Sespe, Sierra Madre and more! Come volunteer with us…

Happy Alisalversary! Last week marked the one year anniversary of the Alisal Fire. The LPFA was up in the burn area documenting some of the regrowth and trail work that has occurred over the past 12 months.

Hello Friends, 

You may know that the Los Padres is a very large and diverse forest covering approximately 1.75 million acres of the central California coast from Big Sur to the Los Angeles County line and from sea level to almost 9,000 ft. Yet, right now might be the most diverse we’ve ever seen the Los Padres. The unusual pattern of localized bands of rain that we received in September have left the Los Padres looking more diverse than ever. Some portions of the forest were pounded with inches of rain while just a few miles away might not have received more than a few sprinkles. The end result has the forest looking more like a green and brown zebra with alternating stripes of bright green and dead brown. Rain truly is the giver of life in these parts and while some areas are alive and well, others are still waiting their turn for some much needed rain. That being said, the temps are cooling and we’re seeing a lot more activity on and answering far more emails about trail conditions and water reports. As the fall season kicks on and more and more of us return to our cooler trails, please be sure to check out HikeLosPadres and report back when you get back so we can share water reports for others. It’s a great time of year to explore the Los Padres, remember to be prepared ahead of time and hope you get some trail time soon…… 




Do you love the Los Padres forest or love to volunteer? If so, we have some fun upcoming volunteer projects that might be right up your alley….

Willett Camp on the Sespe, basecamp for the upcoming November LPFA Working Vacation


November 12-20

The LPFA will be hosting another terrific Working Vacation this November along the Sespe River Trail based at Willett Camp. If you’ve been on a Working Vacation, you know how much fun they are. It’s always great giving back to the trails we love and meeting new friends in the process. We’ll be on the Sespe for 10 days in November and would love your help for any number of days you can contribute. All food, tools and instructions are provided by the LPFA, we just ask that you can backpack 10 miles down the Sespe and help with a day or more of trail work. Please email us to sign up or with any questions: VOLUNTEER@LPFOREST.ORG – hope to see you out there!


October 29-30

Any trail runners out there? The LPFA is partnering with Runners For Public Lands on the last weekend of October to help run a stash of water out the Sweetwater Trail along the Sierra Madre Mountains. Long story short, the LPFA Trail Crew has been working on the Sweetwater Trail and are at a point now where we can’t continue the work without a large amount of water being stashed along the trail. That’s where the runners come in. We’ll be looking for runners interested in helping run the water out to the stash location so the Trail Crew can continue on restoring the trail down to the Sisquoc. We’ll be spending a weekend out there with the water run, a fun run, some special site visits and perhaps a Halloween themed game or two. For more information please email: VOLUNTEER@LPFOREST.ORG thanks!


October 22, 1pm

The LPFA will once again be hosting a Used Camping Gear Sale this coming Saturday at 1pm at the VWR Cabin (34.545144, -119.792281) off Paradise Road. If you are looking for any new camping or backpacking gear, this is the place. We’ll have a large assortment of gear including packs and tents donated by Gossamer Gear. All proceeds go to the LPFA Trail Care fund and directly back into maintaining the trails you love. Let us know if you have any questions: INFO@LPFOREST.ORG


In addition to the project specific volunteer opportunities listed above, the LPFA is always looking for volunteers interested in helping with a wide variety of forest projects. These efforts include road patrol, building maintenance, gate repairs, graffiti removal, web design, helping at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center, HikeLosPadres support and of course we’re always interested in helping to support volunteer efforts on specific trails or other forest related projects. If you’ve got an idea that helps the forest, let us know and we’d love to help. VOLUNTEER@LPFOREST.ORG with questions or to throw your name or idea in the hat. THANK YOU!

Not a Bad Commute – Alamo Mountain Sunrise – the LPFA Trail Crew has been hard at work restoring some moto trails on Alamo…. photo CHorner


Oct 8 – Nov 6: D-13 General Hunting Season
Oct 22: LPFA Party, Paradise Road
Oct 22: LPFA Used Camping Gear Sale
Oct 29-30: Sierra Madre Water Run, RPL, LPFA
Nov 4-6: Big Sur Trail Work, VWA
Nov 6: Agua Blanca Trail Work, LPFA ORD
Nov 12-20: Sespe River Trail, Willett Working Vacation, LPFA
Nov 18-20: Carrizo Trail, VWR
Feb 4 2023: Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training
May 2023: Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center 20th Anniversary Celebration!

LPFA Hiring & Sespe Working Vacation

Summer Trail Crew Members Jack and Tanner, Working the Big Sur Trail, photo Sabrina Claros

Hello Friends,

We hope this email finds you doing well and perhaps with a little mud on your boots? September is supposed to be one of our drier months but fortunately we’ve had some exciting weather sweep across the Los Padres over the past two weeks. It started with the remnants of Hurricane Kay, which dropped measurable precipitation (1/4 – 1″) across most of the Southern Los Padres. That was followed up this week by an early season (or late season?) low-pressure system from Alaska which dumped some pretty substantial rain across the Northern and Central Los Padres. Some of the Big Sur Mountains received nearly 4 inches of rain from this storm – no joke! There remains a possibility for more rain early this week as the system moves through followed by more “normal” weather as the week unfolds. The early rain is certainly a welcome sight and might have been enough to trigger the grass to start growing. Sure would be nice to have a long green season this year. We hope you find some trail time soon and keep us posted via email or HikeLosPadres if you find any downed trees or slides blocking the trails.


LPFA TRAIL CREW – We’re Hiring!

Fall is coming up fast and we’re looking for a few brave souls to join our paid Trail Crew for the season. You must like long walks in the forest, hard physical work, camping, being out in nature A LOT and the satisfying feeling of restoring and building trails. If that’s you, let us know. Hope to hear from you soon!
Apply Here!

