Time lapse photo of a very large gray pine that five LPFA volunteer cut off the trail on May 10, 2022. The pine was measured at 40″ in diameter and took us almost five and a half hours to cut using a 72″ felling crosscut saw. Thanks to everyone who reported it to us. We can’t help maintain trails if we don’t know there is help needed. Good fun had by all……
CLOSED: Sunset Valley Road from Cachuma Saddle to NIRA, both NIRA and Davy Brown Campgrounds and the Old Catway OHV road / trail will be closed from July 30, 2021 through March 30, 2022
The Forest Service has been working with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and other partner groups to schedule the construction of two bridges which would replace the existing ‘Arizona crossings’ along Sunset Valley Road. When completed, the bridges will help assist aquatic organism passage within the Santa Maria, Sisquoc, Manzana and Davy Brown drainages. Sunset Valley Road is located in Santa Barbara County behind Figueroa Mountain and is most commonly used to access NIRA and the Manzana Trailheads. This bridge project has been in the works since at least 2017, with construction being delayed a few times due to COVID, etc…
In order to construct the bridges, the Forest Service will need to close both Sunset Valley Road and the Catway OHV (Old Catway) to all traffic including vehicles, bikes and hikers and as a result of the closure, both Davy Brown and NIRA Campgrounds will be closed.
While the initial reaction after hearing about this closure has been overwhelmingly negative, the long-term effects from the closure will be very positive. Obviously the bridges will greatly benefit fish passage along the Davy Brown, in addition the bridges will improve year-round access to NIRA and as an added bonus the Forest Service will be repaving Sunset Valley Road during the construction as well. This repaving might be worth it all by itself as that road has won the distinguished honor as the “worst road in the Los Padres” over the past couple years due to car-eating potholes.
NIRA is closed? Now what…..???
NIRA and the Lower Manzana is the main gateway to the San Rafael Wilderness and by far the busiest backcountry trailhead in Santa Barbara County, if not the entire Los Padres National Forest. There is no doubt that this 8 month closure is going to impact a lot of backpackers, hikers, equestrians and hunters who rely on NIRA and the Manzana for their backcountry access as well as Davy Brown and NIRA Campgrounds for somewhat easy and remote car-camping.
Forest-users tend to have favorite trails and camps that they revisit frequently and while that is terrific, this might be a good excuse to find a new favorite spot or search out that peak, camp or trail you’ve always wanted to visit. There are certainly plenty of other backcountry trailheads, trails and campgrounds worth exploring. We’re very fortunate in the Los Padres to have miles and miles of backcountry trails for all fitness and experience levels and quite a few other remote campgrounds worthy of loading up the larger tents and coolers.
If you have any questions about what other spots to check out, WE’D BE HAPPY TO HELP: check out HikeLosPadres or email us at INFO@LPForest.org and we can suggest a variety of trails and camps based on the time of year, what you are hoping to find and of course any of the current forest restrictions or closures.
And for those willing to hike the extra mile and push through some extra brush, just think how uncrowded the Narrows and Horseshoe Bend will be this year……
Hello Friends !
Manzana Trail Cribwall, Before and After, Spring 2017
• The WHITTIER FIRE was officially declared fully contained on October 5. Whittier started on July 8 and while the the acreage has not grown over the past couple months, a few pesky hot spots kept the fire from 100% containment. While the fire is contained the closure order remains in effect within the fire perimeter along West Camino Cielo from Lizard’s Mouth to Refugio including the Tequepis Trail.
• Deer hunting general season started this week in Zone D13, which covers much of the Ventura backcountry mostly within the Mt. Pinos Ranger District. Click here for a map of D13 and here for general information. D13 started October 14 and ends November 12.
Hi Everyone – Good Afternoon,
Quite a week for celebrations we’ve had……
- Monday was May Day: a celebration of Spring and the giving of flowers.
- Tuesday was Teachers Day: even to this day we all have teachers, it’s never a bad idea to say thank you!
- Wednesday we caught our breath.
- Thursday was Star Wars Day: May the fourth be with you!
- And today is Cinco de Mayo: you can read about the history of May 5 but generally associated with Mexican heritage, margaritas and family.
