Forest Gates Opening & Volunteer Trail Work Updates


When Los Padres eyes are smiling….. photo A. Jerlow


Hello Friends, 

It’s mid-May and we hope this email finds you well and busy planning your next forest adventure. The big news across the Los Padres at the moment is the opening of most of the seasonal gate closures. Many of the Forest Service dirt roads across the LP are closed during the winter in order to protect those roads and/or prevent vehicles from getting stuck. The gates usually close sometime in December and depending on the extent of needed repairs and when the snow melts, those gates swing open sometime in late-April to mid-May. That’s right now….. 

GOOD NEWS, the Forest Service has been busy working on road repairs over the past month and have reopened most of the seasonal gate closures across the forest ~ yay! Some of the fan favorites that have reopened include Pine Mtn, Grade Valley, Bates and all the usual OHV gates in the Pinos District. Unfortunately, not all the gates have reopened and we’ve listed some of the gates that remain closed within this email. Sometimes information spreads slowly across the forest and we always encourage folks to contact your local District Office or check in with us to confirm if the gates are open or if you have any questions.

It’s starting to warm up but there’s still tons of water and it’s about as good as it gets in the forest right now! As always, if you are looking for trail conditions or more information from the forest, check out HikeLosPadres.com or the LPFA social media feeds. Hope to see you out there!  




Fresh off two Working Vacations in the San Rafael and Sespe Wildernesses, up next is a three-day trail project in the Dick Smith as part of National Trails Day. We’ll be car-camping at Rancho Nuevo Campground and working up-canyon from there restoring the trail as we go. If you’ve not been to this corner of the forest, it’s spectacular and should be epic this time of year after all the rains. Come one, come all, camp both nights or come for the day! We’d love the help if you feel like giving back to the trails – #NationalTrailsDay. To sign up click the link below….. 



Did you know that the Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail is one of only two federally desigated National Recreation Trails within the Los Padres NF? We’re doing our best to keep it open for people to enjoy. photo J. Nelson.



• As mentioned above, the LPFA just wrapped up a two-week Working Vacation in the San Rafael Wilderness along the Manzana Trail. We were able to complete 4 miles of trail restoration over that time thanks to a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the HUGE efforts of the 31 volunteers who helped along the way. We made a short IG reel showing some of the work and vacation from our time in the SB Backcountry. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out which is more fun! Thanks everyone….. 

• Meanwhile, the LPFA Trail Crew has continued our work on the nearby Sweetwater Trail, which is also in the San Rafael. We were able to knock out another 1.25 miles of trail over the past 10 days and will hopefully connect the dots with previous work later this season. Thanks again to NFWF for the funding support and RPL for the water huffing. 

• We also just completed a 5-day volunteer project on the Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail in the Sespe Wilderness. While it was hot, we were able to do 2.5 miles of trail restoration up towards Pine Mtn Lodge. This was 100% funded by private donations from forest users like yourself and we’re hoping to push on up to PML on an upcoming cooler weekend. Stay tuned! Thanks to the 25 volunteers who helped in the Sespe including T111, you are all welcome back anytime! 

• We also continue with our regular frontcountry volunteer trail projects in both Ojai as well as Santa Barbara, keep an eye out for those. As always, we take requests too. If there is a trail you love and would like to see given some TLC, let us know and we’ll get the ball rolling and hopefully some boots on the ground to help. Thanks everyone…. 


Los Padres National Trails WEEK & Forest Closure Revision

Nothing better than the hike back after a hard day of trail work, Piedra Blanca Working Vacation, May 2023 – photo Dorsey C.

Hello Friends,

We hope this email finds you rested and ready for an adventurous weekend in the Los Padres. We wanted to send out a quick reminder that tomorrow June 3 is National Trails Day (NTD). In case you were wondering, NTD is an annual day set aside to recognize the importance of trails and provide ways for the public to give back to the trails we all use and love.

While a day of celebrating trails is great, doesn’t a week sound even better? Sure does… so with that in mind, we’re extending NTD out through June 10 ~ let’s call it National Trails Week! Over the next week (NTW) there will be an assortment of trail projects across the Los Padres that you can chip in and help with. We’ve listed a few in the green bubble within this email. We hope to see you at some, or all, of these trail events over the coming days and thanks again for helping the trails!


FOREST 411

• The Forest Service issued a new revised Forest Closure Order last week which officially opens more of the trails and road access to the forest. Check it out here.

• Included within the list of newly reopened trails is a portion of the Santa Cruz Trail between Upper Oso and 19 Oaks. The LPFA Trail Crew and Volunteers have been kicking butt throughout May clearing slides and restoring the Santa Cruz Trail. You can read more about it here.

In addition to  Santa Cruz here is a list of trails we’ve worked over the past couple weeks and some in the queue for the coming weeks ahead:


NATIONAL TRAILS WEEK

June 3: Santa Paula Canyon

Join the LPFA and LPNF as we spend NTD helping to restore the Santa Paula Canyon Trail. Click here to sign up of for more details.

