And lastly, if you enjoy these email updates and appreciate the information we provide, become a LPFA member and support the cause.  We’ll send you a sticker and perhaps a few other goodies but more than anything else your membership helps drive the ship and keep us doing what we do best – working the trails, educating the public and helping the forest along the way.  You can click here for the membership page and thank you for reading this far along – perhaps we should become members of you……

LOS PADRES Concessionaire Changes & More……

Chuchupate Camp, Showing Signs of Changechuchupatecamp
LOS PADRES CONCESSIONAIRE CHANGES

Big changes within the Los Padres are upon us, perhaps you’ve heard, if not, then brace yourself… For the past three decades the Los Padres National Forest has relied on as many as six different privately run concessionaires to help manage some of the campgrounds, day use areas and trailheads around the forest. You’ve seen these concessionaires at the campgrounds along Paradise Road, at Wheeler Gorge Campground, McGill, Bottcher’s Gap, Cerro Alto, Kirk Creek, etc, the list goes on and on. In an effort to consolidate these concessionaires, the Forest Service has selected Parks Management Company to become the sole concessionaire across the Los Padres. This went into effect November 1.

Yet, in addition to taking over the existing concessionaire operations and as part of their new agreement with the Los Padres, Parks Management will be adding quite a few new recreation sites to their list of concessionaire sites. This is where it gets a little painful, as some of the sites you’ve been using for free or as part of the Adventure Pass program are now going to be managed by Parks Management and will cost quite a bit more to use than in the past. Campgrounds like NIRA, Pine Mtn and Chuchupate, that used to accept a $5 Adventure Pass, are now going to charge $20/night. And certain trailheads like Upper Oso and NIRA, which also used to either require a $5 Adventure Pass or were free, are now going to cost $10/day to park. Ouch.

We’ve met with the FS and Parks Management multiple times expressing our concerns and hearing their sides of the concessionaire triangle. We all know how rundown some of the campgrounds are and we hear about how the Forest Service budget has been cut by 50% over the past decade. Like it or not, the FS doesn’t have the capacity to adequately manage all the recreation sites across the forest. As it was explained to us: with the current budget, it’s either accept a broader concessionaire program or run the risk of losing those recreation sites altogether. It’s a depressing situation and we’re not sure anyone knows a perfect solution.

While these price increases are going to be a tough blow for those of us who regularly use the forest, we’re already starting to see improvements at many of the campgrounds across the forest. These improvements include freshly painted bathrooms, new campfire rings, brush removal around campgrounds, new tables, etc…. For only being two weeks into their new agreement, it appears Park Management is headed in the right direction. Lets hope they keep it up.

One of the downsides of the new concessionaire plan is that it’s caused quite a bit of confusion trying to figure out which campsites require which permit. In order to help, we’ve created a GoogleDoc spreadsheet listing all the recreation sites mentioned in the concessionaire change documentation. We’ve listed all the sites, what the previous regulations were, previous costs and then what the current regulations/costs are:

Click here and you can sort through and check out the sites that most interest you.

As you will see, there is a lot of change. Most of it translates to more cost for the forest-user but hidden in the new program are some good changes as well. Some additional tidbits:

  • Parks Management will sell a $50 annual day use pass that is good across the forest.
  • The Adventure Pass remains in effect at select sites, see GoogleDoc.
  • Parks Management will provide 50% campground discounts with the America the Beautiful annual passes.
  • Many of the Parks Management campgrounds will be available for online reservation but they will keep some first-come-first-serve sites within the campgrounds as well.

As mentioned, this change went into effect November 1 and Parks Management expects it to take a few months in order to get all the iron rangers installed and signage changed across the forest. It’s going to be a tough pill to swallow, especially as we all learn what exactly this means and what the long-term ramifications are of this program. Lets hope that this is a positive in the long run.

— • — • — • —

Autumn Super Moon, photo Humphreysupermoon

CURRENT CONDITIONS

It’s been a minute since we sent out a forest update.  Amazingly, quite a few of you missed the update and checked in asking if everyone was going okay.  The answer is YES, things are great, just a little too busy the past month to put one of these emails together.  Since it has been a while, we wanted to send out an update on the current conditions, closures and restrictions across the LP.

