Los Padres Forest: CLOSURE REVISION ISSUED

Olly olly oxen free! The Los Padres mostly reopens……

Hello Friends,

The Forest Service released a revised closure order which supersedes the previous January 13 sixty-day closure order. The new order will open large parts of the forest but some of the trails and roads will remain closed due to damage incurred as part of both the early January floods as well as the early March snow storm. Click the two links below to read the new revised closure order and to see a list of which areas will remain closed:

There is a lot to digest as you scroll through the above list of what is open and what remains closed. Here’s a few notes and tidbits that might be helpful:

• Most of the frontcountry trails across the Los Padres are now open. Please confirm on the link above for specifics.

• You might notice that most of the campgrounds (car camps) remain closed across the forest. This is largely due to the fact that many of the major roads that lead into the forest and to these campgrounds are still closed. This includes Highway 33, Highway 1 and most of the non-paved Forest Roads. It’s going to be a little harder this year finding a campground as we head into Spring Break but there are still some good options out there for car-camping. • Many of the roads that lead into the forest remain closed. Unfortunately, some of these roads were open as of two two weeks ago but had to be closed again due to snow damage from the early March storms. Some of the roads can be biked/hiked but in some cases we’re going to have to get creative connecting trails from where we can now park to where the usual trailhead might be. Call the Forest Service with questions or we’re happy to help too.

• Each of the Ranger Districts were in charge of determining which portions within their Districts should be opened and which should remain closed. There’s some variation between the districts but for the most part the majority of the Wilderness areas and trails have been reopened. The exceptions are: Portions of the Pine Ridge Trail and the entire Rocky Creek Trail within the Ventana Wilderness. The trails within the Machesna and Garcia Wildernesses. The Dick Smith Wilderness within the Santa Barbara Ranger District. The Santa Cruz Drainage within the San Rafael Wilderness. Matilija Wilderness and North Fork Matilija Trail. Potrero John within the Sespe Wilderness.

• Remember that pretty much all of the seasonal gates are currently closed across the forest and many of the gates that might normally be open are closed due to the recent snow. This includes most of the Mt Pinos Ranger District, which was not part of the January 13 closure. We strongly suggest calling the local Ranger District office before you head into the forest to get as much information as you can ahead of time.

• The trails and roads across the forest were hammered by the January storms and then hammered again a few weeks back by the snow. It was a one-two punch of flooding followed by snow downed trees. Despite all the recent trail work that has been accomplished since January, the trails are in rough shape. Couple things to consider before heading out onto the trails:

  • Be prepared to travel slower than normal. The creek crossings are going to big, there are going to be downed trees and there are going to be washouts. Be prepared to hike slower than normal or hike-a-bike in places that you might normally be riding.
  • You might encounter a showstopper out there or something that you can’t navigate around. Be ready for that potential when planning your day on the trail and don’t be afraid to turn around if you encounter a section of trail that makes you uncomfortable. Always better to be safe.
  • We learned long ago not to predict what is or is not stock passable. Where there’s a will, there’s a way and some packers seem to have enough will to get just about anywhere. That being said, this year is different and most of the trails we’ve seen are far from stock passable. We suggest that if you are hoping to take animals on any of the LP trails, scout them ahead of time on foot to make sure you can make it. We’re not advertising any trails as being stock passable at the moment. Sorry.
  • PLEASE PLEASE take photos of any sketchy sections of trail, slides, needed reroutes or any downed trees. It’s a good idea to have a friend pose in the photo or place a water bottle, bike or hiking pole so that there is a scale reference. It would be great to then share the photos and your trail report on HikeLosPadres, with your local trail group or with the FS – or better yet, all of the above! We can’t fix the trails if we don’t know what’s needing to be fixed. Your help with trail reports is so important!  
  • Last but not least, the Forest Service will be frequently revising the closure order as trails and roads are fixed and restored. Over the next few months things will be changing quite a bit as the snow melts and repairs occur. We’ll be working with the Forest Service to share information and help get as many areas reopened and as much road access restored as quickly as we collectively can. Be patient but at the same time let’s work to make sure the FS knows what areas should be prioritized to be reopened. This can be accomplished through focused volunteer efforts or sharing information from what people are seeing while in the forest. If you’d like to help, contact your local trail organization or the Forest Service. Let’s be part of the solution, not the problem…..

