Condor, Sycamore and Baer……. OH MY!

BAER Trail Protection, San Ysidro Trail, photo Carr
Hello Friends – We hope you are doing well and finding some time to splash in the puddles!

If you’ve been anywhere near a fire over the past few years, you’ve probably heard the words “BEAR WORK” and might not know exactly what that means.  We get asked about it all the time and it’s BAER WORK (pronounced BEAR).  So what is BAER?  This is directly from the Los Padres NF website:

The US Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team’s purpose is to assess threats to life, property, and cultural and natural resources from fire-induced changes to the watershed that can cause erosion, sedimentation, flooding, and debris flows.
Basically what happens is that after any larger scale fire, the USFS dispatches a team of specialists to study and survey the future impacts that fire might play within the downstream communities and to the resources within the forest.  This team is called the BAER team (see acronym above) and they’re usually the first people on the ground as the flames die down.  The BAER team studies all the potential risks from the fire, generates reports outlining those risks, prescribes treatments designed to mitigate those potential risks and then performs those treatments within the forest.  BAER studies include archaeology, road engineering, trail protection, fisheries, soils, hydrology and more.  All the Thomas Fire reports are published on the FS website in case you are interested in the details.  So remember, the next time you hear a post-fire BAER reference, you can amaze your friends by telling them it has nothing to do with Smokey or Boo-Boo and then for bonus nerd points follow that up with a NIRA reference (National Industrial Recovery Act).
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It just feels like Burkittsville, along the Condor Trail
Is the Condor Trail on your bucket list?  Do you fear you’ll kick the bucket if you attempt the Condor Trail?  Do you enjoy exploring new places across the Los Padres?  If you answered YES to any of those questions then you have to come to the Condor Trail Talk on Friday March 23 at the Balboa Building in Santa Barbara.  The Trail Talk is being hosted by the Condor Trail Association, LPFA and REI and we’ll be welcoming 4 sets of hikers who either finished the CT in 2017 or came really really close.  Each set of hikers will share stories from their journey across the Los Padres and it should be really cool hearing how different each journey was based on time of year and what they encountered along the way.  The talk is free, doors open at 6:30pm, we’ll have a raffle, silent auction, maybe a game or two and some beverages to kick your weekend off in style.  Come one, come all – as long as space allows!  Hope to see you there……
Condor Trail 2017 Hikers
Friday March 23 – Doors Open 6:30pm
Balboa Building – 735 State Street – Santa Barbara
*parking can be tough, suggest Paseo Nuevo*
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Toejam Taking in the Lower Sisquoc, January 2018
Sycamore Camp, April 14-22
We’re happy to announce our latest and greatest LPFA Working Vacation, this time along the Sisquoc Trail, based at Sycamore Camp in the spectacular San Rafael Wilderness.  The plan is to drive in to the Jackson Trailhead along the Sierra Madres on Saturday morning April 14.  From there we’ll backpack 4 miles down to Sycamore Camp, which will be our camp for the week.  We’ll be joined by the usual cast of mule packers and exquisite backcountry cooks that make camping life so enjoyable while on a Working Vacation.
Our mission for the week is to clear the trail from Sycamore Camp downstream to Big Bend Canyon. As mentioned, we’ll have mule support to bring in tasty food and cold sudsy beverages while Rich Scholl will once again be cooking up a storm, providing the best in wilderness camp cooking, including the now infamous “COFFEE’S READY, HUH!”.  No joke, some people come just to hear coffee’s ready, huh!  Or is it the Woot Woot that they come for?  Either way, all food is provided for volunteers and we promise you’ll never leave hungry.
While we’ll be at Sycamore for a whole week, there will be plenty of opportunities for shorter stays and we’ll make room for you if you can spend 3, 4, 5 or more days on the Working Vacation. Let us know what works for your schedule and we can most likely make it work for us.  You will have to backpack in 4 miles to the camp, including a hard steep hike back out at the end of the WV.  We usually work from 8am – 3pm but we’ll take however many hours you’re willing to give.  Most of the work will be using loppers to cut back the brush, the occasional sawing of a branch and clearing ravel from the trail corridor.
The Working Vacations are always a great time! It’s a terrific way to give back to the trails you love, explore some new parts of the forest, get into a backcountry groove and meet great friends along the way.
To sign up or to learn more please email:

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Doesn’t that look a whole lot more inviting!

