HAPPY HOLIDAYS – Ready or not, it’s the holidays time of year again. That of course means parties and presents but it also means that 2020 is right around the corner…. In order to help decorate your office, kitchen or gear nook, the LPFA will once again be producing a Los Padres wall calendar for the upcoming year. 2020 will be our 5th year producing a Los Padres Calendar and our 8th year of calendars if you go back a few additional years to when we had waterfall only calendars. Anyway, the 2020 version will continue featuring photos of some of the spectacular animals, vistas, plants, sunsets, snow covered mountains, trail pics, waterfalls, ripping rivers, canyons, ocean views, rolling potreros and all the other stuff we love from across the Los Padres Forest. The calendars will be 17×11″, printed on high quality stock and available at Ranger Stations across the Los Padres. We are hoping they will be ready by the first week of December…..
We are looking for photo submissions in case you have a great photo or two of the Los Padres, preferably from the past 12 months. If we use your photo in the calendar we’ll of course credit you and also send you a calendar to grace your office and amaze your friends – “wait, that’s the Los Padres?” Be ready for that astonished response.
If you’d like to send in a photo or if you have any questions please email us at INFO@LPForest.org.
Thanks everyone and we hope to see some of your incredible Los Padres photos soon…..
20 years ago today (Oct 11, 1999) the Madulce Cabin was tragically burned to the ground as a result of either an accidental burning or arson (click here for more of the history). The historic Madulce Cabin site is located in the heart of the Santa Barbara Backcountry, within the Dick Smith Wilderness and has a rich history dating back long before the Los Padres was known as the Los Padres. Before going up in flames, the much beloved Madulce Cabin was open to the public for shelter during bad weather or to briefly relive times long gone when forest rangers lived in cabins, stations and lookout towers across the Los Padres. It’s hard to imagine how different the forest must have been back then. Phone lines stretching across the mountains, connecting stations with fire lookouts and horse mounted rangers regularly patrolling the backcountry. Allow yourself to dream of how immaculate the trails must have been back then? Insert dream……. Times have changed, for better or worse, and the idea of phones across the mountains might not sound so good these days but back then it must have been a sight to behold. The Madulce Cabin site remains on the National Register of Historic Places but without the cabin it’s hard to recreate the feeling of what this site must have felt like during its heyday. There was some talk a few years back of trying to rebuild the Madulce Cabin. Local backcountry historians drafted a blueprint of the cabin and had secured private funding to rebuild an exact replica of the Madulce Cabin. Yet the story goes that due to modern Wilderness regulations the Forest Service was not able to permit the rebuilding of the Madulce Cabin. Pros and cons…..
In recent years, Madulce has been the location of quite a few LPFA trail projects and Working Vacations and remains a fantastic place to visit for backpackers or horse/mule packers. The area was mostly burned in the 2007 Zaca Fire but a few mature cedars and pines are still standing next to the cabin site. The horse corral remains along with some other remnants of the cabin era. Times change and perhaps one day a replica of the cabin can be rebuilt at Madulce to once again aid backcountry travelers. Maybe people will again seek refuge from snow storms inside the cabin and wait out the weather next to the wood burning stove. Then again, maybe not. Either way, today we look back at 20 years ago when the Madulce Cabin burned to the ground and along with it a treasured part of Los Padres history. Lets hope that even without the cabin the memory and history will live on at least another 20 years too…..
• Last month SLO based super meteorologist John Lindsey scientifically prophesied that “we could see lower than average amounts of rainfall in California this winter“. And so the prediction game begins. In the past we’ve heard weather predictions ranging from acorn droppings to ant activity but Mr. Lindsey is a living legend and a genius when it comes to weather. We’ll see what happens….. What do you predict?
• Over the past month sections of the following Los Padres trails have been maintained by your friendly neighborhood trail groups and the Forest Service: Lion Canyon Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Tunnel Trail, Jesusita Trail, West Fork Cold Spring Trail, Romero Trail, San Ysidro Trail, Franklin Trail, Pine Ridge Trail, Potrero John Trail, Reyes Peak Trail
• Big thanks to volunteers from Southern California Edison who showed up at toasty Dough Flat on a late July Saturday to help clean up the trailhead, paint the bathrooms, install signs and spend a little time clearing the trail up to the Condor Observation Point. Thanks also to United Trail Maintainers of California for providing the trailhead sign and the Forest Service for the support!
• Two more steel debris flow nets are being installed above Montecito on San Ysidro and Buena Vista creeks. These two new nets will bring the total nets installed to six. Note that the information on the link is out of date.
• Here’s an feel-good story about some stranded hikers along the Arroyo Seco who were unable to reach the Police and cleverly used a message in bottle in order to get help.
• Super Volunteers, friends of the LPFA and Gossamer Gear ambassadors Rik and Paul were featured this past month in a Gossamer Gear profile series, click link above. We know Rik and Paul really well, they are the main driving force behind so much good stuff across the forest including the LPFA Used Gear Sale, but it’s always cool seeing their influence extend beyond the Los Padres. Great work guys!
