Fire Restrictions, Trail work Updates & Volunteer Opportunities

Just Another Mission Pine Sunrise
Photo by Conor Watson

Hello Friends,

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

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

SANTA CRUZ WORKING VACATION PT 2

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

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

Forest 411 

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

Volunteer Opportunities 

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

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

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

Hindsight is 2020

The sun sets early over the Mono Jungle this time of year but we’ve spent many long days of late working the new Cold Spring reroute trail.

Hello Friends,

As we near the end of 2020, the saying ‘Hindsight is 20/20’ has never been more applicable or felicitous. While 2020 will live in infamy for so many reasons (no LPFA Working Vacations – BOO), we sure hope it hasn’t been without at least a few silver linings.  Looking back, COVID hit and we saw record numbers of people visiting the forest. At the time, it was overwhelming and many of the trailheads, camps, creeks and canyons were inundated with people seeking time outside. While the infrastructure wasn’t ready for this onslaught, the silver lining was that people were getting out and enjoying the forest.  Of course, it would have been nice had many of these people known more about Leave No Trace, forest etiquette or been better at dispersing, but at the same time, let’s hope that these people, in particular the forest newbies, were able to establish an appreciation for the outdoors and that they continue to carry that appreciation with them into the future. We can teach the curious, but we can’t teach curiosity. Life will get back to the next newest normal and group activities will commence again, but we have to believe that the world is a better place with as many people appreciating nature as possible. Maybe, if we’re lucky, that will be a positive lasting legacy when looking back, hindsight on 2020.  

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Thanks to everyone who donated on #GivingTuesday to continue the LPFA trail work on both the Santa Cruz and Piedra Blanca NRT’s.  We got started earlier this month clearing brush and grooming tread on the Santa Cruz Trail (see photos below) but had to stop due to the latest Stay at Home Order. Can’t wait to get back out there, hopefully soon!

LOS PADRES UPDATE

California issued the latest regional COVID Stay at Home Order on December 6 and shortly thereafter the Forest Service released additional forest related regional closures and restrictions. While the forest remains open, all developed campgrounds across the Los Padres will be closed through January 6, 2021.  Here’s a list of the developed Los Padres campgrounds, in general they are the ones you might consider car-campgrounds. That being said, the trails, trailheads, picnic areas, day use areas, OHV routes and dispersed camping remain open for us to enjoy across most of the forest.

The Monterey Ranger District remains closed due to unsafe conditions as a result of the Dolan Fire. This closure is expected to last until the Dolan Fire is 100% contained which is dependent on getting more rain. This is a bit of a conundrum, as more rain should lead to the full containment of the Dolan Fire, but it’s that same rain that causes more unsafe conditions in and around recent burn scars. It’s likely that once the Dolan Fire reaches full containment, the Forest Service will keep the fire scar closed, but reopen other parts of the District. Time will tell and please remain patient. We need rain….

An additional closure was extended for the Pine Ridge Trail which is also within the Monterey Ranger District. This most recent closure lasts through May 21, 2021. A quick little backstory, the Pine Ridge Trail was severely damaged in the 2016 Soberanes Fire and subsequent 2017 storms.  The Ventana Wilderness Alliance has been working with the Forest Service to restore the trail but have had unforeseen 2020 COVID related and fire delays that have pushed the reopening back. From what we hear, the trail is looking great to a certain point but a few more weeks of work is needed. Hang in there…..

And last but not least, the regional fire restrictions remain in place through December 31, 2020 for the Los Padres NF. Again, this means no campfires anywhere and the use of camp stoves only at developed campfire use sites, which are mostly closed due to the above mentioned COVID closures. We have come full circle….  While the northern Los Padres has seen some rain, there has been very little rain across most of the forest. Santa Barbara is currently at 2% of County-Wide Percent-of-Normal Rainfall, whereas historically we should have received around 30% of our rainfall totals by the end of December. That’s a lot of catching up to do – might need a January, February and March miracle this year. Anyway, the fire restrictions should remain in place until the forest receives a couple inches of rain and good news is that there is rain in the forecast….  Fingers crossed and remain safe everyone….

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Sneak peak at the 2021 Los Padres Calendar, get em while you can!

FOREST 411

• Thanks everyone who has ordered the 2021 Los Padres calendar.  The calendars are set to arrive very soon and we’ll have them shipped out or delivered hopefully in time for Christmas but certainly before the end of the year. We went with a local printer this year and they are looking great! If you’d like one, click here. Happy New Year!

• Quick volunteer update, all non-emergency or non-prioritized work across the Los Padres has been cancelled through January 6 as part of the regional COVID stay at home order. This includes our volunteer projects and Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. As a result, there’s not much scheduled right now as far as volunteer projects but we’re planning 2021 with the hopes of Working Vacations and regular volunteer trail projects. See below for more…..

• Seems like ancient history already but it was officially released that arson was the cause of the November 25, 2019 Cave Fire.

• Some of the seasonal gates have been closed across the forest while some gates that usually close in November remain open due to the lack of rain. At this point in time, we suggest that if you’re headed into the forest to a place where gate access might be a concern, be sure to contact the local Ranger District ahead of time to see if the gates are open or closed. We do know that Pine Mtn gate closed earlier this month and should remain closed until spring.

• Speaking of roads and gates, the Forest Service was able to repair the severely damaged and rutted section of road just before Thorn Meadow off Grade Valley Road.  Great to see that work accomplished!

• MONOLITH/ˈmänəˌliTH/ a large single upright block of stone, especially one shaped into or serving as a pillar or monument. If you missed the recent monolith craze, it’s worth a Google search and some time while drinking your morning coffee. Interestingly enough, the Los Padres made the news earlier this month when one of the monoliths made a cameo near the summit of Hi Mountain above Arroyo Grande. We found it very interesting that the aliens who planted the Hi Mtn monolith chose to plant it where they did. I guess aliens don’t have the needed FS keys to get to the actual summit either.

