Forest Gates Opening & Volunteer Trail Work Updates


When Los Padres eyes are smiling….. photo A. Jerlow


Hello Friends, 

It’s mid-May and we hope this email finds you well and busy planning your next forest adventure. The big news across the Los Padres at the moment is the opening of most of the seasonal gate closures. Many of the Forest Service dirt roads across the LP are closed during the winter in order to protect those roads and/or prevent vehicles from getting stuck. The gates usually close sometime in December and depending on the extent of needed repairs and when the snow melts, those gates swing open sometime in late-April to mid-May. That’s right now….. 

GOOD NEWS, the Forest Service has been busy working on road repairs over the past month and have reopened most of the seasonal gate closures across the forest ~ yay! Some of the fan favorites that have reopened include Pine Mtn, Grade Valley, Bates and all the usual OHV gates in the Pinos District. Unfortunately, not all the gates have reopened and we’ve listed some of the gates that remain closed within this email. Sometimes information spreads slowly across the forest and we always encourage folks to contact your local District Office or check in with us to confirm if the gates are open or if you have any questions.

It’s starting to warm up but there’s still tons of water and it’s about as good as it gets in the forest right now! As always, if you are looking for trail conditions or more information from the forest, check out HikeLosPadres.com or the LPFA social media feeds. Hope to see you out there!  




Fresh off two Working Vacations in the San Rafael and Sespe Wildernesses, up next is a three-day trail project in the Dick Smith as part of National Trails Day. We’ll be car-camping at Rancho Nuevo Campground and working up-canyon from there restoring the trail as we go. If you’ve not been to this corner of the forest, it’s spectacular and should be epic this time of year after all the rains. Come one, come all, camp both nights or come for the day! We’d love the help if you feel like giving back to the trails – #NationalTrailsDay. To sign up click the link below….. 



Did you know that the Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail is one of only two federally desigated National Recreation Trails within the Los Padres NF? We’re doing our best to keep it open for people to enjoy. photo J. Nelson.



• As mentioned above, the LPFA just wrapped up a two-week Working Vacation in the San Rafael Wilderness along the Manzana Trail. We were able to complete 4 miles of trail restoration over that time thanks to a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the HUGE efforts of the 31 volunteers who helped along the way. We made a short IG reel showing some of the work and vacation from our time in the SB Backcountry. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out which is more fun! Thanks everyone….. 

• Meanwhile, the LPFA Trail Crew has continued our work on the nearby Sweetwater Trail, which is also in the San Rafael. We were able to knock out another 1.25 miles of trail over the past 10 days and will hopefully connect the dots with previous work later this season. Thanks again to NFWF for the funding support and RPL for the water huffing. 

• We also just completed a 5-day volunteer project on the Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail in the Sespe Wilderness. While it was hot, we were able to do 2.5 miles of trail restoration up towards Pine Mtn Lodge. This was 100% funded by private donations from forest users like yourself and we’re hoping to push on up to PML on an upcoming cooler weekend. Stay tuned! Thanks to the 25 volunteers who helped in the Sespe including T111, you are all welcome back anytime! 

• We also continue with our regular frontcountry volunteer trail projects in both Ojai as well as Santa Barbara, keep an eye out for those. As always, we take requests too. If there is a trail you love and would like to see given some TLC, let us know and we’ll get the ball rolling and hopefully some boots on the ground to help. Thanks everyone…. 


TRAIL VOLUNTEERS: Piedra Blanca Trail


Piedra Blanca Trail Project

May 8 – 12, 2024


Sunset on Piedra Blanca, Nick D.

Hello Friends, 

LPFA and our wonderful volunteers have spent A LOT of time in the San Rafael Wilderness this season. No complaints here, it’s been incredible out there. But for our next project, we’re mixing it up and heading to the Sespe…. 

