Los Padres Hunting & Wildfire Season

We certainly won’t be winning any lumberjack world championship crosscut speed competitions, but we got it done!  Sisquoc Trail, August 2019

HELLO FRIENDS – Tomorrow (August 10) kicks off the most popular hunting season here in the Los Padres, the Zone A South General Deer Season.  Zone A South encompasses most of the Los Padres from Monterey down through Ventura County except for Zone D13 which covers the Ventura/Kern Highcountry, click to see map here.  There will be a lot of hunter activity across the forest over the coming A Zone weeks, especially during the early weekends of the Season.  If you’re out and about you should expect to see hunters at most of the trailheads and along many of the access roads.  If you have plans to visit the forest this weekend, be aware of the extra activity and depending on your interests and where you plan on going, you may want to adjust your plans or at the very least wear bright colored clothing.  Good idea to leave the antler helmet at home this time around.

Remember that we are in fire restrictions and campfires are only permitted in designated campfire use sites.  Be safe!

Wildfire Season is Here!  Mill Fire overview, photo Nic Elmquist

WILDFIRE UPDATE & CLOSURES

The Los Padres had two wildfire scares over the past couple weeks with the Mill Fire (310 acres) along the southern edge of the Ventana Wilderness and the Range Fire (100 acres) off of Happy Canyon in the Santa Ynez Valley.  Thankfully both fires didn’t blow up and are near 100% containment.  The cause of the fires have not been shared.  There is a current forest closure as a result of the Mill Fire that includes Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, Mill Creek Trail, Kirk Creek Trail, South Coast and Cone Peak Roads.  Thanks to everyone involved in fighting the fires and lets hope for no more wildfire scares.

Bow wow wow!  Poodle dog flooding Dry Lakes Ridge, photo Perry Van Houton

FOREST 411

• There have been quite a few trails maintained over the past month or so across the Los Padres by the FS and your local volunteer organizations.  Here’s a quick list, remember you can visit HikeLosPadres.com for more information about these wonderful trails: Cold Spring, Marble Peak, Franklin, Matilija Falls, Poplar, Reyes Peak, Rattlesnake Canyon, Romero, Baron, Sisquoc, Terrace Creek, Jesusita

• Earlier this week the Los Padres made the news as a result of a car chase that ended up, then down, along the Sierra Madre Road.  The footage of the LP portion of the chase was released a few days ago and is absolutely crazy.  Please don’t try this!

• The LP also made the news this week thanks to a two-day search operation for a missing backpacker.  The solo backpacker and his faithful dog were attempting the 50-mile Lower Sisquoc Loop in the San Rafael Wilderness when he came down with a sickness on day 1 of his 3 day trip.  His family grew concerned when he didn’t make it home at the end of day 3 and contacted Santa Barbara Search and Rescue.  The extensive search began at sunrise on day 4 and thankfully the backpacker turned up mid-morning on day 5.  The backpacker was dehydrated but otherwise in good health.  Thankfully the backpacker had left an itinerary with his family and had taken the time to enter his name into the various trail registers along the route.  The combination of register entries and knowing his itinerary aided immensely in developing a search strategy for the lost backpack.  Remember that.  Alls well that ends well, great work by SAR and yes, the dog came back in one piece as well – probably had the time of his life!

• The trails above Montecito were hit extremely hard due to the Thomas Fire and subsequent January 2018 debris flows.  Many groups and volunteers have assisted in the reconstruction of the trails but we wanted to mention one specific group effort working on the lower Cold Spring Trail, specifically building a wall that is now affectionately known as the Don Wall.  The Cold Spring Trail was wiped clean after the debris flows and along with it the trailhead on the east side of Mountain Drive.  This section of trail had turned into a lumpy cliff face with a 20ft drop into the creek below.  It seemed impossible to repair but thanks to nearly two-months of hard work the trail has been fixed and is looking terrific!  Many people assisted in this process including: Los Padres National Forest, City of Santa Barbara, SB County, Montecito Trails Foundation, Santa Barbara Mountain Bike Trail Volunteers, Multi-Use Trails Coalition, Thomas Fire Trail Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, SLO County Trails, SB County Trails Council, Ventana Wilderness Alliance, the LPFA ans especially Donn & Don.  It was really inspiring and fun working with so many people and completing our goal.  Thanks everyone…….

• The gate at Cherry Creek Road along upper Highway 33 is now open.  Cherry Creek provides access to the upper Matilija Trailhead as well as the upper Ortega Motorcycle Trail.

