Winter Volunteer Opportunities

Shades of winter in the Dick Smith…


Hello Friends, 

We hope you’re off to a Los Padres-filled start to the New Year and taking advantage of the break in the weather to enjoy the green grass and flowing creeks the year-end storms left behind. And if you need a little encouragement, LPFA is here to offer ample opportunities for you to get your winter nature fix! Join us as we enter a ~somewhat~ dry January and set off into the Forest for some trail maintenance fun while the weather allows. From the Sespe River Trail, to Agua Blanca Creek, to the Santa Ynez Rec Area and back down to Matilija Canyon, we’ve got all your southern Los Padres trail work needs covered. We hope you can make one or even better, all of the volunteer days shown below. See you out there!

VOLUNTEER  TRAIL  WORK


Jan 11-15: Sespe River Trail

Join us in the Sespe Wilderness on MLK weekend to tackle the Kerr Spring Slide on the Sespe River Trail! LPFA will be backpacking to Bear Creek Camp on Thursday, January 11th and spending the long weekend fixing a particularly nasty slide between Bear Creek and Kerr Spring. This is an overnight trip and volunteers should come prepared to spend the night in the backcountry with their own gear. Details are still taking shape, click below to sign up!

Jan 21: Wheeler Gorge VC Cleanup

After 11 months of being closed, Highway 33 has finally opened between Matilija Road and Ozena Station, and so has our beloved Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center! Join us Sunday, January 21st from 10am – 2pm for coffee and a cleanup at the Center. Family and friends encouraged. Projects will include raking, sweeping, painting, trash cleanup and more! Email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org to sign up and or to get more info!



Jan 26: Matias Connector Trail

LPFA will be beginning work on the Matias Connector Trailthis January. Come join us on Friday, January 26th as we begin brushing the trail open from River Road up toward Matias Potrero. We’ll be meeting at First Crossing at 8am. More details to come, email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org to get on the list!

Feb 11: Super Bowl Trail Day

LPFA will be continuing the tradition of a Super Bowl Trail Project in the Ozena Station area of the Los Padres this February 11th! Exact trail location TBD, but come join us for a day of trail work in Deal Canyon-land and be home in time for the Super Bowl. More details to come, but sign up at the link below!



Ongoing: Agua Blanca/Potholes

Sign up to join ongoing efforts to restore the Agua Blanca Trail within the Sespe Wilderness. Led by Alan Coles, volunteers will be meeting at Lake Piru and heading up the Agua Blanca clearing brush and downed trees. If you are interested in helping or learning more, please sign up and we’ll keep you posted. Click below……

Ongoing: Matilija Trail

Led by another legendary local trail steward named Peter Wilder, the LPFA has continued to work the Matilija Trail on most Thursdays and Saturdays since August. However, there is still much to do! If you are interested in helping or learning more, please sign up and we’ll keep you posted. Click below……



Winter sunsets just hit different. From up on Mt Pinos.

#GivingTuesday for the Ventura Backcountry Trails


Hello Friends, 

Let’s talk a little Ventura Backcountry. Highway 33, which is the primary road used to access the Ventura Backcountry, has been closed since January due to storm damage. Hwy 33 is used to visit many special places including Pine Mountain, Matilija, Rose Valley, Piedra Blanca and large portions of the Sespe Wilderness. The latest update from CalTrans is that Hwy 33 is expected to reopen sometime around the end of the year – that will be great, we can’t wait! 

Unfortunately, so many of the trails accessed from Hwy 33 remain in very bad shape. Not only are there trail-gobbling landslides, washouts and sinkholes resulting from the winter rains but the plants have also been growing like crazy, exploding with trail-guising regrowth. We’ve helped survey many of the trails off Hwy 33 and most of them need a lot of work clearing slides, brushing back the scub oak and helping to once again define where the trail should go.

We’ve started with some of the trail restoration work and have led trail projects this year on the Sespe, Piedra Blanca, Matilija, Chorro Grande, Reyes Peak, Boulder Canyon and Alder Creek Trails but we’ve just scratched the surface of what is truly needed for this amazing network of trails. 

With your support this #GivingTuesday, we’d like to make a huge push over the coming months to get as many of the gnarly sections of trail cleared and back in good shape.

Believe it or not, that is the trail, Kerr Spring Slide,
photo SoniaC

First on our trail priority list would be repairing the Kerr Spring slide along the Sespe River Trail. This section of trail just upstream from Kerr Spring has been a problem for decades but was hit exceptionally hard this past January. Over a hundred yards of trail was buried by a landslide of rock and mud. It’s a disaster and certainly hard to navigate in its current condition. We’d love to organize a combination of volunteers and hired trail professionals to camp at nearby Bear Creek and spend a couple weeks clearing this slide and reopening the Sespe. Please considering helping this #GivingTuesday

We’ll also be continuing our work on the Matilija Trail (come volunteer too!), we’d love to clear Lion Cyn again, work the GMPB up towards Pine Mtn Lodge and hack away at both Potrero John and lower Chorro. No shortage of work to be done, we can’t wait to get out there and do what we do best. 