A lot to digest but it’s good to see that most of the forest is reopening, certainly a step in the right direction. Hopefully we’ll see more access reopened over the coming weeks and months as more work is accomplished.

There is another round of more heavy rain in the forecast for this evening through Wednesday but the weekend weather is looking pretty good. Enjoy the trails and we should have an epic Los Padres spring and summer ahead of us.

Thanks everyone…..

VOLUNTEER

The LPFA will be leading a volunteer project this weekend clearing snow-downed oak trees from Sunset Valley Road in order to help provide vehicle access to NIRA. If that doesn’t work then we’ll likely be working on the Davy Brown Trail off Fig Mtn. Details are TBD based on how the storm this week impacts the area but we’d love to see you out there helping!

CLICK HERE TO VOLUNTEER

LPFA TRAIL CREW

As we head into the busy Spring season we are looking to add a few more folks to the LPFA Trail Crew. Our Trail Crew works full time across the Los Padres helping to remove downed trees, clear slides and brush so that the trails stay open.

If interested click below or email directly: INFO@LPForest.org

CLICK HERE TO JOIN LPFA TRAIL CREW

It’s Time to Reopen the Forest

The Hurricane Deck shed a few layers during the January storms. Remarkable seeing all the recent slides coming off the southern face.

Dear Los Padres National Forest,

It’s time to reopen the forest.

It was the right decision to close the Los Padres Forest on January 13 after the devastating rains earlier that week. There was so much damage across our region, so many closed roads and so many unknowns. Closing the forest at that time in order to focus on making sure people were okay was certainly a wise decision.

Since then, over the past 6 weeks, you have done a great job of clearing roads, repairing infrastructure and leading the forest-wide damage assessment effort. Many of your partners, including the LPFA, have participated in these assessments as well. The LPFA alone has now surveyed over 200 miles of trails across the southern four ranger districts and altogether with other partner groups and Forest Service staff we’ve probably collectively seen most of the forest by now. The damage across the forest is unprecedented and certainly daunting for those of us who work to keep the forest trails open and passable. We’ve documented and shared more photos of trail damaging slides and gullies than we’d ever want to see. There is certainly a lot of work ahead of us in order to bring the trails back to where they were before the storm damage. It’s going to take some time for sure.

The Forest Service has been busy clearing roads, photo Beeman

While the extent of the trail damage is significant, we have not seen the type of showstopper trail damage that would warrant the majority of the forest remaining closed. Most of the trail damage we’ve seen are obstacles that savvy forest-users can easily walk around or bypass. While that’s not ideal, we can’t wait for every trail issue to be repaired, that’s going to take years. We understand that there are going to be some roads and trails which will need to remain closed. Some of these select trail closures may last months and in some cases years. Speaking on behalf of the forest-users, we understand the damage and we’re okay with having some of the trails remain closed.

We also understand that we won’t have the same road and trailhead access this season as we’re used to having in the past. That’s okay, we just want to get back into the forest and go where we can. Please, it’s time to reopen the forest.

We realize there is a laundry list of things to do before a forest closure can be lifted. More signage is likely needed, information shared and of course continuous trail maintenance is always needed; more so now than ever. The trail groups across the forest have been working like crazy these past 6 weeks repairing as many of the bad sections of trail as we can. A lot of progress has been made and many of the most popular trails are currently in fine shape.

Let us know how we, your partners and forest-users, can help move this forward. There are thousands of volunteers across the forest who would love to help however we can in order to get portions of the forest reopened. We’re here to help, please let us know how and what might be needed?

It would be a shame to have another beautiful wintery-spring weekend come and go without people enjoying their Los Padres. It’s time to reopen the forest. Let us know how we can help make that happen.