• LPFA supporter and friend of the forest Kevin Cody has started a Facebook fundraiser on behalf of the LPFA. We’ve known Kevin for many years and over that time he’s become somewhat famous for his dedication to keeping the forest litter free. In particular he has a hatred of stray helium balloons. It is not uncommon to be running or hiking with Kevin and then all of a sudden see him swimming through brush or scaling hillsides to retrieve that stray helium balloon that happened to plunge down in the Los Padres. We’re willing to bet that no one has recovered more lost helium balloons than Kevin has. Setting a great example Kevin and thanks for the additional support. Happy Birthday! If you’d like to support Kevin’s fundraiser, click here.
It may not feel like it, especially right now with our recent stack of hot days but there is a subtle change occurring in the forest right now indicating that FALL IS COMING. The days are certainly shorter, the nights a little cooler and we’re even seeing some colors changing in select plants and locations. It’s a little early still but even the first hint of Fall is an exciting time here in the Los Padres. For many, Fall means the start of the Los Padres backcountry season. Time to say goodbye to the Sierras and hello to planning your next LP adventure. For the LPFA, Fall also means ramping up our volunteer trail maintenance projects. As usual, we’ve got a full forest-wide list of upcoming trail projects listed at the bottom of this email highlighted by an October Working Vacation at Bluff Cabin maintaining the Grapevine Trail. We’re also partnering with REI and the Thomas Fire Trail Fund to work the Lion Canyon Trail as part of National Public Lands Day. We’ll be kicking off another season of Ojai First Saturday projects in October and for those of you who might be free sooner we’ll be doing trail work on the upper reaches of the Sisquoc Trail this coming weekend. The end of 2019 will also see some trail projects in the SLO backcountry and we are laying the groundwork for another Working Vacation on the Piedra Blanca Trail in the Sespe. Lots of great projects lined up across the Los Padres! We’d love to have you come out this Fall and volunteer on any (or all) of the upcoming trail projects. For more details check the list at the bottom or email us directly: Volunteer@LPForest.org
LA BREA RESTORATION PROJECT DECISION
Ten years ago the La Brea Fire burned almost 90,000 acres in and around the northwest portion of the San Rafael Wilderness. We all know the equation: (fire scarred land) + (lots of rain) = BAD and the big winter storms of 2011 destroyed most of the La Brea Canyon Road, which was a popular dirt road used to connect Colson and Miranda Pine. As a result of the fire and flood damage, the Forest Service closed La Brea Canyon to vehicle use while undertaking a lengthy process of analyzing and determining how to best manage the La Brea area for future use. It became known as the La Brea Restoration Project. Over the past few years the FS formulated a series of four different action alternatives for how they might manage the La Brea area. These actions were repeatedly shared with the public through FS hosted open house meetings as well as multiple rounds of public comment. As expected, there were many different public opinions on how the FS should manage the future of La Brea and after taking all the different sides into consideration the FS indicated that they were going with proposed action alternative 1. Alternative 1 included converting the creek portions of La Brea Canyon Road to non-motorized trail, decommissioning 5 campgrounds, converting 1 campground, creating 2 new trailheads and converting Kerry Canyon Trail to non-motorized. On August 16 the FS released their final decision on the La Brea Restoration Project. It matched with what was listed above with one large change, the new decision is calling for the complete decommission of the Kerry Canyon Trail. Among other things, the Kerry Canyon Trail is a key 8-mile section of the Condor Trail and if Kerry was to be decommissioned that would prevent any future trail maintenance along Kerry Canyon. Please click the above links for more information. There is one final 45-day objection period which started August 16. Details and instructions for the objections can be found here on page 10.
• Speaking of Snail Canyon, the famous bar and grill near Reyes Creek Campground has once again changed management and is now called Camp Scheideck Lodge Bar & Grill. They are now open for business!
• And speaking of potential wildfires, here’s a link to a story about a Big Sur man who is on a mission to stop illegal campfires along the Big Sur Coast. It’s certainly a good mission, lets hope for the best.
• The LPFA will once again host a Used Camping Gear Sale on November 3 at Tucker’s Grove Park in Goleta. This is a great opportunity for our members to get super good discounted deals on gently used backpacks (Gossamer Gear is hooking us up again!), tents and other car-camping and backpacking supplies. We are taking donations as well in case you have an old backpack, tent of camping accessory that hasn’t recently seen the light of day. All proceeds go towards our Trail Care Fund and back into the trails you love! For more information about the event or where to donate, email: INFO@LPForest.org
• The Federal Government filed a lawsuit against Southern California Edison for allegedly allowing the Rey Fire to ignite in August 2016. Read details here.
• According to Ventura County law enforcement officials, 2018 illegal backcountry pot grow operations were down over two-thirds in comparison to 2017. This could be a result of marijuana legalization.