Cool Sespe Nights & Warm Sespe Days


November  12-20, 2022

We’ve got some really exciting news to share: the LPFA will be hosting our fall 2022 volunteer Working Vacation in November along the Sespe River Trail in the Ventura Backcountry. Our base-camp for the 10-day Working Vacation will be at Willett Camp and we’ll be working primarily on restoring the Sespe River Trail from Willett down towards Sespe Hot Springs. As usual, all food will be provided compliments of the LPFA and we’ll have a great group of packers to help bring in tools, food, beverages and more. While we’d love to have you for the entire 10 days, you are more than welcome to come in for part of the trip as your schedule allows. If you are interested in signing up or have any questions, please sign up here or email us directly. Willett is a special place, should be a lot of fun and very rewarding. Hope you can join us……
Sign up for Sespe!

Recent LPFA Trail Crew work on the Sisquoc Trail, the backcountry is calling, photo JMorris


• Earlier this summer the Forest Service shared plans for a very large forest-wide fire and fuels management program called the Ecological Restoration Project or ERP. The Forest Service is currently seeking comments about the program and have extended the comment period through September 27. Please take some time and read through the proposal, watch the recorded webinars, talk to your friends/family, educate yourself and provide your comments to the Forest Service. As with most very large proposals, ERP is likely not all bad and likely not all good. The purpose of the comment period is to let the FS know what you like and don’t like about the ERP. We have until the 27th, please use your voice!

• National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is this coming Saturday. If you don’t have plans, come on out and join us on the San Ysidro Trail for a day of trail work. Hope to see you out there!

• The second biggest hunting zone in the Los Padres is D-13, which covers most of the terrain north of Sespe Creek and east of Hwy 33in Ventura County including Pine Mtn and Mt Pinos. D-13 general deer hunting season runs from 10/8 – 11/6. You can find out more about regulations and zone specific information here.

• LPFA is hosting another Used Camping Gear Sale on October 29! If you have any used gear you would like to donate to the event, now is your chance! Shoot us an email and we will have you drop off your gear at a nearby location. 

• Many of us are now well aware of the hiker who went missing on Trespass Trail in Gaviota. Unfortunately, our community has seen several heat-related incidents and deaths this summer season. Now, it is our collective responsibility to share preventative information and understand the warning signs. You will likely see these flyers posted at trailheads in Montecito: “Be prepared, know the signs, and act fast.” Please take a look and familiarize yourself with this information, both for yourself, and your fellow hikers. Carry extra water/snacks and check in with others out on the trail. Be safe everyone.

• Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is looking for volunteers! This is a perfect opportunity for those forest enthusiasts in the Ojai area to give back to the Los Padres. “Duties may include meeting and greeting visitors, answering questions about the forest, operating the center store, taking phone calls and even emceeing Saturday morning educational programs.” Let us know if you are interested!

Los Padres Hunting Season & ERP

Hello Friends, 

Lots going on across the Los Padres at the moment! We’ll cover much of that down below in Forest 411 but first lets talk about deer hunting season. The busiest and geographically largest deer season in the Los Padres is A-Zone South which opens this weekend Saturday August 13 and lasts through September 25. A-Zone covers most of the Los Padres basically from the Sespe up through Big Sur and while A-Zone has been open for archery over the past month or so, it’s this weekend that it opens for general rifle season. If you’ve not been out for opening A-Zone weekend, it’s certainly the busiest weekend of the year here in the Los Padres and you should expect to see hunters camping at most of the trailheads, turnouts and campgrounds that provide access into the forest. If you have plans to hike, backpack, ride or visit the forest this weekend, be aware that it might be very busy within A-Zone and if you’re not a hunter then you might want to rethink your plans and head elsewhere. If you are heading into A-Zone, be sure to wear brighter colors than you might normally wear and be courteous of the other forest-users. If you’re starting up a trail and come across some hunters, it’s always a good idea to ask where they are going and let them know where you are going so as to prevent any surprises further up the trail. Most of the hunters are very knowledgeable about the Los Padres and have been enjoying the forest for generations. Expect a busy weekend throughout A-Zone, be respectful, remember the current fire restrictions and of course everyone be safe out there.

Ecological Restoration Project (ERP)

The big news across the Los Padres has been the introduction of a proposed forest-wide fuels management project called the Ecological Restoration Project or ERP. At the moment ERP is within the scoping phase of the proposal and the Forest Service is currently inviting and encouraging the public to comment and share thoughts on the project. Information about ERP is available at the project page here as well as more information hereherehere and here. There is a lot of information flying around about ERP and we strongly encourage you to watch the FS webinar from earlier this week and attend an upcoming webinar that ForestWatch is leading. There are a couple takeaways you should keep in mind as you educate yourself on this project: 

  • There are two main sides to the fuels management debate (manage vs leave alone) and both sides believe they are doing what is best to protect the long-term health of the forest. 
  • The proposed ERP treatment acreage is staggeringly large but understand that the FS is looking to approve potential future treatment within that acreage. There are no plans to immediately treat that entire area, it would take decades to complete. The FS is essentially requesting the right to treat those areas as they see fit and when needed. 

Please do your research, educate yourself, talk it up, ask questions and be sure to share your opinion with the Forest Service.

The LPFA Ojai Chapter Adopt-A-Highway Volunteers unfortunately hit the jackpot during our July cleanup of Highway 33.


• The LPFA Trail Crew and Trail Volunteers just wrapped up an incredible July where we maintained over 6 miles of Los Padres trails despite the oppressive heat. This was thanks in large part to grants we received from the National Forest Foundation, NFWF and donations from folks like you. We’re not sure we can replicate that success in August but we’re going to try. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED! 