Thank you for all your work – sincerely,

Your Forest Users

Two movies for the price of one…. a Gandalf at the infamous Cliffs of Insanity…. You Shall Not Pass! The Santa Cruz Trail needs to remain closed.
Oak Flat along the Sespe, how nice are those pools going to be? Most of the Sespe will remain hard to access due to the extended closure of Hwy 33.
The San Rafael Wilderness, prime Los Padres backpacking. The Forest Service has done a great job clearing the road to NIRA.
Where’s the trail? Some of the trails don’t exist anymore, keep your eyes peeled for recently placed cairns and flagging. Photo Beeman
Lots of road damage remains, making for long road hikes or rides just to get to the usual trailhead. That’s okay, right? Hi Mtn, photo Toejam
ll the usual forest-wide trail organizations are working hard to repair the gnarlier sections of trails. Helping to get the forest reopened.
Let’s do this! It’s time to reopen the forest. Photos LPFA & Montecito Trails Foundation.

The Latest on the Los Padres Forest Closure?

One of the many new barriers along the normally well-trodden Manzana Trail, photo Maki

Hello Friends,

As of February 7, the majority of the Los Padres Forest remains closed due to severe storm damage. This includes all of the Monterey, Santa Lucia, Santa Barbara and Ojai Ranger Districts. The Mt Pinos RD is open with the caveat that all their usual seasonal gates are currently closed for the winter.

We’ve been hearing the complaints and understand the frustration over the forest closure. We all want to be out in the forest doing what we do, going where we go and seeing what we see. Nothing beats a February backpacking trip in the Los Padres, it’s the best time IMO. The closure is no fun, we get it. That being said, many of us, including Forest Service staff, have been working real hard to try to get the forest reopened. Right now information is changing by the day but here’s our best update on what’s been happening, where we might be headed and what hopefully will be occurring soon:

A now typical Manzana Crossing. Trails gotta be over there somewhere….??? photo Lori Rafferty

The Storm

Big rains. Lots of damage. Safety takes precedence. Forest closes. The first couple weeks after the storm events were dedicated to road and infrastructure damage assessment, getting those roads open and restoring access for the hundreds of folks stranded behind damaged Forest Service roads. Click here for a recent Ray Ford article in Noozhawk which documents some the damage from around Santa Barbara County. 

Post storm damage trail clearing has begun, two happy LPFA crosscut sawyers singing along…. photo Rupert S

Trail Assessments

Sun shines. Water levels drop. People get out. Progress is made. Many roads across the forest have now been cleared and in some cases reopened. The Forest Service has begun assessing trail conditions and recreational forest access. This is where the LPFA and other partner groups have gotten involved. Over the past few weeks, LPFA staff and volunteers have now surveyed over 100 miles of trails across the forest and that number is substantially higher if you include all the surveys from other FS partners and FS staff. All of the assessment information is being shared within a central database so that the Forest Service can evaluate the magnitude of the damage and initiate a strategy for repair, reopening and requesting funds. A big focus of the surveys has been looking for extreme showstopper trail damage that would prevent a trail user from safely getting from point A to point B. We’ve found more than a few of these showstoppers.

The cribwall before Fish Camp has seen better days but she held… photo Maki

The Polygon Plan

The trail surveys began on the frontcountry trails, places where access to the trailheads is paved. From there the surveys have slowly ventured deeper into the forest including assessing some of the wilderness areas. We have collectively seen a lot of what happened across the forest and unfortunately the damage is significant. The Forest Service has been leading daily forest-wide update meetings and their sincere hope is to systematically reopen ‘forest polygons’ once trailhead access has been established and the trails within those polygons have been surveyed and adequately repaired. The FS is putting an emphasis on reopening the more popular frontcountry polygons but it is possible that some backcountry polygons might be the first ones to open up. There has been discussion that Wilderness and backcountry trails won’t need the same level of repairs as frontcountry trails since it is understood that Wilderness trails are more challenging for the trail user. As of today, two smaller non-forest managed polygons in the SB Frontcountry have reopened and more should be following soon.

Is that the Lost Valley Trail or the Lost Trail Valley? The trail should be traversing across that hillside, photo Addison

Grand Reopening?