LEVEL IV FIRE RESTRICTIONS
The forest remains in Level IV fire restrictions, which means no campfires, no target shooting and no stoves outside of designated campfire use sites.  You can see the restriction order here.  While the forest has received some substantial rain this season, the fire restrictions are generally not lifted until the entire forest receives at least two inches of rain.  Last year the restrictions were not lifted until early January.  There are rumors that the restrictions may be downgraded to allow portable camp stoves in the backcountry, if anything changes we’ll let everyone know.

SOBERANES FIRE CLOSURE
The Soberanes Fire burned over 130,000 acres across Monterey County from July 22 until October 22.  Soberanes ended costing more to fight than any fire in US history.  In response to the fire, the Forest Service closed the Monterey Ranger District on September 2 and that closure remains in effect.  While the Soberanes Fire is 100% contained, it continues to burn and smolder within the fire perimeter.  No news on when the closure will be modified but we expect the fire perimeter to remain closed at least until the end of next spring.  We’ll keep you posted……  In the meantime some of the campgrounds along the Big Sur Coast have reopened.  The Forest Campgrounds off Hwy 1 are open as well as Andrew Molera State Park.  If you’re planning a trip through Big Sur, be sure to check on campground availability before you hit the road.

SANTA LUCIA RANGER DISTRICT
Many of the roads and recreation sites around Figueroa Mountain remain closed due to hazard trees.  Fig was hit perhaps harder than anywhere else in the Los Padres by the drought and subsequent beetle infestation.  Take a look at Figuera Mountain next time you’re in the Santa Ynez Valley and you can clearly see the swath of brown dead trees.  The closure includes Catway Road, Figueroa Lookout, Pino Alto, Cumbre and East Pinery Road.  You can read more here.

SANTA BARBARA RANGER DISTRICT
The Rey Fire perimeter remains closed within the SBRD.  This includes all trails up the Buckhorn Rd above Upper Oso Campground as well as the burn areas accessed from the Indian-Mono Trailhead near Mono Campground.  While there might be some minor adjustments in the closure order, we do expect the Buckhorn Road and trails to remain closed to hikers, OHV and mountain bikers at least through the winter.  Stay tuned.

Also in the SBRD we have remaining closures as a result of the June Sherpa Fire.  The closure mostly affects West Camino Cielo.

OJAI & MT PINOS RANGER DISTRICTS
Recurring theme, the Pine Fire closure from earlier this summer remains in effect.  The closure specifically affects the Reyes Peak Trail and the Piedra Blanca Trail between Upper Reyes Creek and Pine Mtn Lodge.  The Forest Service has been busy installing warning signs where the trails enter the burn area.  While warning signs might indicate that people will soon be allowed into the burn area, no dates have been announced when the closure will be lifted.  Hang tight……

The Ojai Ranger District announced their seasonal road closure schedule.  This year the gates to Dough Flat (at Tar Creek), Reyes Peak (Pine Mtn), Cherry Creek and Nordhoff Ridge will close on December 16.  The Pines Campground above Ojai remains closed due to hazard trees.

Mt Pinos District is doing something a little different this year and will be locking gates along their seasonal roads based on rain events rather than specific dates.  The gates will close after the first large rain.  This is a great approach and I’m sure most of us reading this are happy to hear about the change in policy.  For more details or to check on gates, give MPRD a call at 661.245.0521.

Whew, that’s a lot of information.  Let us know if you have any questions or if we messed anything up.  Thanks everyone for the updates……

— • — • — • —

McKinley Mtn View, October 2016 Mission Pine Working Vacationmckinleypano

UPCOMING EVENTS
A few upcoming dates, events, projects, presentations or things you might want to know.
If you have any forest-related events to add to this list, let us know and we’re more than happy to pimp your event!