Join us at Piedra Blanca Camp ~ May 8 – 12 as we head back to the Sespe Wilderness for the second time this season! LPFA spent 5 days on the Piedra Blanca Trail in May 2023, knocking out 3.2 miles of maintenance from the trailhead to Twin Forks Camp. We’re excited to get back out there and keep working up toward Pine Mountain Lodge! Here’s what you need to know: 

  • LPFA will provide tools and some cold beverages for the trip. 
  • You’ll need to backpack in your own personal gear and food the 3.9 miles from the Piedra Blanca Trailhead to Piedra Blanca Camp. It’s a short and awesome hike across Sespe Creek and over the Piedra Blanca Formation. 
  • While we’d love people to come out for all 5 days, you are more than welcome to come for shorter stints too. Sign up and we’ll work out the details from there. 
  • Be sure to bring a bathing suit! There are awesome swimming holes near camp to cool off in at the end of the day. 
  • To sign up, please click the link below or email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org with any questions. 

Thanks everyone, hope to see you out there…..




From top left: Area Map, Piedra Blanca Return, Dorsey C., Piedra Blanca Creek, Clancy T.

TRAIL VOLUNTEERS: Return to Happy Hunting Ground, Working Vacation


Happy Hunting Ground Working Vacation Continues 
April 22-28, 2024


Hello Friends, 

The LPFA and our wonderful trail volunteers just completed 3 miles of trail restoration (technically 2.9, but who’s counting?) within the San Rafael Wilderness as part of our Happy Hunting Ground Working Vacation. Woot woot! 

We had so much fun and it was so nice out there… we decided to do it again! Please consider joining us as we Return to Happy Hunting Ground ~ April 22-28 to continue our great trail work down towards South Fork Station. Here’s what you need to know: 

  • As usual, all food and tools will be provided for our volunteers. 
  • You’ll need to backpack in your own personal gear 10.7 miles from the NIRA Trailhead out to Happy Hunting Ground. It’s a beautiful hike with many creek crossings and most of our volunteers were completing the hike in 6-7 hrs. 
  • While we’d love people to come out for all 7 days, you are more than welcome to come for shorter stints too. We’ll work around your schedule. Sign up and we can work out the details from there. 
  • Our Working Vacations are really fun. A good mix of Work and Vacation. If you haven’t joined us before, check it out, you’ll have a great time! 
  • Be sure to pack your phone and a bathing suit. The views are terrific and this years water is incredible. 
  • To sign up please click the link below or email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org with any questions. 

Thanks everyone, hope to see you out there…….





Manzana Trail is Where It’s At!



Hello Friends! 

It’s trail season and the LPFA will once again be hosting a Working Vacation to help maintain the backcountry trails of the Los Padres Forest. This season we are focusing on restoring the beloved Manzana Trail within the San Rafael Wilderness…..

Click Here to Help the Manzana Trail!

Starting April 6, we’ll be camping at Happy Hunting Ground Camp and spending the next week clearing the trail down towards South Fork Station. Happy Hunting Ground is a backcountry camp nestled between pines, oaks and rock outcrops along the eastern edge of the Hurricane Deck formation. If you haven’t been there before, it will be a great place to temporarily call home!

This will be a typical LPFA Working Vacation complete with pack mule support = all food and tools will be provided. Happy Hunting Ground is located 10.7 miles upstream from the NIRA Trailhead along the Manzana Trail. Each volunteer will have to only backpack in all their own personal gear while the mules will bring in the kitchen setup, food and tools for the week. 

The trail work will include crosscutting downed trees, tread repair, some rockwork and brushing. We could also use help with cooking and campground maintenance too, if that’s more to your liking. While we’d love to have you for all 10 days, there are absolutely options for shorter stays. If you’d like to join or to learn more, please email VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org or click the link below. We’ll be sharing more details over the coming week or so.


Happy Hunting Ground is an amazing place! It will be fantastic working the trail, spending time at camp, helping the forest and hanging out with friends. Hope to see you there….


Backcountry Season is NOW! – Los Padres Forest

Spring has sprung or is springing across the Los Padres…

The grass is green, the big mountains are covered in snow, the creeks and rivers are flowing strong and the mountains should be calling ~ we hope you are answering….

Prime backcountry season is now! 