Knowing that approved forest polygons are needed in order to reopen portions of the forest, many of the trail groups across the Los Padres have been working like crazy the past couple weeks strategically focusing on needed trail repairs within some of the low-hanging-fruit polygons. We’ve been fixing undercut sections of trail and sinkholes, clearing large washouts and downed trees and ramping in and out of flood cut gullies. Progress has been slow, but steady. It is likely that some larger polygons will be reopened soon, hopefully within the week – knock knock

— • — • —

While many of the frontcountry trails have been seen or documented on social media, we’re just starting to get eyes on the much bigger backcountry. The Ventana Wilderness Alliance has been surveying the Big Sur Backcountry and the LPFA was finally able to get into NIRA this past weekend to survey the trails up and down the Manzana. All the photos within this newsletter are from this past weekend within the San Rafael Wilderness. There’s still a lot more of the forest to assess but we’re basically seeing wildfire level trail damage at a forest-wide scale and instead of ash we’ve got flood scour. There is going to be major repairs on all the trails and while we documented hundreds of damaged sections of trail within the 25 miles of surveyed backcountry trails, we didn’t see any showstoppers nor any areas that were truly impassable.

The biggest issue we’ve seen is at the creek crossings. Just about every creek crossing has changed. Where you’d expect to see the trail is now covered in mud, roots and stacked logs with a 4-6ft climb in and out of the creek. In some cases it’s going to be years before the trails are back to where they were before these storms. That being said, we’re recommending that the NIRA polygon and hopefully other backcountry polygons be reopened with the understanding that the trails are not stock passable, that trail-users will at times have trouble following the trails, that trail users may get turned around somewhere out there by a showstopper and that trail users should expect to travel much slower than normal. We’re looking forward to continued reopening polygon discussions with the Forest Service later in the week. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, we’ll keep pushing hard to continue surveys, continue opening up trails and continue working with our partners and the Forest Service to define those polygons which can be reopened. If you’d like to help, we do have some volunteer opportunities listed below, donations always help and keep an eye on social media for more upcoming projects as well. Thanks everyone for your patience, it’s going to be a beautiful spring in the forest.

One volunteer, one trail day, one shovel load, it all adds up, photo Toejam

Los Padres Closure Update: JANUARY 23, 2023

NIRAging…. WOW! – Photo Roo Seaford, January 11
Hello Friends,

It’s been a busy couple weeks and we’ve been fielding a TON of questions about the current storm related closure that is impacting most of the Los Padres National Forest. Information is changing by the hour but here’s the latest as we come out of a beautiful winter weekend:
San Ysidro Trail, the whole mountain covered the trail within the red circle

• The majority of the Los Padres remains closed through March 14. This includes all of the Ojai, Santa Barbara, Santa Lucia and Monterey Ranger Districts. The Mount Pinos RD is open, yet all the usual winter seasonal gate closures are in effect and be prepared for additional closures or delays from other storm related road damage. If you plan on heading out to the MPRD, be sure to check in with CalTrans or other sources to ensure your roads are open and passable. Still a lot of storm related damage out there…..

• The Forest Service has been busy this past week primarily working on clearing roads, assessing infrastructure damage and assisting with the liberation of multiple stranded communities. There remain over 150 people stranded due to road closures and storm damage. Most of the access roads into the forest are closed and in some cases may remain closed for quite some time.

• In support of the Forest Service and other land agencies, the LPFA has started surveying many of the frontcountry trails above both Santa Barbara as well as Ojai. While the backcountry may be closed for some time due to road closures, the strategy is to get the frontcountry reopened as soon as possible and then work out and back from there.

• Unfortunately we’re seeing substantial damage (slides, washouts, gullies, sinkholes, etc….) across most frontcountry trails and in a few cases showstopper damage that won’t be repaired anytime soon.

• The LPFA Trail Crew has been working with Montecito Trails Foundation to repair some of the trails within and above Santa Barbara. We will be preparing weekly progress reports and sharing with agencies in order to hopefully modify the closure to reopen trails as they are repaired.

• We’ve also been collaborating with MTF and Santa Barbara County Trails Council to restore some of the trails that are outside the current forest closure. It’s a good idea, if you are ‘jonesing’ for a trail, to branch out and explore your local parks, open spaces and managed lands.

