Forest Gates Opening & Late Spring Trail Projects

Otis Calef, One of the Countless Ways he Supports the Trail Cause, Mono Canyon

Good Day Everyone,

Busy times across the forest right now.  Trail projects up and down the LP, some flowers are wilting while others are just blooming, most creeks are still flowing, temps are rising, flash floods around Cuyama, rain here but certainly not there and did we mention trail projects?  We’ll spend some time soon helping to document all the trail work accomplishments around the forest but for today we’re going to focus on access and promoting a few upcoming trail projects.  Lets get to it…..

With the winter and rains now clearly behind us, the FS started opening the gates that were closed due to mandated seasonal closures.  Most of the gates across the forest are now open.  There are a few here or there that remain closed due to slides (Dry Cyn, MPRD) or other closure policies (Cherry Creek, ORD) but chances are you shouldn’t be stymied by a surprise closed gate for whatever adventure you might be planning.  It’s never a bad idea to check before you head out to make sure the road to your trailhead is open.  Best thing to do is call the Ranger District you plan on visiting.  Other very reliable sources are the Alerts & Notices section of the FS website as well as the gates section on  Which reminds me, if there are any gates to be added to HikeLosPadres, please let us know at

Down the Jackson Trail to Sycamore Camp, San Rafael Wilderness
May 20-30, Sycamore Camp

The LPFA will be hosting a Working Vacation later this month along the Sisquoc Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness.  We’ll be basecamping at Sycamore Camp and working the Sisquoc Trail from Sycamore downstream to Abel Camp.  The work will be primarily brushing and reestablishing trail tread with some crosscut mixed in for good measure.  The project lasts 10 days but has smaller time chunks available for people who can only make 3-4 days at a time.  We’ll work around your schedule.  The LPFA is arranging stock support for the project as well as a camp cook and all the food for volunteers.  This is a great way to visit this remote and wild portion of the forest and is open to volunteers of all skill and experience levels.  Come one, come all.  John Franklin and Steve Cypher will be leading the project, email for more information or to sign up.  See you out there……..

Shady Waterfull Alder Creek
FranklinTrail NATIONAL TRAILS DAY: Franklin Trail, Alder Creek
June 3-5, Middle Santa Ynez Camp
June 4 is National Trails Day, yippee!  There will be a bunch of projects across the forest that we will share in the next few weeks.  This is the third year the LPFA will be participating in NTD.  Last year we worked the North Cold Spring Slide and this year we’ll be moving a little to the east to work the North Franklin Trail along Alder Creek in the Carpinteria backcountry.  We’ll be basecamping at Middle Santa Ynez Campground and then driving to the trailhead near Jameson Lake to work the trail.  Food will be provided for all volunteers and we’ll be sure to mix in enough fun around the trail work to make it a good time for everyone.  Bring the family, enjoy the nearby hot springs, help clear the historic trail, sign songs around the campfire, laugh with friends and we hope to see you there.  Sign up at
Old Man Sunrise, May 2016

LPFA Transverse – Wildling and Gates

Sespe Glow, photo Dan Hall

Good Morning Los Padres,
Lets get right to it, shall we?

W I L D L I N G   
W I L D E R N E S S   

The LPFA is honored to be partnering with the Wildling Museum to host a panel discussion about the history, impact, spledor and future of the Santa Barbara County Wilderness areas.  The event is Saturday February 7 at 5:30pm in Solvang.  We are fortunate to have a fantastic panel assembled to talk about the Wilderness.  Joining us will be James Wapotich, Bob Burtness and Kerry Kellogg.  You can read their bios and more information at the following link:

Space is limited for the event, it will sell out.  If interested, get your tickets ASAP.  Make a day out of it.  Go for a dayhike at nearby Figueroa Mountain or the San Rafael Wilderness and come back in time for the panel event.  It’s going to be really fun and chock full of great stories about the SB Backcountry.  See you there………

Ranger Peak Gate, usually open, but not always
F O R E S T   G A T E S

If you’ve not checked out and you are reading this, you probably should set aside a few mins (or more) to explore the website.  For the past few years the LPFA has been working with web designer extraordinaire John Ziegler to create this fantastic tool and resource for LP Forest users.  The site is literally being improved every day.  It’s been a huge undertaking and there remain bugs throughout the site that are on our todo list – but we are hacking away and as mentioned making it faster, better and more user-friendly each day.