• For those of us procrastinators (it’s not a bad thing) who still have some last minute shopping to take care of, remember that you can always use Amazon Smile and choose the LPFA as your charity of choice.  Help the forest and shop at the same time, what could be better – maybe being done with shopping of course. Thanks for choosing to help the LPFA!

• Show of hands, who has sat in a rock art site and been baffled by trying to figure out what is being represented within those amazing lines, colors, curves and images? There might be an answer after a recent study found evidence of psychedelics at a nearby painting site.  It’s amazing how science continues to uncover information about the native people of these lands. Be sure to practice proper etiquette when visiting these sacred sites!

• Momentum continues to grow with the restoration of the Rose Valley Lakes and Sespe Creek Watershed. While still at the conceptual design phase, the idea is to remove fish passage barriers including the three man-made Rose Valley Lakes. For more information check the link here and we’ll keep you posted as more information is available.

“The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places” – Roald Dahl

UPCOMING EVENTS

While it’s impossible to predict  or schedule anything right now, we’re really hoping to put together some extended volunteer projects this season. Stay tuned, fingers crossed!

February 2021: Blue Canyon Volunteer Weekends, LPFA
March 2021: Sespe Volunteer Weekends, LPFA
April 2021: Santa Cruz Trail Working Vacation, LPFA
May 2021: Puerto Suelo Dick Smith Working Vacation, LPFA
May 2021: Upper Sisquoc Working Vacation, LPFA
June 2021: Haddock Camp Sespe Working Vacation (GMPB Trail), LPFA

Los Padres Fire Restrictions & Lots of Good News

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that ____ mountain.” – Jack Kerouac
Black Canyon of the Los Padres, November 2019, photo M. Wallace

Hello Friends,

The big forest news this past week was the Forest Service announcing that the Los Padres is going into Extreme Fire Danger restrictions until at least December 31, 2019.  We’ve all seen the recent devastating wildfires across California.  The raised restrictions are intended to help prevent similar wildfires here in the Los Padres.  Under Extreme Fire Danger restrictions:

  1. Wood and charcoal fires are prohibited in all areas of the Los Padres Forest.
  2. Camping stoves are allowed only within Designated Campfire Use Sites and with a California Campfire Permit.
  3. No camp stoves are permitted outside of the Designated Campfire Use Sites, meaning no camp stoves in the backcountry.
  4. No smoking outside of a Designated Campfire Use Site or inside an enclosed vehicle or building.

That being said, current conditions across the Los Padres are prime for hiking, exploring, riding, backpacking and/or wandering.  While the idea of camping without a fire or backpacking without a stove might sound unpleasant, give it a shot and you might end up liking the weight savings, extra sleep or simplicity that “cold camping” provides.  There’s an old saying that challenges are opportunities for improvement or when life gives you lemons make lemonade.  With that in mind, here are a few tips you can try in order to turn your fire’less camping into a safe, fun and memorable camping experience:

The weather has been great, there’s still good water in the usual good water places and remember that HikeLosPadres.com has lots of current camp and trail condition reports to help with your trip planning.  Regardless of fire or stove, we hope you find some time over the coming weeks to visit your favorite trail, check out that hidden canyon you’ve always wanted explore or grab a friend and seek out those fall Los Padres colors.

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2020 LOS PADRES CALENDAR

The LPFA will once again publish a wall calendar for 2020 featuring the vistas, mountains, waterfalls and plants/animals we love from across the Los Padres. This will be our 8th year organizing LP calendars and we are looking for photos from you to include within the calendar. The calendars should print in early December and be ready in time for the holidays. If we use one of your photos, we’ll of course credit you within the calendar and also send you a calendar to hang up in your kitchen, gear nook or office. The calendars will be available online as well as at your local LP Ranger Station or Visitor Center.

If you have a photo you’d like to submit, please email INFO@LPForest.org or you can check the link below for more information. Thanks in advance and looking forward to hearing from some of you soon…..

https://lpforest.org/2020-los-padres-calendar/

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Grapevine Sunrise & Moonset, LPFA Working Vacation, October 2019

FOREST 411

• Over the past month sections of the following Los Padres trails have been maintained by the Forest Service or your friendly neighborhood trail group: Madulce Peak Trail, Big Pine Spring Camp Trail, Deal Connector, Rancho Nuevo Trail, Matilija Falls Trail, Pine Ridge Trail, Arroyo Burro Trail, Santa Cruz Trail, Gridley Trail, Camuesa Connector Trail, Cold Spring Trail, Hot Springs Trail, Romero Trail, San Ysidro Trail, Baron Trail, Fishbowls Trail, Jesusita Trail, Tunnel Trail, Cedar Creek Trail, Grapevine Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Big Cone Spruce Trail and Matilija Trail.

• As we approach the rainy season expect to see some of the gates across the Los Padres swing shut due to the seasonal gate closure regulations.  We’ve not heard of any closures as of yet but all the Ojai area gates will close by December 15 and the other gates should shut as storms begin approach.  If you’re heading out to a trailhead and you’re unsure if the gate might be open or closed, we strongly suggest contacting the local Ranger District before you head out.  We’ll keep you posted as gates start to shut.

• For those of you who hike the far Southern Los Padres or plan on doing the Condor Trail, we’ve heard a rumor that the Pothole and Agua Blanca Trailhead will be moving before the end of the year from the Lake Piru Campground to right next to the start of the Pothole Trail.  This will mean that the public will be able to drive all the way to the start of the Pothole Trail rather than having to walk miles along the paved Piru Lake Road.  The plan to move the trailhead has been in the works for a few years now but it’s looking like it might actually happen by late 2019.  We’ll keep everyone posted on this as well.  This will be terrific……

More Condor Trail, it was announced earlier this week that 800 acres of the Trout Creek properties above Arroyo Grande were transferred from the Wilderness Land Trust to the Los Padres Forest.  The Trout Creek properties were purchased by the Wilderness Land Trust earlier this year from private sellers and as a result are now protected for public enjoyment.  The Condor Trail passes through Trout Creek.