• Get your party hats on…..  Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday is today.  Woot woot!  Wonder if he will have candles on his cake….???  Happy Birthday Smokey Bear.

• Highway 1 along northern SLO County will have overnight closures at Ragged Point for 4 weeks starting on 8/12.

The before and after Don Wall, Cold Spring Trailhead

Get Your Los Padres Forest Update

Romero Trail Thomas Fire Damage, Before & After, Compliments of Multi-Use Trails Coalition

Hello Friends,

We were fortunate last week to have an early season storm roll across the Los Padres bringing with it precipitation ranging from around a tenth of an inch in the inland areas to over an inch along the coastal mountains.  That’s a great start for the season and if nothing else should bring some green color to some of our hills soon.  Depending on what happens from here on out we could enjoy a nice long green season, which we haven’t had very much of over the past decade.  Fingers crossed for a nice series of slow and steady storms ahead…….

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Poplar Trail, in Need of a Shave,  photo Aaron Songer, October 2018
BLUFF – POPLAR WORKING VACATION
The LPFA will be hosting our next Working Vacation starting next week from October 19-28.  We’ll be base-camping at the Bluff Administrative Cabin and working down the Poplar Trail in the Dick Smith Wilderness along the upper Indian Creek drainage.  Due to fire related road closures and poor access, the Poplar Trail has become extremely overgrow in recent years with some people calling it the “worst trail in the Santa Barbara Backcountry”.  Our focus over the Working Vacation will be to clear downed trees, remove choked brush and attempt to push the “worst trail” moniker to someplace else.  If you have some free time between the 19th and 28th and are interested in volunteering on the trail we’d love to have your help.  We are asking that people volunteer for at least 4 days.  This is a car-camping style project since we have the luxory of driving the 90-min dirt road in to Bluff Camp.  If you don’t have a dirt road worthy vehicle, don’t worry, we should have plenty of space in other trucks for you to carpool along.  As usual, all food, tools and PPE will be provided for the volunteers.  For more information or to sign up please email project leader Mike Smith at TrailSmith@LPForest.org.  Hope to see you out there…..
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Morning Moment of Truth, How Hot is it Gonna be? photo AQuinn
FOREST 411
• The LPFA will be putting on our 4th Annual Used Gear Sale on Sunday November 4 at Tucker’s Grove in Goleta.  As usual, we’ll have literally hundreds of gently used camping gear supplies, tents and other odds and ends highlighted by dozens of Gossamer Gear backpacks.  If you have any used camping gear you’d like to donate, we’d be happy to take it off your hands in exchange for a donation receipt and a high five.  Proceeds from the sale go to the LPFA Trail Care program.  For more information or to donate your camping gear email: INFO@LPForest.org.

• General hunting season ended a few weeks ago for most of the Los Padres (A Zone South) but general deer season opens this weekend for Zone D13, which covers most of the Mt Pinos Ranger District and a large portion of the Ojai District.  Click here for a map of D13.  D13 opens October 13 and lasts through November 11.

• A coalition of local Southern Los Padres trail organizations, including the LPFA, have combined forces to raise needed funds to restore the trails impacted by the Thomas Fire.  You’ll be hearing A LOT more about the Thomas Fire Trail Fund in the coming weeks/months but we have released a PDF update on the Thomas Fire trail restoration efforts, check it out here.

• Two California Condors have been found dead in recent months as a result of gunshot wounds.  One condor was found near Porterville and the other in Kern County, just outside the Los Padres.  Currently there is a $15,000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for these tragic deaths.

• The LPFA will once again be printing 2019 Los Padres calendars just in time for the holidays.  We’re looking for any great photos you might have of the Los Padres that we could include in the calendar.  Email us (INFO@LPForest.org) for more information.

• The Ogilvy Fire was declared 100% contained.  The fire chewed up 172 acres and burned from September 1-4 in the Mono drainage in the Santa Barbara Backcountry.

Sycamore Canyon Road, which is used to access Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, is closed to the public Monday – Friday lasting through November 30.  The road is currently being repaired after sustaining major damage in the 2016-2017 atmospheric river storms.

• Don’t forget to check HikeLosPadres.com before your next adventure into the Los Padres.  Great place to read about water and trail conditions.  And don’t forget to share your findings when you get back…..

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The Wander-Full Southern Views Across the Chumash

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