LPFA SPRING TRAIL WORK UPDATE

A big focus of the LPFA these past couple months has been working to clear and maintain trail access within the San Rafael Wilderness, specifically out of NIRA. The LPFA Trail Crew has been hammering on the upper reaches of the Manzana Trail while we’ve simultaneously led multiple volunteer projects on sections closer to the trailhead. While most of our work has been along the Manzana Trail, we’ve also been working the Potrero Trail and along the Hurricane Deck Trail between Potrero and the Schoolhouse.

Our goals in the San Rafael for this season are to finish restoring the Sweetwater Trail, open up the Potrero – Western Hurricane Deck – Lower Manzana lollipop and maintain the Manzana Trail from NIRA to as close to South Fork as we can. 

Lots to do, lots of fun to be had, lots of opportunities for you to answer the call and help on an upcoming volunteer project…. 

We hope to see you out there!


Manzana Trail Working Vacation

Happy Hunting Ground Camp ~ April 6-14

Join us at Happy Hunting Ground Camp within the San Rafael Wilderness as we restore the Manzana Trail. Happy Hunting Ground is a backcountry camp nestled between pines, oaks and rock outcrops along the eastern edge of the Hurricane Deck formation. This will be a typical LPFA Working Vacation complete with pack support and all food and tools will be provided. Happy Hunting Ground is located 10.7 miles upstream from the NIRA Trailhead along the Manzana Trail. Each volunteer will have to backpack in all their own personal gear while the mules will bring in the kitchen setup, food and tools for the week. We’ll be focused on restoring the Manzana Trail from Happy Hunting Ground down towards South Fork Station. The trail work will include crosscutting downed trees, tread repair, some rockwork and brushing. We could also use help with cooking and campground maintenance too, if that’s more to your liking. While we’d love to have you for all 10 days, there are absolutely options for shorter stays. If you’d like to join, please email VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org or click the link below. We’ll be sharing details over the coming weeks. Happy Hunting Ground is an amazing place! It will be fantastic spending time at camp, helping the forest and hanging out with friends. Hope to see you there….



Potrero Trail: March 22-24

Join us as we continue work along the spectacular Potrero Trail within the San Rafael Wilderness. We’ll be camping three days at Potrero Camp and working up from there. Feel free to help all three days or come for a day! It’s all good. To sign up or with questions please email or click here.

St. Patty’s on the Manzana: SUNDAY

We’ll be out on the Manzana this Sunday on St. Patricks Day working to make the first mile of the trail stock passable. Should be a fantastic day! We’ll be meeting at NIRA at 0900 and should be off the trail by mid-afternoon. Please RSVP via email. Oh, and don’t forget to wear green! 

And while we have you… a few more volunteer events!


Frontcountry Volunteer Days

We have regular volunteer days scheduled across both the SB and Ojai frontcountry trails. We’ve been working every Thursday and Saturday in Ojai and have a Trailwork Tuesday project on Rattlesnake Canyon in SB scheduled for Tuesday March 19. To signup or learn more please email or click here.



Forest 411

• Highway 33 has reopened providing access into the heart of the Ventura Backcountry, the Sespe Wilderness and most importantly the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. Quick heads up that we’ll be hosting our annual Wheeler Gorge Open House on Saturday May 11. Get it on your calendar! 

• Due to a significant landslide near Barlow Camp, the Pine Ridge Trail may be impassable to Sykes dependent on water levels. Please contact the Monterey Ranger District or the Big Sur Station with questions. 

• The Forest Service is accepting public comments through March 31 on the Piru Creek Wild & Scenic River Comprehensive River Management PlanCheck it out here

• The Santa Barbara Ranger District has extended the campfire ban across the Santa Barbara Frontcountry. To learn more click here

• The Forest Service has revised the 2023 Storm Damage Recovery closures. Some trails have reopened, some remain closed. Click here to see the order and full list of closures. 