One of the new features we’ve added is a page dedicated to the gates across the Forest.  We just launched this feature earlier this week and it’s still very much a work in progress.  Our hope is that we can work with the Forest Service and the public to have as up-to-date information as possible as to if the gates are open or closed.  Did I mention its still a work in progress?  Check it out:

At the moment we only have a handful of gates included on the site but we will be adding them regularly over the coming weeks.  If you can think of any gates to be added, have information on any closures or have any ideas/opinions about the gates page, PLEASE let us know.  As the winter moves on, we’ll be updating information as we get it so please share or come back and check on the status of a gate before your next journey into the Forest.  You can update the status of a gate by clicking on the comment section on the gate page as well.

VDC, Pine Ridge Trail, photo Tim Bills
N E W S   &   N O T E S

– The Pine Ridge Trail and parking lot at the west side of the Pine Ridge Trail is scheduled to open again today, this is the parking at Big Sur Station.
– While the trail remains in poor shape, especially for the first couple miles, it is passable for hikers.
– Please be careful along the trail.  For more information contact the Big Sur Station at (831) 667-2315

– Wheeler Gorge is ramping up for another busy season of interpretive events.
– Our summer schedule of events is filling up and we’ll be sure to share them with you as summer approaches.
– For starters, Wheeler is hosting a Trail Boss program on February 7.
– Trail Boss is a Forest Service supported program that teaches the techniques and safety involved with trail maintenance.
– The program is open to anyone 12 years or older and is usually a huge hit amongst the scouting communities.
– Topics include: first aid, trail terminology, introduction to trail tools and history of trail work.
– This is a great program for teaching respect for the trails and introducing the next generation of trail users to the art and science of trail building and maintenance.
– For more information contact Gordie:   Hope to see you there!


Enjoy the weekend everyone and see you on the trails……..

LPFA Transverse – Closures & Spring Update

Hello Los Padres and Happy Friday!

Quick update today on a couple things Forest related:

Pine Ridge Closure Sign

G A T E S    &    C L O S U R E S

Gates and closures continue to dominate most of the questions that come our way through email or social media.  We’ve compiled a list of road/trail closures below.  If you have any updates, please send our way and check the Forest Service website for information updates as well:

Mount Pinos Ranger District:
– The usual winter roads remain closed.
– This includes Santa Barbara Canyon, which is closed at Reyes Ranch.

Ojai Ranger District
– All dirt roads are closed for the winter.
– Last we heard Middle Lion Camp was closed due to hazard trees.

Santa Barbara Ranger District
– Divide Peak Gate will be closed Saturday night due to incoming rain.  It should remain closed for about a week.
– First Crossing has been opened at the Santa Ynez River.
– The gate at Lower Oso towards River Road is closed due to slides.
– Upper Oso Campground is closed due to a water line break.

Santa Lucia Ranger District
– Ranger Peak has been reopened after last weeks snow.
– Catway is closed.
– Rockfront is open.
– Bates Canyon Road is closed past Bates Campground.
– Sierra Madre Road is closed at Hwy 166.
– La Brea Road and La Brea Canyon Road are both closed through December 2015.  This is due to damage from the 2009 La Brea Fire.
– Kerry Canyon Motorcycle Trail remains closed due to La Brea Fire damage as well.

Monterey Ranger District
– Western Pine Ridge Trail and the trailhead parking lot at Big Sur Station have been closed due to landslides along the trail.  We’re hearing that the damage is quite substantial and might need blasting in order to repair.  No timetable has been set for reopening but it’s looking like the western Pine Ridge Trail will be closed for some time.
– Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground has reopened but is only at about 1/3 capacity.