• Electric Bikes (E-Bikes) have grown in popularity over the past decade. The current Forest Service regulations on E-Bikes is that they can be ridden on 1) Roads Open to All Vehicles 2) Trails Open to All Vehicles 3) Trails Open to Vehicles 50″ of Less in Width and 4) Trails Open to Motorcycles Only. So basically E-Bikes can be ridden on public OHV/Moto trails and public FS roads, places where other motorized vehicles can ride only. There are rumblings that the FS stance on E-Bikes might be changing. Last week, the Department of the Interior took a big step towards allowing pedal assist E-Bikes on traditional mountain bike trails within National Parks. This is bound to be a hot topic over the coming years as the FS figures out how to squeeze E-Bikes into an existing user-group or decides to create a new user-group altogether. Stay tuned…..
• We’re in the dog days of summer heat but there were still a few LP trails worked on over the past month or so: Pine Ridge, Sisquoc, Romero, Jesusita, Terrace, Tunnel, Arroyo Burro, Cold Spring, Franklin, Deal, Buena Vista, Reyes Peak, Mission Pine
HELLO FRIENDS – Tomorrow (August 10) kicks off the most popular hunting season here in the Los Padres, the Zone A South General Deer Season. Zone A South encompasses most of the Los Padres from Monterey down through Ventura County except for Zone D13 which covers the Ventura/Kern Highcountry, click to see map here. There will be a lot of hunter activity across the forest over the coming A Zone weeks, especially during the early weekends of the Season. If you’re out and about you should expect to see hunters at most of the trailheads and along many of the access roads. If you have plans to visit the forest this weekend, be aware of the extra activity and depending on your interests and where you plan on going, you may want to adjust your plans or at the very least wear bright colored clothing. Good idea to leave the antler helmet at home this time around.
The Los Padres had two wildfire scares over the past couple weeks with the Mill Fire (310 acres) along the southern edge of the Ventana Wilderness and the Range Fire (100 acres) off of Happy Canyon in the Santa Ynez Valley. Thankfully both fires didn’t blow up and are near 100% containment. The cause of the fires have not been shared. There is a current forest closure as a result of the Mill Fire that includes Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, Mill Creek Trail, Kirk Creek Trail, South Coast and Cone Peak Roads. Thanks to everyone involved in fighting the fires and lets hope for no more wildfire scares.
• There have been quite a few trails maintained over the past month or so across the Los Padres by the FS and your local volunteer organizations. Here’s a quick list, remember you can visit HikeLosPadres.com for more information about these wonderful trails: Cold Spring, Marble Peak, Franklin, Matilija Falls, Poplar, Reyes Peak, Rattlesnake Canyon, Romero, Baron, Sisquoc, Terrace Creek, Jesusita
• The LP also made the news this week thanks to a two-day search operation for a missing backpacker. The solo backpacker and his faithful dog were attempting the 50-mile Lower Sisquoc Loop in the San Rafael Wilderness when he came down with a sickness on day 1 of his 3 day trip. His family grew concerned when he didn’t make it home at the end of day 3 and contacted Santa Barbara Search and Rescue. The extensive search began at sunrise on day 4 and thankfully the backpacker turned up mid-morning on day 5. The backpacker was dehydrated but otherwise in good health. Thankfully the backpacker had left an itinerary with his family and had taken the time to enter his name into the various trail registers along the route. The combination of register entries and knowing his itinerary aided immensely in developing a search strategy for the lost backpack. Remember that. Alls well that ends well, great work by SAR and yes, the dog came back in one piece as well – probably had the time of his life!
• The trails above Montecito were hit extremely hard due to the Thomas Fire and subsequent January 2018 debris flows. Many groups and volunteers have assisted in the reconstruction of the trails but we wanted to mention one specific group effort working on the lower Cold Spring Trail, specifically building a wall that is now affectionately known as the Don Wall. The Cold Spring Trail was wiped clean after the debris flows and along with it the trailhead on the east side of Mountain Drive. This section of trail had turned into a lumpy cliff face with a 20ft drop into the creek below. It seemed impossible to repair but thanks to nearly two-months of hard work the trail has been fixed and is looking terrific! Many people assisted in this process including: Los Padres National Forest, City of Santa Barbara, SB County, Montecito Trails Foundation, Santa Barbara Mountain Bike Trail Volunteers, Multi-Use Trails Coalition, Thomas Fire Trail Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, SLO County Trails, SB County Trails Council, Ventana Wilderness Alliance, the LPFA ans especially Donn & Don. It was really inspiring and fun working with so many people and completing our goal. Thanks everyone…….
• The gate at Cherry Creek Road along upper Highway 33 is now open. Cherry Creek provides access to the upper Matilija Trailhead as well as the upper Ortega Motorcycle Trail.