• We understand that many of us are frustrated at not being in the forest or visiting our favorite trail or camp. There is a lot of significant damage out there, please try to be patient. We’re pushing hard to help get the surveys completed, get damage repaired and hopefully get portions of the forest reopened as soon as possible.


This is one of at least three sections of San Ysidro Trail that will need significant work or adjustment. Many of the trails have sections that are literally gone and impassable.

EATING AN ELEPHANT

Some good news to share….. With the help of Montecito Trails Foundation, we will be leading 5 days of volunteer trail projects in the Santa Barbara Frontcountry starting Tuesday January 24. Please click the link below to sign up. Due to the nature of the needed trail work, we are limiting the number of volunteers each day. There have been a lot of you (THANK YOU) interested in volunteering and we’ll hopefully have some larger scale volunteer days ahead but for now we’ll be starting small and ramping up. We’re also hoping to have some volunteer days in Ojai soon as well, hint hint, lets do it!

VOLUNTEERS CLICK HERE!

We’re also in need of help with our hired Trail Crew. If you are looking for a job, love being in the forest and have some time to spend repairing damaged trail, please let us know.

TRAIL CREW APPLICANTS CLICK HERE!

Thanks everyone for your support and patience. While all the water has been super damaging, it’s a good thing in the long run. We’re going to have some amazing pools this spring and for years to come.

Sandstone Day Use Area on the Santa Ynez River. This is just below Red Rock. Hard to Recognize. Photo:  Morgan Jones

Los Padres Forest: CLOSURE ORDER

A not so Happy Canyon Road, or what’s left of it, just below Cachuma Saddle. Photo Cragg

Hello Friends,

Due to the massive amounts of recent rainfall and subsequent forest-wide damage to trails, roads and infrastructure, the Forest Service has issued a forest-wide closure of the Los Padres Forest effective Friday January 13. The closure comes in advance of this weekend’s storms, which are forecast to dump additional inches of rain across the forest.

Obviously no one is happy about the closure, but there is just too much damage across the forest at the moment. In the days following the last storm, we’ve had many volunteers attempt to survey trails and forest roads. Literally every report we’re seeing, every attempt to drive a road, every attempt to hike a trail, is coming back reporting massive damage. We’ve seen damage like this in the past, but it’s largely been isolated to portions of a county or within specific fire scars. What’s different this time is that the destruction is at a forest-wide scale and even beyond that when you look at neighboring counties such as Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, etc…

The closure order states that the closure will last 60-days but we’re hopeful that it can be revised or modified on a local level as portions of the forest are surveyed, cleaned up and repaired. We are working closely with the Forest Service to help survey and document the damage and are looking forward to getting our boots on the ground ASAP to repair the trails. We’ll be out in force once the Forest Service gives us the green light. Please consider donating to our Trail Fund if you can, we’ve got lots of collective work ahead of us.

If you have any photos of trail or road damage from this past week, please forward on to us of the Forest Service.

Sorry for the bad news on a Friday the 13th and stay safe everyone……

Unrecognizable? That’s Montecito Hot Springs. Not a social media sensation at the moment.

LOS PADRES STORM UPDATE: The Good. The Bad & the Ugly

Romero Trailhead, Montecito – gonna Bee a while….

Hello Friends,

First off, we hope you are all safe and dried out after all the great rains we’ve had over the past weeks. This is not news but from Big Sur to Piru we’ve seen historic quantities of rainfall across the Los Padres. 2023 will be remembered and documented in the lore of other epic winters like 1969, 1983 and 2005, etc… It’s exciting for sure, good to see the reservoirs filling up and of course nice to look forward to what all this rain will mean for the spring flowers, scoured swimming holes and late-season backpacking trips. That’s the good.

The bad & the ugly is all the damage sustained across the Central Coast of California. Just turn on the national news and you see photos of familiar places under a dozen feet of water. Here in the Los Padres we’ve seen historic bridges go down, campgrounds washed away, levees blown out, communities isolated and more road damage than can be listed. And that’s not even talking about the trails, which have mostly not been seen as of yet.

