Summer Trail Update and Volunteering!

Grubbing is easy with twenty volunteers. Rancho Nuevo Trail looking epic as always on National Trails Day….


LPFA had a successful final push through the end of spring with projects on the Mount Pinos and Ojai Ranger Districts. In May, volunteers braved the heat and rattlesnakes for 5 days to brush 2.3 miles of the Piedra Blanca Trail above Twin Forks Camp. For National Trails Day, LPFA spent 3 days working the Rancho Nuevo Trail and knocked out 1.5 miles of maintenance, including fixing one monster slide (see photo below) and clearing one giant downed oak. We then followed up on the Boulder Canyon Trail the next weekend and spent two days clearing 25 downed trees on the upper 1.5 miles of the trail. With temperatures warming, we’re grateful to be able to spend some time at higher elevations and in shady canyons while we continue working our awesome LP trails! 

We’ll be staying cool this summer by holding volunteer opportunities near some year-round LP watering holes, shady higher elevations, and cool coastal trails. There’s lot’s to do, but also lot’s of fun to be had. Check out these awesome opportunities to spend some time in the forest this season…. 

See you out there! 

Hurricane Hilary approaching last August from the Hurricane Deck Trail….

Hot Schoolhouse Summer

Manzana Schoolhouse Camp ~ July 12 – 15

LPFA made a big push to open up the western side of the Hurricane Deck Trail this past spring and we are SO CLOSE to punching through. Come help us knock out the last quarter mile of the Western Deck! We’ll be driving into Manzana Schoolhouse Camp for an extended weekend to complete work on the Deck and Schoolhouse Camp. We don’t get to do this very often so DON’T MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY! And there is still tons of water out there for a Sisquoc Pool Party after each day of great work. 

Last time we drove to the Schoolhouse, we put on a new roof. If you haven’t seen it in person yet, what better way than to join LPFA on this return visit! To get more info or sign up click the link below or email us at

And a few more volunteer events!!!

Matilija Trail: Saturday, July 6th!

After pivoting to Cozy Dell Trail due to access issues this spring, we are happy to announce we’ll be heading BACK TO MATILIJA! Join LPFA on Saturday, July 6th as we kick off our twice weekly events on the Matilija Trail this summer. There is still epic water in this canyon, a place that should always make the top of the “best of summer” spots in the LP. Click here or email us to sign up or get more info! 

Graffiti Removal: SB Frontcountry

It’s been a major bummer to see increasing amounts of graffiti across the Forest in recent years. We’re hoping to remove as much as we can this summer at locations like Lizards Mouth, West and East Camino Cielo and Romero Trail. But, WE COULD REALLY USE SOME HELP! We also LOVE donations to our Graffiti Removal Fund to help purchase materials required for environmentally-friendly graffiti removal… Sign up here or email

Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center

LPFA manages the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center up Highway 33 and summer is our busy season! We are looking for volunteers interested in helping with day to day operations at the center, building maintenance, or visitor contacts. We’re open weekends 9am – 3pm, but it would be great to be open more too! Email us at to ask how to get involved with Wheeler… 

SB Frontcountry: Ongoing Trail Maintenance

As the backcountry heat kicks in, LPFA will be leading more and more projects in the Santa Barbara Frontcountry. Come join us for a morning of trail maintenance on trails close to town including Rattlesnake, Cold Spring, and Tunnel. First up is Rattlesnake Trail on JULY 9thSign up here or email us to get on the list for updates as we schedule projects throughout the summer. 

We’d love to work as many trails as we can this summer. Donations help us do just that. Consider donating to our Trail Care Fund to keep us working all summer long…..

Ocean? Fog? Both? Does it matter? Coastal views from high up in the Ventana

Forest 411

  • While summertime in the Los Padres can be a challenge, there’s plenty of great water across the forest this year and no shortage of trails and off-trails to explore even when the temperatures get into the red. That being said, remember that heat related illnesses are a major concern this time of year. Be prepared, know the signs and act quickly.
  • Speaking of heat, there have been a few wildfires bookending the Los Padres over the past few weeks. The Coast Fire up in Big Sur and the Post Fire down in Hungry Valley. The Post Fire (90% contained) is the bigger of the two and burned nearly 16,000 acres. Stay fire safe everyone.
  • Summertime is also deer hunting season here in the Los Padres. A-Zone South archery kicks off July 13 and general on August 10. We’ll share this information again in the coming weeks but as usual expect the forest to get very busy during the opening weekends of A-Zone.
  • “Poaching is a serious crime”. The Los Padres poachers who illegally obtained over 85 big game licenses and tags were found guilty and sentenced. More information is available here and here.
  • Patrick Lieske, who was one of our buddies with the Forest Service, tragically passed away in April due to an accidental drowning while crossing a fast flowing Santa Ynez River. Patrick was a biologist working on the Los Padres and helped us with quite a few projects over the years. Patrick had a tangible passion for the outdoors and for all the local critters who call the outdoors home. We’re going to miss Patrick, he was good for the forest and we truly appreciated all his help and shared wisdom over the years.

From left: Sawyers tackle one of many downed trees on Boulder Canyon; nothing like the walk back to camp on your freshly-brushed trail (Piedra Blanca, J. Nelson); brusher/swamper teams made quick work on Rancho Nuevo Trail

Los Padres Fire Restrictions, Closures, Hunting Season and Openings

Above Ojai, Pratt Trail showing off some new post-Thomas Fire summer regrowth, photo LPFA
Hello Friends,

It’s been a busy few weeks here in the Los Padres featuring additional fire restrictions and the onset of A-Zone South general deer hunting season.  We’ve also had a lot of questions of late about what is and what is not open across the Los Padres.  Lots going up and down the Los Padres, especially for the dog days of summer, lets get to it!