June 6: Santa Cruz Trail

LPFA will be continuing our trail work up the Santa Cruz this Tuesday June 6. Click here for more…..

June 10: SB Frontcountry

Join the fun as a consortium of folks will spend Saturday 6/10 working on Cold Spring and Buena Vista Trails. Click here to find out more.

June 3: Deal Trail

The MPRD is hosting a NTD project on the spectacular Deal Trail near Ozena. Email Mark for to sign up.

June 3: Baron Ranch Weeding

The SB County Trails Council will be hosting an invasive weed removal day at Baron, click here to sign up.

June 4: West Fork Cold Spring

Sage will be leading a trail day on West Fork, check it out here.

June 10: Big Sur Trail

The Ventana Wilderness Alliance is back at it, this time on the Big Sur Trail. All hands on deck, click here to donate yours.

Some more Piedra Blanca teamwork – thanks to all the volunteers who helped! – photo Delia Sander

LOS PADRES FIRE RESTRICTIONS &NATIONAL TRAILS DAY

Missing this Mission Pine View – LPFA volunteers spent the long holiday weekend working the Mission Pine Trail – It’s now 100% passable and in good shape from McKinley to Mission Pine Basin and beyond…..

Hello Friends – we hope this email finds you tired from a long Memorial Day weekend on the trails……The big news across the Los Padres Forest this week is the introduction of our first seasonal fire restrictions. BE SURE TO READ THE ORDER for specifics but basically all campfires are now banned within the LP outside of Designated Campfire Use Sites. This level of restrictions should have the greatest impact on backcountry visitors who will now have to plan on cooking with stoves and having some extra time to enjoy the stars. While we should be pretty used to camping without a fire by now and the evenings aren’t too cold anymore, here are a few links to sift through in case you are looking for suggestions or alternatives to the traditional campfire. We’d love to see any photos you might have of ways you enjoy camping without campfires. You can email us or tag us on any of the usual social media channels. Be safe everyone….

NATIONAL TRAILS DAY

The LPFA will be participating once again as part of National Trails Day by hosting two trail volunteer projects and one forest support weekend here in the Los Padres, please email us for more information: VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org

SUNSET VALLEY TRAIL, FIGUEROA MOUNTAIN: JUNE 4 – 8:30am
The Sunset Valley Trail is a somewhat forgotten and certainly overgrown trail along the northern slope of Figueroa Mountain that follows Sunset Valley Road starting at Fish Creek Saddle and connecting again with the road either at the Munch Canyon TH or further down at Davy Brown Campground. We’ll be out this Saturday working on restoring the Sunset Valley Trail. Once Sunset Valley Trail is reopened, it will be a terrific connector trail for folks hiking White Rock and Munch and it will also open up a super fun trail for beginner mountain bikers where you can ride up the road or single track and gradually descend through the oaks along Sunset Valley – thumbs up! Looking forward to seeing this trail restored and revitalized – come out and help!

POTRERO JOHN TRAIL, PINE MOUNTAIN: JUNE 7 – 8am
We’re extending National Trails Day into National Trails Days and will be hosting a trail volunteer project on Tuesday June 7 along the Potrero John Trail in the Sespe Wilderness. We’ve worked on this trail quite a bit over the years but just received a report of brushy conditions, a few downed trees and the need for some TLC along the trail. Game on! Potrero John can be a very friendly short backpacking trip up to the camp or make for a fun day-hike up into the wilderness to explore the canyon’s attractions. If you haven’t been, it’s worth a spot on your todo list and what better way to explore Potrero John than volunteering with us as part of NTDays.

UPPER SANTA YNEZ AREA: June 11-12
While not exactly part of National Trails Day, we’ll be hosting a weekend forest support volunteer project next weekend June 11-12 out in the Upper Santa Ynez Recreation area working between Mono and Pendola. We’ll be meeting at Romero Saddle on June 11 at 8am and then driving out to Middle Santa Ynez Campground. From there we’ll meet with FS staff and spend the weekend helping clear campgrounds, maintain facilities, install signs and work on the Cold Spring Trail. As always, for more information or to sign up, please email VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org

It’s not all trail work, LPFA volunteers cleaning graffiti at Lizards Mouth, May 2022

Fire Restrictions, Trail work Updates & Volunteer Opportunities

Just Another Mission Pine Sunrise
Photo by Conor Watson

Hello Friends,

While the green of Spring certainly has felt short-lived this year, with 100% of the state of CA experiencing drought and 41 (out of 58) counties experiencing a drought emergency, we were glad to get out in the Los Padres to enjoy all the brief but beautiful spring moments we could. After our Santa Cruz Working Vacation at the beginning of May, we have stayed busy with work on the North Cold Spring trail, Mission Pine Trail, Blue Canyon Trail, Little Falls Trail and more work on the Santa Cruz Trail, and are headed out this next week to Beartrap camp to tackle sections of the Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail for our next Working Vacation.