I spent some time earlier today writing an entirely too long paragraph which I was hoping would open this LPFA Newsletter. It went on and on about how “alive” the Los Padres is right now and how that’s both good and bad. I got pretty deep, by my standards, looking at this years extreme seasonal plant growth, the impacts that growth is having on our trails and theories as to why we’re experiencing so much “life” this year compared to previous years. I compared this years rainfall totals with earlier years (we had more rain in 2011 & 2017), rambled on about theories as to why there are tens of thousands of oak seedlings covering the lower Sisquoc this year and prophesied about why the bear have been so active. After all that writing, all that research and all that theorizing……. I changed my mind. It’s the start of a beautiful weekend, let’s save the rambling for another time, a Tuesday or Wednesday perhaps. For now, let’s focus on pretty forest pictures and getting out and enjoying your forest. Go for a hike, go for a ride. Explore, bushwhack, swim. We can worry about overgrown trails another time, perhaps next Tuesday or Wednesday.
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Effective June 29, the Los Padres Forest raised fire restrictions for the season. You can read all the details at the link below but essentially campfires are permitted only in Designated Campfire Use Sites, think official FS car-campgrounds. Backcountry campfires are prohibited at the moment but camp stoves are still legal across the forest. Again, more details at the link below, learn it:
• There have been quite a few trails maintained over the past month or so across the Los Padres by the FS and your local volunteer organizations. Here’s a quick list, remember you can visit HikeLosPadres.com for more information about these wonderful trails: Aliso Canyon, Arroyo Burro (north), Baron, Cold Spring, Deal, Devils Canyon, Franklin, Manzana, Matilija Falls, McMenemy, Poplar, Rancho Nuevo, Raspberry Spring, Rattlesnake Canyon, Romero, San Ysidro, Santa Barbara Canyon, Sisquoc, Terrace Creek
• We’ve been hearing about a lot of poodle-dog bush sightings in the Ventura County portions of the Thomas Fire. Poodle-dog is a fire-follower with beautiful head-high purple flowers this time of the year. Don’t let the beauty fool you as the plant can cause very similar reactions to that of poison oak. Learn what poodle-dog looks like and do your best to avoid it, but take lots of pictures because they sure are pretty, wouldn’t you say?
• The Forest Service has been busy over the past month cleaning up some backcountry pot grow sites. You can read more here and here.
• For those of us interested in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the FS is proposing some revisions to their current NEPA regulations. There are pros and there are cons to potential revisions. If you’d like to learn more or share your thoughts, click the link above. We have until August 12 to provide comments.
It sure seems like every time we’re ready to call an end to our 2018-19 rainy season, another storm or two pops up on the Doppler. It’s not often we get any significant rain in May. Yet this year, on top of all the rain we’ve already had, we made a serious run at the all-time record for rain in the month of May. Even this past week we had some odd early season thunderstorms which caused flash flood warnings across much of the Los Padres. As a whole, the LP is well over our seasonal average rainfall totals with most stations across the forest recording 115-140% of annual rainfall totals. It’s certainly been an exciting year for weather but we all know the heat will be coming soon so until then lets be sure to enjoy all the overcast, dreary, precipitation filled days we can.
Speaking of precipitation and rain delays, the Forest Service has done a good job over the past few weeks of getting most of the seasonal road closures open across the forest. Here’s the latest and greatest on gate closures and openings:
I know many of us have been waiting patiently (some impatiently) for the gates to swing open this year. Now is the time, most of the gates are open and the forest is yours to enjoy responsibly! Many flowers are still blooming, some of the protected hillsides remain green and water is still flowing across most of the drainages. Get out and enjoy your forest and if you come across anything interesting, dangerous, a trail impediment or have any questions please share on HikeLosPadres.com, email us (INFO@LPForest.org) or contact your local district ranger office. Have at it and as always be cautious and safe!
NATIONAL TRAILS DAY 2019
National Trails Day (NTD) is an annual day of trail celebration where thousands of hikers, bikers, riders and trail users across the country donate their time to help protect and maintain the trails they love. While NTD is technically the first Saturday of June, NTD hosted projects usually spill over a few weeks before or after the actual National Trails Day. This year is no different with a few NTD projects still scheduled on both June 8 and June 15, see list below. While it would be great for you to make it to a trail project this month, the essence of National Trails Day is much more than just a singular day each year. Dedicate every month, every week and every day you spend on the trail to the spirit of a NTD event. It can be as easy as picking up a few pieces of trash along the trail, helping clear a downed branch from the trail corridor or simply sharing what you found with your local trail organizations or agencies. And of course, you can always step up your game and try adopting your favorite trail as well. Every bit helps! Hope you can make it to an upcoming trail event near you:
– Speaking of the condor, our local 400+ mile Los Padres thru-hike, the Condor Trail has been seeing some activity this season. There are currently at least three people hiking the CT and another few who have already completed it this year. The CT made an appearance on a recent Backpacker Radio podcast and rumor has it that a guide book is in the works as well. Stay tuned, we’re certain to be hearing more about the Condor Trail in the years to come….
– And along those lines, Piper (Diane) from Santa Barbara successfully connected the Los Padres with the PCT backpacking from NIRA to Agua Dulce. This was Piper’s second time completing this epic hike. You can follow her journey through a series of YouTube videos she put together. Check it out…..