– There has been a bit of controversy surrounding post-fire reseeding and if it’s beneficial or not, in particular with the recent Thomas Fire.  We reached out to the FS as well as the California Chaparral Institute to learn about what their recommendations are.  Attached you’ll find some notes and letters with opinions.  Enjoy……

– Tragically, on February 15 there was an accidental self-inflicted gunshot caused death at the Glass Factory target shooting area along East Camino Cielo.  Due to the investigation of the shooting, the Glass Factory will remain closed until March 27.

– Highway 1 along the Big Sur Coast remains closed just north of Salmon Guard Station at Mud Creek.  There have been a few additional slides that have caused delays and/or closures due to the recent storms but all of those have been cleared.  If Hwy 1 is on your radar, be sure to check CalTrans or BigSurKate ahead of time.

– Even with the recent “March Marvel” (we can’t call it a miracle just yet), we remain well below the average rainfall totals across the forest for the season.  We’re still fighting to overcome a February that had single digit percentages of average rainfall across most of the Los Padres.  Figueroa Mountain received only 2% of their average rain in February, Three Peaks in the Silver Peak region only 7%.  By comparison, Fig Mtn is 174% of normal for March so far and Three Peaks is a whopping 757% of normal!  March is off to a good start and fortunately the storms have been light and steady within the fire areas.  Lets pray for more of the same……

– In case you hadn’t heard, the Whittier Fire closure has been lifted and West Camino Cielo is once again open, barring temporary rain closures.  Please tread lightly.  While West Camino is open, the Tequepis Trail remains inaccessible due to the closure of Circle V Ranch.

– Speaking of the Whittier Fire, the cause of the fire was released last month, read here for more information.

– The Thomas Fire closure remains in effect with all of the burned areas (the black) still closed to public access.  This includes access east of Gibraltar Road along East Camino Cielo and all the trailheads accessed via Rose Valley (yes, even Piedra Blanca Trailhead).  There has been no timetable set as to when the Thomas closure will be lifted.

– There’s been some good news coming from the Thomas Fire specifically related to fire impacted animals surviving the fire.  Here’s one about the use of fish skin bandages to help repair burns and the release of two of those bears and a mountain lion cub.  And this article talking about condor #871’s first flight across the Sespe.

– Thanks to the fantastic work of CalTrans, Highway 33 has remained open through all the past series of storms.  Those guys are amazing!  Thanks CalTrans!  That being said, if you plan on driving Hwy 33, please be aware that it could close at any moment and especially around rain events.

– The Los Padres Forest is requesting comments to reissue power-line permits through the forest.  For more information start here.

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Smokin Hot, Cold Spring Sunset

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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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:
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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: – 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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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……


Aaron, before and after, sizing up a complex oak on Cold Spring Trail

Hi Everyone – we hope you’re having a great Good Friday and an even better Good Friday evening,

We’ve got a lot to share today – this is probably the most jam-packed email we’ve ever sent.  So, slip into something more comfortable, pour yourself an ice-cold lemonade and enjoy the read.
If you read nothing else, please check out the massive list of upcoming events and trail projects at the bottom – thanks!

There is no shortage of activities and events going on right now in and around the Los Padres.  We’re right in the middle of what is typically the busiest time of year for the Los Padres.  The flowers are doing their thing (more on that below), the water is plentiful and the trailheads are crammed with hikers, riders and backpackers enjoying the forest.  While the trail-users are busy enjoying the trails, the trail crews and trail volunteers are doing their best to fix any damage sustained from this winters storms.  At the bottom of this email (way down there) is a list of upcoming trail projects.  Giving back to the trails and volunteering time to cut brush from the trail or remove a rock slide can be so rewarding.  We encourage all of you to find a trail event this Spring that inspires you and sign up to volunteer for a day or a weekend or even a 10-day Working Vacation.  You’ll love it!  There are plenty of options out there for everyone, we hope you can find some time to make it happen…….

