Los Padres Backcountry Season is Here!!!

MANZANA SCHOOLHOUSE WORKING VACATION: Nov 1-6, 2023

Hello Friends,

Lets get right to it! The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler and we know what that means:

   BACKCOUNTRY SEASON IS HERE!   

This fall should be perfect in the backcountry as there is still so much water out there. Pick your favorite trail, bag your favorite peak or go explore a new corner of the forest; it’s gonna to be a great fall season here in the Los Padres! Go get it!

Manzana Schoolhouse Working Vacation

Backcountry Season also means that the LPFA will be hosting some really fun backcountry volunteer opportunities. We’ll be sharing more in the coming weeks but up first is a November 1-6 Working Vacation at the Manzana Schoolhouse.

The Manzana Schoolhouse was built in 1893 and if any of you have visited the Schoolhouse over the past couple decades, then you certainly know how close it is to collapsing and being lost forever. The LPFA has been working with the Forest Service for most of the past decade trying to get the necessary approvals to repair the Schoolhouse roof. Finally, thanks to some really super volunteers, the ‘fixing of the roof’ is scheduled to happen early next month and we could use your help….

  • Our volunteers will drive or hike in to the Schoolhouse on November 1st and will spend the next 6 days doing a combination of roof repairs, campground maintenance and trail restoration on the nearby Manzana, Sisquoc and Hurricane Deck trails.
  • While we’d love to have you out there for the whole time, there will be lots of opportunities for shorter stays. We’ll be scheduling a few different drive-in and drive-out days and of course you can hike in from NIRA as well.
  • As always, the LPFA will provide all the food for the trip as well as all the tools and training needed in order to volunteer.
  • We are also looking for volunteers who like to cook and might be interested in staying at camp and making sure everyone is well fed and energized for the trail work. Let us know if that might be something you would be interested in as well.

If you are interested in learning more or to sign up, please click here and/or email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org.

And last but not least, in case you aren’t available or able to help at the Schoolhouse, you can always support by donating. We’re going to have quite a bill between food and roofing supplies and any donations would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Hope to see you out there and remember to email us with any questions…..

VOLUNTEER CLICK HEREDONATE HERE

LPFA Used Outdoor Gear Sale

The LPFA will be hosting our 7th Annual Used Outdoor Gear Sale on Sunday October 22nd at 11am, Tucker’s Grove Site #2. The Used Gear Sale is a great opportunity for LPFA members and supporters to get some killer deals on lightly used gear including a whole bunch of Gossamer Gear backpacks and at the same time also donate gear towards the cause. All proceeds from the Gear Sale go towards the LPFA Trail Care Fund.

This year we will be celebrating the memory of our dear friend Rik Christensen. Rik founded the Used Gear Sale many years ago and his expertise and passion for the forest, the trails and gear was always on full display during these events. He’ll certainly be there with us in spirit on October 22nd…..

Got Used Gear to Donate

  • We’ll happily take any used gear you might have and help find it another home.
  • Great chance to purge and help in the process.
  • Email INFO@LPForest.org and we’ll find a way to get the gear exchanged!

Used Outdoor Gear Sale

  • Sunday October 22nd, 11am
  • Tucker’s Grove Park, Site #2
  • Santa Barbara / Goleta
  • Email INFO@LPForest.org with any questions!

Forest 411

LPFA volunteers putting the finishing touches on crosscutting a particularly stubborn 30″ downed tree from across the Reyes Peak Trail as part of National Public Lands Day. For more, see below…..

Volunteer Here

– The LPFA continues to lead twice-weekly volunteer trail projects on the Matilija Trail outside of Ojai. For more information or to sign-up, click here.

– Save the date, a second LPFA Working Vacation, most likely in the San Rafael Wilderness, is being planned for December 1-10, 2023, email for details.

– Save the date 2x, the LPFA will be leading a weekend volunteer project off Hi Mtn Road in SLO in November. Interested? Email us, dates TBD.

– The Ojai Ranger District is looking for volunteers to help at the front desk at the Ojai Ranger Station. Email Maria for more information.

– Our buddies at the Ventana Wilderness Alliance will be leading a series of volunteer projects along the Pine Ridge Trail in Oct and Nov. Check this link for more information.

July Los Padres News! Deer Season, Pine Mountain, Heat, Revised Closure Order… OH MY!