With the low rainfall the state has seen this year, we were not surprised when the Forest Service announced Fire Restrictions on backcountry campfires that went into effect earlier this week. No open fires, campfires or charcoal fires will be permitted outside of developed recreation sites or designated Campfire Use Sites, even with a valid California Campfire Permit. Lanterns and regular gas camping and backpacking stoves will be permitted, but only with a valid California Campfire Permit, which are available free-of-charge on the Forest website. We cannot stress enough the importance of adhering to these campfire restrictions, and in general the importance of fire safety during these dry, dry times. The state is gearing up for an intense fire season and while most of the Southern CA counties were not included in the emergency drought proclamation from the governor’s office, it is on all of us to make sure that the lands we cherish remain safe from human-caused fires. Please be safe, follow the rules and do your part to help protect your Los Padres National Forest. We all love a good campfire, but it’s definitely not worth the risk. Besides, camping without a fire can definitely be fun and a great way to connect to different aspects of nature at night. There are lots of great things that camping without fire can include, like more time for stargazing, playing cards or music, listening to the sounds of nature, and getting some extra sleep! Enjoy your time in the forest and let’s all stay safe! 

SANTA CRUZ WORKING VACATION PT 2

Weather permitting, we’ll be headed back out to Santa Cruz Guard Station the week of June 12-20 to continue work on the Santa Cruz Trail. This time we’ll be based at Santa Cruz and working up towards Little Pine along the legendary “40 Mile Wall”. Most of the work will be cutting tread until it gets too warm and then retreating to spend the hotter hours relaxing under the oaks or in the nearby Santa Cruz Creek pools. The exact dates will be weather dependent and we’d love to have any of you help out and join the fun. If interested in either signing up or to get some more information, please email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org. We will be driving in to Santa Cruz Station – hope to see you out there!

Volunteers relaxing at the Santa Cruz Guard Station, May ’21. Photo by Marianne Henry

Forest 411 

  • Senator Alex Padilla introduced companion legislation to Representative Carbajal’s Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, which passed the House of Representatives in February. This bill will protect special places in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument for their ecological, cultural, and recreational values. Rep. Carbajal’s bill will also designate the Condor Trail as a National Scenic Trail. The senate version also prohibits future oil drilling in certain places, improves equitable access to the outdoors, and benefits local and statewide economies. Thank you Senator Padilla and Rep. Carbajal! 
      
  • Condor populations are healthily growing and expanding their range! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service announced a new initiative that calls for releasing four or six juvenile condors each year for 20 years throughout Redwood National Park, which is about an hour’s drive from the Oregon border. Partnering with the Yoruk tribe, conservationists hope to boost populations of these endangered birds, which suffered great losses during the Dolan fire. Good luck, condors! 
      
  • The Los Padres National Forest is proposing to restore Rose Valley Creek to its historical stream function, form, and habitat to benefit native aquatic species as well as provide streamside recreation. Check out the recording of the Public Workshop the Forest Service hosted on May 13th. 
      
  • Volunteers are returning again this year as citizen smoke watchers at the 92-year-old Chews Ridge lookout tower south of Carmel. This commanding vantage point has given spotters the ability to detect and quickly report new wildfire starts before they get large and destructive. If you’re interested in becoming a Chews Ridge volunteer, visit the Chews Ridge Fire Lookout FB page or email Scott at PalomarTowers@gmail.com for more information.
      
  • LPFA-Operated Visitor Centers are open and ready to help you navigate the Los Padres! With Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center serving the Southern Los Padres and Big Sur Station serving the North, our visitor centers are a great place to stop before you head into the forest. Come by to learn about the ecology of the area, pick up a map and supplies, or get your Los Padres-related questions answered by our friendly staff and volunteers. LPFA members receive a 15% discount on all purchases (exception for Adventures Passes) at Los Padres Ranger Stations and Visitor Centers. 
      
  • Graffiti removal efforts have been advanced by local Boy Scouts. Members of Troop 26 helped remove over 30 pieces of graffiti on Tunnel Trail in the SB Frontcountry. Great work, Scouts! We hate to see graffiti in the forest, so please let us know if you find any – email INFO@LPForest.org
Member of Troop 26 helping remove graffiti. Photo by Paul Weakliem

Volunteer Opportunities 

  • National Trail Day is coming up on June 5th! This is a great day to give back to and enjoy the many trails we love. Click here to find a volunteer event near you! 
      
  • SB County Parks & Recreation is hosting a National Trail Day event on June 12th at Tunnel & Jesusita Trails. Email Sbiddle@SantaBarbaraCA.gov to RSVP and get more information. 
      
  • Volunteer Trailhead Ambassadors Needed for the popular Pine Ridge Trailhead in Big Sur! Trailhead Ambassadors will help visitors understand how they can enjoy the public lands of the Big Sur coast safely and responsibly. To learn more, please email toan@ventanawild.org
      
  • SBRD Biologist Valerie Hubbard is seeking volunteers for noxious weed removal. The initial work would include mapping high priority weeds on the East Camino Cielo and also manually treating spotted knapweed. Future work might be assisting with herbicide treatment of tamarisk in the Santa Ynez River, manual treatment of yellow star thistle on Zaca Ridge road, manual treatment of pampas grass on the Happy Canyon allotment, manual treatment of medusahead grass at Happy Hollow camp and mapping and manual treatment of yellow star thistle on the Buckhorn road. Email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org to get involved! 
      