• Late last month the Santa Barbara Ranger District issued an order to close the Upper Santa Ynez Recreation Area to all motorized vehicles. While the area has been closed to vehicles since 2016, this is the first formal closure the FS has issued. In addition to closing the area to vehicles, the closure also includes closing both Mono and Rock (Lower Caliente) Campgrounds due to nearby hazard trees and structures. The FS is hoping to reopen the area in FY 2023. Stay tuned….. 

• In response to repeated illegal camping along Highway 1 through Big Sur, Monterey County passed a new ordinance which has increased fines for illegal camping to $1,000. This ordinance is effective along Highway 1 between the Carmel River and the SLO County Line. 

• In case you’ve missed any of the recent LPFA talks or online programs, they are all posted and available to watch on our YouTube Channel. Check em out and don’t forget The Evil Root Ball Empire while you’re there….. 

• Earlier this summer the Forest Service received the go-ahead from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to begin fuels management efforts on two Mt Pinos RD forest health projects. No time table has been set for when the actual work will begin. 

• Did you hear the one about the four motorcycle riders who got lost and used InReach to have SAR deliver them food, water and maps? At the time they were illegally motoring in the San Rafael Wilderness and across the Sisquoc Wild & Scenic River? If only there was a way to track down their contact information…… 

• The Angeles NF is currently requesting comments to the River Values Assessment for the Piru Creek Wild & Scenic River. Piru Creek is located on the border of the Angeles and Los Padres. Be sure to check out the assessment and use your voice to comment

• For those of you in Ventura County or in case you’re looking for a way to avoid A-Zone, the Ventura Monthly shared an article about the Thomas Fire recovery and some summertime trails in the area worth exploring. Have at it…. 

• Last but certainly not least, the NY Times published a great article about ancient trees in the Los Padres and the study of historic droughts as they relate to tree rings. Not only is the content within this article super interesting, but the layout and artwork is fantastic. A+
AMAZING – Doesn’t quite look the same does it? photo LPNF Archives


A few upcoming dates, events, projects, presentations or things you might want to know. If you have any forest-related events to add to this list, let us know and we’re more than happy to pass along!  

Aug 13: SW Herpetologist Presentation, Wheeler Gorge VC, 10am
Aug 13 – Sep 25: A-Zone South General Hunting Season
Aug 17: Highway 33 Adopt-A-Highway, LPFA
Aug 18: Staying Safe on Trails w/ SBSAR, SB Library Talk
Aug 20: Saving the Condors Presentation, Wheeler Gorge VC, 10am
Aug 30: LPFA Trail Work Tuesday, TBD
Sep 2-5: Pine Ridge Trail Work, VWA
Sep 2-4: Big Sur Trail, VWA
Sep 13: LPFA Trail Work Tuesday, TBD
Sep 15: Tales of SB Backcountry w/ JWapotich, SB Library Talk
Sep 24: National Public Lands Day TBD, LPFA
Sep 30: Carrizo Trail Work, VWA
Oct 22: LPFA Party, Paradise Road
Oct 29: LPFA Used Camping Gear Sale
Oct 13-16: De Angulo Trail Work, VWA
November 2022: LPFA Working Vacation TBD, LPFA
Feb 4 2023: Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training


Hello Friends, 

We hope you are having a great summer and still finding some cooler trail time here in the hot Los Padres! LPFA recently asked a group of hikers to list things that scared them here in the Los Padres. Their list included fears such as getting lost, poison oak, ticks, gravity, water (too much and not enough), other people and wild animals. While not everyone listed the same responses, there was a clear winner when it came to the one thing that most people are scared of here in the Los Padres…… RATTLESNAKES! 

The fear of snakes, known as ophidiophobia, is certainly not unique to the Los Padres and is actually one of the more common human fears known across the world. Rattlesnake encounters can be very scary; and for good reason as their bites can be deadly. We should all have a little fear and a lot of respect for our Los Padres rattlers. For those of us who regularly venture into the forest, rattlesnake sightings are a fairly common occurrence and should be expected just about anywhere in the Los Padres during the snake season of April – October. 

While encounters are common, there remain a lot of myths and information about rattlesnakes that most people might now know. With that in mind, the LPFA recently hosted three online events designed to help educate forest-users about our local rattlesnake population. Hopefully, these videos will help you learn a little more about how to avoid rattlesnake encounters and what to do in case a bite does occur. Enjoy the videos and stay safe everyone…….   

Sincerely, The LPFA Team

Our first video is an online webinar filmed about a year ago with Dr. Emily Taylor from Central Coast Snake Services. This video focuses on learning about rattlesnakes and  busting myths.

The second video was filmed in June 2022 and is an interview with a friend of the LPFA who was bit by a rattlesnake while exploring off-trail deep within the Sespe Wilderness.

And our final video is once again with Dr. Emily Taylor as she shares how to keep your dog safe while exploring in snake country.

It’s Canine Companion Week!

Written by Dr. Emily Taylor of Central Coast Snake Services

Rattlesnake Avoidance Training and Exclusion Fencing

It’s Canine Companion Week! We have already advocated leashes on walks. Now let’s explore additional ways to protect your dogs: rattlesnake avoidance training and rattlesnake exclusion fencing.

Rattlesnake avoidance training for dogs is a worthwhile investment in protecting dogs from snakebite. Dogs tend to sniff wiggly things on the ground, which can earn them a bite to the snout. Bites to the face can be painful and even deadly (tomorrow we will discuss how to treat bites), so preventing them is paramount.

Techniques include either aversion training by pairing a rattlesnake with an unpleasant buzz from an e-Collar, or positive reinforcement training to teach dogs to avoid rattlesnakes. While I have heard about the latter, I have not seen it in action so will restrict my comments to the former.