In the meantime, there is something all of us can do while we’re out on the trails that will directly benefit the trails: TRAIL REPORTS.  Trail crews can’t fix a trail if they don’t know that the trail needs fixing, right?  So while you’re out for a ride or hike and if come across a section of trail with a downed tree or a slide or is buried in brush; take a picture and share it with your local trail group, Forest Service staff or post it to and we’ll make sure it gets into the right hands.  When taking the picture, it helps to position a friend or a hiking pole or your dog or something in the photo to give the feature some perspective so that we can tell exactly how big that downed tree is.  If you can include GPS coordinates that helps a lot as well.  HikeLosPadres has an easy user-interface that allows you to post pictures and include information like GPS and size estimates along with the photo.  It works great to share as much information as you can so that the trail crews can get out there and do what they love to do fixing these trail problems and issues.  Thank you all for the help and we hope you’re finding plenty of time on the trails this Spring……

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A nice bouquet somewhere between Greenfield and the Pacific


Look out at that hill, it’s a balloon, it’s a tie-dye, no it’s SUPER BLOOM!  You’ve probably seen the words ‘super bloom’ a lot over the past couple of weeks.  That’s the word being used to describe an exceptional eruption of wildflowers and after all our winter rains, California 2017 is certainly qualifying as a super bloom.  Social media is overflowing with pictures of pilgrimages to Death Valley, Joshua Tree and the Carrizo Plain.  In fact there are even pictures from outer space showing the 2017 super bloom.  While we can’t all be so lucky to join in these epic trips to the desert, never fear, chances are there are super blooms right outside your door.  Find some time in the next couple of weeks to revisit your favorite flower haunt or try to find a new one!  Helen Tarbet of the Santa Lucia Ranger District here in the Los Padres puts together a wildflower update for those people headed to Figueroa Mountain to see the wildflowers.  Her latest report from April 12 is attached with this email.  Check it out and remember to tread lightly so the next people can see the flowers just as you saw them.  Enjoy…….

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The soon-to-be new Pfeiffer Gulch Bridge, CalTrans


While the flowers are certainly out this year, the Los Padres hasn’t completely reopened after the winter storms.  Most of the dirt roads across the Forest remain closed and behind locked gates.  Some of the roads (such as Sierra Madre) have reopened but most of them will stay closed for at least a few more weeks.  The traditional gate opening ceremony usually occurs on May 1 but this year that might not be the case as some of the roads did sustain quite a bit of damage and are not passable yet.  The Forest Service is working on it.  If you’re heading out to the forest, it’s a good idea to call your local Ranger Station to check if the roads are open.  More details below:

  • The Soberanes Fire Closure remains in effect up in the Big Sur and Ventana Wilderness portions of the Los Padres.  No date has been established for when the fire closure will be lifted.
  • The Big Sur Coast remains somewhat isolated as CalTrans works to reopen Hwy 1.  Google search if confused.
    • Nacimiento Ferguson Road has reopened creating a connection to the coast but Hwy 1 is closed in both directions from there.
    • The Pfeifer Gulch Bridge in Big Sur is being rebuilt with an end of September estimated date of completion.
  • In Santa Barbara, First Crossing and Romero Camuesa Rd at Divide Peak remain closed due to storm flooding and debris flows related to the Rey Fire.
  • Highway 33 will start to see traffic delays as CalTrans continues to work on stabilizing slopes damaged by the storms (see attached).

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The aforementioned Carrizo Super Bloom, photo Andy Quinn