November 20: SBMTV San Ysidro Trail Work & Ride
November 27: LPFA Manzana Trail Tree Clearing

December 3-4: LPFA VWR Headquarters Cabin Cleanup
December 18-20: LPFA Judell Trail Maintenance Project, details upcoming

January 21-22: UTMC Crosscut Certification, Chuchupate Ranger Station

 

Los Padres Fire Related Closures

LP FOREST CLOSURES
lpclosure

Hi Everyone,

We hope you’ve been enjoying the unseasonably cool weather of late.  Fall is certainly in the air, at least for now.  The major headlines across the LP remain Fires and Fire Related Closures.  The Soberanes Fire is nearing two months old and continues to chug across the Ventana Wilderness.  It’s burned over 107,000 acres and is about to crack the list of top 20 largest wildfires in California history.  As a result of Soberanes, the entire Monterey Ranger District remains closed.  Further south, the Rey Fire is just about wrapped up and listed at 96% contained.  While the flames have subsided, there remains a closure across most of Santa Barbara County.  The FS is hopeful the closure will be reduced in the coming days and we’ll be sure to share with you as soon as any new information is received.  Further south still was the Sherpa Fire, which burned for a few days in mid June (remember that?).  There remains a closure in effect within the Sherpa fire scar which includes West Camino Cielo OHV.  And finally to the east is the Pine Fire, which burned 2,300 acres back in early July.  The Gene Marshall Piedra Blanca Trail remains closed between Upper Reyes Camp and Pine Mtn Lodge as does the Reyes Peak Trail from the trailhead down to Haddock Camp.  We don’t know when these closures will be lifted but we’ll provide updates via email and on Facebook / Twitter as soon as anything comes down the pike.  Quite a summer, stay with us……
 –

lookout
LOOKOUT!

What are you doing next Tuesday night 9/20?  The answer should be “going to Santa Barbara to learn about the History of the Los Padres lookout towers”!  If that was not your answer, you still have time to change it.  We invite you to join us on Tuesday night at the Balboa Building in SB to hear Craig Carey talk about the LP lookout towers.  This is the third event in the LPFA Trail Talk Series and is sure to be a good time.  We’ll have a raffle, some beverages, trail updates, listen to Craig amaze us with his knowledge and have some fun chatting with friends and fellow-forest-lovers.  FREE for LPFA members and just $10 for guests.  Hope to see you there……..  Get your tickets here or see here for more information.

gearup
USED CAMPING GEAR SALE – OCT. 1

LPFA Friends and Supporters – Fall is in the air, that means local camping season is right around the corner.  We’ll be hosting our 2nd annual used camping gear sale on October 1 at Tucker’s Grove in Goleta.  Super volunteer Rik Christensen has been working day and night over the past 12 months gathering, cleaning and preparing used camping gear for this one special day.  There will be plenty of gear to check out but we’re also looking for gear donations.  If you have any used camping gear you aren’t using anymore, we’ll gladly take it off your hands and see if we can find a new home for it.  Tax write-offs will be provided but more than that you’ll be helping raise funds for the LPFA and ensuring your gear makes it back into the forest, where it belongs.  INFO@LPForest.org with questions.

Forest Gates Opening & Late Spring Trail Projects

Otis Calef, One of the Countless Ways he Supports the Trail Cause, Mono Canyon
OtisMono

Good Day Everyone,

Busy times across the forest right now.  Trail projects up and down the LP, some flowers are wilting while others are just blooming, most creeks are still flowing, temps are rising, flash floods around Cuyama, rain here but certainly not there and did we mention trail projects?  We’ll spend some time soon helping to document all the trail work accomplishments around the forest but for today we’re going to focus on access and promoting a few upcoming trail projects.  Lets get to it…..


RainbowGates
OPEN THE GATES
With the winter and rains now clearly behind us, the FS started opening the gates that were closed due to mandated seasonal closures.  Most of the gates across the forest are now open.  There are a few here or there that remain closed due to slides (Dry Cyn, MPRD) or other closure policies (Cherry Creek, ORD) but chances are you shouldn’t be stymied by a surprise closed gate for whatever adventure you might be planning.  It’s never a bad idea to check before you head out to make sure the road to your trailhead is open.  Best thing to do is call the Ranger District you plan on visiting.  Other very reliable sources are the Alerts & Notices section of the FS website as well as the gates section on HikeLosPadres.com.  Which reminds me, if there are any gates to be added to HikeLosPadres, please let us know at Support@HikeLosPadres.com.