  • Help collect seed to restore areas invaded by Spanish broom along East Camino Cielo in Santa Barbara! Saturday volunteer seed collection dates are: 5/22, 6/5, 6/19, 7/10, 7/24, and 8/7. There are sign-up 10 slots for each date, with a limited number of vehicles allowed to park along East Camino Cielo Road. We will announce additional dates for the fall. Please email Josie Lesage at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (jlesage@sbbg.org) to sign up.
The LPFA Trail Crew in Action

The work we do would not be possible without the support of our community! Please consider donating or becoming a member of the LPFA to help ensure that we can continue to care for the Los Padres National Forest. 

Los Padres Swing the Gates & National Trails Day

Is that ‘June Gloom’, or yet another wave of storms headed our way?  Silver Peak Wilderness, photo Toejam

Hello Friends,

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!

Trail work is ________!  Fun?  Rewarding?  Radical?  Necessary?  Fill the blank in for yourself during an upcoming NTD trail project LPFA, Thomas Fire Trail photo D Najera

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:

Deep Emerald Gems Around Every Corner, the Lower Sisquoc – LPFA Working Vacation this week!

FOREST 411

– The Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center summer series of weekend interpretive events is off and running.  In June we have presentations and talks covering the Wonderful World of Bees, the Last Days of Dinosaurs and Saving the California Condors.  Always something going on at Wheeler!  Hope to see you soon….

– 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…..

– If you’ve ever driven up Hwy 33 you’ve probably noticed the remains of Matilija Hot Springs on the left across from what used to be the U.S.A.’s Smallest Post Office.  The VC Star recently ran an article discussing the future of the hot springs along with a small video tour of how it fared during the Thomas Fire.

– The Partnership for Resilient Communities steel ring net project above Montecito is in full swing.  There are 6 nets currently being installed across West Fork Cold Spring, East Fold Cold Spring, Buena Vista and San Ysidro canyons.  If you’re in the neighborhood, go check them out, they are not hard to spot.

East Fork Cold Spring ring net, lying in wait…..

– 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.

– The Los Padres National Forest is seeking public comment on a recently proposed forest-wide Invasive Plant Treatment ProgramPublic comment can be submitted to the Forest Service before either June 19 or June 27 (conflicting reports).  You can read much more on this proposal here.

– 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!

Otis, Susie, Beth, Kathleen and String Packing the May 2019 Upper Sisquoc Working Vacation, Judell Trail, photo Beckstrand

Thomas Fire Closure Update & NTD 2018

Naked Matilija Wilderness
THOMAS FIRE CLOSURE LIFTED
The Forest Service unexpectedly lifted their Thomas Fire closure last week.  This reopens all of the Los Padres portion of the Thomas Fire burn scar to most of its normal use.  While the majority of the public should be rejoicing at the chance to get back into the forest, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.  Here are a few tweaks and warnings you should be aware of before relaunching into the forest:

  • While the Forest Service has reopened their previously closed land, both the City and County of Santa Barbara have decided to keep their portions of the burn area closed.  You can read more details on the Noozhawk article by Ray Ford.  The City and County of SB control much of the lower portions of the Santa Barbara Frontcountry, including the trailheads at Cold Spring, San Ysidro and Hot Springs Canyon.  This means that while the upper Frontcountry within the Los Padres is open, people cannot access the trails through the more popular lower trailheads.  This has created a bit of a conundrum as stakeholders and trail-users attempt to figure out the best ways to legally enjoy the trails.  We’ll keep you posted as news develops……..
  • The LPFA has been busy over the past days installing yellow warning signs at the trailheads around the Thomas burn area, see photo below.  Please do be careful if you are within the burn area.  There are many loose rocks and hazard trees that have not succumbed to gravity quite yet.  Pay special attention on switchback sections where people above might trigger a loose rock on trail users below.  Also, if you plan on camping in the burned area, be really careful of hazard trees and limbs that might fall.
  • Portions of the town of Montecito remain in a state of disrepair as they continue to deal with repercussions from the Thomas Fire and January 9 debris flows.  There is still a lot of heavy equipment moving rocks and pushing dirt, and some shocking house damage remains within the community.  Please be mindful and respectful.
  • The Romero Camuesa Road from Romero Saddle down towards Pendola remains closed to vehicles/motorcycles as does Divide Peak OHV.  Hikers and bicyclists are able to use these roads.  No timetable has been set as to when the road and OHV route might reopen but don’t count on it happening anytime soon.
  • Both Rose Valley Campground and Middle Lion Campground remain closed.  No news as to when they might reopen.
  • While the forest is open, most of the trails have received little or no trail work since the winter rains.  You should plan on the trails taking significantly longer to travel than normal and be careful attempting shuttle trips as there may be some impassable sections of trail that may cause changes in your plans.
  • There have been some reports from within the burn area of the dreaded fire-follower plant called the Poodle Dog Bush.  Our unfriend, the Poodle Dog, causes human reactions similar to poison oak.  It’s a very picturesque purple flower that can grow in large robust fields that look like something you should dance through rather than skirt around.  Google search it please…….