  • There is a lot of trail restoration activity going on at the moment in the San Rafael Wilderness.  The LPFA has been working on the Manzana Trail and is currently in the middle of a 10-day Working Vacation based at Happy Hunting Ground.  We’ll have additional crews based at Manzana Narrows starting next weekend through the middle of May.  In addition, the CREW is working on the Sisquoc Trail based out of South Fork working up towards Heath Camp.  These trails will be beautiful after all this work.  If you’re out there, be sure to thank the crews!
  • This is kind of cool, there was an officer in Solvang who got a video of a mountain lion chasing after a deer.
  • With all the recent fires and storms, there have become quite a few hazard trees hanging over campsites around the Los Padres.  Some of the trees have been documented, others have not.  It’s always a good idea to check the area for dead trees or leaners before setting up your camp and obviously camp elsewhere if there is a nearby hazard tree.  Take photos of any hazard trees and share with the Forest Service once you get home.
  • The Wheeler Gorge Open House will be Saturday April 22 from 10am – 2pm.  This years Open House will feature booths from local organizations, a Used Camping Gear Sale, BBQ and a visit from Smokey Bear.  If you have kids and like the forest, this is the place for you!  Come on out.  We’ve also released the summer program of talks at Wheeler.
  • The Big Sur International Marathon is April 30.  There is only one way in and out of Big Sur at the moment.  Unless you are running in the marathon, you might want to stay away from Big Sur that weekend.
  • Some personnel news in the Los Padres, more to come later, LP Supervisor Bob Baird has accepted a position as California Regional Fire Director for the USFS.  He will unfortunately be leaving the Los Padres next month.  While we say goodbye to Supervisor Baird, we also say hello to Ranger Brad Turberville who is taking on the Ranger duties at Mount Pinos Ranger District on a 120-day detail.  Welcome Ranger Turberville!
  • The Santa Barbara Trails Council is currently running a photo contest featuring the Gaviota Coast.  There are some really amazing photos being shared, including some from the Los Padres.  Proceeds from the contest will be used to complete the Baron Trail, which is a new trail being built along the Gaviota Coast.

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 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, 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:

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:

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 ( 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….. 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.


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


If you check the dictionary or an online source and look up the antonym for the word VACATION, the first response that comes back is the word WORK.  Generally the words WORK and VACATION don’t go together too well, do they?  That’s not always the case though, let me explain…..
Starting about 15 years ago the LPFA began a program called WORKING VACATIONS where VWR Trail Leaders would host a 7-10 day volunteer trail project usually deep in a wilderness area.  Being that it takes a day of travel to even get to most of these remote locations, the WORKING VACATIONS (WV) gave us enough time out there to accomplish a lot of trail work.  The WV’s are always stock supported, meaning we utilize mules and/or horses to bring in camp supplies, food and in some cases all the camping gear.  On a few WV’s the volunteers literally only need to carry in a daypack and the stock team carries in all other essentials for the week – it’s great!  The LPFA pays for all the food for the week and there is usually a designated cook who handles preparing all meals and cleanup.  You wake up and there is hot coffee and breakfast waiting for you and at the end of the day you are greeted back at camp with a cold beverage and dinner already made – it’s great!  (You might be asking how you can schedule a WV at your house?  Can’t help you there…..)  It’s also really nice having a terrific excuse to visit some of the more remote, wild and spectacular parts of the forest.  But the best part about WORKING VACATIONS is getting into a daily rhythm of working the trails and spending time with old friends or making new friends – it’s great!

Heath Camp has never smelled so good…..
In Spring 2016 the LPFA will be hosting three WORKING VACATIONS.  Our first is from April 8-18 at Madulce Camp in the Dick Smith Wilderness.  We’ll be working all the trails that radiate from camp including Santa Barbara Canyon, Madulce Trail, Puerto Suelo and the Don Victor Trail.  There are options available for volunteers who can only make it for a long weekend or for those who would like to stay all week.  We can pretty much customize the arrivals and departures around your schedule.  The project will be stock supported and all food expenses covered.  If you are interested in helping either as a trail volunteer, cook or packer, contact  Mike Smith will be the project leader.

Log Cabin Pancake Breakfast

Our second WORKING VACATION is May 20-31 based at Sycamore Camp along the middle Sisquoc in the San Rafael Wilderness.  Our focus for this project will be to work the Sisquoc Trail downstream from Sycamore to Abel Camp.  John Franklin and Steve Cypher are co-leading this project.  Volunteers, cooks and/or stock support are needed.  I’ll tell you one thing, jumping into the Sisquoc after a long day of work will not be the worst thing.

The stars of the show: Susie, Otis and Team

The third WORKING VACATION is scheduled for June and the location is TBD dependent on how water conditions shape up the rest of the winter and into summer.

If you are interested in learning more or to sign up, let us know:


The Working Vacations are great fun and I think I can speak for all the previous participants and say that they are some of the best volunteer experiences you can have in the Los Padres.  Hope to see you out there…….



