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.

LP Trail Talk Series & Wildflowers

    Got plans for April 19?  You do now……  Headed up by Super Volunteer Scott Kipp, the LPFA has been working on lining up a series of talks, films and presentations focused on the Los Padres Forest and all the great recreational activities we enjoy in the Los Padres.  Our first event is Tuesday April 19 at the Veterans Memorial Hall in downtown Santa Barbara.

Headlining the event will be a presentation by James Wapotich on backpacking the trails within the SB wilderness areas.  If you haven’t heard/seen James talk, you gotta make it.  Not only are his stories a lot of fun but the photos will make you want to get out on the trail – they are fantastic!

In addition to James, we’ll have complimentary malty/hoppy/fermented beverages to quench your thirst and enough social time bookending the presentation to pick peoples brains about the best locations across the forest.  We’ll also have a few smaller presentations mixed in to provide volunteer opportunity updates and other fun forest stuff.

The event is FREE for LPFA members or $10 for non-members.  All proceeds from the event will go to the LPFA Trail Care program, which is used to purchase food and trail tools for our volunteer projects.  Space is limited so get your tickets while you can!  Click here for tickets or email for more information or questions.   See you there…..!

Loma Pelona, not so bald at the moment, April 2016 – photo Humphrey
Spring 2016 has shaped up to be one of the most spectacular wildflower seasons in recent memory.  The hills across the Los Padres are dotted with purples, golds, oranges, pinks, reds, whites and just about every other color you can imagine.  Quite spectacular this year.  Figueroa Mountain continues to hold the top billing with a poppy display you can see for dozens of miles in all directions.  We heard reports last weekend of literal traffic jams of people making the pilgrimage up to Fig Mtn.  While the poppies/lupines on that side of the SY Valley are terrific, there are many many other lesser known locations across the forest that are bursting with colors as well.  Get out there and explore!

Colorful Zaca Lake Flanks, look at Bald Mtn! – photo John Wiley
We do have rain in the forecast for the next week so it’s possible the flowers might stick around a little longer this year as well.  If you haven’t gone to see the flowers, make a point of doing it this year.  No matter if you drive hours to that secret western facing slope or simply hit your favorite trail, no doubt you’ll be in for a fantastic wildflower display.  Go get it!
PurpleReeds Purple Reeds – photo Humphrey

LPFA Transverse – Spring Volunteer Season

Frosty Madulce, March 2015


Hello Everyone,

Most of the Forest is experiencing cool, cloudy and hopefully rainy conditions today.  That is going to change.  By this weekend we are looking at potentially record setting heat across most of the Central Coast.  And next week….. who knows.  That’s part of the beauty of Spring.  If you don’t like the weather, wait a day and you’ll get something different.  Hope you’re finding some time on the trails and if you have any nice photos and you want to share, please send our way.

We’ve had quite a few questions of late asking for volunteer opportunities.  We’ve outlined a few below.  If you’d like us to mention any of your upcoming events, please send our way and we’d be happy to share.

Little Pine along the Santa Cruz Trail

San Luis Obispo
March 14, 9am
The illegal shooting range off West Cuesta Ridge in SLO has become quite a mess.  A combination of LPNF, LPFA, CCCMB and LPFW forces are meeting this Saturday (3/14) at 9am to help clean up the mess.  See the attached CCCMB map and Forest Press Release for more details.  Hope to see you there……….

March 14
The Ojai Ranger District is having the last in a series of trail projects along the Pothole Trail outside of Lake Piru.  The project is most likely full but if you are dieing to work a remote backcountry trail this weekend, there might still be some room.  Contact Ranger Heidi:

Santa Barbara
March 15, 9am
The SBMTV is hosting a trail project along the Little Pine section of the Santa Cruz Trail.  The work will mostly be along the southern wall of Little Pine down towards 19 Oaks Camp.  For more information contact Chris Orr:

Santa Barbara
March 27 – 29
The LPFA will be continuing work along the Mission Pine Trail in the SB high country.  The project will be based out of Mission Pine Spring Camp and will be focused on logging the trees across the trail between Mission Pine Spring and Mission Pine Basin.  The project will be stock supported, which means light packs and good food.  If interested please contact Curt Cragg:

The Los Padres Trail Riders will be presenting a free screening of Mule: Living on the Outside.  This is a documentary about Mule and his adventures while roaming the western United States.  If you haven’t been following this epic journey, it’s pretty cool stuff.  Check it out March 19 at the Santa Barbara Human Society.For those of you interested in mud runs or obstacles races, there is a super fun race coming to the Central Coast on March 28.  It’s called the Checkpoint Challenge and will be held at Santa Margarita Lake in SLO County.  If you’ve ever been curious about this, check out their website and watch the promotional video.  Looks like a lot of fun.  Registration is open now, charge on!WILDFLOWERS!  It’s wildflower season and Helen Tarbet of the Santa Lucia Ranger District has released her first Figueroa Wildflower Update of the season.  See attached.  If you’ve not taken the pilgrimage to Fig Mtn to see the flowers, you have to……  It’s incredible when timed right.

The 11th Annual Wheeler Gorge Open House is schedule for April 11.  This year promises to be the best Open House yet as we’re focusing the event on recreation as well as education.  You’ll hear much more about this in the coming weeks but be sure to put this on your calendar.  April 11 – ALL DAY!


Piedra Blanca – Gene Marshall Trail, Mount Pinos Ranger District