Despite the heat, the LPFA Trail Crew has stayed busy working trails up and down the forest, including portions of the Aliso Trail – click here or the image below for more….

Hello Forest Friends!

We hope your summer is going well and that you’re finding plenty of excuses to continue enjoying the Los Padres despite the recent hot weather. There’s still plenty of good water flowing through the rivers, creeks and pools across most of the forest. Just be sure to respect the heat, know your limits and click here for a quick refresher on hot weather hiking.

It’s been a busy couple weeks across the Los Padres and we’ll cover a few of the major stories in this quick newsletter. For those of you who want more trail updates (me me me!), don’t worry, we’ll be sharing a trail specific email soon highlighting many of the trails we’ve been working this season including the Manzana, Alder, Santa Cruz, Sespe, Horn, Matilija, Davy Brown and others…. Coming up but for now lets get on with the FOREST 411.


  F O R E S T   4 1 1  

• On July 21 the Forest Service released yet another Revised Closure Order. Thanks to continued work by the Forest Service and others, many of the forest trails and roads continue to slowly but surely reopen. Click the link above to see specifics on the latest Closure Order. Of note is that Santa Barbara once again has OHV options and Red Reef is 100% open. The closure is still a little confusing so feel free to email us with any questions you might have: INFO@LPForest.orgalways happy to try to help!

• Earlier this month a US District Court ruled in favor of the Forest Service moving forward with the Reyes Peak (aka Pine Mountain) Forest Health and Fuels Reduction proposal. This proposed project is intended to help protect Pine Mtn from future fire and is quite controversial. You can read the full project document here and here (FS news release). Much more on Pine Mountain coming soon as well…..

Deer hunting season is upon us here in the Los Padres. A-Zone South archery opened July 8 and general season opens the weekend of August 12. We’ll cover more about A-Zone hunting season in an upcoming email but we’re expecting this season to be especially concentrated due to the continued road closures across the Los Padres. More to come…..

• Speaking of road closures, both Hwy 33 through Ventura County and Hwy 1 south of Bug Sur remain indefinitely closed due to storm damage. Fingers crossed that both are reopened sometime soon…..


Worth staying up for after a long hot day working hard on the Alder Creek Trail (Sespe Wilderness), photo NDiaz, LPFA Trail Crew

Volunteer Here!

RED ROCK CLEANUP!
Join the LPFA this Saturday July 29 as we continue cleaning up the pools and day-use-areas along the Santa Ynez River near Red Rock. We’ll drive through the locked gates and spend the day picking up trash and leftover items from the beaches and pools. It’ll be hot so plan on swimming as well.  Email for more information or click below…… SIGN UP HERE!

MATILIJA TRAIL WORK
We’ve been working hard to restore many of the storm damaged trails above Ojai and will be moving over to the Matilija starting this coming week. Our first volunteer day will be Saturday August 5 and we’ll be focusing on working the lowest 1/2 mile of the beloved Matilija Trail. The weather is looking cooler that weekend and we’ll never be more than a minute from the creek. Hope you can join us! Email if interested or click below…… SIGN UP HERE!

Trail work, Forest Updates & More!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, does that mean a before and after is worth two thousand words? Lion Canyon Trail, Ventura County, compliments of the LPFA Trail Crew and the LPNF

Hello Friends,

Since 2020 was pretty much a lost year for forest projects, we’ve been trying hard the past few months to catch up on some of the todo’s from last year while also moving forward with our 2021 program of work. We’ve been busy providing education opportunities and information for forest-users while also tackling graffiti removal, forest restoration projects and of course trying to keep the trails open and passable. A lot of our trail focus has been trying to clear downed trees that have fallen across the trails. The combination of missing a year of trail work (deferred maintenance), plus two seasons of heavy snowfall, plus drought and mix in a windier than normal spring and we ended up with what might be a record numbers of downed trees across the forest. We really appreciate all the trail-user reports of downed trees either via email or HikeLosPadres.com, please keep those coming. 

All that being said, it’s certainly a great time to be in the Los Padres…. The creeks are still flowing, the grass is mostly green, the flowers are as good as they’re going to get, the temps still cool’ish and the seasonal gates will be opening soon…. prime Los Padres time. We hope you’re all of good health and making time to explore some new LP trails or revisit your old favorites….. and of course, gearing up to help on some upcoming volunteer projects!