• Earlier this month the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Forest Service’s planned Tecuya Ridge Shaded Fuelbreak Project. You can read information about the project here and about the recent ruling here

• The Forest Service is set to receive nearly $38,000,000 as part of the Thomas Fire recovery settlement. The funds should be used to “repair roads, trails, bridges and recreation sites damaged by the fire, as well as ecological recovery activities such as native plant restoration and invasive plant treatments.” For more information click here

• The Forest Service is planning a series of prescribed burns along Camino Cielo above Santa Barbara starting in March. Information can be found here and here

• Camping will be temporarily banned at San Carpoforo Beach along northern SLO County. More information – click here

• What a wonderful winter of rain we’ve had this year and two years in a row! Most of the forest has received well over normal rainfall totals and we should be looking at a nice summer with plenty of pools for cooling off. Great news! Enjoy the spring everyone and don’t forget to sign up to volunteer on some of the upcoming trail projects.

Potrero Trail Volunteer Project

Green meadows are calling…


Hello Friends, 

It’s officially green out there. Backcountry season is in full swing and LPFA is kicking off our spring trail working season with a project on the Potrero Trail. For those who joined our work on the western Hurricane Deck last fall, you may remember it to be hot, brown, breezeless and full of face flies. Well not anymore! Right now it’s just about as good as it gets up there.  

LPFA will be leading a backcountry project out of Potrero Camp on the Manzana Trail from March 8th to 10th where we will be brushing our way up the Potrero Trail to the Hurricane Deck Trail. This project is part of a group of upcoming (and past) projects to open up the western portion of the Hurricane Deck Trail. Come help us open up the Deck! 

While we’d love for you to join for the whole project, you’re welcome to come for as long as you can. Sign up via the button below and stay tuned for more info in the days leading up to the project. And if you can’t make this one, check back in for more Manzana-adjacent projects this spring…there will be PLENTY!


Winter Volunteer Opportunities

Shades of winter in the Dick Smith…


Hello Friends, 

We hope you’re off to a Los Padres-filled start to the New Year and taking advantage of the break in the weather to enjoy the green grass and flowing creeks the year-end storms left behind. And if you need a little encouragement, LPFA is here to offer ample opportunities for you to get your winter nature fix! Join us as we enter a ~somewhat~ dry January and set off into the Forest for some trail maintenance fun while the weather allows. From the Sespe River Trail, to Agua Blanca Creek, to the Santa Ynez Rec Area and back down to Matilija Canyon, we’ve got all your southern Los Padres trail work needs covered. We hope you can make one or even better, all of the volunteer days shown below. See you out there!

VOLUNTEER  TRAIL  WORK


Jan 11-15: Sespe River Trail

Join us in the Sespe Wilderness on MLK weekend to tackle the Kerr Spring Slide on the Sespe River Trail! LPFA will be backpacking to Bear Creek Camp on Thursday, January 11th and spending the long weekend fixing a particularly nasty slide between Bear Creek and Kerr Spring. This is an overnight trip and volunteers should come prepared to spend the night in the backcountry with their own gear. Details are still taking shape, click below to sign up!

Jan 21: Wheeler Gorge VC Cleanup

After 11 months of being closed, Highway 33 has finally opened between Matilija Road and Ozena Station, and so has our beloved Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center! Join us Sunday, January 21st from 10am – 2pm for coffee and a cleanup at the Center. Family and friends encouraged. Projects will include raking, sweeping, painting, trash cleanup and more! Email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org to sign up and or to get more info!



Jan 26: Matias Connector Trail

LPFA will be beginning work on the Matias Connector Trailthis January. Come join us on Friday, January 26th as we begin brushing the trail open from River Road up toward Matias Potrero. We’ll be meeting at First Crossing at 8am. More details to come, email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org to get on the list!

Feb 11: Super Bowl Trail Day

LPFA will be continuing the tradition of a Super Bowl Trail Project in the Ozena Station area of the Los Padres this February 11th! Exact trail location TBD, but come join us for a day of trail work in Deal Canyon-land and be home in time for the Super Bowl. More details to come, but sign up at the link below!