All special days of course, but here in the Los Padres we celebrated yet another event this week as well…….
LOS PADRES GATE OPENING DAY: May 1
Generally speaking, the seasonal road closure gates across the forest close December 1 for the winter and then reopen May 1 after most of the rains have passed. This is a relatively new holiday as many of the seasonal gates have not always been closed but none the less May 1 now provides reason for many of us here in the LP to celebrate. We won’t get into MVUM or budgets or politics or any of the other reasons the gates are closed, instead lets focus on the good news that once again road access to more of the forest is open. Here’s the latest and greatest from each of the five ranger districts:
– Three seasonal roads have reopened including Reyes Peak Road (Pine Mountain), Dough Flat Road and Nordhoff Ridge Road (permit required).
– Cherry Creek Road remains closed.
– All campgrounds and trails are open!Mt. Pinos Ranger District:
– All roads, camps and trails have been reopened except for Snowy Trail, Cerro Noroeste, Dry Canyon Rd and Tinta / Rancho Nuevo Trailhead Gate at the Cuyama River / Hwy 33 junction.
– This includes Grade Valley, Alamo and Santa Barbara Canyon.
– The news is not so good in the SBRD……
– The Romero Camuesa Rd, which connects East Camino Cielo with the Upper Santa Ynez Recreation area sustained major structural damage this winter and remains closed to all vehicles. A cribwall section of the road was severely undercut near the junction with the North Romero Trail and will require engineering before the road can be reopened. As a result, the Forest Service has installed a new gate at the junction of East Camino and Romero-Camuesa at Romero Saddle where the pavement turns to dirt. Divide Peak OHV remains open, so appropriate OHV vehicles (<50″) can pass around the new gate and continue to access Divide Peak but there is no vehicle travel down to Juncal, Pendola, the Calientes, etc……. Staging for OHV is now at Romero Saddle. This is major news, we’ll keep you posted as progress develops and timeframes established.
– First Crossing along Paradise Rd remains closed due to storm damage resulting from the Rey Fire. The Forest Service expects First Crossing to reopen in the next few weeks. Currently Upper Oso and the day use areas off River Road are closed.
– No news on when or if Buckhorn Rd / Camuesa will be reopened for OHV use. The Buckhorn was hit hard by the Rey Fire and with most of the road resources going towards public access roads, it sounds like the Buckhorn will have to wait its turn. We’ll keep you all posted on this as well.
– Happy Canyon has been cleared and is open for 2wd passenger car travel.Santa Lucia Ranger District:
– Santa Lucia is a bit more fluid than the other districts. We suggest contacting the District before heading out to a trailhead or location. Here’s the latest:
– All paved roads are open including Fig Mtn Rd, Sunset Valley.
– The dirt roads in the Fig Mtn Recreation Area are closed, including Fig Mtn Lookout, East Pinery, Catway and Old Catway.
– Sierra Madre is open from Rock Front east to McPherson Gate.
– Miranda Pine is closed at the junction with Sierra Madre.
– Bates is closed.
– Rock Front is open.
– Hi Mtn Rd remains closed at both Arroyo Grande and Salinas River sides.
– Pozo is open.
– Colson Canyon is open to Colson Camp but remains locked at the Rattlesnake Saddle gate (more on that below, see La Brea!)Monterey Ranger District:
– The Soberanes Fire Closure continues to impact the Monterey district with most of the Ventana Wilderness remaining closed.
– Hwy 1 is still closed at Ragged Point (south) and Big Sur Station (north).
– Nacimiento Ferguson is open as well as Prewitt and South Coast Ridge Roads.
– All Forest Service Camps along Hwy 1 are open but access is only via Nacimiento Ferguson.
– Palo Colorado is closed.
– Pfeiffer Beach is closed.
– Pfeiffer Big Sur and Andrew Molera State Parks are closed but should open in the coming weeks.Whew, that’s a lot, are you still with us? It doesn’t feel like much of a celebration when you see all the closures that remain in effect. We had quite a winter (rain) following quite a summer (fire). Maybe we should start a band and call it Fire, Rain & Earth. The FS is working hard to reopen the roads. It’ll happen. Remain optimistic we must…….