– From sediment capture to sediment flow, the San Clemente Dam was removed in 2015 along the Carmel River in large part to help restore local steelhead populations. Reports this spring are showing that steelhead numbers along the Carmel are way up from previous years. You can read about it here and here. This is potentially a good sign of things to come for other failing Los Padres area dams including the Los Padres Dam and the Matilija Dam.
– This is pretty cool, the Forest Fire Lookout Association in conjunction with the Los Padres National Forest will be training volunteers to spot smoke from the Chews Ridge Lookout tower (36.312201, -121.568204) in Monterey County. If interested, please see flier. This is a neat concept for a few different reasons. Can you think of any other lookout towers across the Los Padres that would be worthwhile to reactivate and setup similar volunteer programs? Lets do it!
– Do you shop at Amazon? If so, please shop through the AmazonSmile program and choose the LPFA as your charitable organization. Amazon will donate 0.5% of all eligible purchased back to the LPFA. It adds up quick and goes right back towards the forest and trails you love! You can start shopping right now by clicking this link or choosing the Los Padres Forest Association within the AmazonSmile program. Thanks in advance and happy shopping!
We hope this email finds you with a little Los Padres dirt under your fingernails, perhaps a very small splotch of poison oak on the back of your leg, sore legs from hammering up that big trail climb last weekend and a huge smile thinking about what was and what is yet to come in your Los Padres explorations. This is the prime time of the year for hiking, riding, camping and/or swimming. There are lots of opportunities near and far to enjoy the Los Padres and to give back to the forest in the process. You can explore local Meetup groups for close-by trail addicts looking for like-minded friends to share the trails with. Study your LP maps or HikeLosPadres.com for new trails or camps to visit. And for those who want to give back to the trails you love, join the LPFA on one of our upcoming volunteer projects. Have at it, get-out get-out wherever you are and take advantage of the prime season here in the Los Padres. Oh, and by the way, we’d love to see any photos you take while you’re out in the forest. Just as you probably (hopefully) like to get these updates, we also love to see what you’re up to as well. Living vicariously……
WHEELER GORGE BROCHURE COVER CONTEST
A few months ago we ran a contest looking for great photos of the Hwy 33 / Ojai Backcountry region of the Los Padres Forest to be used on the cover of the 2019 Wheeler Gorge event brochure. We received over 100 incredible photo entries from across the Ojai Ranger District featuring sunsets, flowers, snow capped mountains, waterfalls, majestic trees, vistas and people enjoying the forest. It was a hard choice but we ended up choosing this fantastic layout of waterfalls taken by Nathan Wickstrum. Thank you everyone who participated and Nathan, we’ll be in touch to discuss your prize! Woot woot…..
– The LPFA will be co-hosting a Trivia Night TONIGHT with REI at Night Lizard Brewing in Santa Barbara. If you enjoy the outdoors, find yourself at REI regularly, dig trivia nights or enjoy beer; we expect to see you tonight at 7pm. Bring your A Game…….
– We’ve been busy restoring many of the trails you love and some that you might learn to love. Over the past month we’ve led trail projects on the Aliso Trail, Santa Barbara Canyon Trail, Alamar Trail, Tinta Trail, Mono-Alamar Trail, Poplar Trail, Alamar Hill Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Judell Trail, Cold Spring Trail, Matilija Falls Trail, Gridley Trail, Manzana Trail, Lost Valley Trail, Hurricane Deck Trail and Big Cone Spruce Trail. We’ve also partnered with Santa Barbara County Trails Council to help them on the Franklin Trail and Baron Trail, partnered with Montecito Trails Foundation to work on the Wiman Trail, Hot Springs Connector Trail, West Fork Cold Spring Trail and Old Pueblo Trail and partnered with SLOPOST to help on the Trout Creek Trail and Seller’s Potrero Trail. Tis the season for trail work, it’s been a busy month! Big thanks to all our partners, The Forest Service, our LPFA Trail Crew and especially all the volunteers who have poured their heart and souls into helping the trails we love! THANK YOU……
– The Amgen Tour of California will be passing through the Los Padres in a few weeks. Stage 4 starts at Laguna Seca on May 15 and follows Highway 1 along the Big Sur Coast before ending 137 miles later at Morro Bay. Should be spectacular! The next day on May 16, stage 5 covers 136 miles from Pismo Beach to Ventura passing the Los Padres through Hwy 154 in Santa Barbara.
– The Los Padres National Forest is proposing to reroute the Pine Ridge Trail around a damaged section of trail near Barlow Flat Camp. The Pine Ridge Trail is one of the most heavily used trails in the Los Padres and has been closed since July 2016 due to the Soberanes Fire and subsequent damage to the trail. The FS is looking for comments on the proposed reroute. Please check this link for more details and let your voice be heard.