Other than that, the forest has been reopened from the lower Sespe out to Gibraltar Road and up to Hwy 33.  Enjoy, be safe and please let us know if you come across any downed trees or horrible sections of trail that need significant work.  We’re helping compile a list of trail issues and any assistance you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Please share your reports on www.HikeLosPadres.com.  THANKS and be safe!

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This was (is) Matilija Camp? NATIONAL TRAILS DAY

National Trails Day is this coming Saturday, June 2 and the Los Padres has four trail projects scheduled within our forest:

MATILIJA TRAIL, Ventura County
The LPFA is organizing a trail project into the Thomas Fire burn area and focusing on restoring the lower portion of the Matilija Trail from the trailhead up to Matilija Camp.  The trail is covered in downed trees (crosscut sawyers needed) and burnt brush that we’ll be clearing from the trail corridor and if time allows we might work to uncover Matilija Camp, which was buried in boulders.  We’ll be meeting Saturday at 8am at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center and working until 2pm.  REI will be joining us back at Wheeler Gorge with their famous “CHILL ZONE” and we’ll have a quick BBQ for the volunteers around 3pm.  It should be a special day and a lot of fun.  For more information check us out here or email INFO@LPForest.org

DAVY BROWN TRAIL, Santa Barbara County
The LPFA will also be hosting a trail project on June 2 along the Davy Brown Trail, off of Figueroa Mountain near Los Olivos.  We’ll be meeting at the upper Davy Brown Trailhead at 8am and from there working down Davy Brown and perhaps out the Willow Spur Trail.  Work will be mainly clearing downed trees and brush from along the trail.  Mike Smith is the project leader and we’ll work until the afternoon before returning to the trailhead.  Davy Brown is one of the more scenic trails in the area providing ocean views from the trailhead as well as views of Hurricane Deck.  It’s also home to a great variety of plants and flowers that make Figueroa Mountain so famous.  We hope to see you there.  Please RSVP if you can make it (INFO@LPForest.org) and click here for more details.

BOULDER CANYON TRAIL, Ventura County
Mark Subbotin will be leading a sawyer assault down the Boulder Canyon Trail along the northern slope of Pine Mountain.  There is an estimated 20+ trees down along the trail and we’re fairly certain they’ll get them all!  This is also part of the Condor Trail.  Details will be provided by Mark and the Mt Pinos Volunteers, you can reach Mark at: MSubbotin76@Gmail.com.

HORSEPASTURE TRAIL, Monterey County
The VWA is hosting a car-camping potential multi-day project along the Horsepasture Trail.  They’ll be working hard on Saturday and then playing equally hard on Sunday.  Sounds like a great project and a terrific way to get to know the area and the people who help keep the trails open.  RSVP required, please click here for more details.

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The Quick Gray Fox Jumps Over the Newly Restored Trail, photo Humphrey
FOREST 411

• As if this weekend wasn’t busy enough, the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is hosting a special talk on Saturday at 11am by local hiking author Dr. James Caballero entitled “Hiking Be Prepared”.  It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned hiking stud or a trail newbie, you’re assured to learn something new!  See you at Wheeler……. and stay for the REI BBQ!

GREAT NEWS!  The Ojai Ranger District released a scoping letter last week outlining an environmental proposal to approve all the ORD trails for Level 1-2 trail maintenance.  See attached letter to learn more and please respond if you’d like to see the Ojai trails improved.

• This weekend marked the launch of a temporary shuttle service that shuttles visitors from the Big Sur Station parking lot down to Pfeiffer Beach and back.  Beach access to Pfeiffer and overcrowding has been a serious problem over the past decade and the shuttle service is a pilot project to see if a shuttle can prevent traffic jams along Sycamore Canyon Road.  By most accounts the first weekend was a big success.  We’ll share more information on this in a future email.

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Pay Attention to the Thomas Fire Warning Signs, and Especially Pay Attention to the Signs of Thomas Fire Warnings, photo Gordon J.

Spring 2018 LPFA Update

Dust Still Settling on the Rock Slide vs Oak, Rancho Nuevo Canyon

Hello Friends – Happy Mother’s Day!  It’s been a while since we’ve sent out a LPFA Forest update and we figured what better day to send out a Los Padres update than Mother’s Day.  Lets get to it…….