S H E E P   C A M P   S P R I N G
Before, Sheep Camp Spring
After, Sheep Camp Spring
Super volunteers Mark and Kim spent some time late last year cleaning out and rebuilding the spring box at Sheep Camp in the Chumash Wilderness.  The spring structure was broken and the water contaminated by a dead chipmunk.  After draining the spring box, they cleared out the lines, cleaned everything and rebuilt the broken parts of the spring box.  After quite a few hours of digging around in freezing water, they were able to restore a nice flow from the spring and make a safe drinking supply for Sheep Camp visitors.  With the drought we’ve been dealing with the past few years, it’s crucial to keep the existing water sources flowing and safe.  Huge thanks Mark and Kim.

If any of you out there in email-land notice any issues across the Forest that could be fixed, please be sure to report it to the Forest Service or you can contact us at or

Enjoy your weekend and hope to see you on the trails soon……

Old Man Mountain Pano from Monte Arido, photo Cotton Rockwood

Fire Restrictions Lifted

   Snowy Thorn Point, December 2014, photo Dan

Happy Holidays Los Padres!
We’ve had quite a few nice storms over the past few weeks.  Most of the Forest is well over the normal % of rain and the forecast remains strong for more rain in the coming weeks.  Fingers crossed, we need it.  We’ve been getting reports that many of the creeks have started flowing again.  We’re headed in the right direction.  Check out for more updates on trails, camps and water.

F I R E  R E S T R I C T I O N S

In response to the above normal amounts of water falling from the sky, the Forest Service and CAL FIRE announced earlier this week that fire restrictions across the forest have been lifted.  This is great news for most of us and means we can have campfires again.  Woohoo!!!  Bust out the s’mores!!  Please remember to be careful with your campfires.  Many of the fire rings have not been used in over a year, be sure to clear a safe space (5 feet) around the campfire and of course extinguish your fire before you leave camp.  Fire permits are required and can be picked up at any Ranger Station or online here.

First Crossing, Santa Ynez River
R O A D    C L O S U R E S

While green grass, flowing creeks and campfires are a nice side effect of the rain, unfortunately rain does cause some of the roads across the forest to close.  The Forest Service posts these closures on their website, check it out here.  Of note:- Divide Peak Gate remains closed but will reopen after a few days of sunshine.
– First Crossing is closed due to mud flow across the Santa Ynez River.  It should reopen in a few weeks.
– Santa Barbara Canyon is closed at Reyes Ranch and will remain closed until May 1.
– Reyes Peak Road is closed for the season.
– Cherry Creek is also closed for the season.We’ll keep you posted as gates open and close.  If you have any questions, feel free to email:

Pine Ridge Trail, photo Ventana Wilderness Alliance
P R O J E C T S    U P C O M I N G  
&   N E W S

The Pine Ridge Trail in the Ventana Widlerness is currently closed due to this large washout.  Wowzers!  The slide is about 3miles up the trail from Big Sur Station. We’ll keep you posted on updates or check in with the VWA.

– LPFA volunteers will be out this weekend logging fallen trees from the Lost Valley Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness.

– We’ll post updates on early next week.


– We’re looking for volunteers to come out on December 27 and help clean up the Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Headquarters off Paradise Road in Santa Barbara County.
– Most of the work will be raking up leaves, removing fallen tree limbs, clearing brush and trimming trees.
– We can use all the help we can get.  If you’re free all day or only have a few hours, we’ll take it.
– Contact Curt at for more information and to sign up!

COZY DELL: December 21
– Ranger Heidi with the Ojai Ranger District is hosting a project along the Cozy Dell Trail in Ojai.
– Most of the work will be filling in sink holes caused by the recent rains.
– For more information, contact Heidi:

– We’ve put together a First Aid / CPR certification class for February 28.
– The class will be held in Ojai.
– If you need your certification renewed, this is a great opportunity.
– The cost will be around $40-$50.
– Let us know if interested:

– The Forest Supervisors Office in Goleta was flooded last week.
– It will be closed for the next month or two.
– Business will continue for the Forest with much of the staff being moved to different districts or working remotely.

– There will be a series of controlled burns in and around Figueroa Mountain starting this month.
– The focus is to burn some of the ladder effect fuel buildup.