Down the Jackson Trail to Sycamore Camp, San Rafael Wilderness
SycamoreWorkingVacation MIDDLE SISQUOC WORKING VACATION
May 20-30, Sycamore Camp

The LPFA will be hosting a Working Vacation later this month along the Sisquoc Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness.  We’ll be basecamping at Sycamore Camp and working the Sisquoc Trail from Sycamore downstream to Abel Camp.  The work will be primarily brushing and reestablishing trail tread with some crosscut mixed in for good measure.  The project lasts 10 days but has smaller time chunks available for people who can only make 3-4 days at a time.  We’ll work around your schedule.  The LPFA is arranging stock support for the project as well as a camp cook and all the food for volunteers.  This is a great way to visit this remote and wild portion of the forest and is open to volunteers of all skill and experience levels.  Come one, come all.  John Franklin and Steve Cypher will be leading the project, email INFO@LPForest.org for more information or to sign up.  See you out there……..

Shady Waterfull Alder Creek
FranklinTrail NATIONAL TRAILS DAY: Franklin Trail, Alder Creek
June 3-5, Middle Santa Ynez Camp
June 4 is National Trails Day, yippee!  There will be a bunch of projects across the forest that we will share in the next few weeks.  This is the third year the LPFA will be participating in NTD.  Last year we worked the North Cold Spring Slide and this year we’ll be moving a little to the east to work the North Franklin Trail along Alder Creek in the Carpinteria backcountry.  We’ll be basecamping at Middle Santa Ynez Campground and then driving to the trailhead near Jameson Lake to work the trail.  Food will be provided for all volunteers and we’ll be sure to mix in enough fun around the trail work to make it a good time for everyone.  Bring the family, enjoy the nearby hot springs, help clear the historic trail, sign songs around the campfire, laugh with friends and we hope to see you there.  Sign up at INFO@LPForest.org.
Old Man Sunrise, May 2016
LPSunset

LPFA Transverse – Wildling and Gates

Sespe Glow, photo Dan Hall
SespeGlow

Good Morning Los Padres,
Lets get right to it, shall we?

W I L D L I N G   
W I L D E R N E S S   
P A N E L

The LPFA is honored to be partnering with the Wildling Museum to host a panel discussion about the history, impact, spledor and future of the Santa Barbara County Wilderness areas.  The event is Saturday February 7 at 5:30pm in Solvang.  We are fortunate to have a fantastic panel assembled to talk about the Wilderness.  Joining us will be James Wapotich, Bob Burtness and Kerry Kellogg.  You can read their bios and more information at the following link:

Space is limited for the event, it will sell out.  If interested, get your tickets ASAP.  Make a day out of it.  Go for a dayhike at nearby Figueroa Mountain or the San Rafael Wilderness and come back in time for the panel event.  It’s going to be really fun and chock full of great stories about the SB Backcountry.  See you there………

Ranger Peak Gate, usually open, but not always
RangerPeak
F O R E S T   G A T E S

If you’ve not checked out HikeLosPadres.com and you are reading this, you probably should set aside a few mins (or more) to explore the website.  For the past few years the LPFA has been working with web designer extraordinaire John Ziegler to create this fantastic tool and resource for LP Forest users.  The site is literally being improved every day.  It’s been a huge undertaking and there remain bugs throughout the site that are on our todo list – but we are hacking away and as mentioned making it faster, better and more user-friendly each day.

One of the new features we’ve added is a page dedicated to the gates across the Forest.  We just launched this feature earlier this week and it’s still very much a work in progress.  Our hope is that we can work with the Forest Service and the public to have as up-to-date information as possible as to if the gates are open or closed.  Did I mention its still a work in progress?  Check it out:

At the moment we only have a handful of gates included on the site but we will be adding them regularly over the coming weeks.  If you can think of any gates to be added, have information on any closures or have any ideas/opinions about the gates page, PLEASE let us know.  INFO@LPForest.org  As the winter moves on, we’ll be updating information as we get it so please share or come back and check on the status of a gate before your next journey into the Forest.  You can update the status of a gate by clicking on the comment section on the gate page as well.