– The Los Padres’ very own Helen Tarbet has released her latest Figueroa Mountain Wildflower update for April 18. This is a fantastic resource for knowing where and what flowers are out and about.
– Many of the roads around the forest remain damaged and closed after this winters heavy rains, see photo below. The FS is working to repair the roads and restore trailhead access. Many of the seasonal gate closures are expected to be reopened on May 1. Please be patient with the FS but at the same time give them a call and let them know you want and need the roads reopened as soon as possible.
– Even with the above average rain season we’ve enjoyed, the Los Padres is preparing for another potentially big fire season ahead. Due in part to the wet winter, the grasses around the Los Padres have grown quite high and much of that grass is starting to dry out. We’ve already seen a few smaller grass fires around the Central Coast. In anticipation of the upcoming fire season, Cal Fire has been adding staff and fire engines as well as awarding grants to areas such as Big Sur and the Santa Barbara Frontcountry to tackle local fire prevention projects.
– In response to a 2018 lawsuit, an agreement was reached last week between the Forest Service and ForestWatch to extend the temporary ban on un-managed target shooting across the Los Padres National Forest until January 2020. This does not impact the regular legal hunting seasons and target shooting remains legal at both the Ojai Valley Gun Club in Rose Valley and Winchester Gun Club on West Camino Cielo.
– With the assistance of the VWA, Arroyo Seco Gorge has been selected as a Leave No Trace Hot Spot for 2019 and will be visited by LNT staff August 19-26. As part of a LNT Hotspot program, LNT will send out a small team of LNT experts who will stay at Arroyo Seco for the week and conduct public outreach and lead community events designed to teach and preach more sustainable practices for the Arroyo Seco Gorge. Good stuff!
– Lets get back to the trails, shall we? While last month was certainly busy, we’ve got more trail restoration on tap for the coming month including work on the Tequepis Trail, Matilija Trail, Three Peaks Trail, Cold Spring Trail, Willow Spring Trail, Manzana Trail, Deal Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Alamar Trail, Poplar Trail, Grapevine Trail and Matilija Falls Trail. Busy busy busy…… If you’d like to help with any of these trail projects, we’d love the support either through volunteer help or donations. Email Volunteer@LPForest.org or make a donation to the LPFA Trail Care program today!
Simply put, it’s about as good as it gets right now across the Los Padres. The _______ is amazing this season! We’ve not seen _______ like this for years and the _______ Trail is spectacular right now, never been better. And have you seen the _______ on _______ Peak? Wow…. Stunning.
We’ll leave it at that……. you should have no problem filling in the blanks. That’s your homework, uh, we mean forestwork! The rest of this email will focus on upcoming volunteer projects and some updates from across the Los Padres. We do hope you’re finding time to enjoy the trails and forest responsibly, be sure to check HikeLosPadres for the most recent trail and camp information and if you have any questions or need information, please don’t hesitate to let us know. We’ll try our best to get the answers you might need. Let’s get to it…..
TRAIL HELP NEEDED
As usual, all the upcoming forest events and volunteer trail projects are listed at the bottom of this email but we wanted to call out a few in particular that we are looking forward to:
April 12-14: TINTA TRAIL The Tinta Trail is a seldom used trail set just off the northeastern edge of the Dick Smith Wilderness. Tinta, which is part of the Condor Trail, is designated as a motorcycle trail but is also a great option for mountain bikes as well as hikers. Tinta has become incredibly overgrown over the past few years to the point where it’s become really hard to ride. Not for long…. We’ll be working/camping for 3 days on April 12-14 working on brushing the Tinta Trail from Upper Tinta Camp down beyond Brubaker Canyon. Since this is non-wilderness we’ll have the benefit of using power tools and are hoping to get some local motorcyclists to help support the project by riding in tools, supplies and food for the volunteers. It should be a different yet really fun project. If you’d like to help out, please let us know: Volunteer@LPForest.org
April 26-28: THREE PEAKS TRAIL Do you have a favorite trail that needs maintenance? If so, this is a good model to follow. Los Padres volunteer extraordinaire Steve Cypher had a similar feeling for the Dutra area of the Silver Peak Wilderness and decided to do something about it. Partnering with the FS, VWA and LPFA, Steve has now led multiple trail projects in and around Dutra Flats focused on clearing the trails. This is the 3rd or 4th such project and together with volunteers Steve is successfully reopening this area. Talk about awesome. It would be great if others were able to follow in Steve’s footprints. If you’re interested in learning more about adopting a trail or working Three Peaks, click this link and sign up to help April 26-28.
May & June: SISQUOC WORKING VACATIONS If you don’t know about the famous LPFA Working Vacations, this might be the year for you to sign up and find out. The LPFA will be hosting two Working Vacations this year focused on restoring the Sisquoc Trail within the San Rafael Wilderness. The first is May 4-12 along the Upper Sisquoc and the second is June 1-9 on the Lower Sisquoc. Both projects will be stock supported with all food provided for volunteers. While we’ll be out there for 10 days in total, there are shorter stints available in case you can’t spend the whole time out there. This is a great year for these projects as the Sisquoc should be flowing nicely well into the summer season. Let us know if you have any questions and we’d love to see you out there with us later this spring. Volunteer@LPForest.org
– West Fork Cold Spring Trail above Montecito has reopened after being closed for a few months due to a landslide taking out a large portion of the trail.
