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, 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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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 Hope to see you out there……

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


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

LPFA Transverse – Closures & Spring Update

Hello Los Padres and Happy Friday!

Quick update today on a couple things Forest related:

Pine Ridge Closure Sign

G A T E S    &    C L O S U R E S

Gates and closures continue to dominate most of the questions that come our way through email or social media.  We’ve compiled a list of road/trail closures below.  If you have any updates, please send our way and check the Forest Service website for information updates as well:

Mount Pinos Ranger District:
– The usual winter roads remain closed.
– This includes Santa Barbara Canyon, which is closed at Reyes Ranch.

Ojai Ranger District
– All dirt roads are closed for the winter.
– Last we heard Middle Lion Camp was closed due to hazard trees.

Santa Barbara Ranger District
– Divide Peak Gate will be closed Saturday night due to incoming rain.  It should remain closed for about a week.
– First Crossing has been opened at the Santa Ynez River.
– The gate at Lower Oso towards River Road is closed due to slides.
– Upper Oso Campground is closed due to a water line break.

Santa Lucia Ranger District
– Ranger Peak has been reopened after last weeks snow.
– Catway is closed.
– Rockfront is open.
– Bates Canyon Road is closed past Bates Campground.
– Sierra Madre Road is closed at Hwy 166.
– La Brea Road and La Brea Canyon Road are both closed through December 2015.  This is due to damage from the 2009 La Brea Fire.
– Kerry Canyon Motorcycle Trail remains closed due to La Brea Fire damage as well.

Monterey Ranger District
– Western Pine Ridge Trail and the trailhead parking lot at Big Sur Station have been closed due to landslides along the trail.  We’re hearing that the damage is quite substantial and might need blasting in order to repair.  No timetable has been set for reopening but it’s looking like the western Pine Ridge Trail will be closed for some time.
– Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground has reopened but is only at about 1/3 capacity.

S H E E P   C A M P   S P R I N G
Before, Sheep Camp Spring
After, Sheep Camp Spring
Super volunteers Mark and Kim spent some time late last year cleaning out and rebuilding the spring box at Sheep Camp in the Chumash Wilderness.  The spring structure was broken and the water contaminated by a dead chipmunk.  After draining the spring box, they cleared out the lines, cleaned everything and rebuilt the broken parts of the spring box.  After quite a few hours of digging around in freezing water, they were able to restore a nice flow from the spring and make a safe drinking supply for Sheep Camp visitors.  With the drought we’ve been dealing with the past few years, it’s crucial to keep the existing water sources flowing and safe.  Huge thanks Mark and Kim.

If any of you out there in email-land notice any issues across the Forest that could be fixed, please be sure to report it to the Forest Service or you can contact us at or

Enjoy your weekend and hope to see you on the trails soon……

Old Man Mountain Pano from Monte Arido, photo Cotton Rockwood