Experienced dog trainers use avoidance training to teach your dog to fear the sight, smell, and sound of rattlesnakes. With avoidance training, the stimulus is a safely muzzled rattlesnake and an e-Collar that makes the dog associate the snake with the unpleasant buzz to its neck, essentially thinking it was bitten by the snake. The effect is immediate and dramatic. The dogs want nothing to do with the snakes, and this effect can last long after the training.

Since she took her training a year ago, my dog Pax has backed away from one rattlesnake and one shed skin, both while leashed on hikes. Trainers recommend that your dog is trained once per year for 2-3 years or until they remember from the year prior.

It is worth noting that the training is not foolproof. It only works insofar as the dog is trainable, and it doesn’t protect a dog from stepping on a rattlesnake as it runs through tall grass.

Follow us to learn when rattlesnake avoidance training will be available in our area. We will be sure to let you know!

Leashing and training your dog to avoid rattlesnakes will go a long way toward protecting most dogs, which typically encounter rattlesnakes on hikes and other adventures. But what about those of you who live in snake country, where rattlesnakes might regularly visit your yards?

Drought may be causing rattlesnakes to spend more time in yards as they seek water from irrigation, fountains, pools, birdbaths, and other sources. Also, climate change is predicted to actually be GOOD for rattlesnakes in many areas of California. So, rattlesnakes are here to stay, and we must learn to safely coexist with them.

Below is a link to an article I wrote on how to make your yard UN-friendly to snakes. This might discourage them from sticking around, but snakes can still come and go. Other remedies like powders sold at hardware stores do not work at all. The only way to completely prevent rattlesnakes from getting into a yard is with rattlesnake exclusion fencing. This involves reinforcing your existing fence with ¼-inch hardware cloth that is sunk into the dirt and extends at least 30 inches tall. It is particularly challenging to rattlesnake-proof gates, so I always recommend that you hire a professional company to install rattlesnake exclusion fencing. Feel free to contact me to ask for assistance with finding a company in your area or for tips if you decide to DIY it.

Tomorrow is the last day of Canine Companion week, and we will discuss first aid and treatment of dogs that have been bitten by snakes. Don’t forget to register for my free online presentation with Los Padres Forest Association this Thurs at 6pmPST: you must pre-register and it is almost full.…/index.html


K9 Natural Solutions Rattlesnake Avoidance Training:

How to make your yard UN-friendly to snakes:…/how-to-make-your-yard-snake…

Movie about rattlesnake fencing from AZ-based Rattlesnake Solutions:

Rattlesnake Vaccine for Dogs?

It’s Canine Companion Week! This post discusses whether or not you should get the “rattlesnake vaccine” for your dog.

Vaccines to help protect your dog against viral and other pathogens that cause disease like rabies and distemper are important parts of your regular visits to your vet. But what about “vaccines” that allegedly protect your dog not from pathogens but from other threats like snake venom? Do they work, and should you get the vaccine for your dog?

My answer is no. This is based on three things: (1) data from studies of the vaccine’s efficacy, (2) recommendations from veterinarians who specialize in snakebite treatment, and (3) my understanding as a scientist of how the immune system works.

(1) There is no evidence that the rattlesnake vaccine works: The rattlesnake “vaccine” has a conditional approval from the USDA, which means it simply must be shown to be safe and does not need to have been shown to work. Indeed, it has not been shown to provide any protection. Study #1 found no difference in outcome in snakebitten dogs who had the vaccine and those that did not. Study #2 showed that mice vaccinated with the drug had some protection against venom from Western Diamond-backed rattlesnakes (the species that was used to make the vaccine), but little protection against venoms from Northern and Southern Pacific rattlesnakes (the ones that most commonly bite dogs in California). Of course, dogs are not mice, but this is the closest thing to an experimental study that can be done because it is not considered ethical to perform such studies on dogs. What about what your vet says? I have heard some veterinarians say that they believe that the vaccine may afford some protection against snakebite. However, this can result from confirmation bias (a dog has the vaccine, survives a bite, and so the owner and vet attribute its survival to having had the vaccine).

(2) The specialist veterinarians at National Snakebite Support do not recommend the vaccine for the reasons I have described above. Join this Facebook group to learn about snakebite treatment from specialists.

(3) How vaccines work, and why they won’t likely work against snakebite: The idea behind a vaccine is that exposing your dog to bits of the foreign protein ahead of time primes their immune system so that their body initiates immune response against the proteins when later exposed. This makes sense for viruses and other pathogens, where vaccines protect against infection and save thousands of canine lives annually. When a virus invades the body, the vaccine-primed immune system can be activated and can attack that virus before it has a chance to replicate and cause a major infection. But this doesn’t make sense for venom. When a snake bites a dog, a vast quantity of foreign proteins is injected into the bloodstream all at once, and it is logically not possible that the immune system would be able to mount a response against this quantity of foreign protein. The vaccine is marketed with the notion that vaccination could buy your dog time when traveling to the veterinarian for lifesaving antivenom (the vaccine is NOT advertised as a substitute for antivenom!). But even that doesn’t make sense. If anything, it is more likely that “vaccinating” a dog against snake venoms could induce a dangerous sensitivity to venom proteins in dogs. Indeed, one study (Study #3, links at the end) has shown that several dogs who had received the rattlesnake vaccine died from anaphylactic shock when they were bitten by rattlesnakes because of this hypersensitivity.

