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.
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!
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