Happy Holidays and wishing each of you a stocking filled with hiking and riding gear……..


Los Padres Cloud Formations

LPFA Transverse – Storm Coming


The Ventana Black Rhino


Hello Everyone,

Hope you are spending some time on the trail today working off yesterdays Thanksgiving feast.  While most of the LP is drenched in sun today, the weather is changing as we brace for a potentially large storm hitting Saturday through next Tuesday.  Most of the forest should see some rain but amounts will vary greatly across the region.  Forecasters are calling for a possible 6+ inches in the northern mountains and as low as half an inch in the lower inland areas.  Check your local forecast to see specifics for your area.

We mentioned some of the road closures earlier this week, but with the impending storm there have been some additional closures in the Santa Lucia Ranger District.  Here we go…….

Effective November 30th the following roads will be closed:

  • La Brea/Colson area at the Forest boundary (Forest Road 11N04.4)
  • Sierra Madre Road at intersection with Highway 166 (Forest Road 32S13.1)
  • Bates Canyon past Bates Canyon Campground (Forest Road 11N01.3)
  • Figueroa Mountain area at the Lookout (Forest Road 8N16), East Pinery (Forest Road 8N32) and Zaca Ridge Road (Forest Road 8N02)

Effective December 1st the following roads will be closed:

  • Pozo OHV Area: gates at Forest Roads 15E04, 29S02, 30S18, 29S01; and OHV Trails 29S16, 29S27, 16E22, 30S17, 16E05A, 30S17 and 16E21
  • Rockfront Area at Forest Road 30S02
  • Forest Service coordinates closure of Hi Mountain Road with San Luis Obispo County (30S05).             Gates are at Pozo Fire Station and the Forest boundary on the Arroyo-Grande side.

The SLRD will reevaluate the road conditions after the storms pass through.  We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything.

Enjoy the weekend………

Los Padres Forest Association

LPFA Transverse – Thanksgiving, Gates and More

Los Padres from 14,505ft, it’s out there…….LP_Whitney

Lots to be thankful for around the Forest this Thanksgiving time.  Thankful that a new Dick Smith Wilderness sign that we installed was covered in bear scratches after only two weeks in the ground.  Happy that our Forest has ocean views and happy that you can see our Forest from Mt. Whitney.  Thankful that the number of LP Forest volunteers who are certified sawyers has pentupled this past year!  Thankful that so many people are out enjoying the Forest.  The list goes on and on and on……..  Take some time this weekend and think about what you are thankful for.  It’s always a good thing to do.  If the LPFA comes to mind and you’re thankful for what we do, we’d love to have you thank us by joining the LPFA and becoming a member.  Happy Thanksgiving!


The FS is starting to close many of the gates across the Forest. Most of these closures are based on established seasonal closure dates and/or threat of incoming storms. You can see a list of each closed road at the following link and some highlights called out below:

– Mount Pinos has been pretty regular with their seasonal closures over the past few years. Of note this year is that Santa Barbara Canyon is closed at the first gate next to Reyes Ranch. This will add an extra 4+ miles each way for those who are wanting to hike either Santa Barbara Canyon Trail, Cuyama Peak via Dry Canyon or venture up the Buckhorn Rd to the Sierra Madre and beyond.
– Also note that Grade Valley Rd is closed to Mutau, Fishbowls and Cedar Creek amongst others.
– Rancho Nuevo / Tinta Rd was closed at the Cuyama River crossing but will be reopening soon, if not already.

– Dough Flat will close on December 1
– Nordhoff, Pine Mtn and Cherry Creek will all close December 16.
– Potrero Seco is permanently closed.

– We’ve heard rumors that the Divide Peak gate along East Camino Cielo might already be closed and will certainly close this Friday through the first week of December. Rule of thumb, if rain is in the forecast, that road will be closed.

– Nothing of note, but Bates will close if we get any significant rain, we’ll keep you posted.

– North Coast Ridge Rd above Big Sur and Escondido Rd on the east side are both closed.

If you have any additional information to share, please let us know.