An Apple a Day, photo Aanjelae
• First Saturday Trail Project Ojai: May 6 on the upper Pratt Trail. Meet at 8:30am at the Ojai Ranger Station to carpool to the Nordhoff Ridge trailhead.
• La Brea Restoration Plan: The SLRD is hosting an Open House to discuss the proposed restoration project for the La Brea Fire closure that dates back to 2010. Public is welcome, the Open House is May 8 from 4-7pm at the SLRD Ranger Station on Carlotti Drive in Santa Maria.
• Latest Figueroa Mountain Wildflower Update from our Forest Service wildflower expert Helen Tarbet, see attached.
• Wood cutting permits are available later this month at the Chuchupate Ranger Station. Dates are May 10, 24 and 31 from 10am – 2pm. Call Chuchupate for more information: 661.245.3731
Stay Thirsty my Friends, photo Humphrey
Hi Everyone – we hope you’re having a great Good Friday and an even better Good Friday evening,
We’ve got a lot to share today – this is probably the most jam-packed email we’ve ever sent. So, slip into something more comfortable, pour yourself an ice-cold lemonade and enjoy the read.
If you read nothing else, please check out the massive list of upcoming events and trail projects at the bottom – thanks!
There is no shortage of activities and events going on right now in and around the Los Padres. We’re right in the middle of what is typically the busiest time of year for the Los Padres. The flowers are doing their thing (more on that below), the water is plentiful and the trailheads are crammed with hikers, riders and backpackers enjoying the forest. While the trail-users are busy enjoying the trails, the trail crews and trail volunteers are doing their best to fix any damage sustained from this winters storms. At the bottom of this email (way down there) is a list of upcoming trail projects. Giving back to the trails and volunteering time to cut brush from the trail or remove a rock slide can be so rewarding. We encourage all of you to find a trail event this Spring that inspires you and sign up to volunteer for a day or a weekend or even a 10-day Working Vacation. You’ll love it! There are plenty of options out there for everyone, we hope you can find some time to make it happen…….
In the meantime, there is something all of us can do while we’re out on the trails that will directly benefit the trails: TRAIL REPORTS. Trail crews can’t fix a trail if they don’t know that the trail needs fixing, right? So while you’re out for a ride or hike and if come across a section of trail with a downed tree or a slide or is buried in brush; take a picture and share it with your local trail group, Forest Service staff or post it to HikeLosPadres.com and we’ll make sure it gets into the right hands. When taking the picture, it helps to position a friend or a hiking pole or your dog or something in the photo to give the feature some perspective so that we can tell exactly how big that downed tree is. If you can include GPS coordinates that helps a lot as well. HikeLosPadres has an easy user-interface that allows you to post pictures and include information like GPS and size estimates along with the photo. It works great to share as much information as you can so that the trail crews can get out there and do what they love to do fixing these trail problems and issues. Thank you all for the help and we hope you’re finding plenty of time on the trails this Spring……
A nice bouquet somewhere between Greenfield and the Pacific
WILDFLOWER SUPER BLOOM 2017
Look out at that hill, it’s a balloon, it’s a tie-dye, no it’s SUPER BLOOM! You’ve probably seen the words ‘super bloom’ a lot over the past couple of weeks. That’s the word being used to describe an exceptional eruption of wildflowers and after all our winter rains, California 2017 is certainly qualifying as a super bloom. Social media is overflowing with pictures of pilgrimages to Death Valley, Joshua Tree and the Carrizo Plain. In fact there are even pictures from outer space showing the 2017 super bloom. While we can’t all be so lucky to join in these epic trips to the desert, never fear, chances are there are super blooms right outside your door. Find some time in the next couple of weeks to revisit your favorite flower haunt or try to find a new one! Helen Tarbet of the Santa Lucia Ranger District here in the Los Padres puts together a wildflower update for those people headed to Figueroa Mountain to see the wildflowers. Her latest report from April 12 is attached with this email. Check it out and remember to tread lightly so the next people can see the flowers just as you saw them. Enjoy…….