In summary, my data-driven understanding as a scientist along with the recommendations of veterinarians specializing in treatment of snakebite in dogs have led me to recommend that you do not have your dog vaccinated against snakebite. The best ways to protect your dog involve prevention of snakebite in the first place, via the underrated and magical tool known as the leash (see yesterday’s post) and potentially via rattlesnake avoidance training and rattlesnake exclusion fencing, the subjects of tomorrow’s post. Until then, leash up and enjoy the trail with your pooch!


Study #1: Witsil et al. 272 cases of rattlesnake envenomation in dogs: Demographics and treatment including safety of F(ab′)2 antivenom use in 236 patients. ToxiconVolume 105, October 2015, Pages 19-26.

Study #2: Cates et al. Comparison of the protective effect of a commercially available western diamondback rattlesnake toxoid vaccine for dogs against envenomation of mice with western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox), northern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus oreganus), and southern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus helleri) venom. American Journal of Veterinary Research Volume 76, March 2015, Pages 272-279.

Study #3: Petras et al. Suspected anaphylaxis and lack of clinical protection associated with envenomation in two dogs previously vaccinated with Crotalus atrox toxoid. ToxiconVolume 142, February 2018, Pages 30-33.

Each morning of this Canine Companion Week I will post advice about “Keeping your dog safe in snake country,” with upcoming topics including the rattlesnake vaccine, rattlesnake avoidance training, snakebite first aid, and keeping your dog safe in your yard. This will culminate in a free online presentation sponsored by the Los Padres Forest Association on Thurs, June 29 at 6pmPST (registration here:…/index.html)

The Leash

Enjoy this post on “Hiking and Adventuring with your Dog.” Read to the end to find out how to score this cute doggie bandana and other swag.

In California, we are lucky to enjoy an extensive network of public trails like those in the Los Padres National Forest that we are free to explore with our canine companions. My dog Pax and I log about 4 miles per day walking or hiking. What are the best ways to keep your dog safe while hiking in our beautiful public lands?

Most dog owners know that hiking in California is fairly safe for people and pooches alike. There are indeed threats like ticks, seeds called “foxtails” can burrow their way into a dog’s skin requiring painful and costly surgery, some dogs might run through poison oak and transfer its oils onto the hands that pet them, and owners of small dogs need to be aware of the threat of coyotes and other large predators. But rattlesnakes are considered to be a major threat by many because they can deliver a dangerous defensive bite when confronted by a dog. Rattlesnakes do not want to bite dogs, but they will do so if they feel their lives are in danger.

What happens when your dog encounters a snake on a hike? The first instinct of many dogs is to stop and sniff the snake. To a rattlesnake, this appears to be a large predator going in for the kill, so they will often strike to defend themselves. This is why many snakebites to dogs occur on the face. This results in painful and dangerous swelling and tissue damage that may be fatal if not treated by a veterinarian. The idea of our beloved pooches being envenomated by a rattlesnake is scary. However, I have great news for you. Snakebite on hikes is mostly preventable with one simple tool that most of us already carry with us.


Leashes are truly wonderful things. They keep your dog by your side where you can enjoy the trail together. Most rattlesnakes, ticks, and other denizens that you may not want to encounter will be found in the shrubs, grasses, or rocks along a trail rather than on the trail itself. Keeping your dog on leash has many other benefits. It protects wildlife like squirrels, rabbits, and birds from your dog. When you encounter other hikers with dogs on the trail, leashes allow you to control your dogs to prevent negative canine social encounters. In short, leashing your dog by your side is the single best way to be a responsible dog owner because leashing protects your dog, other dogs and their owners, and wildlife.

Each morning of this Canine Companion Week I will post advice about “Keeping your dog safe in snake country,” with upcoming topics including the rattlesnake vaccine, rattlesnake avoidance training, snakebite first aid, and keeping your dog safe in your yard. This will culminate in a free online presentation sponsored by the Los Padres Forest Association on Thurs, June 29 at 6pmPST (registration link below- spaces are limited, so sign up now!).There is some awesome swag available with a small donation. You can pick up a super cute “Buzz the Buzztail” bandana for your dog for $15 when you register for the talk at the link above (supplies super limited), or you can help with CCSS’s annual summer fundraiser by purchasing a “Snake Safe Space” sticker or fence sign.Links and info:Register for Thursday’s online presentation and purchase bandana here:…/index.html

Purchase Snake Safe Space stickers here:…/SnakeSafeSpa…

Purchase Snake Safe Space: We Don’t Kill Snakes fence sign here:…/Snake_Safe…

Make a donation to Los Padres Forest Association here:

Make a donation to support Central Coast Snake Services here:


Missing this Mission Pine View – LPFA volunteers spent the long holiday weekend working the Mission Pine Trail – It’s now 100% passable and in good shape from McKinley to Mission Pine Basin and beyond…..

Hello Friends – we hope this email finds you tired from a long Memorial Day weekend on the trails……The big news across the Los Padres Forest this week is the introduction of our first seasonal fire restrictions. BE SURE TO READ THE ORDER for specifics but basically all campfires are now banned within the LP outside of Designated Campfire Use Sites. This level of restrictions should have the greatest impact on backcountry visitors who will now have to plan on cooking with stoves and having some extra time to enjoy the stars. While we should be pretty used to camping without a fire by now and the evenings aren’t too cold anymore, here are a few links to sift through in case you are looking for suggestions or alternatives to the traditional campfire. We’d love to see any photos you might have of ways you enjoy camping without campfires. You can email us or tag us on any of the usual social media channels. Be safe everyone….