Your support today goes a long way to helping repair the trails across the Ventura Backcountry. Thanks everyone! See you in the forest and on the trails…..




PROJECT FULL

We’ll be working the Alder Creek Trail in the Sespe Wilderness above Fillmore all of next week as part of a large scale Working Vacation. The project is full but we’re looking to clear the trail from Dough Flat out to Cow Spring and hopefully down a couple miles towards Alder Creek. Should be fun, with us luck! 

PROJECT FULL

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

We’ve been chipping away at the Matilija Trail for the past few months and are now up about 2 miles from the lower trailhead. We’ll continue our regularly scheduled Thursday and Saturday volunteer days. The canyon is beautiful and we really appreciate all the hard work from the volunteers. Join the fun! 


SIGN UP HERE!

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

This coming Sunday will be the second of many trail days this season pn the Agua Blanca Trail. The ABT is located above Lake Piru in the Sespe Wilderness. Super Volunteer Alan Coles will once again be leading the charge and we’ll hopefully continue pushing up towards the Devil’s Gate. Hope you can make it! 

SIGN UP HERE!


Summertime, and the Los Padres is Scorchin’

Some of the sweet fruit from the June 2021 Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Working Vacation

Hello Friends & Fellow Forest Users,

We hope you are enjoying your summer and still mixing in some Los Padres time, despite the heat and waning water. As we all know, summers are tough around here but there are still great pools, camps and shaded trails this time of year for those who know where to go and plan appropriately. This is probably the quietest time of year in the Los Padres but don’t let the calm fool you, there’s been plenty of news around the forest of late. Let’s get to it…

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FIRE RESTRICTIONS & UPDATES

The biggest news has been the new fire restriction order, which was announced July 15. The new restrictions prohibit campfires anywhere across the forest and camp stoves are allowed only within Designated Campfire Use Sites. The fire restriction order is effective through December 31, 2021and again: 

– NO CAMPFIRES ANYWHERE
– STOVES ONLY IN DESIGNATED CAMPFIRE USE SITES

Click the links above for more details. We realize that fire restrictions, which essentially ban hot coffee in the backcountry, are usually met with disapproval but please understand that there are over 170 drought-aided fires burning at the moment across the Western United States and most of the forests across the west are in similar fire restrictions as well. We’re all in this together and let’s hope for more rain in the coming years and certainly a slow remainder of the 2021 wildfire season. BE SAFE, everyone.  Speaking of fires, the Willow Fire in the Northern Los Padres is now 100% contained after burning nearly 3,000 acres within the Ventana Wilderness. While the fire has come and gone, please check the most recent Willow Fire closure order to see what is closed and what remains open. If you know that part of the forest and enjoy reading about local fire history, you need to check out a book called Fire Monkswhich chronicles how the Tassajara Monks fought back the 2008 Basin Complex Fire. It’s a great read and while the book is terrific and the Willow Fire made a similar run this summer, we’re very fortunate and thankful that there won’t be a Fire Monks Willow Fire sequel.

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FREE HERBAL MEDICINE WEBINAR

TUESDAY, JULY 27th
6PM PST

Join Emily Sanders, local clinical herbalist and founder of the Artemisia Academy of Herbal Arts & Healing, for a FREE webinar on the magic and medicine of the Artemisias. These local plant species, Sage brush, Wormwood, and Mugwort, have been used for thousands of years for both their medicinal and ceremonial purposes. Learn how you can make your own medicine! Click HERE to Register!

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Sunset Valley Road will be closed through March 2022

SUNSET VALLEY – NIRA CLOSURE

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 Fir Canyon 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…

That being said, the FS announced late last week that bridge construction will begin this coming week with an expected closure of Sunset Valley Road as well as the Catway OHV (aka Old Catway) through the end of March 2022.

While the FS is working to finalize the closure order, we’ve been asked to share that the public will not be permitted along Sunset Valley Road between July 26, 2021 – March 30, 2022. This is a full closure, meaning no access along Sunset Valley Road or the Old Catway to Davy Brown Campground, NIRA Campground and both of the Manzana Trailheads. Hikers and bikes are also expected to not be permitted along the road during the closure. Again, closure details are being finalized and we’ll share final details as soon as they are available.

While the bridges will definitely help with creating safer fish passage, 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. We’ve already shared a list of concerns and suggestions with the FS and we’ll be sure to share the final closure details when available. In the meantime, if you have any plans to visit the Manzana or lower Sisquoc, you should start looking at other entry points and/or trail options. HikeLosPadres.com is a great resource for planning trips into the LP, check it out or feel free to email us with any Los Padres-related questions.

