Finally, Los Padres Spring Season is HERE!

No more waiting, LP Season 2019 is on now!
No White Walkers here, just Blue Canyon, photo D Haan

Hello Friends,

We hope this email finds you with a little Los Padres dirt under your fingernails, perhaps a very small splotch of poison oak on the back of your leg, sore legs from hammering up that big trail climb last weekend and a huge smile thinking about what was and what is yet to come in your Los Padres explorations.  This is the prime time of the year for hiking, riding, camping and/or swimming.  There are lots of opportunities near and far to enjoy the Los Padres and to give back to the forest in the process.  You can explore local Meetup groups for close-by trail addicts looking for like-minded friends to share the trails with.  Study your LP maps or HikeLosPadres.com for new trails or camps to visit.  And for those who want to give back to the trails you love, join the LPFA on one of our upcoming volunteer projects.  Have at it, get-out get-out wherever you are and take advantage of the prime season here in the Los Padres.  Oh, and by the way, we’d love to see any photos you take while you’re out in the forest.  Just as you probably (hopefully) like to get these updates, we also love to see what you’re up to as well.  Living vicariously……

Nathan Wickstrum for the win! And he won the contest too.

WHEELER GORGE BROCHURE COVER CONTEST

A few months ago we ran a contest looking for great photos of the Hwy 33 / Ojai Backcountry region of the Los Padres Forest to be used on the cover of the 2019 Wheeler Gorge event brochure.  We received over 100 incredible photo entries from across the Ojai Ranger District featuring sunsets, flowers, snow capped mountains, waterfalls, majestic trees, vistas and people enjoying the forest.  It was a hard choice but we ended up choosing this fantastic layout of waterfalls taken by Nathan Wickstrum.  Thank you everyone who participated and Nathan, we’ll be in touch to discuss your prize!  Woot woot…..

The annual Wheeler Gorge Open House is this weekend!  Please come by for a visit with your family and friends, say hello and come back again throughout the summer for the weekly events and talks.  You can learn more here.

LPFA volunteers went Dothraki clearing brush on the Tinta Trail. 
Yes, that was and is the trail.  Up next is fixing the ruts and water damage……..

FOREST 411

– The LPFA will be co-hosting a Trivia Night TONIGHT with REI at Night Lizard Brewing in Santa Barbara.  If you enjoy the outdoors, find yourself at REI regularly, dig trivia nights or enjoy beer; we expect to see you tonight at 7pm.  Bring your A Game…….

– We’ve been busy restoring many of the trails you love and some that you might learn to love.  Over the past month we’ve led trail projects on the Aliso Trail, Santa Barbara Canyon Trail, Alamar Trail, Tinta Trail, Mono-Alamar Trail, Poplar Trail, Alamar Hill Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Judell Trail, Cold Spring Trail, Matilija Falls Trail, Gridley Trail, Manzana Trail, Lost Valley Trail, Hurricane Deck Trail and Big Cone Spruce Trail.  We’ve also partnered with Santa Barbara County Trails Council to help them on the Franklin Trail and Baron Trail, partnered with Montecito Trails Foundation to work on the Wiman Trail, Hot Springs Connector Trail, West Fork Cold Spring Trail and Old Pueblo Trail and partnered with SLOPOST to help on the Trout Creek Trail and Seller’s Potrero Trail.  Tis the season for trail work, it’s been a busy month!  Big thanks to all our partners, The Forest Service, our LPFA Trail Crew and especially all the volunteers who have poured their heart and souls into helping the trails we love!  THANK YOU……

– The Amgen Tour of California will be passing through the Los Padres in a few weeks.  Stage 4 starts at Laguna Seca on May 15 and follows Highway 1 along the Big Sur Coast before ending 137 miles later at Morro Bay.  Should be spectacular!  The next day on May 16, stage 5 covers 136 miles from Pismo Beach to Ventura passing the Los Padres through Hwy 154 in Santa Barbara.

– The Los Padres National Forest is proposing to reroute the Pine Ridge Trail around a damaged section of trail near Barlow Flat Camp.  The Pine Ridge Trail is one of the most heavily used trails in the Los Padres and has been closed since July 2016 due to the Soberanes Fire and subsequent damage to the trail.  The FS is looking for comments on the proposed reroute.  Please check this link for more details and let your voice be heard.

– The Los Padres’ very own Helen Tarbet has released her latest Figueroa Mountain Wildflower update for April 18.  This is a fantastic resource for knowing where and what flowers are out and about.

– Many of the roads around the forest remain damaged and closed after this winters heavy rains, see photo below.  The FS is working to repair the roads and restore trailhead access. Many of the seasonal gate closures are expected to be reopened on May 1.  Please be patient with the FS but at the same time give them a call and let them know you want and need the roads reopened as soon as possible.