— • — • — • —
The soon-to-be new Pfeiffer Gulch Bridge, CalTrans
FOREST ACCESS UPDATE
While the flowers are certainly out this year, the Los Padres hasn’t completely reopened after the winter storms. Most of the dirt roads across the Forest remain closed and behind locked gates. Some of the roads (such as Sierra Madre) have reopened but most of them will stay closed for at least a few more weeks. The traditional gate opening ceremony usually occurs on May 1 but this year that might not be the case as some of the roads did sustain quite a bit of damage and are not passable yet. The Forest Service is working on it. If you’re heading out to the forest, it’s a good idea to call your local Ranger Station to check if the roads are open. More details below:
- The Soberanes Fire Closure remains in effect up in the Big Sur and Ventana Wilderness portions of the Los Padres. No date has been established for when the fire closure will be lifted.
- The Big Sur Coast remains somewhat isolated as CalTrans works to reopen Hwy 1. Google search if confused.
- Nacimiento Ferguson Road has reopened creating a connection to the coast but Hwy 1 is closed in both directions from there.
- The Pfeifer Gulch Bridge in Big Sur is being rebuilt with an end of September estimated date of completion.
In Santa Barbara, First Crossing and Romero Camuesa Rd at Divide Peak remain closed due to storm flooding and debris flows related to the Rey Fire.
Highway 33 will start to see traffic delays as CalTrans continues to work on stabilizing slopes damaged by the storms (see attached).
— • — • — • —
- There is a lot of trail restoration activity going on at the moment in the San Rafael Wilderness. The LPFA has been working on the Manzana Trail and is currently in the middle of a 10-day Working Vacation based at Happy Hunting Ground. We’ll have additional crews based at Manzana Narrows starting next weekend through the middle of May. In addition, the CREW is working on the Sisquoc Trail based out of South Fork working up towards Heath Camp. These trails will be beautiful after all this work. If you’re out there, be sure to thank the crews!
- This is kind of cool, there was an officer in Solvang who got a video of a mountain lion chasing after a deer.
- With all the recent fires and storms, there have become quite a few hazard trees hanging over campsites around the Los Padres. Some of the trees have been documented, others have not. It’s always a good idea to check the area for dead trees or leaners before setting up your camp and obviously camp elsewhere if there is a nearby hazard tree. Take photos of any hazard trees and share with the Forest Service once you get home.
- The Wheeler Gorge Open House will be Saturday April 22 from 10am – 2pm. This years Open House will feature booths from local organizations, a Used Camping Gear Sale, BBQ and a visit from Smokey Bear. If you have kids and like the forest, this is the place for you! Come on out. We’ve also released the summer program of talks at Wheeler.
- The Big Sur International Marathon is April 30. There is only one way in and out of Big Sur at the moment. Unless you are running in the marathon, you might want to stay away from Big Sur that weekend.
- Some personnel news in the Los Padres, more to come later, LP Supervisor Bob Baird has accepted a position as California Regional Fire Director for the USFS. He will unfortunately be leaving the Los Padres next month. While we say goodbye to Supervisor Baird, we also say hello to Ranger Brad Turberville who is taking on the Ranger duties at Mount Pinos Ranger District on a 120-day detail. Welcome Ranger Turberville!
- The Santa Barbara Trails Council is currently running a photo contest featuring the Gaviota Coast. There are some really amazing photos being shared, including some from the Los Padres. Proceeds from the contest will be used to complete the Baron Trail, which is a new trail being built along the Gaviota Coast.
SAINT PATRICK’S DAY
Happy St. Patricks’s Day everyone! While March 17 was originally set aside as a religious celebration of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland, the date has morphed a little over the years into a more general celebration of Ireland. In addition to the religious aspects of St. Patrick’s day, other time honored traditions have developed including wearing green, pinching those who do not wear green, drinking Irish adult beverages, an overall celebration of Irish descent and a celebration of the color green. Good times for sure! Feel free to celebrate or enjoy as your beliefs and preferences allow.
