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…. 


TRAIL VOLUNTEERS: Piedra Blanca Trail


Piedra Blanca Trail Project

May 8 – 12, 2024


Sunset on Piedra Blanca, Nick D.

Hello Friends, 

LPFA and our wonderful volunteers have spent A LOT of time in the San Rafael Wilderness this season. No complaints here, it’s been incredible out there. But for our next project, we’re mixing it up and heading to the Sespe…. 

Join us at Piedra Blanca Camp ~ May 8 – 12 as we head back to the Sespe Wilderness for the second time this season! LPFA spent 5 days on the Piedra Blanca Trail in May 2023, knocking out 3.2 miles of maintenance from the trailhead to Twin Forks Camp. We’re excited to get back out there and keep working up toward Pine Mountain Lodge! Here’s what you need to know: 

  • LPFA will provide tools and some cold beverages for the trip. 
  • You’ll need to backpack in your own personal gear and food the 3.9 miles from the Piedra Blanca Trailhead to Piedra Blanca Camp. It’s a short and awesome hike across Sespe Creek and over the Piedra Blanca Formation. 
  • While we’d love people to come out for all 5 days, you are more than welcome to come for shorter stints too. Sign up and we’ll work out the details from there. 
  • Be sure to bring a bathing suit! There are awesome swimming holes near camp to cool off in at the end of the day. 
  • To sign up, please click the link below or email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org with any questions. 

Thanks everyone, hope to see you out there…..




From top left: Area Map, Piedra Blanca Return, Dorsey C., Piedra Blanca Creek, Clancy T.

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

Pine Mountain Trail Work & Los Padres Updates Galore

Finally, there’s the confounded trail! Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail, Before & After, July 2020

Hello Friends,

Amidst all the recent cancellations and tribulations, we wanted to share a story of success and accomplishment.  Did you know that there are only two designated National Recreation Trails (NRT) within the Los Padres National Forest?  NRT’s date back to the 1968 National Trails System Act and are designated to “recognize exemplary trails of local and regional significance”.  One of our Los Padres NRT’s is the 18-mile Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail (aka Piedra Blanca Trail) (aka GMPB) which crosses Ventura County’s Pine Mountain within the Sespe Wilderness between Reyes Creek Trailhead and Piedra Blanca Trailhead.  The GMPB is indisputably one of the gems of the Los Padres National Forest.  It’s got everything: high elevation pine forests, swimming holes, a rich history, a variety of camping options, incense cedar lined creeks, massive views, Piedra Blanca (nuff said) and even a pub at the Camp Sheideck finish line.  The GMPB is certainly special and while it sees a good amount of use by LP standards, it unfortunately suffers the same fate as most our trails with overgrown chaparral and downed trees frequently blocking the way.

The Los Padres is no stranger to overgrown trails but a few sections of the GMPB might hold the title as being the most overgrown popular trail in the forest.  This was particularly true of the 3-mile section of the GMPB between Beartrap Camp and Haddock Saddle.  This portion of the trail follows Beartrap Creek and is very susceptible to fast growing riparian bushes and plants such as willows blocking each creek crossing and the dreaded California rose.  In addition, this portion of the GMPB is just far enough from the trailhead (about 5 miles) to make it not practical for volunteer day trips.  While most of the trail between Reyes Creek and Beartrap have been worked by MPRD volunteers, there hasn’t been much trail restoration efforts above Beartrap Camp.  Time for that to change…..

Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail, showing where we worked and where we hope to work.

In 2019 the LPFA received a trail grant from REI to help restore some of the damaged trails across the Sespe Wilderness.  We started by leading a winter project down the Sespe Trail from Piedra Blanca to Willett and followed that up with a late winter project working the northern portion of the Red Reef Trail.  We had hoped to complete the grant by hosting a 10-day volunteer Working Vacation on the GMPB but unfortunately this thing called COVID got in the way and we had to cancel.  While we couldn’t coordinate a large volunteer project, we were able to use the final portion of the REI grant in combination with some generous contributions from folks like you and hired the LPFA Trail Crew to work the GMPB.  Thanks to you and REI, the LPFA Trail Crew spent a week earlier this month on the GMPB and were able to brush the hardest and nastiest section of the GMPB and completely opened up a mile of the trail above Beartrap Camp.  Yippee! The trail looks great and but unfortunately it dead ends with more brush ahead.