– In nearby news, the debris-flow ring nets above Montecito have been approved and will be installed in the coming weeks. There will be certain trail closures during the installation of the nets and we’ll do our best to share that with you through social media.
– And related to that, late last month the cause of the Thomas Fire was released as fire investigators determined that “power lines slapping together in high winds” was the cause of the Thomas Fire ignition.
– There have been a few rescues across the Los Padres over the past month related to lost or injured trail users. Be sure to share your trip itineraries with friends or family before you venture into the forest and use common sense while in the forest. Be safe.
– The Monterey Ranger District continues to struggle with closures and lack of forest access. The lack of access has been leading to overcrowding within the few locations that are open. You can read more in a recent article from the Monterey County Weekly.
– Maybe you’ve heard, but the flowers aren’t bad right now either. Los Padres Forest’s own Helen Tarbet is once again providing regular flower updates for those brave enough to venture into the Figueroa Mtn area. Her most recent excellent update is attached with this email. Please tread lightly.
And last but certainly not least, we wanted to congratulate our good friend Charlie Robinson on his recent retirement from the Forest Service. Charlie served as the Ojai District Recreation Officer for over 27 years and was with the Forest Service for 43 years. We wish Charlie all the best as he skis into whiter pastures and thank him for all his help over the years. 27 years of institutional knowledge will be hard to lose. Fortunately, some of us have his cell number….. You can run Charlie, but you can’t hide….. ha ha. Thank you Charlie!
It’s been quite a winter for storms hasn’t it? We’ve had flash floods, debris flows, road closures, evacuations, washed away trails, snow, snow and more snow and it might have been capped off by one of the more spectacular lightning displays this past Tuesday night. And most importantly, we’ve had a lot of great rain soaking into the earth, recharging the groundwater supplies and filling up our creeks, rivers and reservoirs. Almost all of the LP has received over 100% of our annual rain averages with more “rain season” still ahead of us. It’s been terrific! While we might not be completely done with the rains, many of the signs across the forest are indicating that spring is in the air. Wildflowers are starting to do their thing (#SuperBloom2019?), the grass is gliding a little different, the ants have resurfaced (%&#^#&), the days are longer and there is that faint sweet smell of flowers. No matter what season you might argue we’re in, the Los Padres is about as good as it gets at the moment. We hope you are getting out and enjoying the trails, sights and sounds. Be safe with the water crossings and be sure to check in on www.HikeLosPadres.com before you head out and after you get back. There are also a bunch of upcoming volunteer projects up and down the forest you could participate in. Olly olly oxen free = time to come out of hiding!
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TRAIL WORK UPDATE
We’ve been getting a lot of questions about recent trail work and upcoming trail work. While we can’t possibly share every detail here, you’d be reading for a month, we can at least provide a quick update on some of the LPFA trail work
that has occurred over the winter season. As always, if you come across any downed trees or showstoppers along the trails, let us know and we’ll do our best to share the information with the appropriate trail crews:
Hurricane Deck Trail has been brushed a mile from Lost Valley out towards White Ledge.
Poplar Trail (Upper Indian Creek) within the Dick Smith Wilderness from Bluff Camp down to within 100 yards of Poplar Camp has been opened.
Grapevine Trail within the San Rafael Wilderness is clear other than some large downed trees about 1.5 miles west of Bluff Camp.
Alamar Trail is in the best shape it’s been in many decades. You can actually follow the trail now, which is saying a lot based on how bad it was.
Deal Trail has received some much needed attention brushing out the upper valley between the Narrows and the wilderness boundary.
We had a crew working the Agua Blanca Trail in December between Blue Point and Log Cabin.
The Tinta motorcycle trail has had 5 of the 7 miles brushed along the trail.
Quite a bit of work has been put into the Matilija Trail outside of Ojai. We’ve worked the bottom mile of the trail and recently flagged the entire trail from trailhead to trailhead. Once the water levels lower we’ll be back out there to continue working
up towards Middle Matilija Camp and beyond.
We’ll also be working nearby Gridley Trail
on March 16, hope to see you there!
We’ve also been working hard to clear downed trees and washouts along many of the Santa Ynez Valley trails including
Davy Brown, Devil’s Canyon, north Tunnel Trail, north Arroyo Burro, north Cold Spring, Blue Canyon, Aliso Canyon, Santa Cruz, Tequepis, Snyder and we’ll be
leading a trail project this Sunday on the
White Rock Trail on Figueroa Mountain. Come join us!
We also did some water control tread work on Santa Paula Canyon, Last Chance and
Lion Canyon Trails in the Ojai Ranger District.