The LPFA will be participating once again as part of National Trails Day by hosting two trail volunteer projects and one forest support weekend here in the Los Padres, please email us for more information:

The Sunset Valley Trail is a somewhat forgotten and certainly overgrown trail along the northern slope of Figueroa Mountain that follows Sunset Valley Road starting at Fish Creek Saddle and connecting again with the road either at the Munch Canyon TH or further down at Davy Brown Campground. We’ll be out this Saturday working on restoring the Sunset Valley Trail. Once Sunset Valley Trail is reopened, it will be a terrific connector trail for folks hiking White Rock and Munch and it will also open up a super fun trail for beginner mountain bikers where you can ride up the road or single track and gradually descend through the oaks along Sunset Valley – thumbs up! Looking forward to seeing this trail restored and revitalized – come out and help!

We’re extending National Trails Day into National Trails Days and will be hosting a trail volunteer project on Tuesday June 7 along the Potrero John Trail in the Sespe Wilderness. We’ve worked on this trail quite a bit over the years but just received a report of brushy conditions, a few downed trees and the need for some TLC along the trail. Game on! Potrero John can be a very friendly short backpacking trip up to the camp or make for a fun day-hike up into the wilderness to explore the canyon’s attractions. If you haven’t been, it’s worth a spot on your todo list and what better way to explore Potrero John than volunteering with us as part of NTDays.

While not exactly part of National Trails Day, we’ll be hosting a weekend forest support volunteer project next weekend June 11-12 out in the Upper Santa Ynez Recreation area working between Mono and Pendola. We’ll be meeting at Romero Saddle on June 11 at 8am and then driving out to Middle Santa Ynez Campground. From there we’ll meet with FS staff and spend the weekend helping clear campgrounds, maintain facilities, install signs and work on the Cold Spring Trail. As always, for more information or to sign up, please email

It’s not all trail work, LPFA volunteers cleaning graffiti at Lizards Mouth, May 2022

Los Padres Forest Association – NEWS FOR YOU!

Lots of hard work went into making that little faint line – before and after – Red Reef Trail Working Vacation – May 2022

Hello Friends,

We just wrapped up an incredibly fun and productive 10-day Working Vacation on the Red Reef Trail within the Sespe Wilderness. Over the course of the Working Vacation we accomplished 1.9 miles of trail restoration, clearing some of the thickest and gnarliest brush the Los Padres has to offer. On one of the days there were 10 of us brushing for nearly 8 hours and we cleared only 0.16 miles! The work was pretty intense and certainly hot but very very rewarding and long overdue. This section of the Red Reef Trail hadn’t been maintained in 11 years, which is a long time in chaparral growth years. We’ll share more information about Red Reef soon but we first wanted to thank all the volunteers who helped with this ambitious and rewarding undertaking: Danny, Charles, Ivan (Maui), Mark, Karen, Les, Sonia, Nancy, Marianne, MaryLou, Jim, Ted, Peter, Cameron, Kevin, Liz, Drew, John I, John II, Jasonn, Bardley, Diane, the wonderful packers from PSCOE, support from The CREW and our friends at Zevia and Topatopa who helped keep everyone incentivized….. If you haven’t explored the Red Reef Trail, this is certainly a good time to put it on your todo list. As always, feel free to email us if you have any questions about the trails or camps across the Los Padres.

While we’ve put the Working Vacations in the rear-view for the season, there are quite a few upcoming volunteer opportunities lined up across the Los Padres, check out the calendar below. This includes the return of our annual Open House at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center and a National Trails Day event on the Sunset Valley Trail along Figueroa Mountain. We’ll also be heading out to Mono Campground and the Lower Manzana next week as well. It’s a good time to be in the Los Padres right now and an even better time to come out and volunteer. Hope you can join us soon and enjoy the rest of the newsletter……

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Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center Open House – Saturday May 28


For over 15 years the LPFA has hosted annual Open Houses at the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. The Wheeler Open House has always been a celebration of the Los Padres Forest where we invite friends and partners to come out and share their passion and knowledge of the forest. Unfortunately, COVID derailed the last few years of Open Houses but we’re thankfully back at it again this year hosting the 2022 Open House on Saturday May 28 between the hours of 9am – 3pm. This years free family-friendly event will feature critters and crafts including reptiles, a variety of exotic birds and of course lots of information about our favorite bird the California Condor. While you’re there, be sure to head into the Visitor Center and check out Marcos the Mountain Lion, you won’t be disappointed. There’s always something going on at Wheeler and we hope to see you and your family on the 28th, it’s going to be fun!

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It’s a long hike to this pool but not as hard as it used to be……


• While most of the Los Padres remains in limited fire restrictions, a quick reminder that no campfires are allowed in the Santa Barbara Frontcountry between Gaviota and Divide Peak and from East Camino south to the forest boundary.

• May 1st is the date when most seasonal gates open across the Los Padres. The usual seasonal gates should now be open but it’s always a good idea to call your local Ranger Station ahead of time just to make sure.

• Huge congratulations to our friend Betsy MacGowan from the VWA who was recognized earlier this month with the 2021 Enduring Service Award. It’s great to see Betsy acknowledged for her dedication to the Los Padres. Cheers Betsy, THANK YOU!

• Speaking of the VWA, one of their board members Leor Pantilat was recently featured in Outside for his ambitious Big Sur Waterfall Project. So cool……

• While we’re in the neighborhood, the FS extended the Dolan Fire closure through April 29, 2023. Information about the closure is here and a map of the closure here.

• Did someone say Dolan Fire, not new news but some good news. Funds have been allocated to rebuild the Nacimiento Fire Station which was tragically destroyed during the Dolan Fire

• Last thing on the Dolan Fire, the arsonist responsible for the Dolan Fire was recently sentenced to 24 years in prison.

• Any surfers out there? Bet you didn’t expect to ever read the words Mick Fanning in a LPFA newsletter. Pretty cool actually, Mick, Connor Coffin and crew visited the Los Padres (yes,it’s true) earlier this year, check it out. Some top secret surf spots too….. 😉

• What’s the opposite of top secret? How about the YouTuber who purposely crashed his plane into the Hurricane Deck last fall, remember him? He was in the news again last month, check it out.