• Speaking of condors, the population of California condors has now surpassed 100 across the central California region.

• CalTrans announced that they will continue the preemptive closure of Hwy 1 during large storm events for the 2019-2020 winter season.  The closures will be south of Big Sur, keep this in mind if you have plans to visit the area over the winter months.

• Speaking of Big Sur, the Ventana Wilderness Alliance has been working hard to reopen the Los Padres portion of the famed Pine Ridge Trail.  They have trail crews scheduled to work the trail for much of the fall and again starting back up next spring.  Three cheers – hip hip hooray for VWA!  In the meantime we want to remind everyone that the Pine Ridge Trail remains closed to the public due to dangerous trail conditions.  If all goes according to plan, the PRT should reopen sometime in the next year or two.  We’ll keep you posted…..

• And speaking of awesome people doing awesome things for our trails, the 5th Annual Turkey Trot fundraiser for the Franklin Trail successfully launched earlier this month.  The Franklin Turkey Trot is an excellent example of trail lovers finding creative ways to support the trails they love most. Very cool……

• For years and years people have been enjoying the famed mountain biking trails along West Cuesta Ridge in San Luis Obispo.  While the trails were in good shape and frequently used, they were never officially part of the Forest Service inventory of System Trails and as such were technically illegal trails.  Thanks to the local SLO trail community and the Forest Service working together, the NEPA process has begun to adopt and legalize many of these West Cuesta trails.  The Forest Service is accepting comments regarding the West Cuesta Trails through November 24.  Click here for more details.  This is a terrific example of the FS and the trail community working together towards a mutually beneficial goal.  Cheers again!

• The Forest Service issued a forest order on October 22 to close Dry Canyon and Dome Springs Campground in the Mt. Pinos Ranger District due to potential live explosives and artillery.  Read more here and closure map here.

Dave Weaver Award Winners (L to R): Mickey McTigue, Jasonn Beckstrand, Otis Calef, Mike Smith. Missing from the photo are Rik Christensen and Bob Burtness
Photo Dan Najera

• LPFA President Jasonn Beckstrand was recognized earlier this month as the 2019 winner of the coveted Dave Weaver Wilderness Award.  The Dave Weaver Award is named in honor of the late Dave Weaver who helped start the Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Program here in the Los Padres Forest.  Dave was a huge advocate for volunteers working with the Forest Service to accomplish mutual goals. Dave’s spirit lives on in so much of what we do across the Los padres and his award is given annually as a lifetime achievement for outstanding Los Padres volunteers.  Jasonn is the 6th award winner joining Rik Christensen (2014), Mickey McTigue (2015), Mike Smith (2016), Bob Burtness (2017) and Otis Calef (2018).

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The Infamous Devil’s Slide, Upper Sisquoc Trail
Recently restored by the LPFA Trail Crew and LPFA Volunteers as part of a NFWF Trail Grant, photo J. Morris

RIP Madulce and D13 Kick Off

Madulce Cabin, circa 1983, photo Eldon Walker

Hello Friends,

20 years ago today (Oct 11, 1999) the Madulce Cabin was tragically burned to the ground as a result of either an accidental burning or arson (click here for more of the history).  The historic Madulce Cabin site is located in the heart of the Santa Barbara Backcountry, within the Dick Smith Wilderness and has a rich history dating back long before the Los Padres was known as the Los Padres. Before going up in flames, the much beloved Madulce Cabin was open to the public for shelter during bad weather or to briefly relive times long gone when forest rangers lived in cabins, stations and lookout towers across the Los Padres. It’s hard to imagine how different the forest must have been back then. Phone lines stretching across the mountains, connecting stations with fire lookouts and horse mounted rangers regularly patrolling the backcountry. Allow yourself to dream of how immaculate the trails must have been back then? Insert dream……. Times have changed, for better or worse, and the idea of phones across the mountains might not sound so good these days but back then it must have been a sight to behold. The Madulce Cabin site remains on the National Register of Historic Places but without the cabin it’s hard to recreate the feeling of what this site must have felt like during its heyday. There was some talk a few years back of trying to rebuild the Madulce Cabin. Local backcountry historians drafted a blueprint of the cabin and had secured private funding to rebuild an exact replica of the Madulce Cabin. Yet the story goes that due to modern Wilderness regulations the Forest Service was not able to permit the rebuilding of the Madulce Cabin. Pros and cons…..

In recent years, Madulce has been the location of quite a few LPFA trail projects and Working Vacations and remains a fantastic place to visit for backpackers or horse/mule packers. The area was mostly burned in the 2007 Zaca Fire but a few mature cedars and pines are still standing next to the cabin site. The horse corral remains along with some other remnants of the cabin era. Times change and perhaps one day a replica of the cabin can be rebuilt at Madulce to once again aid backcountry travelers. Maybe people will again seek refuge from snow storms inside the cabin and wait out the weather next to the wood burning stove. Then again, maybe not. Either way, today we look back at 20 years ago when the Madulce Cabin burned to the ground and along with it a treasured part of Los Padres history.  Lets hope that even without the cabin the memory and history will live on at least another 20 years too…..