– Even with the above average rain season we’ve enjoyed, the Los Padres is preparing for another potentially big fire season ahead.  Due in part to the wet winter, the grasses around the Los Padres have grown quite high and much of that grass is starting to dry out.  We’ve already seen a few smaller grass fires around the Central Coast.  In anticipation of the upcoming fire season, Cal Fire has been adding staff and fire engines as well as awarding grants to areas such as Big Sur and the Santa Barbara Frontcountry to tackle local fire prevention projects.

– In response to a 2018 lawsuit, an agreement was reached last week between the Forest Service and ForestWatch to extend the temporary ban on un-managed target shooting across the Los Padres National Forest until January 2020.  This does not impact the regular legal hunting seasons and target shooting remains legal at both the Ojai Valley Gun Club in Rose Valley and Winchester Gun Club on West Camino Cielo.

– With the assistance of the VWA, Arroyo Seco Gorge has been selected as a Leave No Trace Hot Spot for 2019 and will be visited by LNT staff August 19-26.  As part of a LNT Hotspot program, LNT will send out a small team of LNT experts who will stay at Arroyo Seco for the week and conduct public outreach and lead community events designed to teach and preach more sustainable practices for the Arroyo Seco Gorge.  Good stuff!

– The Los Padres National Forest will be hosting a job fair on Saturday May 4 from 9am – 1pm at the San Marcos Fire Station.

– Lets get back to the trails, shall we?  While last month was certainly busy, we’ve got more trail restoration on tap for the coming month including work on the Tequepis Trail, Matilija Trail, Three Peaks Trail, Cold Spring Trail, Willow Spring Trail, Manzana Trail, Deal Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Alamar Trail, Poplar Trail, Grapevine Trail and Matilija Falls Trail.  Busy busy busy……  If you’d like to help with any of these trail projects, we’d love the support either through volunteer help or donations.  Email Volunteer@LPForest.org or make a donation to the LPFA Trail Care program today!

That’s the road, and a legit reason why Grade Valley remains closed, photo Upper Ojai SAR

Los Padres Storm Damage, Target Shooting, Condor Talk

Quite a weekend for waterfall hunters, finding unknown targets around every corner, photo Humphrey

storm /stôrm/ – noun – a violent disturbance of the atmosphere with strong winds and usually rain, thunder, lightning, or snow.

Hello Friends,

We certainly had a storm this past weekend, to say the least.  Most of the forest received somewhere in the 5-10″+ of rain between Friday and Tuesday with snow piling up at the higher elevations.  It was a bit of a crazy storm as well including reports of 80mph winds in some locations, a tornado warning in Santa Barbara County and even a kiosk in Big Sur being lifted away and blown across Hwy 1.  While we haven’t seen a whole lot of trail damage reports just yet, which we’re sure will come in soon, we have quite a few road closure updates to share as well as other storm related updates:

  • Maybe the most dramatic images of this past storm were taken by Cynthi Bacon who filmed a debris flow tearing out of the Whittier Fire burn area near Lake Cachuma.  This flow, along with others, blocked the culverts under Hwy 154 and have caused an indefinite closure of Hwy 154.
  • Montecito once again received a ton of rain within the Thomas Fire scar but thankfully it appears that all the prep-work on the creeks and basins paid off.  Here’s an amazing video taken by Tim Sulger showing some of the raging water that came through Montecito last Saturday.  While Hwy 101 was closed, it is back open again.
  • Highway 33 remains closed between Ojai and Lockwood Valley due to slides but is scheduled to reopen before the weekend.  There will be delays even after reopening due to single lane closures and repair crews.
  • Speaking of Hwy 33, there were some stranded backpackers along the Sespe Trail who needed rescuing over the weekend as well.  I would love to see some photos of what the Sespe looked like, must have been horrifying!
  • All gates are currently closed on the Ojai Ranger District.  Rose Valley and Middle Lion Camps are closed due to mud and damaged roads.
East Camino sinkhole, photo LPFA
  • A sinkhole developed along East Camino Cielo above Santa Barbara that wiped out half the road (see photo above).  The FS has closed East Camino Cielo east of Gibraltar Road including Divide Peak OHV.
  • Sage Hill and First Crossing remain closed along Paradise Road due to high water.
  • Highway 1 remains closed at Paul’s slide but should be reopening perhaps as early as today.  Remember that CalTrans continues to proactively close Hwy 1 ahead of each significant rain event.  Cone Peak Road is closed for the season and Palo Colorado remains closed due to 2017 storm damage.  Nacimiento-Ferguson Rd is open.