• Not sure if we shared this yet but the Condor Trail was featured in National Geographic earlier this season. It’s been a good year for the Condor Trail with a record number of hikers attempting and completing the epic thru-hike. When are you going?

Crosscut Work is FUN! More details here about this 40″ downed gray pine along the Manzana

• The Condor Trail passes along Pine Mountain, which remains a hot topic with a recent lawsuit filed against the Forest Service as part of the Reyes Peak Fuels Reduction Project.

• The Forest Service is working with some partner groups to remove the three artificial lakes along the Rose Valley Creek watershed above Ojai. More information is available at the link here. The FS is taking public comments through June 9. Make your voice heard.

• The Santa Barbara Library continues to host great monthly Trail Talk events. The last two featured James Wapotich talking about waterfalls and Helen Tarbet discussing wildflowers of the Central Coast. You can also download and view Helen’s excellent Figueroa Mountain Wildflower Guide here.

• Chumash remains and artifacts were recently moved from the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum and returned to the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash.

• The Los Padres National Forest recently launched a new revamped version of their websiteCheck it out, should be much more user-friendly and easy to navigate.

• Last but not least, the LPFA Trail Crew has been busy restoring and maintaining trails. Over the past couple months we’ve worked on the following trails: Sespe, Red Reef, Lion Canyon, Rose-Lion Connector, Santa Barbara Canyon, Pothole, Santa Cruz, Sellers Potrero, Buckhorn, Indian Canyon, Figueroa Mountain (Willow Spring, Willow Connector, White Rock, Davy Brown, Munch Canyon, Sunset Valley), Tequepis, Arroyo Quemado, Horn Canyon, Matilija, Blue Canyon, Blue Canyon Connector, Romero, Cold Spring, Sisquoc and Manzana. We’ve got work lined up for much of the summer as well, stay tuned for more….. and please continue to let us know if you come across any downed trees or other trail issues that need help. or email – thanks!

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The Ojai Raptor Center presenting at a previous Wheeler Open House – don’t forget, May 28, 2022

A few upcoming dates, events, projects, presentations or things you might want to know. If you have any forest-related events to add to this list, let us know and we’re more than happy to pass along!

May 21-23: Mono Campground Restoration, LPFA
May 21: Chumash Earth Day, Santa Ynez Reservation
May 20-22: Big Sur Trail Maintenance, VWA
May 22: Highway 33 Adopt-A-Highway Cleanup, LPFA
May 22: Potrero John Nature Hike, Lanny Kaufer
May 22: West Fork Cold Spring Microtrash Cleanup, FW
May 24: Manzana Crosscut Project Part II, LPFA
May 26-30: Sisquoc Tamarisk Removal, CIR
May 27-29: Big Sur Trail Work, VWA

May 27-30: Carrizo Trail Saw Trip, VWA

May 28: Wheeler Visitor Center Open House

National Trails Day, Figueroa Mountain, LPFA
National Trails Day, Pine Mountain, MPRD

June 5: West Camino Cielo Microtrash Cleanup, FW
June 14: Trailwork Tuesday TBD, LPFAJune 25: Last Saturday Trail Project TBD, LPFA

Aug 13 – Sep 25: A-Zone South General Hunting Season

October 2022: Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training
Nov 5-13, 2022: South Fork Working Vacation – San Rafael Wilderness, LPFA


LPFA Updates: Red Reef in our Sights

Might not be a ‘Super Bloom’ Year but this Bloom is Mighty Super this Year

Hello Friends,

Lots of news to share from across the Los Padres, enough for two emails actually but lets start with an update from the LPFA Working Vacations. Thanks to help from over 30 volunteers, we just successfully wrapped up a 12-day volunteer Working Vacation along the Indian Canyon Trail in the Dick Smith Wilderness. Everyone had a great time, the food was terrific as always, the weather more or less cooperated, thankfully it wasn’t too hot and we got the trail dialed in up to Indian Canyon Camp! #knockeditout We’ll share more details within the next email but for now, we wanted to remind everyone of the next Working Vacation coming up in a couple weeks along the Red Reef Trail……

April 23 – May 1
Come one, come all and join us later this month as we work to restore the spectacular Red Reef Trail within the Sespe Wilderness. The project will kick-off on Saturday April 23 with volunteers driving up from Rose Valley along the Nordhoff Ridge 4WD Road to the upper Red Reef Trailhead. Once at the trailhead we’ll backpack 5 miles across and down to Ladybug Camp, which will be our home for the 10-day Working Vacation. We’ll once again have stock support bringing in most of the food, tools, supplies and cold drinks for the project. The focus of the work will be brushing and tread work along approximately 2.5 miles of the Red Reef Trail from Ladybug down towards Sespe Creek. Ladybug is set within a grove of shaded fir trees just below 5,000ft and has reliable water with enough space to find some privacy and move around. While we’d love to have you for the entire time, there will be many shorter options for people to come and go as their schedule allows. This promises to be a great time spent with like-minded friends along one of the more epic Los Padres trails. Please email with questions or to sign up. We could use help with trail workers, cooks and shuttle drivers. Hope you can make it!

What is a Working Vacation?

Working Vacations are larger scale volunteer trail maintenance projects that the LPFA organizes in support of the Los Padres National Forest. Working Vacations are generally focused on maintaining harder-to-get-to trails and they usually range from 7-10 days in length.

The LPFA provides all the food for the Working Vacations and we normally have stock support bring in food, gear and supplies with a dedicated cook on hand to ensure everyone eats well throughout their stay. While we’d love to have everyone volunteer for all 7-10 days, we realize that life doesn’t usually allow us to be away for that long and we always have shorter options available as well. We do ask that everyone commit at least 3 days for the project.