Ongoing: Agua Blanca/Potholes

Sign up to join ongoing efforts to restore the Agua Blanca Trail within the Sespe Wilderness. Led by Alan Coles, volunteers will be meeting at Lake Piru and heading up the Agua Blanca clearing brush and downed trees. If you are interested in helping or learning more, please sign up and we’ll keep you posted. Click below……

Ongoing: Matilija Trail

Led by another legendary local trail steward named Peter Wilder, the LPFA has continued to work the Matilija Trail on most Thursdays and Saturdays since August. However, there is still much to do! If you are interested in helping or learning more, please sign up and we’ll keep you posted. Click below……



Winter sunsets just hit different. From up on Mt Pinos.

Los Padres New Years Information, LPFA

A Big Sunset Across Little Pine, no Photoshop or filters needed….


Hello Friends ~ Happy Holidays!

You’re likely getting inundated with year-end emails so we’ll keep this short but we needed to share a couple Los Padres updates before the end of the year. Let’s do this…..

Highway 33: OPEN

CalTrans reopened Hwy 33 after it had been closed for the previous 11 months. While the highway is open, there are lane closures and some campgrounds and trails remain closed. For more info click here….

Fire Restrictions

The Forest Service lifted fire restrictions; campfires are now allowed in most parts of the forest with a valid California Campfire Permit. See details and more information here….



Ventura Backcountry Updates

  • Earlier this month the LPFA was able to successfully complete a 9-day Working Vacation along the Alder Creek Trail within the eastern Sespe Wilderness. Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers and Trail Crew, we were able to maintain 5.5 miles of wilderness trail. 
  • Thank you everyone who contributed to our #GivingTuesday campaign to raise money in support of the Ventura Backcountry trails. We were able to exceed our goals and will be leading a volunteer trail project on the Sespe River Trail as soon as we get a clear weekend. Stay tuned….
  • Please join us on Saturday Jan 6 as we continue helping efforts to restore the Agua Blanca Trail within the Sespe Wilderness. Led by Alan Coles, volunteers will be meeting at Lake Piru and heading up the Agua Blanca clearing brush and downed trees. To sign up, click here
  • With the reopening of Highway 33, the LPFA was also able to reopen the beloved Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. If you haven’t visited Wheeler Gorge, stop by next time you are in the neighborhood. We’re open weekends and holidays; just 15 minutes up from downtown Ojai. See you there….

Last but certainly not least, we need to thank all the dedicated LPFA volunteers who spend their free time in support of the forest. This includes volunteers at the Visitor Centers, our Board of Directors and of course all of you who spend time with us on the trails and within the forest. We also want to give a huge shout-out to our hard-working professional Trail Crew who spend all year helping the trails. They’re out in the forest 10 hours a day through the summer heat, the winter freeze and everything in between. Also a big thanks to all the donors, partners and grantors who support our mission in all ways imaginable. We truly could not do what we love to do without all of you!

Thank you everyone for a great 2023 with an even better 2024 on tap….

2023 Los Padres Forest Association Accomplishments


  • 9,944 volunteer hours 
  • 140 forest projects & hitches 
  • 577 individual volunteers 
  • 243 days spent on the trails 
  • 843 Trail Crew person days on the trails
  • 22,724 hours contributed to the forest 
  • 85 miles of trail maintained 
  • 495 miles of trail patrolled 
  • 731 miles of forest roads patrolled 
  • 1 one hundred and forty year old roof replaced

Thanks again everyone! Now go find some time to enjoy the forest, get a backpack in, go ride your favorite trail or take your family for a drive to a trailhead you’ve never visited. Safe travels and see you next year….


#GivingTuesday for the Ventura Backcountry Trails


Hello Friends, 

Let’s talk a little Ventura Backcountry. Highway 33, which is the primary road used to access the Ventura Backcountry, has been closed since January due to storm damage. Hwy 33 is used to visit many special places including Pine Mountain, Matilija, Rose Valley, Piedra Blanca and large portions of the Sespe Wilderness. The latest update from CalTrans is that Hwy 33 is expected to reopen sometime around the end of the year – that will be great, we can’t wait! 