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Doe a Deer D13, Summer 2019

D13 DEER SEASON

The general deer hunting season in Zone D13 starts this weekend October 12 and lasts through November 10. Within the Los Padres, D13 covers the Mt Pinos Ranger District east of Hwy 33 and the Ojai District north and east of Sespe Creek. Expect to see a lot more activity within D13 over the next month and in particular this long holiday weekend. If you aren’t planning on hunting, you may want to choose a different location for your LP adventures this weekend and over the coming few weeks.  Be safe, tread lightly, remember fire restrictions and good luck……

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National Public Lands Day Volunteers on Lion Canyon, photo Josephine Liu

FOREST 411

• While wildfire season is now a 12 month endeavor, we’ve got some “fire weather” headed our way over the coming days that include red flag warnings and potential preemptive power outages.  Be safe.

• There have been a few smaller wildfires within the Los Padres over the past month including the October 1 Ranch Fire (55 acres) near Pozo and the September 21 Lopez Fire (220 acres) outside of Arroyo Grande. The Lopez Fire was started by an improperly extinguished campfire.  Please, even if you are in a designated campfire use site, always remember to properly extinguish your campfire, it’s not worth doing it half ash. Like that?  It’s an original.  Royalties?

• Lastly, regarding wildfires, there were a couple articles recently written and a podcast related to the Los Padres and wildfires.  Check out History of Wildfires in Big Sur, an Outside Magazine Podcast about defending your home from wildfire and a LA Times piece discussing fuel breaks as related to the Thomas Fire. 

• Last month SLO based super meteorologist John Lindsey scientifically prophesied that “we could see lower than average amounts of rainfall in California this winter“.  And so the prediction game begins.  In the past we’ve heard weather predictions ranging from acorn droppings to ant activity but Mr. Lindsey is a living legend and a genius when it comes to weather.  We’ll see what happens…..  What do you predict?

• Over the past month sections of the following Los Padres trails have been maintained by your friendly neighborhood trail groups and the Forest Service: Lion Canyon Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Tunnel Trail, Jesusita Trail, West Fork Cold Spring Trail, Romero Trail, San Ysidro Trail, Franklin Trail, Pine Ridge Trail, Potrero John Trail, Reyes Peak Trail

• Big thanks to volunteers from Southern California Edison who showed up at toasty Dough Flat on a late July Saturday to help clean up the trailhead, paint the bathrooms, install signs and spend a little time clearing the trail up to the Condor Observation Point.  Thanks also to United Trail Maintainers of California for providing the trailhead sign and the Forest Service for the support!

What’s the opposite of a power outage? SCE volunteers bringing it!

Two more steel debris flow nets are being installed above Montecito on San Ysidro and Buena Vista creeks.  These two new nets will bring the total nets installed to sixNote that the information on the link is out of date.

• Here’s an feel-good story about some stranded hikers along the Arroyo Seco who were unable to reach the Police and cleverly used a message in bottle in order to get help.

• The Los Padres Forest and Ventana Wilderness Alliance will be moving forward with a trail reroute along the Pine Ridge Trail.  The PRT was damaged during the 2016 Soberanes Fire and subsequent 2017 storms to the extent that a reroute is needed near Barlow Camp.  No date has been set as to when the trail may reopen but hopefully sometime within the next year. Stay tuned…..

• Late last month the State Water Resources Control Board voted that more water needs to be released from Cachuma Lake in order to support the steelhead population.

• Super Volunteers, friends of the LPFA and Gossamer Gear ambassadors Rik and Paul were featured this past month in a Gossamer Gear profile series, click link above.  We know Rik and Paul really well, they are the main driving force behind so much good stuff across the forest including the LPFA Used Gear Sale, but it’s always cool seeing their influence extend beyond the Los Padres.  Great work guys!

• LPFA supporter and friend of the forest Kevin Cody has started a Facebook fundraiser on behalf of the LPFA.  We’ve known Kevin for many years and over that time he’s become somewhat famous for his dedication to keeping the forest litter free.  In particular he has a hatred of stray helium balloons.  It is not uncommon to be running or hiking with Kevin and then all of a sudden see him swimming through brush or scaling hillsides to retrieve that stray helium balloon that happened to plunge down in the Los Padres.  We’re willing to bet that no one has recovered more lost helium balloons than Kevin has.  Setting a great example Kevin and thanks for the additional support.  Happy Birthday!  If you’d like to support Kevin’s fundraiser, click here.

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Kevin Cody doing what he does, days deep in the Caliente Drainage

La Brea Decision, Volunteer Projects and is Fall Here?

Not safe to come out just yet, A-Zone South ends September 22, photo Humphrey

Howdy Friends,

It may not feel like it, especially right now with our recent stack of hot days but there is a subtle change occurring in the forest right now indicating that FALL IS COMING.  The days are certainly shorter, the nights a little cooler and we’re even seeing some colors changing in select plants and locations.  It’s a little early still but even the first hint of Fall is an exciting time here in the Los Padres.  For many, Fall means the start of the Los Padres backcountry season.  Time to say goodbye to the Sierras and hello to planning your next LP adventure.  For the LPFA, Fall also means ramping up our volunteer trail maintenance projects.  As usual, we’ve got a full forest-wide list of upcoming trail projects listed at the bottom of this email highlighted by an October Working Vacation at Bluff Cabin maintaining the Grapevine Trail.  We’re also partnering with REI and the Thomas Fire Trail Fund to work the Lion Canyon Trail as part of National Public Lands Day.  We’ll be kicking off another season of Ojai First Saturday projects in October and for those of you who might be free sooner we’ll be doing trail work on the upper reaches of the Sisquoc Trail this coming weekend.  The end of 2019 will also see some trail projects in the SLO backcountry and we are laying the groundwork for another Working Vacation on the Piedra Blanca Trail in the Sespe.  Lots of great projects lined up across the Los Padres!  We’d love to have you come out this Fall and volunteer on any (or all) of the upcoming trail projects.  For more details check the list at the bottom or email us directly: Volunteer@LPForest.org