Here is the Los Padres, St. Patrick’s Day couldn’t come at a more appropriate time of year. While most of the country is still thawing out from winter, we’re in the prime of spring with GREEN all around. Take some time this weekend (after your St. Patty’s celebrations of course) and go find some green in the forest. It’s not hard to do right now. It should be a beautiful weekend and you never know, you might just find that leprechaun hiding his gold in that patch of miners lettuce…..
Upper Sisquoc Views from the Manzana Trail
The LPFA has two Working Vacation trail projects scheduled in April along the Manzana Trail in the San Rafael Wilderness. The first WV will be from April 1-9 and will be based either at Manzana Camp (6 miles from NIRA) or Fish Camp (3 miles from NIRA). The second WV will be from April 15-23 based at Happy Hunting Ground Camp (11 miles from NIRA). While the trail projects last an entire week, you are welcome to come for as long or short as your schedule allows. Both Working Vacation locations are upstream from the NIRA Trailhead and will take the better part of a day to travel to and from the base-camps. We do ask that you commit to a day or two of trail work, which means you’ll need to set aside at least 3-4 days for the Working Vacations. Better yet, come for the entire week, it’ll be beautiful out there!
For those of you who have been on LPFA Working Vacations, you know what to expect. For those who have not, the Working Vacations are stock supported volunteer trail projects with designated cooks and all meals provided. You can learn more here. Basically, you show up and commit to volunteering on the trail and we’ll make sure you have tasty food to eat, hot coffee in the morning and cold drinks in the evening. It’s great fun! Mike Smith will be leading both of these Working Vacations and can answer any specific questions you might have or sign you up! You can reach him at: TrailSmith@LPForest.org
More than anything else, the Working Vacations are a fun way to get out in the backcountry, give back to the trails we love and hang out with like-minded fun people. It’s great fun and very rewarding. We hope to see you out there……
Sunset Wave, Before the Storm, Mission Pine Basin
• Due to printing issues with the 2017 passes, 2016 ADVENTURE PASSES will remain valid through the end of February 2017.
• The Los Padres remains in Level II FIRE RESTRICTIONS, although that will probably be changing here really soon!
Thanksgiving weekend is literally hours away and there is lots to be thankful for here in the Los Padres. It might not seem like it at times with wildfires, closures, drought, etc but you gotta look past that and focus on the positives. Positives like ocean fog through redwoods, finding new trails, freezing mornings sipping coffee, that final cut with the crosscut saw or driving to the trailhead. We’re not going to get too sappy but wanted to thank you all for your support and help over the years. Be sure to take some time this weekend in between eating, football, family and cooking to think about what you are thankful for and try to do something to show your gratitude. Sounds easy enough but sometimes time gets in the way. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Now go eat, be merry and spend time with loved ones…….
And if you’d like to pre-order a 2017 calendar, you can order online here. Thanks everyone, looking forward to seeing your photos and I’m already looking forward to National Lemon Meringue Pie Day – which of course is August 15, 2017!
Anyway, the LPFA tried hard to get on board and lead an Opt Outside Black Friday event this year but for one reason or another we just couldn’t get it to work. BUT, instead of Friday, we’ll be leading a Sunday 11/27 one-day trail maintenance project working to remove fallen trees along the Lower Manzana Trail downstream from NIRA Campground. Curt Cragg will be the trail leader and has reported over 25 downed trees of varying complexity and size. If you’re looking for an excuse to get out and work off that tryptophan, this is a great trip for you! For more information check out the link here and we hope to see you on Sunday 11/27 along the Lower Manzana. And maybe you’ll even get a photo to contribute to the calendar…….!!??!!
Lucky Pooch Recharging by the Campfire
Happy New Year! The big news across the forest this past week has been the change in Fire Restrictions. Effective January 9, the fire restrictions dating back to May 5, 2015 have been lifted. While this is exciting news for those of us who have spent freezing nights in the forest of late, please PLEASE remember to be safe with your campfires. Only build campfires in cleared spaces, preferably in designated campground campfire-rings and most importantly be sure to completely put out your fires before you leave camp. It may seem like a pain to spend those extra minutes soaking your fire but it’s so important – think about the alternative. Take that extra time to run trips back and forth from the creek. For those of you looking for an easier solution, REI sells a collapsible bucket made by Sea to Summit which carries 10 liters and can easily soak down a campfire with only a few trips to the creek. Also be sure to get your California Campfire Permit. Permits are available at any of the Ranger Stations or online at this link. Just takes a few minutes and it is the law to have a permit. Enjoy the warmth and be careful. The change in fire restrictions also reopens shooting ranges across the forest. Contact your local Ranger District for information on shooting ranges near you.