We’ve all heard the saying about if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it…….right?  While we can’t exactly prove that one, we can tell you that if a tree is obliterated in the woods by a rock slide and someone is there to hear it…… it’s scary and loud as hell!  On a recent trail survey up Rancho Nuevo Canyon, one of our volunteers witnessed first hand a rock slide that literally destroyed and smashed a substantial oak tree into pieces.  The volunteer watched in astonishment from less than 50 yards away as the cliff face let loose down the canyon, taking out trees and covering the trail that he was seconds away from hiking.  After the dust had mostly settled, he quickly took a photo of the carnage (see above) and high-tailed it out of there.  It was a crystal clear cool spring morning, no wind, no earthquakes, this area hadn’t burned since the Zaca Fire and no recent rain.  Fortunately, there had been a few smaller rock falls just before the final large one that kept him from continuing down the trail and into the cross-hairs of the slide.  The main takeaway of the story is to always pay attention while in the forest.  It doesn’t need to be a stormy day for disaster to strike.  We might want to put the headphones away, listen to the forest sounds, stay alert and follow your gut.  While the slide was scary for sure, it must have been an incredible sight to see as well……  Has anyone else witnessed tree falls, rock slides or other random acts of nature in the Los Padres.  We’d love to hear about it…..

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While not part of the Tour of California, the Blue Canyon switchbacks are looking good enough to ride again!
Compliments of a February 2018 LPFA volunteer project.

2018 TOUR OF CALIFORNIA

Each May, cyclists from around the world descend on California to participate in the Amgen Tour of California bike race.  The Tour of California is a week long race that sends the cyclists 645 miles up and down California highlighting the spectacular sights and roads that make California such an attractive destination.  The routes and stages change from year to year and as luck would have it in 2018, two of the stages pass through the Los Padres National Forest:

STAGE 2, MAY 14: Ventura to Santa Barbara
This stage might as well be called the Tour de Thomas Fire.  It starts in Ventura, heads out through Oxnard and Camarillo before heading north up Hwy 150 through Santa Paula literally right past the point of origin of the Thomas Fire.  From there the race goes through Ojai, passes the Ojai Ranger District, along Hwy 150 to Carpinteria, across to Santa Barbara and then ascends freshly paved Gibraltar Road into the Los Padres and up to the finish at East Camino Cielo.  The riders will be seeing most of the burned areas during their 100 miles in the saddle.  Gibraltar Road is sure to be a wild scene for those who’d like to see the race in person, otherwise you can watch on NBCSN live from 1 – 4pm.

STAGE 3, MAY 15: King City to Laguna Seca
The following day the Tour heads to the northern Los Padres starting in King City near the Monterey Ranger District.  From King City the riders will circle around to Greenfield, head towards Arroyo Seco, veer onto Carmel Valley Road, passing briefly through the Los Padres on their way to Carmel Valley and finally north up to the finish at Laguna Seca Raceway.  In all the riders will cover 122 miles and you can catch the live TV coverage from 1:30 – 4pm on NBCSN.

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Imagine if there were no trail volunteers, I wonder if you can….
VOLUNTEER PROJECTS & NATIONAL TRAILS DAY

Sadly, we’re nearing the end of the regular season for Los Padres volunteer projects.  Soon the temperatures will get too hot, the water will fade away and many of us will head east to higher and greener summertime pastures.  BUT NOT YET!  We’ve got a bunch of upcoming trail projects across the LP through mid-June highlighted by National Trails Day on June 2nd weekend.  As usual, a full list of volunteer trail opportunities is outlined at the bottom of this email as well as some specific events with details posted here.  If trailwork is not your thing but you’re still looking for ways to volunteer, the LPFA is always looking for help with administrative tasks, website updates, helping organize events and/or providing information for public forest-users.  If you’ve got the time and interest, we’d love to hear from you.  Contact us at INFO@LPForest.org for more information.  THANKS……..

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Hoppy Poppy and the Hurricane Deck….  We might be on to something here……
FOREST 411

 • Helen Tarbet of the Santa Lucia Ranger District does a fantastic job each spring documenting the flower show along Figueroa Mountain.  While the flower season hasn’t been nearly as ‘all-time’ as last year, there’s been a fair amount of color if you know where to look.  Attached is Helen’s latest installment of the Figueroa Mountain Wildflower Update.  Check it out……

• Since it is Mother’s Day, we wanted to reach out to each and every mother out there and send our thanks and best wishes!  You are all the best…….

Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is back open and looking better than ever.  We used the downtime caused by the Thomas Fire to do some renovations at Wheeler Gorge and the work turned out fantastic!  Thanks to all the volunteers who helped in the renovation, in particular Gordie Hemphill, Kasey Moorse and Cindy and Terry Wright.  We’ll share more pictures of the Visitor Center soon, including an introduction to our newest family member: Freedom.  The next event at Wheeler is Saturday May 19 when we welcome Ranger Kris to talk about the World of Bats.  Hope you can fly on by……

• Tragically, a mountain lion was killed along Hwy 101 near San Luis late last month.

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The Doors are Once Again Open, Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center

Late Spring Volunteer Projects

Here Pollywog Pollywog, photo Humphrey

LATE SPRING 2018 TRAIL PROJECTS

Hi Everyone,

Here’s a list of some upcoming LPFA and non-LPFA trail projects and specific contacts in case you’d like to volunteer.  Hope to see you out there……..