Unfortunately, so many of the trails accessed from Hwy 33 remain in very bad shape. Not only are there trail-gobbling landslides, washouts and sinkholes resulting from the winter rains but the plants have also been growing like crazy, exploding with trail-guising regrowth. We’ve helped survey many of the trails off Hwy 33 and most of them need a lot of work clearing slides, brushing back the scub oak and helping to once again define where the trail should go.

We’ve started with some of the trail restoration work and have led trail projects this year on the Sespe, Piedra Blanca, Matilija, Chorro Grande, Reyes Peak, Boulder Canyon and Alder Creek Trails but we’ve just scratched the surface of what is truly needed for this amazing network of trails. 

With your support this #GivingTuesday, we’d like to make a huge push over the coming months to get as many of the gnarly sections of trail cleared and back in good shape.

Believe it or not, that is the trail, Kerr Spring Slide,
photo SoniaC

First on our trail priority list would be repairing the Kerr Spring slide along the Sespe River Trail. This section of trail just upstream from Kerr Spring has been a problem for decades but was hit exceptionally hard this past January. Over a hundred yards of trail was buried by a landslide of rock and mud. It’s a disaster and certainly hard to navigate in its current condition. We’d love to organize a combination of volunteers and hired trail professionals to camp at nearby Bear Creek and spend a couple weeks clearing this slide and reopening the Sespe. Please considering helping this #GivingTuesday

We’ll also be continuing our work on the Matilija Trail (come volunteer too!), we’d love to clear Lion Cyn again, work the GMPB up towards Pine Mtn Lodge and hack away at both Potrero John and lower Chorro. No shortage of work to be done, we can’t wait to get out there and do what we do best. 

Your support today goes a long way to helping repair the trails across the Ventura Backcountry. Thanks everyone! See you in the forest and on the trails…..




PROJECT FULL

We’ll be working the Alder Creek Trail in the Sespe Wilderness above Fillmore all of next week as part of a large scale Working Vacation. The project is full but we’re looking to clear the trail from Dough Flat out to Cow Spring and hopefully down a couple miles towards Alder Creek. Should be fun, with us luck! 

PROJECT FULL

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

We’ve been chipping away at the Matilija Trail for the past few months and are now up about 2 miles from the lower trailhead. We’ll continue our regularly scheduled Thursday and Saturday volunteer days. The canyon is beautiful and we really appreciate all the hard work from the volunteers. Join the fun! 


SIGN UP HERE!

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

This coming Sunday will be the second of many trail days this season pn the Agua Blanca Trail. The ABT is located above Lake Piru in the Sespe Wilderness. Super Volunteer Alan Coles will once again be leading the charge and we’ll hopefully continue pushing up towards the Devil’s Gate. Hope you can make it! 

SIGN UP HERE!


Los Padres Forest Association: For the Lines and the Green

A colored line with an epic view deep within the green, photo CHorgan


Hello Friends, 

We all love maps. Look below at the map of South Central California and you’ll notice how the Los Padres Forest is a huge green polygon surrounded by roadshields, cities and civilization. It’s so nice to have that large green polygon. Don’t you agree? It’s vital to have designated green for nature to thrive, for critters to roam and for water to flow. People seldom live in the green but having the ability to visit is also essential. The green is a space for us to reconnect and disconnect (no ports or plugs please), to recreate and educate, and the setting where we become the best version of ourselves. While seeing the green from afar is fine, it’s even better to get inside the green and soak up the forest from within. 

Leading to and within the green are colored lines which allow visitors access to explore, to watch, to witness and to be challenged. These lines are more commonly called trails and they lead to many cherished wonders within the green. The lines are used by bikers, hikers, runners and equestrians for nature viewing, backpacking, soaking and adrenaline. Most of us don’t get the chance to venture along the lines and into the green as much as we’d like. Yet we have faith that the green and the lines will be there when we need them.

If you like to visit the green polygon and use the colored lines within, then please consider donating to the LPFA this #GivingTuesday. We are out in the green along the lines just about every day (223 days and counting this year) working to ensure that the green stays green and the lines stay colored.  

We truly appreciate all the continued encouragement from our volunteers, supporters and donors and are honored to be doing what we are doing. 

See you on the lines and in the green……