While our grant funds have run out, we are hoping some of you may wish to contribute to our Sespe Trail fund so that we can put the trail crew back out for another week on the GMPB.  We are optimistic that with one more week of work we can complete the Beartrap Creek section of the trail and have the trail smooth and clear of brush between Beartrap Camp and Haddock Saddle.  If you love this trail, want to hike/backpack/ride/run across Pine Mountain or want to support our trail efforts, please click the link below and help us help the forest.  We are hoping to raise $5,000 to restore the GMPB up through Beartrap Creek and could use your help!  Thank you all for your support and we hope to see you on the GMPB sometime soon…..

LPFA SESPE TRAIL CAMPAIGN

Smoother Sailing GMPB Style

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Western Hurricane Deck Trail, probably a little hot at the moment, but we’ll be helping restore this trail come fall…..photo Ryan Anderson, HLP

FOREST 411

• The biggest news across the forest continues to be the proposed Forest Health Project on Pine Mountain.  The FS has extended the public comment period until August 14 and will be hosting a 90-minute virtual public meeting to discuss the proposal on Monday July 20 at 12:30pm.  We’re hoping the public meeting will be recorded and shared through YouTube or something similar, hint hint…..

• Sadly, the Los Padres made many headlines this week with the tragic drowning of Glee star Naya Rivera who was boating at Lake Piru.  Awful story…..

• The Thomas Fire Trail Fund (TF2), which consists of a partnership between the LPFA, SB Trails Council, Sage, The CREW and REI, have continued our work efforts to restore trails damaged by the Thomas Fire.  Collectively we’ve now repaired the Murietta Trail outside of Ojai and it’s in great shape and ready to hike, backpack, ride or run.  Go check it out!

• Speaking of Murietta, we were shocked last weekend when on our way to a Murietta Trail volunteer project we noticed that Matilija Reservoir was empty!  According to the Ventura River blog, the reservoir was drained over July 4 weekend in “response to safety concerns as well as liability resulting from recreational use of the dam site”.  We all knew the reservoir was silted in but it’s quite shocking how much silt is really behind that dam.  It’s a lot!  The Matilija Dam tory is certainly not over, stay tuned….

• We want to extend a warm LPFA welcome to new Mt Pinos District Ranger Karina Gutierrez.  We’ve already worked with Karina on a few projects, including our GMPB trail work, and look forward to many years of continued collaboration.  Cheers Karina……

• On June 17 the Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act, which if approved by Congress and signed by the President will fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and provide over a billion dollars annually to help restore national parks, conserve land and build playgrounds and parks. This is a historic moment in environmental conservation for the United States and the bill is expected to be approved and signed. To learn more please Google the Great American Outdoors Act.

• For those of you who enjoy Podcasts, the Los Padres appeared in a recent episode of the Dirtbag Diaries entitled Tales of Terror!  Listen if you dare……..

Santa Paula Canyon remains closed through the end of the month.  Since its closure in early May, there have been over a thousand hours dedicated to the removal of graffiti and trash as well as trail restoration along the Santa Paula Canyon Trail.  Lets hope the community recognizes all that effort and behaviors change.  THANK YOU to everyone who has helped with that effort and in particular super duper volunteer and part time LPFA’er Ellie Mora.

• The La Brea Closure order is expected to be extended another year until August 2021.  This is due in large part to the recent restoration decision and additional time needed for implementing the reopening of the area.  More to come on this as well….

• The recreational shooting ban across the Los Padres has been extended another six months until December 31, 2020.  For more information click here.

• Did you know there has been a fire burning under the Fillmore hills for the past decade?  Amazing, read this for more on the incredible thermal anomaly.

• Earlier this month a California condor was spotted in Sequoia National Park for the first time in nearly 50 years.  Isn’t it fantastic seeing and reading about the condors recovery?

• As mentioned in our last update, Sunset Valley Road is expected to be closed at Cachuma Saddle starting August 3 and lasting through the end of October.  During that time there will be two aquatic organism passage bridges built at the Davy Brown Creek crossings below Davy Brown Campground and just above the lower Manzana Trailhead.  There will be no access to NIRA during this time. We’ll be sure to provide more updates and details as they are available.

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Can’t have a July newsletter without a photo of an inviting pool to cool off in, photo David Whitehair

UPCOMING EVENTS

A few upcoming dates, events, projects, presentations or things you might want to know. If you have any forest-related events to add to this list, let us know and we’re more than happy to pass along!

July: Adopt-A-Highway, Wheeler Gorge
July 24-26: Alamar Saddle Trail Project, LPFA

August 1: Ojai 1st Saturday, Wheeler Nature Trail, LPFA
Aug 8 – Sep 20: A-Zone South General Deer Season