TRAIL VOLUNTEERS: Return to Happy Hunting Ground, Working Vacation


Happy Hunting Ground Working Vacation Continues 
April 22-28, 2024


Hello Friends, 

The LPFA and our wonderful trail volunteers just completed 3 miles of trail restoration (technically 2.9, but who’s counting?) within the San Rafael Wilderness as part of our Happy Hunting Ground Working Vacation. Woot woot! 

We had so much fun and it was so nice out there… we decided to do it again! Please consider joining us as we Return to Happy Hunting Ground ~ April 22-28 to continue our great trail work down towards South Fork Station. Here’s what you need to know: 

  • As usual, all food and tools will be provided for our volunteers. 
  • You’ll need to backpack in your own personal gear 10.7 miles from the NIRA Trailhead out to Happy Hunting Ground. It’s a beautiful hike with many creek crossings and most of our volunteers were completing the hike in 6-7 hrs. 
  • While we’d love people to come out for all 7 days, you are more than welcome to come for shorter stints too. We’ll work around your schedule. Sign up and we can work out the details from there. 
  • Our Working Vacations are really fun. A good mix of Work and Vacation. If you haven’t joined us before, check it out, you’ll have a great time! 
  • Be sure to pack your phone and a bathing suit. The views are terrific and this years water is incredible. 
  • To sign up please click the link below or email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org with any questions. 

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





Manzana Trail is Where It’s At!



Hello Friends! 

It’s trail season and the LPFA will once again be hosting a Working Vacation to help maintain the backcountry trails of the Los Padres Forest. This season we are focusing on restoring the beloved Manzana Trail within the San Rafael Wilderness…..

Click Here to Help the Manzana Trail!

Starting April 6, we’ll be camping at Happy Hunting Ground Camp and spending the next week clearing the trail down towards South Fork Station. Happy Hunting Ground is a backcountry camp nestled between pines, oaks and rock outcrops along the eastern edge of the Hurricane Deck formation. If you haven’t been there before, it will be a great place to temporarily call home!

This will be a typical LPFA Working Vacation complete with pack mule support = all food and tools will be provided. Happy Hunting Ground is located 10.7 miles upstream from the NIRA Trailhead along the Manzana Trail. Each volunteer will have to only backpack in all their own personal gear while the mules will bring in the kitchen setup, food and tools for the week. 

The trail work will include crosscutting downed trees, tread repair, some rockwork and brushing. We could also use help with cooking and campground maintenance too, if that’s more to your liking. While we’d love to have you for all 10 days, there are absolutely options for shorter stays. If you’d like to join or to learn more, please email VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org or click the link below. We’ll be sharing more details over the coming week or so.


Happy Hunting Ground is an amazing place! It will be fantastic working the trail, spending time at camp, helping the forest and hanging out with friends. Hope to see you there….


Backcountry Season is NOW! – Los Padres Forest

Spring has sprung or is springing across the Los Padres…

The grass is green, the big mountains are covered in snow, the creeks and rivers are flowing strong and the mountains should be calling ~ we hope you are answering….

Prime backcountry season is now! 


LPFA SPRING TRAIL WORK UPDATE

A big focus of the LPFA these past couple months has been working to clear and maintain trail access within the San Rafael Wilderness, specifically out of NIRA. The LPFA Trail Crew has been hammering on the upper reaches of the Manzana Trail while we’ve simultaneously led multiple volunteer projects on sections closer to the trailhead. While most of our work has been along the Manzana Trail, we’ve also been working the Potrero Trail and along the Hurricane Deck Trail between Potrero and the Schoolhouse.

Our goals in the San Rafael for this season are to finish restoring the Sweetwater Trail, open up the Potrero – Western Hurricane Deck – Lower Manzana lollipop and maintain the Manzana Trail from NIRA to as close to South Fork as we can. 

Lots to do, lots of fun to be had, lots of opportunities for you to answer the call and help on an upcoming volunteer project…. 