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The Dry and Extra Crispy Little Pine Mountain

The Forest Service announced on August 9th some additional fire restrictions.  You can read the fine-print at the link here but basically:

  • No campfires allowed across the forest.  PERIOD.
  • No target shooting allowed outside of Winchester and Ojai Valley (Rose Valley) Gun Clubs.
  • No camp stoves outside of designated Campfire Use Sites.
    • Yes, that means no hot coffee or stove cooking for backcountry travelers!

Obviously 2018 has already been a horrendous wildfire year with more than 15 large fires currently burning across California.  So far (knock, knock) the LP has avoided any large fires this season and lets hope it stays that way.  Be safe everyone!

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Big Pine Mountain, sadly the pines have been slow to recover after the 2007 Zaca Fire, photo Taryn AshlockA-ZONE SOUTH HUNTING SEASON

A-Zone South general hunting season started August 11 and lasts through September 23.  While there are many hunts across the Los Padres, the A-Zone South general season is by far the busiest.  A-Zone South covers almost all of the Los Padres from Monterey down through SLO, SB and a large portion of Ventura County.  You can see the map showing the coverage area here.  Each year we hear concerns from non-hunters who are caught off guard coming across groups of hunters.  Be aware that hunters will be out and about this time of year and if that’s not your cup of tea you might want to head elsewhere in the Los Padres.  Pine Mountain above Ojai and the Mt Pinos area are both outside of A-Zone South and should be nicer this time of year due to their higher elevations.  Once again, be safe everyone…..

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While not quite as impressive as the Black Gate of Mordor, it’ll feel just as imposing if you find it closed when you thought it was supposed to be open!YOU SHALL (NOT) PASS!

We get a ton of questions from forest-users asking about which gates are open? is that gate closed? is this trail open? can I go here,? etc….?  BTW, we love helping with these questions so please keep them coming!  While the Forest Service website does a great job of sharing this information, we thought it was probably time to share some of the answers we’ve been helping people with over the past months.  We’re focusing on either the recent changes or the major questions we frequently receive.  For more details please check the Los Padres website linked above or call your local Ranger District:

    • HIGHWAY 1: After being closed since May 19, 2017, the GIANT slide at Mud Creek finally reopened on July 18.  Highway 1 through what is known as the Big Sur Coast is now open from Morro Bay to Monterey.  That being said, there are still some one lane delays and the occasional nighttime closure.  If you are planning a trip along this section of Hwy 1 be sure to check ahead of time to with CalTrans to make sure you can safely get through.
    • PALO COLORADO ROAD: Palo Colorado Road sustained major damage following the 2016 Soberanes Fire and 2017 winter season.  The road remains closed three miles above Hwy 1 but people can hike up the road to access Bottcher’s Gap and the Northern Terminus of the Condor Trail.  While the road is open to pedestrians, understand that there is no parking along the road so you’ll have to arrange for a drop-off if you plan on hiking up to Bottcher’s. Palo Colorado is scheduled to reopen by the end of October.
    • PINE RIDGE TRAIL & FRIENDS: The Pine Ridge, Terrace Creek and Ventana Camp Trails remain the largest and most substantial closure across the Los Padres as well as the # 1 question we get about closures.  Pine Ridge Trail remains closed from Highway 1 at Big Sur Station up-canyon to beyond Redwood Camp.  This includes Ventana Camp, Barlow, Terrace Creek, Sykes and Redwood.  The trail was damaged in both the Soberanes Fire as well as the 2017 storms.  There is no timetable as to when the trail or access to the camps will be reopened.
    • HI MOUNTAIN ROAD: Hi Mountain Road was reopened in late April after being closed for over a year due to lack of maintenance.
    • BATES CANYON: Closed above Bates Campground due to road issues and slides.
    • ROMERO CAMUESA ROAD: The Romero Camuesa Road remains closed to vehicle traffic beyond Romero Saddle along East Camino Cielo.
    • DIVIDE PEAK OHV: Divide Peak is open but riders will need to park at Romero Saddle.
    • BUCKHORN ROAD OHV: Closed at Upper Oso due to Rey Fire damage and adjustments to the Camuesa Road OHV.  More on that to come…..
    • SB FRONTCOUNTRY TRAILS: Most of the frontcountry trails have reopened but the lower sections of Cold Spring and Hot Springs remain closed as well as the entire West Fork Cold Spring Trail.  More on this to come soon as well……
    • MIDDLE LION CAMPGROUND: Open, after being closed due to the Thomas Fire.
    • ROSE VALLEY CAMPGROUND: Open, same as above.
    • NORDHOFF RIDGE ROAD: Open, same as above.
    • ORTEGA TRAIL: Open, same as above.
    • CHERRY CREEK: Open, seasonal.
    • RANCHO NUEVO / TINTA, MT PINOS RD: The road to Rancho Nuevo TH and lower Tinta TH was closed for an extended period of time due to gullies and washouts.  The road has been recently reopened to both trailheads.
    • WEST DRY CANYON ROAD, MT PINOS RD: Dry Canyon Road, which connects Santa Barbara Canyon to the upper Tinta TH and Cuyama Peak remains closed due to gullies sustained during the 2017 winter season.
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So much brown, dry photos; lets mix in some green and a July waterfall along the Sisquoc

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.


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….

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 for more information.  THANKS……..

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

 • 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