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PINE MOUNTAIN WORKING VACATION

Speaking of volunteer projects…. as COVID continues to back down here locally (knock knock), we are once again allowed to host constricted volunteer projects. We’re currently wrapping up a Working Vacation on the Santa Cruz Trail and have another Working Vacation scheduled for late May / early June along the Gene Marshall – Piedra Blanca Trail (GMPB) in the Sespe Wilderness. The Pine Mountain Working Vacation will be based at Haddock Camp along the headwaters of Piedra Blanca Creek and the work will be focused on clearing the trails pretty much from Reyes Peak down to Haddock and then both directions towards upper Beartrap Canyon and out to Pine Mountain Lodge. There should be a great variety of work ranging from crosscut to brushing and some fun tread sections mixed in as well. The Working Vacation will be stock (horse & mule) supported and we should be able to provide all the food for the week. We’ll be out there between May 28 and June 6 and would 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. Hope to see you out there……

The new Pothole Trailhead and southern terminus of the Condor Trail, photo USFS

FOREST 411

Lots of news to cover from across the forest. Strongly suggest refilling your coffee and settling down…..

• May 1 is the preset date when the seasonal road closures reopen. This is a big day across the forest as people can once again drive into places like Grade Valley, Dough Flat, Pine Mountain and many others… We’ve talked to the FS and they are planning on opening the seasonal gates in time for this coming weekend. That being said, there are a lot of gates across the forest and we strongly recommend calling the FS to ensure your gate will be open before heading out this weekend. Enjoy…..

• Speaking of reopening, CalTrans did a great job and was able to reopen Hwy 1 at Rat Creek well ahead of their initial target date. As of now you can clearly drive Hwy 1 from SLO to Carmel and access most of the Monterey Ranger District.

• Speaking of reopening once again, after being closed since July 2016, the Pine Ridge Trail out of Big Sur Station reopened earlier this month. This is a huge accomplishment with the lions share of thanks going to the Ventana Wilderness Alliance. Enjoy responsibly, please…..

• While the PRT has reopened, the portion of the forest south of there remains closed due to the 2020 Dolan Fire. The closure is set to expire in late May and we’ll keep you posted if the FS decides to extend the closure.

• While most the gates will be swinging open, East Camino Cielo above Santa Barbara remains closed due to road repair. The closure is just east of Cold Spring Saddle and is expected to remain closed through the end of May. Contact the SB Ranger District with more questions…..

• Hopefully you’ve heard of OR-93 by now. If not, there may very well be a wolf cruising the Los Padres right now. We haven’t received an official update from Fish and Wildlife in a few weeks now but last we heard OR-93 was headed for the SLO backcountry. We’ll be watching for updates daily, stay tuned…..

• The LPFA Trail Crew has been busy working to keep trails open. Over the past month or two we’ve led trail restoration efforts on the following trails: Sellers Potrero, Hi Valley, Florence Hart, Trout Creek, American Canyon, Jesusita, Tunnel, Tunnel Connector, Rattlesnake Canyon, Madulce, Santa Barbara Canyon, Alamar, Sisquoc, Santa Cruz, Cold Spring, Blue Canyon, Blue Canyon Connector, Matilija, Mission Pine, Lion Canyon, Indian Creek, Hurricane Deck, Baron, Midland and Sulphur Spring. Big shout out to our supporters, friends and partners who have helped make all this possible: SLOPOSTMTFSB Trails CouncilAthletic Brewing CoREISCASCENFWFLPNFand of course many of you who have donated to the trail restoration fund – thank you all!

• In addition to trail work, we’ve also been busy hosting a series of virtual events ranging from Rattlesnake Myth-busting to Seven-Minute Storytelling to Lunchtime Trail Talk and iNaturalists Training with the SB Botanic Garden. In case you missed any of these, you can check them out on the LPFA YouTube Channel.

Upper PRT April Magic, photo Duane Dean

• Earlier this month the Los Padres NF announced plans for a Forest Health and Fuels Reduction Project along Mount Pinos. You can read more about the project proposal here on the FS site and additional information here as well. Similar to other fuels reduction proposals, there are a lot of differing opinions on how to best protect these higher elevation conifer zones. If interested, please take the time to scour the internet, research, listen to the different voices and share your thoughts with the Forest Service before May 7.

• One of our favorite local authors Craig Carey, he of red beard fame, has released a second edition of his epic Hiking & Backpacking Santa Barbara and Ventura book. This is a huge accomplishment for Craig (congrats!) and a must have resource for any LP explorer. Check it out……

• Due to continued resource damage, the FS has permanently closed Colson Campground located just outside Santa Maria.