May 16 – White Rock Trail Work: The LPFA continues work clearing brush along the Figueroa Mtn network of trails.  Up next is White Rock Trail.  Led by Bryan Conant, we’ll be focused on brushing a middle 1/2 mile section of the trail.  Please RSVP via email: INFO@LPForest.org

May 18-21 – Bluff Camp Sawyer Trip: Led by Mickey McTigue, we’ll be driving in to Bluff Cabin via the Buckhorn Rd and Upper Oso.  From Bluff we’ll be day-tripping up to both the Mission Pine and Sisquoc Trails (part of the Condor Trail) to cut out fallen trees across the trail.  Work will be primarily crosscut with some brushing intermixed.  This work is within Santa Barbara County within the San Rafael Wilderness.  For information or to sign up please contact Mickey at: mickey.joecache@gmail.com

May 19 – Santa Barbara Canyon Crosscut: Join Mark Subbotin as he leads a project to cut out two large oak trees along the Santa Barbara Canyon Trail (along the Condor Trail).  The first tree is 3.2 miles from the trailhead while the second is 4.1 miles.  To sign up please email Mark at: msubbotin76@gmail.com

May 20 – Tumamait Trail Crosscut: Mark will be at it again, this time working the Tumamait Trail high atop the Chumash Wilderness.  They’ll be cutting out three downed trees about 2.5 miles out from the trailhead.  Mark can be reached at: msubbotin76@gmail.com

May 26 – Sulphur Spring Sawyer Project: Bob Burtness has been caring for the Sulphur Spring Trail since the 1970’s.  It’s become impassable due to fallen downed trees.  Bob will be leading a project on May 26 to help cut out the downed trees along the trail.  The work will either be using chain saws or crosscut, depending on PAL fire levels.  Sulphur Spring Trail is located off of Figueroa Mtn Rd near the San Rafael Wilderness.  For more information please contact: INFO@LPForest.org

June 2 – Chorro Grande Trail: The LPFA will once again celebrate National Trails Day by hosting a much overdue trail projects.  This year we’ll be working the Chorro Grande Trail within the Ojai Ranger District.  Chorro Grande is a lovely trail nestled between Hwy 33 and Pine Mtn ranging in elevation from 4,000ft to over 6,000ft.  We’ll be primarily brushing the middle portion of the trail.  Jasonn Beckstrand will be leading the efforts.  For more information email: INFO@LPForest.org

June 2 – Boulder Canyon Trail: Mark Subbotin will be leading a chain saw or crosscut project down the Boulder Canyon Trail (Condor Trail) focused on clearing an estimated 20+ trees.  This will also be part of the National Trails Day celebration.  For more information or to sign up, please email Mark: msubbotin76@gmail.com

June 8-10 – Alamar Trail Sawyer & Tread: The LPFA will be hosting one last project this year focused on clearing the Alamar Trail (part of the Condor Trail) within the Dick Smith Wilderness.  Led by Bryan Conant, we’ll be driving to Alamar Saddle and working from the Saddle down 3 miles into the canyon.  The majority of the work will be crosscut with some brushing and tread work mixed in for good measure.  INFO@LPForest.org to sign up or learn more.

June 15-18 – Upper Sisquoc Trail Project: Mike Smith is leading another assault on the Upper Sisquoc.  The exact location of this project is TBD but it will be somewhere between Alamar Saddle and Heath Camp.  For more information or to sign up please email Mike at: TrailSmith@LPForest.org

Alamar Downed Tree, Snow No Longer Included

 

 

 

Manzana Schoolhouse Weekend Trail Project & Zaca Fire Anniversary

National Trails Day 2017, Santa Cruz Trail

Good Afternoon Everyone – Hope you are doing well!

The Los Padres enjoyed a great weekend of National Trails Day projects across the Los padres.  Reports are still trickling in from the various projects and we hope to share photos and updates in the coming week or so.  It certainly was hot out there this past weekend!  While National Trails Day in June might work for the rest of the country, it’s a hot time of year in the LP.  Thank you to everyone who helped out this weekend, if you have photos from wherever you were, please share, we’d love to see them!

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MANZANA SCHOOLHOUSE
TRAIL PROJECT
June 9-11

The LPFA is going to squeeze in one more long-weekend project before the backcountry gets too hot. Join us June 9-11 at Manzana Schoolhouse as we do some work on the Lower Manzana Trail, clear some downed trees from the Lower Sisquoc and clean up Manzana Schoolhouse Camp. 

The plan is to meet at the Lower Manzana Trailhead on Friday June 9 at 8am. We’ll load our camping gear into trucks that will drive out to the Schoolhouse while we spend the day hiking, clearing trees and a few strategic slides along the Manzana Trail. We’ll get to the Schoolhouse with enough time to cool down in the Sisquoc, get some dinner, enjoy happy hour and watch the full moon creep over Castle Rock. 

Saturday will be spent clearing the downed trees along the Lower Sisquoc, working on the lowest section of the Manzana Trail and fixing a few odds and ends around Manzana Schoolhouse Camp.

We’ll pack up Sunday, the trucks will once again carry our camping gear back to NIRA while we hike up-stream and fine-tune any remaining issues along the Manzana Trail.