Maybe it would have been quicker to report everything that was open?!!?  There are more storms on tap for this weekend and most of next week as well.  If you are planning to head into the Los Padres, please use caution and be careful, especially in recent burn areas.

Expect to see similar signs, sans the Fire Restrictions, for at least the next year

FOREST 411

Remember, the LPFA will be welcoming the Friends of the California Condors Wild and Free to the Balboa Building in Santa Barbara TONIGHT Wednesday – February 6 to share with us the latest and greatest California Condor news.  They’ll be talking about condors across the Los Padres with a special emphasis on the recent successes in the Santa Barbara Backcountry.  You can learn more on our Facebook page.  We’ll also be sharing an update on some exciting upcoming trail projects that you’ll certainly want to hear about.  It’ll be a fun night, hope to see you there……

• The Forest Service announced earlier this week that there will be an extended ban on all target shooting across the Los Padres National Forest for the next year.  Target shooting will remain legal at the two designated target ranges within the Los Padres: Winchester and Rose Valley.  You can read the FS explanation here.

• Do you have any great photos of the Ojai Backcountry or Hwy 33 corridor through Ventura County?  The LPFA is once again organizing a series of interpretive events this coming summer to be held at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center.  Each year we print a brochure highlighting these events and our annual Open House and this year we are looking for a terrific cover photo for the brochure that captures the beauty and essence of the Ojai Backcountry.  If you have any photos to submit or questions, please let us know: INFO@LPForest.org  We’ll hook the winning photographer up with some great LP gear!

• The landowners along Prewitt Ridge in Monterey County have started a GoFundMe to assist with maintaining the road east of Nacimiento-Fergusson.  This road sees a lot of traffic, in particular campers, and gets thrashed by winter storms and improper use.  If you’d like to learn more or to help, check this link here.

Some more waterfall hunting photos from this past weekend, photos LPFA, AQuinn, HGuild

Campfires, Condors and More Rain on the Way

Is there a better place to watch the Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse, photo Sonia C, for the win!

Hello Friends – We hope this email finds you doing well!

The big news around the forest this week has been additional reductions to fire restrictions across the Los Padres.  Under the current reduced restrictions, campfires are now allowed in all areas of the Forest.  This is good news for those of us backcountry wanderers who have spent long freezing nights under the stars over the past few months.  That being said, you will need a California Campfire Permit, which takes just a few mins, click here.  You can read specifics of the current fire restrictions in the attached PDF.  Please note that target shooting remains prohibited in all areas of the Los Padres other than Winchester Gun Club and Rose Valley Gun Club.  That is a change from previous years.  Enjoy the warmth of your campfire and please remember to keep a safe campfire, clear a safe space around your campfire and always extinguish your fire before leaving camp.  February is a terrific time to explore your forest, go get it!

LPFA service day with Appfolio, great team building and an opportunity to give back to the trails! 
Let us know if your company is interested in a trail maintenance service day.

FOREST 411

Remember, the LPFA will be welcoming the Friends of the California Condors Wild and Free to the Balboa Building in Santa Barbara this coming Wednesday (February 6) to share with us the latest and greatest California Condor news. They’ll be talking about condors across the Los Padres with a special emphasis on the recent successes in the Santa Barbara Backcountry.  You can learn more on our Facebook page or see the attached flier.  We’ll also be sharing an update on some exciting upcoming trail projects that you’ll certainly want to hear about.  It’ll be a fun night, hope to see you there……

• NEWS FLASH: We’re going to be getting some rain over the coming days.  Predictions across the Los Padres are showing 3-5″+ of rain between Friday and Tuesday with Saturday bringing the most precipitation.  Most volunteer projects around the forest have been cancelled due to the rain and if you have plans to travel around the forest, be prepared to encounter potential road closures.  Hwy 1 should be closed at Mud Creek in anticipation of the storms and we are expecting Hwy 33 to close over the weekend as well.  There are also evacuation warnings in areas downstream of the recent burn scars.  Be safe everyone……

• Earlier this week the Amgen Tour of California released their 2019 stage routes and two of the stages will pass through the Los Padres.  Stage 4, which is May 15, will pass along the Big Sur Coast from Laguna Seca to Morro Bay and Stage 5, May 16, goes from Pismo to Ventura over San Marcos Pass.  The Tour of California is exciting to watch both in person as well on the screen. 

• The LPFA is excited to announce that we’ll be once again hosting our 6th Annual Fundamentals of Backpacking course starting March 6.  The Backpacking Fundamentals is a 5-week course designed to teach backpacking tricks and techniques to everyone from a first timer to a seasoned thru-hiker.  We have a lot of fun with it and we always learn so much.  If you are interested, click this link or email INFO@LPForest.org for more information.

Is it possible Tequepis means “Super Green After Rain”?

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