LA BREA RESTORATION PROJECT DECISION

The Maps will be Changing, La Brea Decision

Ten years ago the La Brea Fire burned almost 90,000 acres in and around the northwest portion of the San Rafael Wilderness.  We all know the equation: (fire scarred land) + (lots of rain) = BAD and the big winter storms of 2011 destroyed most of the La Brea Canyon Road, which was a popular dirt road used to connect Colson and Miranda Pine.  As a result of the fire and flood damage, the Forest Service closed La Brea Canyon to vehicle use while undertaking a lengthy process of analyzing and determining how to best manage the La Brea area for future use.  It became known as the La Brea Restoration Project.  Over the past few years the FS formulated a series of four different action alternatives for how they might manage the La Brea area.  These actions were repeatedly shared with the public through FS hosted open house meetings as well as multiple rounds of public comment. As expected, there were many different public opinions on how the FS should manage the future of La Brea and after taking all the different sides into consideration the FS indicated that they were going with proposed action alternative 1. Alternative 1 included converting the creek portions of La Brea Canyon Road to non-motorized trail, decommissioning 5 campgrounds, converting 1 campground, creating 2 new trailheads and converting Kerry Canyon Trail to non-motorized.  On August 16 the FS released their final decision on the La Brea Restoration Project.  It matched with what was listed above with one large change, the new decision is calling for the complete decommission of the Kerry Canyon Trail.  Among other things, the Kerry Canyon Trail is a key 8-mile section of the Condor Trail and if Kerry was to be decommissioned that would prevent any future trail maintenance along Kerry Canyon.  Please click the above links for more information.  There is one final 45-day objection period which started August 16. Details and instructions for the objections can be found here on page 10.

FOREST 411

Lions are the king of the jungle.  Are they also the king of the Forest?Rugged Lion Canyon, roaring before the September 28th National Public Lands Day project

Wildfire Updates: Quick update on the larger LP wildfires
MILL FIRE (Monterey): 100% contained, 310 acres and closures remain in effect. – SNAIL FIRE (Mt Pinos): 100% contained, 279 acres

• Speaking of Snail Canyon, the famous bar and grill near Reyes Creek Campground has once again changed management and is now called Camp Scheideck Lodge Bar & Grill.  They are now open for business!

• And speaking of potential wildfires, here’s a link to a story about a Big Sur man who is on a mission to stop illegal campfires along the Big Sur Coast.  It’s certainly a good mission, lets hope for the best.

• And still speaking of fire potential, the National Science Foundation recently funded an extensive study of the Santa Barbara wind event known as sundowners.  Sundowners combined with wildfire is a nasty mix.  It will be interesting to follow this study over the coming years.

• The LPFA will once again host a Used Camping Gear Sale on November 3 at Tucker’s Grove Park in Goleta.  This is a great opportunity for our members to get super good discounted deals on gently used backpacks (Gossamer Gear is hooking us up again!), tents and other car-camping and backpacking supplies.  We are taking donations as well in case you have an old backpack, tent of camping accessory that hasn’t recently seen the light of day.  All proceeds go towards our Trail Care Fund and back into the trails you love!  For more information about the event or where to donate, email: INFO@LPForest.org

BLACK BEAR EATING CONDOR!??!  That was the headline last week when a Ventana Wildlife Society camera captured a video of a black bear in Big Sur feeding on a calf carcass that was set aside for condors to eat.  It was big news since the Big Sur area doesn’t have much of a bear population but the headline claiming that a black bear was eating a condor certainly grabbed a lot of attention.

• The Federal Government filed a lawsuit against Southern California Edison for allegedly allowing the Rey Fire to ignite in August 2016.  Read details here.

• According to Ventura County law enforcement officials, 2018 illegal backcountry pot grow operations were down over two-thirds in comparison to 2017.  This could be a result of marijuana legalization.

Electric Bikes (E-Bikes) have grown in popularity over the past decade.  The current Forest Service regulations on E-Bikes is that they can be ridden on 1) Roads Open to All Vehicles 2) Trails Open to All Vehicles 3) Trails Open to Vehicles 50″ of Less in Width and 4) Trails Open to Motorcycles Only.  So basically E-Bikes can be ridden on public OHV/Moto trails and public FS roads, places where other motorized vehicles can ride only.  There are rumblings that the FS stance on E-Bikes might be changing.  Last week, the Department of the Interior took a big step towards allowing pedal assist E-Bikes on traditional mountain bike trails within National Parks.  This is bound to be a hot topic over the coming years as the FS figures out how to squeeze E-Bikes into an existing user-group or decides to create a new user-group altogether.  Stay tuned…..

• We’re in the dog days of summer heat but there were still a few LP trails worked on over the past month or so: Pine Ridge, Sisquoc, Romero, Jesusita, Terrace, Tunnel, Arroyo Burro, Cold Spring, Franklin, Deal, Buena Vista, Reyes Peak, Mission Pine

Big thanks to Goleta based Scout Troop 26 and Logan Beckstrand who worked with the LPFA to complete his Eagle Project installing 21 interpretive markers and a trailhead sign for the Aliso Canyon Interpretive Trail.
The previous trail markers and signs were destroyed in the White (2013) and Rey (2016) Fires.  Go check it out!

Los Padres Swing the Gates & National Trails Day

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

Hello Friends,

It sure seems like every time we’re ready to call an end to our 2018-19 rainy season, another storm or two pops up on the Doppler.  It’s not often we get any significant rain in May.  Yet this year, on top of all the rain we’ve already had, we made a serious run at the all-time record for rain in the month of May.  Even this past week we had some odd early season thunderstorms which caused flash flood warnings across much of the Los Padres.  As a whole, the LP is well over our seasonal average rainfall totals with most stations across the forest recording 115-140% of annual rainfall totals.  It’s certainly been an exciting year for weather but we all know the heat will be coming soon so until then lets be sure to enjoy all the overcast, dreary, precipitation filled days we can.