At the moment, most forest access roads are closed and will likely remain closed until at least after this next upcoming storm (Friday – Monday). Many of the trailheads that are closer to town have sustained damage due to washouts and slides. It is not easy to get into the forest at the moment and even then, water levels remain dangerously high at most of the larger creek crossings. We’ve also been hearing about catastrophic slides and washouts along the trails themselves that may eventually lead to trail closures. TBD.

All things considered, depending where you are, it’s not a bad idea to skip the forest for a week or so until water levels drop and proper trail surveys have been completed. If you are on the trails or in the forest, be careful, listen to your instincts and don’t be afraid to turn around should you encounter a sketchy section of trail or road. It’s no joke out there right now.

We are working with the Forest Service to start documenting damage to the infrastructure, roads, trailheads and trails. If you see any substantial damage, please take photos and share with the Forest Service or with us (INFO@LPForest.org) and we’ll be sure to pass it along.

Be smart everyone and stay safe…..

Roads and trails alike, washed away this past week….. just the beginning.

Happy Los Padres Days!

Little Pine Winter Majesty, December 12, 2022

Hello Friends,

Happy Holidays and what a nice start to the winter season! We’ve now had multiple storms roll through the Los Padres with rain totals across the forest over 150% of normal to date. The creeks have recharged, the hills are green and most of the higher mountains are white; all good stuff for this time of year. While we’re certainly off to a good start, let’s not forget that at this point last year we were also well above average, that was until the rain decided to shutdown for January and February. Let’s hope for more extended light rain over the coming weeks and beyond.

As a result of the recent rains and greening, the Forest Service has terminated the fire restriction order which means that campfires are once again allowed across the Los Padres. This is probably very welcome news for many of us backcountry wanderers! Be sure to renew your California Campfire Permit (click here, just takes a few mins) and please remain diligent and smart with your fire activity. Happy Day!


Another Legendary Los Padres Sunset Enjoyed by Two Legendary Los Padres Sawyers

FOREST 411

• Recreation Fees Increased – The LPNF announced earlier this week that fees at select sites will be increased across the Los Padres. This mainly affects campground fees and Pfieffer Beach day use. Click here to learn more.

• Trout Creek Update – Over the past 5 years the Wilderness Land Trust has purchased multiple private properties along Trout Creek (SLO Co.) and just completed the final transfer of land to the LPNF. This is a huge win in preserving forest access along Hi Mtn Road and into the Garcia Wilderness. Trout Creek is also a segment of the Condor Trail. Cheers and a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone involved in this effort!

• E-Bike Crew Poachers Busted – Seven people were busted this past month for poaching with illegal hunting tags. In addition to illegal tags, the group, known as the E-Bike Crew, had also been reportedly hunting within the Sespe Condor Sanctuary. That’s a no-no. Lots of information online, click here, here or here.

• Courts Approve Tecuya Fuelbreak – It was also announced earlier this week that the LPNF won a court appeal to begin work on the Tecuya Ridge Shaded Fuelbreak project within the Mt Pinos Ranger District. Click here and here for more information.

• Los Padres Calendars – Looking for any last minute stock stuffers or gifts for the Los Padres lover on your list…. we got ya covered! The LPFA has once again produced a full-color Los Padres wall calendar. They are beautiful and available online or at REI Santa Barbara. Get em while you can!


Volunteer Opportunities

• JAN 21: Mountain Lion Tracking – Exciting news! The LPFA will be helping to install a series of game cameras across the Santa Barbara Backcountry which will be used to track mountain lion activity. We are looking for volunteers to help with this effort. Should be fun! Sign Up Here!

• DEC 30: Santa Cruz Trail – Join the LPFA on Friday December 30 to help maintain the beloved Santa Cruz Trail! Details on the link below but we’ll likely be focusing our efforts on the section of trail around 19 Oaks. TBD based on weather. What better way to wrap up 2022! Sign Up Here!

• DEC 21: Hwy 33 Cleanup – Please join the LPFA as we continue our monthly Highway 33 Adopt-A-Highway events based at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. While you’re there, come check out Marcos the Mountain Lion, photo featured above. Sign Up Here!