VDC, Pine Ridge Trail, photo Tim Bills
VDC
N E W S   &   N O T E S

PINE RIDGE TRAIL UPDATE
– The Pine Ridge Trail and parking lot at the west side of the Pine Ridge Trail is scheduled to open again today, this is the parking at Big Sur Station.
– While the trail remains in poor shape, especially for the first couple miles, it is passable for hikers.
– Please be careful along the trail.  For more information contact the Big Sur Station at (831) 667-2315

WHEELER GORGE
– Wheeler Gorge is ramping up for another busy season of interpretive events.
– Our summer schedule of events is filling up and we’ll be sure to share them with you as summer approaches.
– For starters, Wheeler is hosting a Trail Boss program on February 7.
– Trail Boss is a Forest Service supported program that teaches the techniques and safety involved with trail maintenance.
– The program is open to anyone 12 years or older and is usually a huge hit amongst the scouting communities.
– Topics include: first aid, trail terminology, introduction to trail tools and history of trail work.
– This is a great program for teaching respect for the trails and introducing the next generation of trail users to the art and science of trail building and maintenance.
– For more information contact Gordie:  WheelerGorge@LPForest.org   Hope to see you there!

 

Enjoy the weekend everyone and see you on the trails……..

LPFA Transverse – Closures & Spring Update

Hello Los Padres and Happy Friday!

Quick update today on a couple things Forest related:

Pine Ridge Closure Sign

PineRidgeClosure
G A T E S    &    C L O S U R E S

Gates and closures continue to dominate most of the questions that come our way through email or social media.  We’ve compiled a list of road/trail closures below.  If you have any updates, please send our way and check the Forest Service website for information updates as well: http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/lpnf/alerts-notices/?aid=10432

Mount Pinos Ranger District:
– The usual winter roads remain closed.
– This includes Santa Barbara Canyon, which is closed at Reyes Ranch.

Ojai Ranger District
– All dirt roads are closed for the winter.
– Last we heard Middle Lion Camp was closed due to hazard trees.

Santa Barbara Ranger District
– Divide Peak Gate will be closed Saturday night due to incoming rain.  It should remain closed for about a week.
– First Crossing has been opened at the Santa Ynez River.
– The gate at Lower Oso towards River Road is closed due to slides.
– Upper Oso Campground is closed due to a water line break.

Santa Lucia Ranger District
– Ranger Peak has been reopened after last weeks snow.
– Catway is closed.
– Rockfront is open.
– Bates Canyon Road is closed past Bates Campground.
– Sierra Madre Road is closed at Hwy 166.
– La Brea Road and La Brea Canyon Road are both closed through December 2015.  This is due to damage from the 2009 La Brea Fire.
– Kerry Canyon Motorcycle Trail remains closed due to La Brea Fire damage as well.

Monterey Ranger District
– Western Pine Ridge Trail and the trailhead parking lot at Big Sur Station have been closed due to landslides along the trail.  We’re hearing that the damage is quite substantial and might need blasting in order to repair.  No timetable has been set for reopening but it’s looking like the western Pine Ridge Trail will be closed for some time.
– Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground has reopened but is only at about 1/3 capacity.

S H E E P   C A M P   S P R I N G
Before, Sheep Camp Spring
Sheep1
After, Sheep Camp Spring
Sheep2
Super volunteers Mark and Kim spent some time late last year cleaning out and rebuilding the spring box at Sheep Camp in the Chumash Wilderness.  The spring structure was broken and the water contaminated by a dead chipmunk.  After draining the spring box, they cleared out the lines, cleaned everything and rebuilt the broken parts of the spring box.  After quite a few hours of digging around in freezing water, they were able to restore a nice flow from the spring and make a safe drinking supply for Sheep Camp visitors.  With the drought we’ve been dealing with the past few years, it’s crucial to keep the existing water sources flowing and safe.  Huge thanks Mark and Kim.

If any of you out there in email-land notice any issues across the Forest that could be fixed, please be sure to report it to the Forest Service or you can contact us at INFO@LPForest.org or www.HikeLosPadres.com.

Enjoy your weekend and hope to see you on the trails soon……

Old Man Mountain Pano from Monte Arido, photo Cotton Rockwood
OldManMtn

Fire Restrictions Lifted

   Snowy Thorn Point, December 2014, photo Dan
ThornPoint

Happy Holidays Los Padres!
We’ve had quite a few nice storms over the past few weeks.  Most of the Forest is well over the normal % of rain and the forecast remains strong for more rain in the coming weeks.  Fingers crossed, we need it.  We’ve been getting reports that many of the creeks have started flowing again.  We’re headed in the right direction.  Check out www.HikeLosPadres.com for more updates on trails, camps and water.