Speaking of precipitation and rain delays, the Forest Service has done a good job over the past few weeks of getting most of the seasonal road closures open across the forest.  Here’s the latest and greatest on gate closures and openings:

I know many of us have been waiting patiently (some impatiently) for the gates to swing open this year.  Now is the time, most of the gates are open and the forest is yours to enjoy responsibly!  Many flowers are still blooming, some of the protected hillsides remain green and water is still flowing across most of the drainages.  Get out and enjoy your forest and if you come across anything interesting, dangerous, a trail impediment or have any questions please share on HikeLosPadres.com, email us (INFO@LPForest.org) or contact your local district ranger office.  Have at it and as always be cautious and safe!

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

NATIONAL TRAILS DAY 2019

National Trails Day (NTD) is an annual day of trail celebration where thousands of hikers, bikers, riders and trail users across the country donate their time to help protect and maintain the trails they love.  While NTD is technically the first Saturday of June, NTD hosted projects usually spill over a few weeks before or after the actual National Trails Day.  This year is no different with a few NTD projects still scheduled on both June 8 and June 15, see list below.  While it would be great for you to make it to a trail project this month, the essence of National Trails Day is much more than just a singular day each year.  Dedicate every month, every week and every day you spend on the trail to the spirit of a NTD event.  It can be as easy as picking up a few pieces of trash along the trail, helping clear a downed branch from the trail corridor or simply sharing what you found with your local trail organizations or agencies.  And of course, you can always step up your game and try adopting your favorite trail as well.  Every bit helps!  Hope you can make it to an upcoming trail event near you:

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

FOREST 411

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

– Speaking of the condor, our local 400+ mile Los Padres thru-hike, the Condor Trail has been seeing some activity this season.  There are currently at least three people hiking the CT and another few who have already completed it this year.  The CT made an appearance on a recent Backpacker Radio podcast and rumor has it that a guide book is in the works as well.  Stay tuned, we’re certain to be hearing more about the Condor Trail in the years to come….

– And along those lines, Piper (Diane) from Santa Barbara successfully connected the Los Padres with the PCT backpacking from NIRA to Agua Dulce.  This was Piper’s second time completing this epic hike.  You can follow her journey through a series of YouTube videos she put together.  Check it out…..

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

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

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

– From sediment capture to sediment flow, the San Clemente Dam was removed in 2015 along the Carmel River in large part to help restore local steelhead populations.  Reports this spring are showing that steelhead numbers along the Carmel are way up from previous years.  You can read about it here and here. This is potentially a good sign of things to come for other failing Los Padres area dams including the Los Padres Dam and the Matilija Dam.

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

– This is pretty cool, the Forest Fire Lookout Association in conjunction with the Los Padres National Forest will be training volunteers to spot smoke from the Chews Ridge Lookout tower (36.312201, -121.568204) in Monterey County.  If interested, please see flier.  This is a neat concept for a few different reasons.  Can you think of any other lookout towers across the Los Padres that would be worthwhile to reactivate and setup similar volunteer programs?  Lets do it!

– Do you shop at Amazon?  If so, please shop through the AmazonSmile program and choose the LPFA as your charitable organization.  Amazon will donate 0.5% of all eligible purchased back to the LPFA.  It adds up quick and goes right back towards the forest and trails you love!  You can start shopping right now by clicking this link or choosing the Los Padres Forest Association within the AmazonSmile program.  Thanks in advance and happy shopping!

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

Finally, Los Padres Spring Season is HERE!

No more waiting, LP Season 2019 is on now!
No White Walkers here, just Blue Canyon, photo D Haan

Hello Friends,

We hope this email finds you with a little Los Padres dirt under your fingernails, perhaps a very small splotch of poison oak on the back of your leg, sore legs from hammering up that big trail climb last weekend and a huge smile thinking about what was and what is yet to come in your Los Padres explorations.  This is the prime time of the year for hiking, riding, camping and/or swimming.  There are lots of opportunities near and far to enjoy the Los Padres and to give back to the forest in the process.  You can explore local Meetup groups for close-by trail addicts looking for like-minded friends to share the trails with.  Study your LP maps or HikeLosPadres.com for new trails or camps to visit.  And for those who want to give back to the trails you love, join the LPFA on one of our upcoming volunteer projects.  Have at it, get-out get-out wherever you are and take advantage of the prime season here in the Los Padres.  Oh, and by the way, we’d love to see any photos you take while you’re out in the forest.  Just as you probably (hopefully) like to get these updates, we also love to see what you’re up to as well.  Living vicariously……

Nathan Wickstrum for the win! And he won the contest too.

WHEELER GORGE BROCHURE COVER CONTEST

A few months ago we ran a contest looking for great photos of the Hwy 33 / Ojai Backcountry region of the Los Padres Forest to be used on the cover of the 2019 Wheeler Gorge event brochure.  We received over 100 incredible photo entries from across the Ojai Ranger District featuring sunsets, flowers, snow capped mountains, waterfalls, majestic trees, vistas and people enjoying the forest.  It was a hard choice but we ended up choosing this fantastic layout of waterfalls taken by Nathan Wickstrum.  Thank you everyone who participated and Nathan, we’ll be in touch to discuss your prize!  Woot woot…..

The annual Wheeler Gorge Open House is this weekend!  Please come by for a visit with your family and friends, say hello and come back again throughout the summer for the weekly events and talks.  You can learn more here.

LPFA volunteers went Dothraki clearing brush on the Tinta Trail. 
Yes, that was and is the trail.  Up next is fixing the ruts and water damage……..