• FEB 4: VWR Training – The LPFA will once again be leading a Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training event on Saturday February 4 off Paradise Road. Skills and procedures will be shared so that you can hopefully lead volunteer projects across the forest. Sign Up Here!

So nice seeing water flowing and falling again…. Hope you find some too.

The Passing of a Los Padres Legend

Hello Friends – Some Unfortunate Sad News to Share Today,

The Los Padres lost a legend with the recent passing of our dear friend Rik Christensen. Rik, aka Ranger Rik, has been a regular along the Los Padres backcountry trails for the past four decades with his favorite trails being within the San Rafael Wilderness. Rik’s enthusiasm about the trails was indelible and if you happened upon him while backpacking, you would not forget his welcoming smile, his encouraging word and of course those supernatural white teeth. In this modern world where photos are shared but directions are not, Rik would always go out of his way to share his wisdom, any helpful tips and of course that smile.

Rik was one of the inaugural Volunteer Wilderness Rangers (VWR) and never shied away from a trail maintenance project or an opportunity to survey and explore the backcountry. Rik was instrumental in so many trail surveys, in particular those crucial and difficult post-wildfire journeys into the forest. For many years the Forest Service relied on Rik to be the eyes and ears of the Forest and he took that responsibility very seriously. Rik was the first recipient of the Dave Weaver Wilderness Award, which is presented annually as a lifetime achievement award for Los Padres volunteers. Rik was also at the forefront of the ultralight hiking revolution and a Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador who helped Gossamer with many of their tent and gear designs. Some of you might also know Rik through his involvement with the LPFA Used Camping Gear Sale, which he organized and founded. Rik’s passion for backpacking was never more apparent than at the Used Gear Sales where he would spend hours happily sharing his knowledge and helping make sure that each backpack perfectly fit its new owner.

Perhaps Rik’s greatest Los Padres contribution was his efforts to restore South Fork Station along the Sisquoc River. For many decades South Fork had been left in disrepair, ignored as it slowly decayed. Never was South Fork worse than shortly after the 2007 Zaca Fire when it was saved from the flames but left to rot amongst the ash. The mouse invested Station had no shutters, the screens were all ripped, the paint gone, roof cracking and there were no plans to bring it back. South Fork was a goner. That changed when Rik took on the challenge of bringing South Fork back to life. Over the next several years Rik worked with the Forest Service and backpacked the 15 miles to South Fork countless times hauling in supplies and handcrafted materials. Rik used his background in car restoration to carefully restore every detail of the cabin from the color of the paint to the shape of the hinges. If you’ve been to South Fork in the past 10+ years, you know how beautiful that cabin is and that is all thanks to Rik Christensen. Rik embodied the spirit of volunteerism here in the Los Padres and his contributions and spirit will live on forever.

For those interested, there will be a Rik style get together at La Cumbre Peak this Saturday December 10 at 11am followed by a Rik style lunch at Natural Cafe on Hitchcock in Santa Barbara at 1pm.

Rest in peace brother Rik and thank you for all the smiles you shared.


2023 Los Padres Forest Calendar

Back by popular demand, the LPFA has once again published a full color, professionally bound wall calendar full of Los Padres AWESOMENESS! This isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a need-to-have! Great holiday present for the Los Padres lover on your list or be a little greedy and get one for yourself. The calendars will likely be available at your local REI or you can purchase online and we’ll send them directly to your door.

Thanks to everyone who contributed photos and please have a safe holiday season and terrific 2023….. oh, and find some trail time too!

Amazon Smile Shopping!

Tis the season for lots of shopping. For those few of you who are going to buy more than just the LPFA Calendar and might use Amazon for your shopping, please consider using Amazon Smile and choosing the LPFA as your charity of choice. Any proceeds raised go straight back into supporting the Los Padres Forest. Thank you!

Amazon Smile Supporting LPFA

Volunteer This Week!

The LPFA will be leading a volunteer trail maintenance and sign installation project this Friday – Saturday Dec 9-10 out near Mono Campground. We’ll drive in early Friday and out Saturday afternoon, car-camping at Middle Santa Ynez Campground. To sign up click the link below or feel free to email with any questions: VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org – should be fun, hope you can join us!