• As mentioned in a photo above, the new Pothole Trailhead outside of Lake Piru is now open and being used. This is the Southern Terminus of the Condor Trail and provides much easier access to the Agua Blanca and other nearby haunts.

• The Forest Service is in the process of looking at options to restore the Rose Valley Creek and Lakes located off Hwy 33 above Ojai. See the invitation below to an upcoming workshop where some of the different proposed options will be discussed. If interested, please attend and make your voice heard.

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Recent LPFA restoration efforts along Hi Mountain Road, photo TrailSmith

Los Padres Forest Closure Update & More…….

The closure of 9 California Forests, including the Los Padres, has been extended through September 24

FOREST CLOSURE EXTENDED AGAIN

Hello Friends,

We wish that we had better news to share but it was announced earlier today that the Los Padres, along with eight other California Forests, will remain closed through Thursday September 24 as a result of wildfire safety.  As of this morning there were 27 major fires across California with over 18,500 firefighters engaged on the fires.  While the weather has certainly cooled as compared to earlier this month, red flag and heat warning remain in the forecast for much of California.  Resources (crews, support, air attack, etc…) are spread incredibly thin between California, Oregon and Washington and we collectively cannot afford to have any new fires with the resources being what they are. Once again, this forest closure forbids all access into the forest including trails and forest roads.  We realize the inconvenience this has caused, especially for A-Zone hunters who have missed the last two weeks of the season, and hope people will remain patient as this too shall pass (favorite saying for 2020).  We’ll provide updates as they are made available.  If you have any questions please contact your local Los Padres Ranger Station.

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Sewart Mountain is in the eastern Ojai RD and burned in the 2006 Day Fire.  Fourteen years later and we only found a few conifer seedlings within this 20 acre flat along the ridge line.  Note how the conifers along the slopes have largely survived.  This is a recurring theme we’ve noticed along fire scorched mountains in the southern Los Padres. (Little Pine, Big Pine, Bear Meadow, Madulce, Alamo, Mission Pine, etc..)
Conifers along the slopes tend to survive while those within flats do not.

FOREST 411

There is so much news from around the forest that doesn’t make sense to share at the moment due to the larger scale closure.  We’ll save most of that for when the forest reopens but we’ve still got a bunch of things that remain relevant.  Let’s go….!

• The largest (and only? knock knock) fire burning in the Los Padres remains the Dolan Fire within the Monterey Backcountry.  Currently, Dolan has burned 127,724 acres and is 46% contained with an estimated full containment date of September 28.  Some tragic news from the fire is the death of two condor chicks as reported by the Ventana Wildlife Society.  And if you hadn’t heard, on September 8th the fire overtook 15 firefighters while they were fighting to protect Nacimiento Station.  Fortunately all 15 survived but three did suffer significant injuries.  You can read a spine-chilling account here as well as a link to the Big Sur Dolan Fire Relief Fund.  #TrueHeroes

• Word on the beach is that sensors are showing La Niña ocean temps forming across the Pacific.  La Niña winters are usually on the drier side and lack the large major winter rains that we’ve seen during some of the El Niño events.  It’s early, but something worth keeping an eye on, especially after all the fires.

• The major LP news last month was the Reyes Peak Forest Health Project Proposal which received over 16,000 public comments.  We talked with the Forest Service and they are currently reviewing the comments and will be sharing those comments with their specialists in order to assess if changes are needed within their proposal.  There is no hard time-frame as to when the final decision will be made but we were told it would most likely come in late 2020 or early 2021. If you’ve not read the Reyes Peak Proposal, you really should take a few minutes and look it over.  We may not all agree with all aspects of the proposal but we should all agree that we don’t want Pine Mountain to end up looking like Sewart.  Stay tuned……

• We’ve started a new monthly feature where we highlight some of the extraordinary volunteers who dedicate their time to the trails, critters, habitat and heritage of the Los Padres Forest.  Up first is the dynamic duo husband/wife tandem of Maureen and Kevin WallaceRead more on our Instagram page and we’re looking forward to highlighting more volunteers in the months to come…

• Late last month South Coast Habitat Restoration and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation completed an aquatic organism passage project where they removed the concrete crossing at the bottom of the Davy Brown Trail.  The project was successful but they will be back later this season to complete the job.  Eventually they’ll also build bridges at the two Arizona crossings between Davy Brown and NIRA, most likely 2021.  More to come….