FOREST 411

– The LPFA will be co-hosting a Trivia Night TONIGHT with REI at Night Lizard Brewing in Santa Barbara.  If you enjoy the outdoors, find yourself at REI regularly, dig trivia nights or enjoy beer; we expect to see you tonight at 7pm.  Bring your A Game…….

– We’ve been busy restoring many of the trails you love and some that you might learn to love.  Over the past month we’ve led trail projects on the Aliso Trail, Santa Barbara Canyon Trail, Alamar Trail, Tinta Trail, Mono-Alamar Trail, Poplar Trail, Alamar Hill Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Judell Trail, Cold Spring Trail, Matilija Falls Trail, Gridley Trail, Manzana Trail, Lost Valley Trail, Hurricane Deck Trail and Big Cone Spruce Trail.  We’ve also partnered with Santa Barbara County Trails Council to help them on the Franklin Trail and Baron Trail, partnered with Montecito Trails Foundation to work on the Wiman Trail, Hot Springs Connector Trail, West Fork Cold Spring Trail and Old Pueblo Trail and partnered with SLOPOST to help on the Trout Creek Trail and Seller’s Potrero Trail.  Tis the season for trail work, it’s been a busy month!  Big thanks to all our partners, The Forest Service, our LPFA Trail Crew and especially all the volunteers who have poured their heart and souls into helping the trails we love!  THANK YOU……

– The Amgen Tour of California will be passing through the Los Padres in a few weeks.  Stage 4 starts at Laguna Seca on May 15 and follows Highway 1 along the Big Sur Coast before ending 137 miles later at Morro Bay.  Should be spectacular!  The next day on May 16, stage 5 covers 136 miles from Pismo Beach to Ventura passing the Los Padres through Hwy 154 in Santa Barbara.

– The Los Padres National Forest is proposing to reroute the Pine Ridge Trail around a damaged section of trail near Barlow Flat Camp.  The Pine Ridge Trail is one of the most heavily used trails in the Los Padres and has been closed since July 2016 due to the Soberanes Fire and subsequent damage to the trail.  The FS is looking for comments on the proposed reroute.  Please check this link for more details and let your voice be heard.

– The Los Padres’ very own Helen Tarbet has released her latest Figueroa Mountain Wildflower update for April 18.  This is a fantastic resource for knowing where and what flowers are out and about.

– Many of the roads around the forest remain damaged and closed after this winters heavy rains, see photo below.  The FS is working to repair the roads and restore trailhead access. Many of the seasonal gate closures are expected to be reopened on May 1.  Please be patient with the FS but at the same time give them a call and let them know you want and need the roads reopened as soon as possible.

– Even with the above average rain season we’ve enjoyed, the Los Padres is preparing for another potentially big fire season ahead.  Due in part to the wet winter, the grasses around the Los Padres have grown quite high and much of that grass is starting to dry out.  We’ve already seen a few smaller grass fires around the Central Coast.  In anticipation of the upcoming fire season, Cal Fire has been adding staff and fire engines as well as awarding grants to areas such as Big Sur and the Santa Barbara Frontcountry to tackle local fire prevention projects.

– In response to a 2018 lawsuit, an agreement was reached last week between the Forest Service and ForestWatch to extend the temporary ban on un-managed target shooting across the Los Padres National Forest until January 2020.  This does not impact the regular legal hunting seasons and target shooting remains legal at both the Ojai Valley Gun Club in Rose Valley and Winchester Gun Club on West Camino Cielo.

– With the assistance of the VWA, Arroyo Seco Gorge has been selected as a Leave No Trace Hot Spot for 2019 and will be visited by LNT staff August 19-26.  As part of a LNT Hotspot program, LNT will send out a small team of LNT experts who will stay at Arroyo Seco for the week and conduct public outreach and lead community events designed to teach and preach more sustainable practices for the Arroyo Seco Gorge.  Good stuff!

– The Los Padres National Forest will be hosting a job fair on Saturday May 4 from 9am – 1pm at the San Marcos Fire Station.

– Lets get back to the trails, shall we?  While last month was certainly busy, we’ve got more trail restoration on tap for the coming month including work on the Tequepis Trail, Matilija Trail, Three Peaks Trail, Cold Spring Trail, Willow Spring Trail, Manzana Trail, Deal Trail, Sisquoc Trail, Alamar Trail, Poplar Trail, Grapevine Trail and Matilija Falls Trail.  Busy busy busy……  If you’d like to help with any of these trail projects, we’d love the support either through volunteer help or donations.  Email Volunteer@LPForest.org or make a donation to the LPFA Trail Care program today!

That’s the road, and a legit reason why Grade Valley remains closed, photo Upper Ojai SAR

Get Your Los Padres Updates Here

“Early Spring at its Best”, photo THurt

Hello Friends,

Simply put, it’s about as good as it gets right now across the Los Padres.  The _______ is amazing this season! We’ve not seen _______ like this for years and the _______ Trail is spectacular right now, never been better.  And have you seen the _______ on _______ Peak?  Wow….  Stunning.

We’ll leave it at that…….  you should have no problem filling in the blanks.  That’s your homework, uh, we mean forestwork!  The rest of this email will focus on upcoming volunteer projects and some updates from across the Los Padres.  We do hope you’re finding time to enjoy the trails and forest responsibly, be sure to check HikeLosPadres for the most recent trail and camp information and if you have any questions or need information, please don’t hesitate to let us know.  We’ll try our best to get the answers you might need. Let’s get to it…..