LPFA Trail Work GivingTuesday

How many #GivingTuesday emails did you receive today?
We’re setting the over/under at 15. How’d you do?

Hi Everyone – Sorry to inundate you with another #GivingTuesday email but we believe in our goal of restoring the Santa Cruz Trail and we believe that you as trail users should believe in it as well. Of course your contributions go to the LPFA but more importantly they go to support the Los Padres Forest, they go directly to the Santa Cruz Trail and they go to help folks like yourself who are out there using the trails. If you use the trails, this is for you!

If you haven’t volunteered with us yet or don’t know about the LPFA, we can almost guarantee you’ve enjoyed the trails we help maintain. We’ve put together a list of 12 trail accomplishments we’re proud of from 2022. If you’ve not enjoyed these trails listed below, please do so, now is the time before they get overgrown again…. trail work in the Los Padres is like painting the Golden Gate Bridge, it never ends!

For 2023 we will be making a big push to continue work on the Santa Cruz Trail and connect the dots between Upper Oso and Santa Cruz Station. We have funding in place for much of this work but not all of it just yet. If you use or have used the Santa Cruz Trail or any of the trails across the Los Padres, please consider supporting our Santa Cruz Trail campaign. Thank you all for your support and see you on the trails…..

– Your Friends at the LPFA


LPFA Accomplishments !


Click here to watch a YouTube of our 2021 #GivingTuesday accomplishments in the Sespe.
Click here to donate for #GivingTuesday 2022 on the Santa Cruz Trail.

Have a great day everyone!

THANK YOU!

Sespe Working Vacation & Exciting Santa Cruz Trail News!

Sespe, Red Reef & the Topatopa’s – shining!

Hello Friends – HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

While there is much to be thankful for here in the Los Padres, we are most thankful for the 32 volunteers who helped out last week on our Sespe Working Vacation based at Willett Camp. The LPFA has hosted dozens of Working Vacations over the years but they just keep getting better, more efficient and more fun. We had a great time out there, the Sespe in fall is hard to beat and we watched the colors get better and better with each passing day. We’ll share the whole story later but for now some quick bullet points of what we accomplished:

Otis, Annie, Tommy, Honey, Floyd & Jessabelle – could not have done it without you!
  • Our awesome volunteers cleared and restored 4 miles of the Sespe River Trail, mainly between Willett and Coltrell Camps.
  • We hauled out, thanks to the mules, over a dozen trash bags filled with garbage left along the trail and at Willett Camp. Willett is clean now, please help keep it that way!
  • We repaired 4 disastrous fire rings around Willett while creating defensible space for when the fire ban is lifted.
  • Repaired and cleaned most of the out-buildings at Willett Camp. Much more love is needed!
  • Cut out 13 downed trees which were blocking both the Sespe River and Red Reef Trails.
  • Somehow kept everyone well fed and energized despite the freezing conditions and daily long hikes to the work sites.
  • Engaged with countless dozens of backpackers who were out enjoying the Sespe and its fall colors over the past week!
They don’t call him the Shermanator for nothing…..

We want to also thank Southern California Edison, who provided a grant to complete some of this work and a private anonymous donor (you know who you are THANKS!) who paid for all the food and drinks for our hungry and thirsty volunteers.

We are working on scheduling next years Spring Working Vacations and as of right now will be working on the Alder Creek Trail within the Sespe Wilderness and hosting another Working Vacation at South Fork Station in the San Rafael Wilderness. Stay tuned for updates and we hope you can join us in 2023 and beyond……

You likely know that #GivingTuesday is this coming Tuesday November 29. Last year the LPFA raised funds to fix a sketchy section of the Condor Trail within the Sespe Wilderness called the Alder Creek Slide. This year we will be focusing our #GivingTuesday efforts to continue our trail restoration along the Santa Cruz Trail within Santa Barbara County. Thank you everyone who helped support our efforts this past year and we hope you choose to support this #GivingTuesday as well. 

Sespe Creek in Full Bloom