The usual Working Vacation day starts off with sunrise coffee followed by breakfast. We then we pack our lunches and hit the trail by 8am. We work throughout the day or until we’re tired and return to camp for a cold drink, dinner and ideally some story-telling, songs and laughter around the campfire before heading off to bed.

The flow of Working Vacations is very soothing and somewhat addictive, most people who come on a Working Vacation end up signing up for the next one as well. The Working Vacations are a lot of fun and a truly rewarding wilderness experience. That’s the sales pitch, in case the opportunity to spend time in the forest wasn’t enough of a pull all by itself.

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How many happy FS staff does it take to reopen a bridge? Sunset Valley Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

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After being closed for nearly 9 months, the Forest Service successfully reopened Sunset Valley Road a day ahead of schedule on March 31. The extended closure was needed to complete construction of two new bridges along Sunset Valley Road which are designed to improve fish passage within the the Fir, Manzana and Sisquoc drainages. The bridges were welcomed as part of a ribbon cutting ceremony held on March 30. The road reopening once again means the public can access Davy Brown and NIRA Campgrounds in addition to both Manzana trailheads, which is certainly reason for many people to celebrate. While the bridges look fantastic, the trails out of NIRA might be a little rough after having 9 months of limited foot and hoof traffic. If you happen to explore the trails out of NIRA and come across anything that could be repaired, please let us know or post to and we’ll do our best to get it fixed up as soon as we can. Enjoy everyone and take it slow……

One of the treasures of the Working Vacations is watching the packers do their thing. AMAZING folks, AMAZING animals, AMAZING skills!

Notice of Opportunity for Public Review OHMVR Grant Program (G22)

The Los Padres Forest Association has applied for funding to complete projects in the Santa Lucia and Mt. Pinos Ranger Districts. All projects support the OHV program within the Los Padres National Forest. The opportunity for public review and comment is now open. Please select “Grants and Cooperative Agreements Program – 2022” and search for Los Padres Forest Association to access preliminary applications. Thank you. 

Working Vacation Season Is NOW!

Hello Friends,

It sure seemed impossible that we’d be where we are after the December deluge but sure enough we’re staring directly into another drought year. California just endured our driest January and February in recorded history and even after the phenomenal 2021 Holiday storms we’re currently around 55-60% of normal total rain percentage for the year. {insert profanities as needed} Even with the recent lack of substantial rain the Los Padres remains in ideal spring mode at the moment, we’re just not sure how long this moment will last….. With that in mind, we’ve decided to pivot some of our volunteer projects in order to ensure we have enough creek water for the Working Vacations. 

First, a little background: what is a Working Vacation? Working Vacations are larger scale volunteer trail maintenance projects that the LPFA organizes with the support of the Los Padres National Forest. Working Vacations are generally focused on maintaining harder-to-get-to trails which require a larger time commitment. We usually host Working Vacations for 7-10 days which allow us to accomplish miles of really solid trail work. The LPFA provides all the food for the Working Vacations and we normally have stock support bring in food, gear and supplies with a dedicated cook on-hand to make sure everyone is fed good food throughout their stay. While we’d love to have everyone volunteer for all 7-10 days, we realize that life doesn’t usually allow us to be away for that long and we always have shorter options available for people as well. We do ask that everyone who signs up commit at least 3 days towards the project. The usual day starts off with sunrise coffee followed by breakfast then we pack our lunches and hit the trail by 8am. We work throughout the day or until we’re tired and return to camp for a cold drink, dinner and ideally some story telling and laughter around the campfire before heading off to bed. The flow of Working Vacations is very soothing and somewhat addictive, most people who come on a Working Vacation end up signing up for the next one as well. The Working Vacations are a lot of fun and a truly rewarding wilderness experience. That’s the sales pitch, in case the opportunity to spend time in the forest wasn’t enough of a pull all by itself. 

The LPFA has two Working Vacations scheduled for spring 2022, see details below and we hope you can make it to one or both. Please email us with any questions or to sign up. We are currently looking for cook help and could also use some help camp sitting, truck shuttling and of course helping maintain these incredible trails…..

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We’ll be working to restore the Indian Creek Trail within the Dick Smith Wilderness between Meadow Camp and Indian Creek Camp. Volunteers will be able to drive to the Indian-Mono Trailhead and from there it’s a 6 mile backpack out to our basecamp at Meadow Camp. Indian Creek is a special spot which has suffered of late due to lack of access and the trail hasn’t been maintained since before the 2007 Zaca Fire. This will be a fantastic opportunity to get back out there and ensure the trail remains open for years to come. Email us to sign up or with questions or you can check our Facebook Event posting for more details as well.

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The Red Reef is another classic LP trail which hasn’t seen much dedicated maintenance in quite some time. We’ve been chipping away at Red Reef over the past year and have most of it cleared and in good shape expect for about 2.5 miles directly below Lady Bug Camp within the Sespe Wilderness. The Working Vacation will be based at Lady Bug and we’ll be focused on reopening the final couple miles of trail. We’ll be able to drive up from Rose Valley to the base of Topatopa Bluff which will leave us about 5 miles of trail to backpack out to Lady Bug. Stock will be bringing in all the food, gear and supplies – should be a great project and we hope you can join us. Email us to sign up or with questions or you can check our Facebook Event posting for more details as well.

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The Bridges of Sunset Valley – NIRA remains closed but remains on target to reopen Friday April 1. Click here if you’d like information about alternative backcountry locations to check out while NIRA is closed in order to minimize overcrowding at the usual suspects. Photo South Coast Creek Habitat Restoration