L P   C L A S S I F I E D S

Some odds and ends from across the Forest:

– Even though the Los Padres National Forest hasn’t lifted its fire restrictions, some of the State Park managed car campgrounds have.
– Andrew Molera, Pfeiffer Big Sur and Julia Pfeiffer Burns have lifted their restrictions and are now allowing campfires in the campgrounds.

– Ventura based Webelos Den #3179 spent a weekend last month cleaning up trash from Nordhoff Peak above Ojai.
– We’re only showing one photo here, but you should see all the trash they were able to pull out.
– It’s always nice to see the youngsters helping the Forest, certainly another reason to be thankful!

Webelos, To The Hills, photo Craig Carey

Happy Holidays and enjoy the long weekend!

Los Padres Forest Association

LPFA Transverse – Water in the Sky

Reyes Peak Dusting, November 1 by Ranger Heidi

Rain, rain……. stay a while!  The LP was treated to a nice storm this past weekend.  Rain fell across the Forest with some of the higher elevations getting a brief dusting of snow.  Rainfall totals ranged from around half an inch up to 2.5inches along Big Sur and eastern SLO County.  The great thing was that the entire Forest received some precipitation with most of it falling fast and furiously on Friday.  Many of the trails throughout the forest showed clear signs of substantial runoff – hope those waterbars were in good shape.  Anyway, the trick is that temps have returned to above normal and there wasn’t enough rain to change the flows in any of the creeks.  Water remains a major concern for those heading to the backcountry.  If we can help gather any information for you, please let us know – and of course if you have any information worth sharing, we are all ears.

S B    H I G H    C O U N T R Y

The LPFA hosted two trail projects recently in the Santa Barbara high country.  This is the area ranging from Madulce Peak west along Mission Pine to McKinley Peak.  It’s beautiful country, with elevations generally above 5,000ft and views in all directions.

West Big Pine, by Curt Cragg
One of the nastiest sections of trail in the San Rafael Wilderness is along the East Mission Pine Trail, specifically where the trail dips down above Rattlesnake Canyon.  This trail was ravaged in the 2007 Zaca Fire and has not seen much attention since then.  Our ten trail-volunteers set out to fix the hidden tread past Rattlesnake but found that there was enough work before that section to keep them busy for two solid days.  As a result, they are setting up a second mission to get back in there and work farther West along the trail – this time hoping to blast through the scrub oak mess on the far side of Rattlesnake Canyon.  If you are interested in helping with this second project, we’ll be heading out the weekend of November 14-16.  Contact or Curt Cragg ( for more details.

100+18 Trail Crew, by Gilcrest
Another popular trail in the SB High Country that is in need of some TLC is the Madulce Peak Trail.  This trail spurs off the main trail and heads a couple miles up to the 6,500ft Madulce Peak, which was once the home to a fire lookout.  We teamed up with a group of 18 Hundred Peak Hikers and spent a day clearing the old trail.  While some larger trees remain along the tread, the trail is now actually followable up to the peak – including along the dozens of switchbacks.  And once on the peak, the views are incredible!  It was great partnering with the 100 Peak crew and we look forward to many more trips in the future.

Switching Back to the Peak, photos by Gilcrest
G A T E S   &   M O R E

As winter approaches, many of the seasonal gates across the forest will start to close for the season.The Mount Pinos District will begin their seasonal closure on November 10.  We are unsure exactly which roads these include but will try to get that information for you by the next Transverse.  If you are planning a trip into the Pinos backcountry, best to give them a call and verify which gates are open and which will be closed.

The Ojai District will be closing the Dough Flat gate on December 1.

The Divide Peak Gate in the Santa Barbara District is open but does close at the slightest indication of pending rain.  We get complaints quite a bit about the gate being closed.  Rule of thumb, If rain is forecast, that gate will be closed.  Live by that.

James Wapotich will be giving a slideshow presentation about Exploring the San Rafael Wilderness this coming Thursday (Nov 6) at 7pm in Santa Barbara.  More information here:

That’s it for now everyone.  Enjoy the cool nights and warm days – we’ll catch you next time…….