F I R E  R E S T R I C T I O N S

In response to the above normal amounts of water falling from the sky, the Forest Service and CAL FIRE announced earlier this week that fire restrictions across the forest have been lifted.  This is great news for most of us and means we can have campfires again.  Woohoo!!!  Bust out the s’mores!!  Please remember to be careful with your campfires.  Many of the fire rings have not been used in over a year, be sure to clear a safe space (5 feet) around the campfire and of course extinguish your fire before you leave camp.  Fire permits are required and can be picked up at any Ranger Station or online here.


First Crossing, Santa Ynez River
FirstCrossing
R O A D    C L O S U R E S

While green grass, flowing creeks and campfires are a nice side effect of the rain, unfortunately rain does cause some of the roads across the forest to close.  The Forest Service posts these closures on their website, check it out here.  Of note:- Divide Peak Gate remains closed but will reopen after a few days of sunshine.
– First Crossing is closed due to mud flow across the Santa Ynez River.  It should reopen in a few weeks.
– Santa Barbara Canyon is closed at Reyes Ranch and will remain closed until May 1.
– Reyes Peak Road is closed for the season.
– Cherry Creek is also closed for the season.We’ll keep you posted as gates open and close.  If you have any questions, feel free to email: info@LPForest.org


Pine Ridge Trail, photo Ventana Wilderness Alliance
PineRidgeTrail
P R O J E C T S    U P C O M I N G  
&   N E W S

PINE RIDGE TRAIL CLOSED
The Pine Ridge Trail in the Ventana Widlerness is currently closed due to this large washout.  Wowzers!  The slide is about 3miles up the trail from Big Sur Station. We’ll keep you posted on updates or check in with the VWA.

LOST VALLEY TRAIL: December 20
– LPFA volunteers will be out this weekend logging fallen trees from the Lost Valley Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness.

– We’ll post updates on HikeLosPadres.com early next week.

 

VWR HEADQUARTERS CLEANUP: December 27
– We’re looking for volunteers to come out on December 27 and help clean up the Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Headquarters off Paradise Road in Santa Barbara County.
– Most of the work will be raking up leaves, removing fallen tree limbs, clearing brush and trimming trees.
– We can use all the help we can get.  If you’re free all day or only have a few hours, we’ll take it.
– Contact Curt at Curt@LPForest.org for more information and to sign up!

COZY DELL: December 21
– Ranger Heidi with the Ojai Ranger District is hosting a project along the Cozy Dell Trail in Ojai.
– Most of the work will be filling in sink holes caused by the recent rains.
– For more information, contact Heidi:  handerson@fs.fed.us

FIRST AID CERTIFICATION: February 28
– We’ve put together a First Aid / CPR certification class for February 28.
– The class will be held in Ojai.
– If you need your certification renewed, this is a great opportunity.
– The cost will be around $40-$50.
– Let us know if interested:  bryan@LPForest.org

SUPERVISORS OFFICE FLOODED
– The Forest Supervisors Office in Goleta was flooded last week.
– It will be closed for the next month or two.
– Business will continue for the Forest with much of the staff being moved to different districts or working remotely.

FIGUEROA MOUNTAIN CONTROLLED BURNS
– There will be a series of controlled burns in and around Figueroa Mountain starting this month.
– The focus is to burn some of the ladder effect fuel buildup.

Happy Holidays and wishing each of you a stocking filled with hiking and riding gear……..

 

Los Padres Cloud Formations
OjaiClouds

LPFA Transverse – Storm Coming

 

The Ventana Black Rhino

BlackRhino

Hello Everyone,

Hope you are spending some time on the trail today working off yesterdays Thanksgiving feast.  While most of the LP is drenched in sun today, the weather is changing as we brace for a potentially large storm hitting Saturday through next Tuesday.  Most of the forest should see some rain but amounts will vary greatly across the region.  Forecasters are calling for a possible 6+ inches in the northern mountains and as low as half an inch in the lower inland areas.  Check your local forecast to see specifics for your area.

We mentioned some of the road closures earlier this week, but with the impending storm there have been some additional closures in the Santa Lucia Ranger District.  Here we go…….