We hope to see you out there!


Manzana Trail Working Vacation

Happy Hunting Ground Camp ~ April 6-14

Join us at Happy Hunting Ground Camp within the San Rafael Wilderness as we restore the Manzana Trail. Happy Hunting Ground is a backcountry camp nestled between pines, oaks and rock outcrops along the eastern edge of the Hurricane Deck formation. This will be a typical LPFA Working Vacation complete with pack support and all food and tools will be provided. Happy Hunting Ground is located 10.7 miles upstream from the NIRA Trailhead along the Manzana Trail. Each volunteer will have to backpack in all their own personal gear while the mules will bring in the kitchen setup, food and tools for the week. We’ll be focused on restoring the Manzana Trail from Happy Hunting Ground down towards South Fork Station. The trail work will include crosscutting downed trees, tread repair, some rockwork and brushing. We could also use help with cooking and campground maintenance too, if that’s more to your liking. While we’d love to have you for all 10 days, there are absolutely options for shorter stays. If you’d like to join, please email VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org or click the link below. We’ll be sharing details over the coming weeks. Happy Hunting Ground is an amazing place! It will be fantastic spending time at camp, helping the forest and hanging out with friends. Hope to see you there….



Potrero Trail: March 22-24

Join us as we continue work along the spectacular Potrero Trail within the San Rafael Wilderness. We’ll be camping three days at Potrero Camp and working up from there. Feel free to help all three days or come for a day! It’s all good. To sign up or with questions please email or click here.

St. Patty’s on the Manzana: SUNDAY

We’ll be out on the Manzana this Sunday on St. Patricks Day working to make the first mile of the trail stock passable. Should be a fantastic day! We’ll be meeting at NIRA at 0900 and should be off the trail by mid-afternoon. Please RSVP via email. Oh, and don’t forget to wear green! 

And while we have you… a few more volunteer events!


Frontcountry Volunteer Days

We have regular volunteer days scheduled across both the SB and Ojai frontcountry trails. We’ve been working every Thursday and Saturday in Ojai and have a Trailwork Tuesday project on Rattlesnake Canyon in SB scheduled for Tuesday March 19. To signup or learn more please email or click here.



Forest 411

• Highway 33 has reopened providing access into the heart of the Ventura Backcountry, the Sespe Wilderness and most importantly the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. Quick heads up that we’ll be hosting our annual Wheeler Gorge Open House on Saturday May 11. Get it on your calendar! 

• Due to a significant landslide near Barlow Camp, the Pine Ridge Trail may be impassable to Sykes dependent on water levels. Please contact the Monterey Ranger District or the Big Sur Station with questions. 

• The Forest Service is accepting public comments through March 31 on the Piru Creek Wild & Scenic River Comprehensive River Management PlanCheck it out here

• The Santa Barbara Ranger District has extended the campfire ban across the Santa Barbara Frontcountry. To learn more click here

• The Forest Service has revised the 2023 Storm Damage Recovery closures. Some trails have reopened, some remain closed. Click here to see the order and full list of closures. 

• Earlier this month the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Forest Service’s planned Tecuya Ridge Shaded Fuelbreak Project. You can read information about the project here and about the recent ruling here

• The Forest Service is set to receive nearly $38,000,000 as part of the Thomas Fire recovery settlement. The funds should be used to “repair roads, trails, bridges and recreation sites damaged by the fire, as well as ecological recovery activities such as native plant restoration and invasive plant treatments.” For more information click here

• The Forest Service is planning a series of prescribed burns along Camino Cielo above Santa Barbara starting in March. Information can be found here and here

• Camping will be temporarily banned at San Carpoforo Beach along northern SLO County. More information – click here

• What a wonderful winter of rain we’ve had this year and two years in a row! Most of the forest has received well over normal rainfall totals and we should be looking at a nice summer with plenty of pools for cooling off. Great news! Enjoy the spring everyone and don’t forget to sign up to volunteer on some of the upcoming trail projects.