REI Giving Back and Walking the Walk, photo LPFA

TRAIL HELP NEEDED

As usual, all the upcoming forest events and volunteer trail projects are listed at the bottom of this email but we wanted to call out a few in particular that we are looking forward to:

April 12-14: TINTA TRAIL
The Tinta Trail is a seldom used trail set just off the northeastern edge of the Dick Smith Wilderness.  Tinta, which is part of the Condor Trail, is designated as a motorcycle trail but is also a great option for mountain bikes as well as hikers. Tinta has become incredibly overgrown over the past few years to the point where it’s become really hard to ride.  Not for long….  We’ll be working/camping for 3 days on April 12-14 working on brushing the Tinta Trail from Upper Tinta Camp down beyond Brubaker Canyon.  Since this is non-wilderness we’ll have the benefit of using power tools and are hoping to get some local motorcyclists to help support the project by riding in tools, supplies and food for the volunteers.  It should be a different yet really fun project.  If you’d like to help out, please let us know: Volunteer@LPForest.org

April 26-28: THREE PEAKS TRAIL
Do you have a favorite trail that needs maintenance?  If so, this is a good model to follow.  Los Padres volunteer extraordinaire Steve Cypher had a similar feeling for the Dutra area of the Silver Peak Wilderness and decided to do something about it. Partnering with the FS, VWA and LPFA, Steve has now led multiple trail projects in and around Dutra Flats focused on clearing the trails.  This is the 3rd or 4th such project and together with volunteers Steve is successfully reopening this area.  Talk about awesome.  It would be great if others were able to follow in Steve’s footprints.  If you’re interested in learning more about adopting a trail or working Three Peaks, click this link and sign up to help April 26-28.

May & June: SISQUOC WORKING VACATIONS
If you don’t know about the famous LPFA Working Vacations, this might be the year for you to sign up and find out.  The LPFA will be hosting two Working Vacations this year focused on restoring the Sisquoc Trail within the San Rafael Wilderness.  The first is May 4-12 along the Upper Sisquoc and the second is June 1-9 on the Lower Sisquoc.  Both projects will be stock supported with all food provided for volunteers.  While we’ll be out there for 10 days in total, there are shorter stints available in case you can’t spend the whole time out there.  This is a great year for these projects as the Sisquoc should be flowing nicely well into the summer season.  Let us know if you have any questions and we’d love to see you out there with us later this spring.  Volunteer@LPForest.org

Cherry Garcia, Looking Beautiful in Green

FOREST 411

West Fork Cold Spring Trail above Montecito has reopened after being closed for a few months due to a landslide taking out a large portion of the trail.

– In nearby news, the debris-flow ring nets above Montecito have been approved and will be installed in the coming weeks.  There will be certain trail closures during the installation of the nets and we’ll do our best to share that with you through social media.

– And related to that, late last month the cause of the Thomas Fire was released as fire investigators determined that “power lines slapping together in high winds” was the cause of the Thomas Fire ignition.

– The LPNF is extending the comment deadline for those interested in weighing in on the proposed closure of Dry Canyon in the Mt Pinos Ranger District.  The closure is a result of a 2015 study which found munitions and explosives in Dry Canyon that date back to the 1940’s.

– There have been a few rescues across the Los Padres over the past month related to lost or injured trail users.  Be sure to share your trip itineraries with friends or family before you venture into the forest and use common sense while in the forest.  Be safe.

– The proposed wildlife corridor in Ventura County was approved last month which should help the safe passage of mammals between the Los Padres and adjacent wild areas.  On the heels of the wildlife corridor, a study was released late last month about the potential extinction of Southern California mountain lions.

– Congressman Salud Carbajal is poised to reintroduce the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act.

– The Monterey Ranger District continues to struggle with closures and lack of forest access.  The lack of access has been leading to overcrowding within the few locations that are open.  You can read more in a recent article from the Monterey County Weekly.

– The Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center will once again be hosting weekly Saturday educational programs designed for nature lovers of all ages.  Wheeler will be kicking off the season with the Annual Wheeler Open House on Saturday April 27.  Come on out, we hope to see you on the 27th and throughout the summer.

 – Maybe you’ve heard, but the flowers aren’t bad right now either. Los Padres Forest’s own Helen Tarbet is once again providing regular flower updates for those brave enough to venture into the Figueroa Mtn area.  Her most recent excellent update is attached with this email.  Please tread lightly.

Charlie Robinson, in his Happy Place!

And last but certainly not least, we wanted to congratulate our good friend Charlie Robinson on his recent retirement from the Forest Service.  Charlie served as the Ojai District Recreation Officer for over 27 years and was with the Forest Service for 43 years.  We wish Charlie all the best as he skis into whiter pastures and thank him for all his help over the years.  27 years of institutional knowledge will be hard to lose. Fortunately, some of us have his cell number…..  You can run Charlie, but you can’t hide…..  ha  ha.  Thank you Charlie!

Pano Around the Mono Narrows, photo LPFA

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!

April 6: 1st Saturday Deal Canyon Project, MPRD & LPFA
April 6: State Trails Day, SB Frontcountry
April 6-9: Judell Trail Car-Camping, LPFA
April 12-14: Tinta otorcycle Trail Project, LPFA
April 18: Helpful & Harmful Plants, Sue Reinhart, SB Library
April 20: Ojai Earth Day
April 20-21: Marble Peak Trail Project, VWA
April 22: Earth Day in Fillmore!
April 26-28: Three Peaks Trail, Silver Peak Wilderness
April 27: Wheeler Gorge Open House

May 4-5: Mocho Sawyer Project, VWA
May 4-12: Upper Sisquoc Working Vacation, LPFA
May 10-12: Terrace Creek Trail Project, VWA
May 11: Mt Pinos Ranger District Open House
May 17-19: Strawberry Camp Trail Project, VWA
May 24-27: Big Sur Trail Sawyer Project, VWA

June 1-9: Lower Sisquoc Working Vacation, LPFA
June 8-10: Lost Valley Trail Project, Ventana, VWA
June 9: Cold Spring Trail, SBMTV
June 21-23: Big Sur Trail Sawyer Project, VWA

West Big Pine

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.


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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.

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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