The LPFA and friends have a bunch of volunteer trail projects scheduled over the coming months, a BUNCH! We wanted to get the dates out to you now so that you can hopefully find a free weekend (or longer) to help the trails. If you have any questions or want to sign up, please email INFO@LPForest.org:
February 7: Deal Trail, Dick Smith Wilderness
This is the 4th Annual Super Bowl Sunday trail project hosted in conjunction with UTMC along the deal Trail. Meet at 8:30am and home in time for the second half of the game. Lots of fun and you’ll feel great sitting on your couch that evening knowing you deserve it, Mark Subbotin is the project lead.
February 19-21: Location TBD
This is going to most likely be a 3-day car-camping project in the Santa Barbara Backcountry led by Curt Cragg. We are finalizing the location based on weather and road access. More to come soon……
March 4-6: Potrero Trail, San Rafael Wilderness
Led by Mike Smith, this will be a 3-day backpacking project based at Potrero Camp along Manzana Creek. Work will be up the Potrero Trail towards Hurricane Deck. The project will be stock supported so expect tasty meals.
March 18-20: Buckhorn Trail with SBMTV, Santa Barbara Backcountry
Led by Curt Cragg and cosponsored by LPFA and SBMTV, we’ll be working the legendary Buckhorn Trail down from the top towards the first creek crossing. We’ll be camping at Happy Hollow Camp with opportunities for day volunteers as well. Gonna be a fun one!
April 8-18: Madulce Working Vacation, Dick Smith Wilderness
This is the first of 3 LPFA Working Vacation scheduled for spring 2016. We’ll be based at Madulce Camp and working the network of trails radiating from the old guard station. Our main focus will be working the Madulce and Puerto Suelo Trails. While we’ll be up there for 10 days, there will be opportunties for shorter stints. Backpacking 7 miles to camp is required and there will be stock support. April is a great time of year in this part of the forest. Mike Smith will be the project lead.
April 29-May 1: Alamar Trail, Dick Smith Wilderness
This project will be based at Bluff Cabin and focused on completing the final mile of trail down Alamar Trail from Alamar Saddle. Curt Cragg will be leading this project. This was a project we started in September 2015 as part of National Public Lands Day.
May 5-8: Lost Valley Trail, San Rafael Wilderness
Mike Smith will be leading a gutsy (Mothers Day) extended weekend project along the Lost Valley Trail. This will be a backpacking / stock-supported project based somewhere along the trail with the goal of working from the Manzana up to the Hurricane Deck.
May 20-30: Middle Sisquoc Working Vacation, San Rafael Wilderness
This is going to be a fun one as well. We’ll be based at Sycamore Camp along the Sisquoc River and working the trail down-canyon to Abel Camp. The Sisquoc should be epic this time of year with deep pools and green slopes. Access will be along the Jackson Trail. The project will be stock supported with shorter length stays possible as well.
June 3-5: National Trails Day, Location TBD
We’ll be partnering with REI to host a 3-day project in the Ventura or Santa Barbara Backcountry. Location and specifics are in the works. Stay tuned…….
June 11-19: Mission Pine Working Vacation, San Rafael Wilderness
There have been quite a few projects over the past few years attempting to reopen the Mission Pine Trail from McKinley Saddle to Big Pine. Talk about epic trails, this Working Vacation will be focused on completing the work across Mission Pine and down the top mile of the Santa Cruz Trail. There is lots of potential for this project as far as where it is based and all that. In the works and we’ll share when we know more……..
Wheww, that is a lot, isn’t it? We hope you can make it on at least one of these projects. We’ll be covering many different types of trails at many fantastic locations. There is really something for everyone on these projects. If you haven’t been on any LPFA project, try to make it this spring, you’ll have a great time!