Effective November 30th the following roads will be closed:

  • La Brea/Colson area at the Forest boundary (Forest Road 11N04.4)
  • Sierra Madre Road at intersection with Highway 166 (Forest Road 32S13.1)
  • Bates Canyon past Bates Canyon Campground (Forest Road 11N01.3)
  • Figueroa Mountain area at the Lookout (Forest Road 8N16), East Pinery (Forest Road 8N32) and Zaca Ridge Road (Forest Road 8N02)

Effective December 1st the following roads will be closed:

  • Pozo OHV Area: gates at Forest Roads 15E04, 29S02, 30S18, 29S01; and OHV Trails 29S16, 29S27, 16E22, 30S17, 16E05A, 30S17 and 16E21
  • Rockfront Area at Forest Road 30S02
  • Forest Service coordinates closure of Hi Mountain Road with San Luis Obispo County (30S05).             Gates are at Pozo Fire Station and the Forest boundary on the Arroyo-Grande side.

The SLRD will reevaluate the road conditions after the storms pass through.  We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything.

Enjoy the weekend………

Los Padres Forest Association
www.HikeLosPadres.com

LPFA Transverse – Thanksgiving, Gates and More

Los Padres from 14,505ft, it’s out there…….LP_Whitney

Lots to be thankful for around the Forest this Thanksgiving time.  Thankful that a new Dick Smith Wilderness sign that we installed was covered in bear scratches after only two weeks in the ground.  Happy that our Forest has ocean views and happy that you can see our Forest from Mt. Whitney.  Thankful that the number of LP Forest volunteers who are certified sawyers has pentupled this past year!  Thankful that so many people are out enjoying the Forest.  The list goes on and on and on……..  Take some time this weekend and think about what you are thankful for.  It’s always a good thing to do.  If the LPFA comes to mind and you’re thankful for what we do, we’d love to have you thank us by joining the LPFA and becoming a member.  Happy Thanksgiving!

GatesCollage
GATE    &    ROAD    CLOSURES

The FS is starting to close many of the gates across the Forest. Most of these closures are based on established seasonal closure dates and/or threat of incoming storms. You can see a list of each closed road at the following link and some highlights called out below:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/lpnf/alerts-notices/?aid=10432

MPRD
– Mount Pinos has been pretty regular with their seasonal closures over the past few years. Of note this year is that Santa Barbara Canyon is closed at the first gate next to Reyes Ranch. This will add an extra 4+ miles each way for those who are wanting to hike either Santa Barbara Canyon Trail, Cuyama Peak via Dry Canyon or venture up the Buckhorn Rd to the Sierra Madre and beyond.
– Also note that Grade Valley Rd is closed to Mutau, Fishbowls and Cedar Creek amongst others.
– Rancho Nuevo / Tinta Rd was closed at the Cuyama River crossing but will be reopening soon, if not already.

ORD
– Dough Flat will close on December 1
– Nordhoff, Pine Mtn and Cherry Creek will all close December 16.
– Potrero Seco is permanently closed.

SBRD
– We’ve heard rumors that the Divide Peak gate along East Camino Cielo might already be closed and will certainly close this Friday through the first week of December. Rule of thumb, if rain is in the forecast, that road will be closed.

SLRD
– Nothing of note, but Bates will close if we get any significant rain, we’ll keep you posted.

MRD
– North Coast Ridge Rd above Big Sur and Escondido Rd on the east side are both closed.

If you have any additional information to share, please let us know.

L P   C L A S S I F I E D S

Some odds and ends from across the Forest:

BIG SUR STATE PARKS
– Even though the Los Padres National Forest hasn’t lifted its fire restrictions, some of the State Park managed car campgrounds have.
– Andrew Molera, Pfeiffer Big Sur and Julia Pfeiffer Burns have lifted their restrictions and are now allowing campfires in the campgrounds.

WEBELOS SCOUT PROJECT
– Ventura based Webelos Den #3179 spent a weekend last month cleaning up trash from Nordhoff Peak above Ojai.
– We’re only showing one photo here, but you should see all the trash they were able to pull out.
– It’s always nice to see the youngsters helping the Forest, certainly another reason to be thankful!

NordhoffCleanup
Webelos, To The Hills, photo Craig Carey

Happy Holidays and enjoy the long weekend!


Los Padres Forest Association
www.HikeLosPadres.com