• Many of you (we’ve been getting the emails) have noticed that HikeLosPadres has been down over the past few days. We’ve been working with the web guru himself to use this forest closure downtime to perform some site updates and maintenance.  It’s a race, we’re hoping to get the site back up before the forest reopens. Thanks for your patience….

• Last week the Forest Service shared their decision notice for the Forest-Wide Invasive Plant Treatment Program.

Camp Scheideck Lodge (aka Reyes Creek Bar & Grill) shut its doors last month.  You can read more here.  We’re not sure what’s next for the Lodge/Grill but we’re certainly going to miss coming off the Piedra Blanca Trail and having tasty burgers (today happens to be National Cheeseburger Day) and cold drinks.  Hope it get resurrected again soon….

• VOTE.

• Last but not least, we’re still looking for a car donation in case any of you have an extra vehicle looking for a new home.  We can promise it will be well cared for, fed as often as needed and will have access to some of the best views around the Los Padres.  Let us know……

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And a beautiful photo taken by ECarroll – a mountain biker, enjoying a ride, on a normal day down the backside of Pine Mountain.

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

Los Padres Updates, News, Pine Mountain and Much More…..

Not just another LP Sunrise

The Los Padres Forest Association stands with the collective effort to change the inequalities that persist across our country and the world.  We believe racism has no place in nature, within the forest, on the trails or across society and we are in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.  As as organization, the LPFA has committed to ensuring that we are inclusive and welcoming to diverse communities, while increasing our outreach specifically towards the Black community – LPFA Board

View west across Pine Mountain from high atop Reyes Peak

REYES PEAK FUEL REDUCTION PROPOSAL

The Forest Service recently shared a ‘Forest Health and Fuels Reduction’ proposal that would impact the western spine of Pine Mountain roughly between Hwy 33 and Reyes Peak within the Ventura Backcountry.  The proposal calls for forest thinning (selective clearing of chaparral and trees) along 755 acres of Pine Mountain following the general path of an existing fuel-break.  The intent of forest thinning is to reduce fuel loads in the hopes of minimizing the impacts of future fire events.  We could ramble on and regurgitate statistics about flame length, forest floor accumulation, sensitive species impacts and historic tree densities but we strongly encourage you to read the information for yourself, click here.  Somehow, miraculously, the crest of Pine Mtn has not burned within recorded fire history and opinions vary greatly as to how best to control or not to control wildfires in that portion of the forest.  We’ve had the opportunity to speak with the FS about this proposal and we’ve also heard from individuals and groups who adamantly oppose the idea of fuel reduction.  Some think the best way to prevent catastrophic wildfire damage is through defensible forest thinning and fuel breaks whereas others argue that the prevention efforts are more damaging to the forest and that in the case of a large fire those prevention features won’t work anyway.  We encourage everyone to study up, read the proposal, visit Pine Mountain, fly through on GoogleEarth, browse social media, ask questions, talk to everyone you can and try to attend any of the upcoming Forest Service public online meetings (there will be more). Remember, this is only a proposal and the Forest Service will be accepting public comments until June 30 so please take some time and share your opinions.

Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center, partially reopened and 100% helping educate forest-users, photo J. Stichter

LP FOREST REOPENING UPDATE

The Los Padres Forest has been slowly but surely returning to “normal” and following the lead of both the State of California as well as each of the individual counties in their efforts to reopen.  Here’s the latest and greatest from across the forest:

CAMPING
As mentioned in the last email, most of the campgrounds across the forest have reopened with the remaining Forest Service managed campgrounds scheduled to reopen June 19, just in time for Padres Day Weekend (how appropriate).  We’ve been hearing that many of the campgrounds have been full so please check ahead of time with either Parks Management or the Forest Service to make sure there is availability.  The usual dispersed camping options remain available across the forest other than roadside camping along Nacimiento-Fergusson Road.  If you’re not sure if camping is allowed or not, it’s always a good idea to check in with the FS ahead of time.  While the Ranger Stations remain closed to the public, FS staff are answering calls and assisting the public as usual.