And of course a TON of work has been accomplished in the SB Frontcountry partnering with Montecito Trails Foundation, SBMTV, SB Trails Council and others…..
There is still space available for the LPFA Backpacking Fundamentals class we’re teaching in Santa Barbara. We had our first class this past week and it was great sharing the backpacking stoke.
Click here or email us for more information.
Even with some nice drying weather on the horizon some of the roads and trails around the Los Padres remain closed due to storm activity and damage:
Ranger Peak along Fig Mtn Rd remains closed due to black ice. You cannot drive between Fig Mtn and Cachuma Saddle. Fig is bound to receive a lot of attention in the coming weeks as wildflower season kicks in, be sure to call the FS ahead of any visits
to make sure the roads are open.
West Fork Cold Spring Trail in Montecito remains closed due to a particularly active landslide. Trail work is scheduled this coming week with the hopes of getting the trail reopened by the 15th of March.
Highway 1 through Southern Big Sur remains on a pre-storm closure schedule.
Check CalTrans ahead of any visits between San Simeon and Big Sur.
And we’re also getting a lot of mixed messages about the regular Forest Service gate closures. Some gates that are supposed to be locked have been found open and vice versa. We suggest you contact the FS ahead of any trips into the forest that might
be impacted by gate closures.
If you have a
spare $31million, you might be in luck as the Neverland Ranch outside Los Olivos is
for sale. Great access to the Los Padres!
The FS announced this week that there will be a series of controlled burns across the forest, namely at Arroyo Seco and Fig Mtn.
This information slipped through the cracks a bit but the FS extended the Soberanes Fire closure of the
western Pine Ridge Trail through November 6, 2019.
storm /stôrm/ – noun – a violent disturbance of the atmosphere with strong winds and usually rain, thunder, lightning, or snow.
We certainly had a storm this past weekend, to say the least. Most of the forest received somewhere in the 5-10″+ of rain between Friday and Tuesday with snow piling up at the higher elevations. It was a bit of a crazy storm as well including reports of 80mph winds in some locations, a tornado warning in Santa Barbara County and even a kiosk in Big Sur being lifted away and blown across Hwy 1. While we haven’t seen a whole lot of trail damage reports just yet, which we’re sure will come in soon, we have quite a few road closure updates to share as well as other storm related updates:
Highway 33 remains closed between Ojai and Lockwood Valley due to slides but is scheduled to reopen before the weekend. There will be delays even after reopening due to single lane closures and repair crews.
Speaking of Hwy 33, there were some stranded backpackers along the Sespe Trail who needed rescuing over the weekend as well. I would love to see some photos of what the Sespe looked like, must have been horrifying!
All gates are currently closed on the Ojai Ranger District. Rose Valley and Middle Lion Camps are closed due to mud and damaged roads.
A sinkhole developed along East Camino Cielo above Santa Barbara that wiped out half the road (see photo above). The FS has closed East Camino Cielo east of Gibraltar Road including Divide Peak OHV.
Sage Hill and First Crossing remain closed along Paradise Road due to high water.
Highway 1 remains closed at Paul’s slide but should be reopening perhaps as early as today. Remember that CalTrans continues to proactively close Hwy 1 ahead of each significant rain event. Cone Peak Road is closed for the season and Palo Colorado remains closed due to 2017 storm damage. Nacimiento-Ferguson Rd is open.
Maybe it would have been quicker to report everything that was open?!!? There are more storms on tap for this weekend and most of next week as well. If you are planning to head into the Los Padres, please use caution and be careful, especially in recent burn areas.
• Remember, the LPFA will be welcoming the Friends of the California Condors Wild and Free to the Balboa Building in Santa Barbara TONIGHT Wednesday – February 6 to share with us the latest and greatest California Condor news. They’ll be talking about condors across the Los Padres with a special emphasis on the recent successes in the Santa Barbara Backcountry. You can learn more on our Facebook page. We’ll also be sharing an update on some exciting upcoming trail projects that you’ll certainly want to hear about. It’ll be a fun night, hope to see you there……
• The Forest Service announced earlier this week that there will be an extended ban on all target shooting across the Los Padres National Forest for the next year. Target shooting will remain legal at the two designated target ranges within the Los Padres: Winchester and Rose Valley. You can read the FS explanation here.
• Do you have any great photos of the Ojai Backcountry or Hwy 33 corridor through Ventura County? The LPFA is once again organizing a series of interpretive events this coming summer to be held at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. Each year we print a brochure highlighting these events and our annual Open House and this year we are looking for a terrific cover photo for the brochure that captures the beauty and essence of the Ojai Backcountry. If you have any photos to submit or questions, please let us know: INFO@LPForest.org We’ll hook the winning photographer up with some great LP gear!
• The landowners along Prewitt Ridge in Monterey County have started a GoFundMe to assist with maintaining the road east of Nacimiento-Fergusson. This road sees a lot of traffic, in particular campers, and gets thrashed by winter storms and improper use. If you’d like to learn more or to help, check this link here.