And while I have you, don’t forget about the Surf & Turf event TONIGHT at Surf Brewery in Ventura.  Information is attached.

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

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


Working Vacation Update and National Trails Day

Hello Los Padres – hope this finds you well,

The big news this past week was that most of the seasonal gate closures in the Ventura backcountry were opened as of May 1.  This includes Dough Flat, Grade Valley, Santa Barbara Canyon (SBCo), Alamo and Pine Mtn amongst others.  These gates are closed November 1 and reopened May 1 as part of seasonal gate closures.  Unfortunately the closures happen to coincide with the best time for people to recreate behind most of these gates.  It would be nice to see the gates opened and closed on a case by case basis based on storm events, conditions and elevation rather than a blanket closure.  Hopefully this is something we can work on over the next 6 months so that next years closures won’t be so drastic.  For now, the gates are open and now is a great time to get out and enjoy the Forest.  Have at it………



Dream Team of Otis, Susie and team……….


The LPFA just wrapped up a 10-day Working Vacation along the Upper Sisquoc in the San Rafael Wilderness.  We had 16 volunteers over that time working the trail and helping supply the project with stock support.  Working Vacations are designed to entice volunteers to spend time working the trails in exchange for cooked meals and cold beverages at the end of each hard days work.  Led by VWR super hero Mike Smith, we were able to log out over 100 downed trees from the Judell and Sisquoc Trails.  By the end of the 10-days, the entire Judell Trail and from Mansfield to Lower Bear was passable to stock.  It was a great project and huge accomplishment.  Special thanks to the Forest Service for helping support the project, in particular Joe Duran, Pancho Smith and Nate Rezeau.  Also Susie and Otis for their expert pack support and Rich Scholl for being a dutch oven magician as our designated cook.

Now that the trail work is done, it’s time to head out and see for yourself.  There was plenty of water in the Sisquoc and the trails are in great shape.  We’re starting to plan an early summer followup project to log the section of trail from Alamar Saddle down to Lower Bear.  We’ll keep you posted and hope to see you next time around……


Crosscut Logging near Mansfield, photo Beckstrand


The Tombstone Oak, you know it’s taken some time when a tree gets a name, photo Burtness 


Tread Looking Nice!


Benefits of stock support, photo Burtness


Eat like Kings and Queens


Spectacular Judell Trail, looking better than normal!




Give back to your trails by celebrating National Trails Day with the LPFA.  This year we are hosting a 1-2 day project along the Cold Spring Trail in Santa Barbara County.  With the help of a grant from the Los Padres Trails Riders, we’ll be base camping at Mono Campground and working the Cold Spring Trail through the Mono Jungle and up to the infamous North Cold Spring Slide.  The Slide has been choking the trail for the past 10+ years and preventing most trail users from making it along the trail.  We are going to spend our time reestablishing this section of trail and logging downed trees in the Mono Jungle.  Here is a quick breakdown on the project logistics:

Friday June 5
– Arrive at Mono Campground in the afternoon or evening
– Setup camp, relax, nearby hot springs

Saturday June 6
– Arrive at Mono Campground
– Trail work will start at 0800
– We’ll break into groups and hike the 2miles to the slide section
– Work the trail……
– Stop work at 1500 and head back to Mono Campground
– BBQ and post-work cold beverages provided by the LPFA and TBA local brewing company
– Relax around camp, enjoy nearby hot springs

Sunday June 7
– Breakfast provided by the LPFA
– 0900, optional continued work on the Slide for those interested
– 1400 stop work and head back to Mono Campground
– Pack up and head home

If you are interested in helping either with trail work or as a camp cook, please email  For more information check here:

The Slide, looks better than it actually is…….

List of more upcoming events……….
May 19-27: Santa Cruz Trail Project
May: Buckhorn Trail Project
June 3-11: Mono Alamar Trail Project
June 5-7: National Trails Day, Mono Campground Trail Weekend
June 27: Big Sur Wilderness Celebration
June: Bear Sisquoc Crosscut
July 10-12: Santa Barbara 100 Endurance Run Support
July: Madulce Trail Crosscut

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