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Maybe it should be called Green Canyon? June in Blue Canyon, photo JMorris

TRAIL WORK UPDATE

While many of us spend our summers vacationing in the Sierras or working on our beach tans, the LPFA volunteers and Trail Crew have remained busy working strategically on many of our favorite trails here in the LP. Here’s a quick rundown on what we’ve been doing trail-wise over the past few months:

  • GENE MARSHALL – PIEDRA BLANCA TRAIL: We wrapped up a busy spring and early summer of work on the GMPB with a fantastic 10-day Working Vacation and followed that up with a week of work by the LPFA Trail Crew. We’ve now collectively worked every inch of trail from Reyes Creek to Three Mile Camp and then from Piedra Blanca TH to Twin Forks. Great work by so many different people and groups, it sure does take a village!
  • BLUE CANYON TRAILS: Thanks to a generous SCE grant, the LPFA made a big push in 2021 to reopen the network of Blue Canyon Trails. We hosted volunteer days, volunteer weekends, worked with Laguna Blanca School for a week and wrapped it up with a couple weeks of work by the LPFA Trail Crew. We still have a little bit left to do but the trails from Forbush to P-Bar and out beyond Upper Blue Canyon haven’t looked this good in a long time…
  • COLD SPRING NORTH & MONO JUNGLE: We’ve also kept busy working the north Cold Spring Trail from Cold Spring Saddle down through Forbush and continuing through the new section of trail near the Mono Jungle. Work continues on the new section of trail and we were able to brush most of the trail from Forbush to the junction of the Gibraltar Trail. Work will continue out here through most of the summer and we’re hoping to schedule a few volunteer days out here as well.
  • MISSION PINE TRAIL: Thanks to support from the SB Trail Runners and the FS, we’ve been working hard to reopen an incredibly brushy section of the Mission Pine Trail out near West Big Pine. We hosted a couple of 4-day volunteer weekends and another week with the LPFA Trail Crew, and at the moment we have only 0.3 miles remaining to brush before punching through the worst of it. We’ll likely be back out there this summer should we get a cool-ish weekend to finish it up. Stay tuned…
  • LITTLE FALLS TRAIL: Thanks to some additional FS support we were able to put the LPFA Trail Crew on the Little Falls for a week of brushing and sign maintenance. Still lots of brushing needed in the upper parts of the canyon, but we were able to make a nice dent in the worst sections.
  • SANTA CRUZ TRAIL: Santa Cruz is a tough place to work in the summer, but we did spend a week in early June clearing brush and restoring tread out near Little Pine Spring. This will be a large focus of our fall/winter 2021 work as we continue working through the 40-Mile Wall and on down to Santa Cruz Station.
  • MATILIJA TRAIL: Thanks to some remaining Thomas Fire trail restoration funding, the LPFA Trail Crew has spent the past two weeks working the Matilija Trail outside of Ojai. We’ve been slowly chipping away at the Matilija Trail for the past three years, with the emphasis this summer being the section of trail between Middle Matilija and Upper Matilija. It’s slow going in this canyon, but thankfully there is good water along the way. More to come…

Our Summer Membership Drive is happening now! Join or Renew your LPFA Membership to help us continue to care for the Los Padres National Forest. 

Winter’s Grand Finale, Trail Updates, Spring is Coming

Was this the grand finale to the epic 2018-19 winter season, if so, what a way for it to end!  Photo Andy Quinn

Hello Friends,

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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Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these trail crews from the swift completion of their appointed trail work. 
Hurricane Deck Trail, LPFA Trail Crew, Photo Jason Morris

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: INFO@LPFOREST.ORG

  • 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.
  • The Sisquoc Trail remains our main focus this spring with multiple Working Vacations planned over the next few months.  These projects are piggy-backing on some great work we accomplished in 2018 including this summertime project that Terrence filmed for us along the upper Sisquoc.
  • 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…..
  • We’ll also be maintaining the Sellers Potrero Trail in the Garcia Wilderness later this month. Scouting project is set for March 10.


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We haven’t seen this much winter camping in the LP in many years, Pine Mtn at it’s finest, photo Jack Roten

FOREST 411

  • 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:
  • Highway 154 opened earlier this week about a half a week ahead of schedule.  The damage along Duval Canyon is astounding.
  • 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.
  • As reported by the VWA, the Carmel River Trail is closed at the moment due to trail damage. 
  • 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.
  • If you missed the story of the trail runner who fought off and killed a mountain lion last month in Colorado, it’s certainly worth a read.  Fortunately, that mountain lion was just a kitten.  He probably wouldn’t have fared so well against a full grown athletic mountain lion like this one recently seen in Montecito.

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You might call this a boilermaker, Topatopa with a shot of Jameson.  Please, someone has to get that joke!  Photo Humphrey
You might call this a boilermaker, Topatopa with a shot of Jameson.  Please, someone has to get that joke!  Photo Humphrey