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 Season & Pine Valley Legend

San Luis Obispo Backcountry, March 2016
SLOCamp

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.

 

VOLUNTEER SEASON

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

LittlePineSunset

Little Pine Sunset, March 2016


THE PASSING OF A LOS PADRES LEGEND
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
PineValley