HIKING, RIDING & BACKPACKING
The trails continue to be open for backpacking, riding and hiking other than the continued closure of the western portion of the Pine Ridge Trail (Big Sur, reopen Fall 2020?) and the recent closure of Santa Paula Canyon (Santa Paula, reopening July 31, 2020).  We’ve been getting a lot of recent trail/camp reports through HikeLosPadres.com and for the most part conditions remain very good for backcountry trail use. 

OHV & ROADS
Most of the gates, roads and OHV trails across the forest should be open and ready to roll.  The only closures we’re aware of are the continued closure of Dry Canyon and Dome Springs, the continued closure of the La Brea (more on that later) and the continued closure of East Pinery, Pino Alto, Cumbre and Figueroa Mountain Lookout Road.

It’s a good time to be in the forest.  Be sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast and pay special attention for excessive heat and potential thunderstorms.  And of course, please post whatever you find on HikeLosPadres when you return…….

Choose your own adventure, Sespe style, photo Sonia C.

FOREST 411

• The LPFA is hiring for our Program Manager position.  You can read more here but we’re looking for a wonderful person to help manage a variety of our existing programs while also developing and driving new forest programs.  This is a very exciting opportunity for us and we can’t wait to hear from some of you soon.  Please email with questions, thanks!: INFO@LPForest.org

• The LPFA has been allowed to reopen the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center following Ventura County COVID procedures. We’ve been open the past couple Saturdays and have been trying to help the record number of people who have been visiting the Los Padres.  We are greeting all guests outside the Visitor Center, following isolation and face mask practices and attempting to get them answers without having them enter the building.  It’s been really fun helping the public and sharing information about which trails to explore and what camping options might be best in the Ventura Backcountry.  That being said, we could use volunteers to help at Wheeler Gorge.  If you are interested in volunteering or have any questions, please email us at: WheelerGorge@LPForest.org. Thanks……

• We’ve shared this a few times over the past 2-3 years but the bridge construction project along Sunset Valley Road appears to be happening soon.  We’ll share more when details are finalized but it looks like Sunset Valley Road will be closed to all vehicle access at Cachuma Saddle from roughly mid/late July through the end of October while the two bridges are constructed.  Both Davy Brown and NIRA Campgrounds will be closed and it is unsure if the public will be allowed to hike/ride down Sunset Valley Road in order to access the trails along the north side of Fig Mtn (we’ve been asking for public access).  Access to NIRA or any of the regular Manzana trailheads will likely be prohibited for everyone.  August – October is not the most popular time for Sunset Valley but the closure will certainly impact this years A-Zone hunting season.

• Don’t forget, you can always support the LPFA by shopping at Amazon and donating a portion of each purchase to the LPFA through the AmazonSmile program.  Every little bit counts and we really appreciate the support.  Thank you!

• As California reopens, we are seeing small spikes in reported COVID cases.  Please remain diligent and continue with the now standard trail isolation practices

• Earlier this month the Forest Service shared their final Decision Notice for the La Brea Restoration project. While most of the decision was what we had expected, there were a few aspects of the final decision that were not included in any of the Alternatives that we’d been collectively working on over the past 5+ years.  We’ve got a few questions out to the FS about some of these changes as well as how these changes impact the Condor Trail and we’ll share the whole La Brea enchilada once those details are finalized.  Stay tuned…..

• There have been a lot of wildfires up and down the Central Coast over the past month, some are burning right now. Most of the fires have remained relatively small but please remember that the Los Padres is in fire restrictions and to stay alert and safe with your stoves or campfires where allowed.  Here is a link to get your California Campfire Permit and a list of where and what sort of fires you can have within the forest.

• We’ve been getting a lot of reports of poodle-dog bush explosions within the Thomas Fire scar of Ventura County. Watch out for those beautiful purple flowers!

• The LPFA is looking for a car or truck to help at one of our Visitor Centers.  If you’ve got a car/truck that you’d like to donate, let us know and we can certainly help with a tax write off – email INFO@LPForest.org. Thanks……

Summit of Mt Pinos 1927, LPNF archives

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.


— • — • — • —

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.

— • — • — • —

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

Fire Restrictions Lifted & Trail Project Schedule 2016

Lucky Pooch Recharging by the CampfireJackson

FIRE RESTRICTIONS LIFTED

Hi Everyone,

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.





Happy Trail Workers Along Mono-Alamar Trail, photo Beeman
WorkersHappy VOLUNTEER TRAIL PROJECTS

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!





 

Snowy Hwy 33 Pine Mountain Winter Wonderland, photo Humphrey