As always, meals Friday night – Sunday will be provided for the volunteers. The hike in to the Schoolhouse is about 9 miles. If you can’t make it in on Friday morning, you’re still welcome to attend, we’d just like you to get to the Schoolhouse in enough time to volunteer on Saturday. Please RSVP.  Should be a great time and a special final weekend of volunteering in the backcountry this season. Hope you can make it and email (INFO@LPForest.org) for more information or to sign up!

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One of the endless Zaca plumes, photo Ray Ford
ZACA FIRE ANNIVERSARY TALK
July 4, 2007, the day the Zaca Fire started and a few weeks before it really went.  Can you believe it’s been almost 10 years since the Zaca Fire burned most of the Santa Barbara Backcountry!??!  Join us Thursday June 15 at 6:30pm at the Santa Barbara Library as Ray Ford takes us down memory lane recounting the progress and history of the once-in-a-lifetime conflagration known as the Zaca Fire.  He’ll go over just about every acre of the over 240,000 acres that burned between its start July 4 and sometime in early December when it finally went out.  The talk is FREE, get it on your calendar and we hope to see you there!  More details and information to come…..

National Trails Day 2017: SANTA CRUZ TRAIL

Come join us on National Trails Day (Saturday, June 3) as we begin work on bringing the Santa Cruz Trail back to life!

• We’ll meet at First Crossing (34.545955, -119.779028 – about 30mins from Santa Barbara) at 8am on June 3.  From there we’ll caravan across the river and through locked gates (locked at Lower Oso) to Upper Oso.  We’ll park the cars at Upper Oso and walk the 0.7 miles to the start of the Santa Cruz Trail singletrack.  Parking is FREE!

• If you are running late, we a second caravan leaving First Crossing at 8:30am.

• Once at the Santa Cruz Trail, we’ll do a safety talk, explain the plan for the day and break into teams to start work.  All of the work will be along the 1.3 miles up to 19 Oaks Camp.

• We’ll have hard hats, gloves and provide all the tools for the day.  Please wear long pants, sturdy boots, eye protection (sunglasses are fine) and you might want to bring a helmet (bike helmet is fine), personal gloves and a favorite trail tool if you have one.

• You’ll also need to bring any water and food needed to get you from 8am until 5pm.

• It’s predicted to be sunny with high temperatures in the low 80’s.  There should be a light breeze by mid-morning that will hopefully help keep things cool as well. It will be warm for sure, but not hot by Los Padres standards.  There is plenty of water in the creek and enough shade here and there to cool down during rest breaks.  Take as many breaks as needed!

• Most of the work will be clearing rocks, burned slough and ravel from the trail bed, plan on getting dirty! Everyone likes getting dirty, right?

• We’ll work with our teams until the early afternoon and have two departure times from Upper Oso out through the locked gate at Lower Oso.  The first departure time will be around 12:30pm and the final one will be at 2:30pm.

As you probably know, this portion of the Santa Cruz Trail was burned in the August 2016 Rey Fire and this project will be the first official work to clean up the damage from the fire.  The trail is in bad shape but all things considered it could have been much worse.  The trail is certainly not dead, it just needs a little love.  It will be very rewarding hiking out and seeing all the work that was accomplished out there!  You’ll feel great…..

• Once we’re out past the Lower Oso gate you are free to head home, take a swim in the river or drive up to Rancho Oso for the evening.

Camping is FREE at Rancho Oso for the trail volunteers.  We’ve reserved the Lower Tent Sites down by Arroyo Burro Road.  If you drive into Rancho Oso, tell the front kiosk you are with the LPFA and they’ll point you in the right direction.  Feel free to setup your camp, take a swim in the pool (shower first of course) and then eventually head over to the Screened Pavilion and Chuck Wagon for the REI Chill Zone and some much deserved ice cold beer compliments of Hollister Brewing.

BBQ dinner will be served between 4-5pm.  If you’re not staying the night, let the front kiosk know you are just there for dinner and they’ll guide you to the dayuse parking.

REI will have some games and prizes setup around the Chill Zone and a raffle sometime after dinner.

• After that, we’ll switch to camping mode and retreat to the Lower Tent Sites for a campfire and some needed rest.  There are tables at the Lower Tent Sites as well as a nearby bathroom/shower.

• Feel free to bring your favorite musical instrument or nighttime activity, just know that quiet hours start at 10pm, or is it 11pm?

Dogs are welcome for camping but need to be leashed.  We do ask that you don’t bring your dog on the trail work portion.  We’ve seen that sharp metallic swinging tools and dogs are a bad combination.

NOTE: There is nothing planned for Sunday.  No trail work.  No food.  Bring what you need and plan whatever you’d like to do!

And that’s the plan man.  What did we forget…..?

We hope you can make it and please email an RSVP if you plan on coming so we can make sure we have enough food and camping spaces reserved: INFO@LPForest.org

Special thanks to the following for supporting this great trail project:

– Rancho Oso

– REI

– Sierra Club

– Hollister Brewing

– Los Padres National Forest