Los Padres New Years Information, LPFA

A Big Sunset Across Little Pine, no Photoshop or filters needed….


Hello Friends ~ Happy Holidays!

You’re likely getting inundated with year-end emails so we’ll keep this short but we needed to share a couple Los Padres updates before the end of the year. Let’s do this…..

Highway 33: OPEN

CalTrans reopened Hwy 33 after it had been closed for the previous 11 months. While the highway is open, there are lane closures and some campgrounds and trails remain closed. For more info click here….

Fire Restrictions

The Forest Service lifted fire restrictions; campfires are now allowed in most parts of the forest with a valid California Campfire Permit. See details and more information here….



Ventura Backcountry Updates

  • Earlier this month the LPFA was able to successfully complete a 9-day Working Vacation along the Alder Creek Trail within the eastern Sespe Wilderness. Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers and Trail Crew, we were able to maintain 5.5 miles of wilderness trail. 
  • Thank you everyone who contributed to our #GivingTuesday campaign to raise money in support of the Ventura Backcountry trails. We were able to exceed our goals and will be leading a volunteer trail project on the Sespe River Trail as soon as we get a clear weekend. Stay tuned….
  • Please join us on Saturday Jan 6 as we continue helping efforts to restore the Agua Blanca Trail within the Sespe Wilderness. Led by Alan Coles, volunteers will be meeting at Lake Piru and heading up the Agua Blanca clearing brush and downed trees. To sign up, click here
  • With the reopening of Highway 33, the LPFA was also able to reopen the beloved Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. If you haven’t visited Wheeler Gorge, stop by next time you are in the neighborhood. We’re open weekends and holidays; just 15 minutes up from downtown Ojai. See you there….

Last but certainly not least, we need to thank all the dedicated LPFA volunteers who spend their free time in support of the forest. This includes volunteers at the Visitor Centers, our Board of Directors and of course all of you who spend time with us on the trails and within the forest. We also want to give a huge shout-out to our hard-working professional Trail Crew who spend all year helping the trails. They’re out in the forest 10 hours a day through the summer heat, the winter freeze and everything in between. Also a big thanks to all the donors, partners and grantors who support our mission in all ways imaginable. We truly could not do what we love to do without all of you!

Thank you everyone for a great 2023 with an even better 2024 on tap….

2023 Los Padres Forest Association Accomplishments


  • 9,944 volunteer hours 
  • 140 forest projects & hitches 
  • 577 individual volunteers 
  • 243 days spent on the trails 
  • 843 Trail Crew person days on the trails
  • 22,724 hours contributed to the forest 
  • 85 miles of trail maintained 
  • 495 miles of trail patrolled 
  • 731 miles of forest roads patrolled 
  • 1 one hundred and forty year old roof replaced

Thanks again everyone! Now go find some time to enjoy the forest, get a backpack in, go ride your favorite trail or take your family for a drive to a trailhead you’ve never visited. Safe travels and see you next year….


LPFA Working Vacations: Hammers, Pulaskis and Friends!


Manzana Schoolhouse Re-Roofed

The LPFA just wrapped up an incredibly successful 5-day Working Vacation based at the Manzana Schoolhouse. In addition to the usual top-notch trail work, our volunteers also replaced the decrepit roof on the Schoolhouse itself. The previous roof was last replaced in 1990 and was breaking apart and littered with holes. The structure was at risk of falling over and potentially being lost forever. We’ve been working with the Forest Service for most of the past decade trying to get the necessary approvals to replace the roof and at long last it finally all came together. Bravo! and just in time as we have rain coming in just a few days! 

We want to thank everyone who participated but especially Greg J and Mark B who have sat through years of planning meetings and had the patience and expertise to pull this off. We’ll be sharing more about this project and other planned historic structure repairs in the coming weeks as well. Stay tuned…..

As mentioned, there was more accomplished in addition to the awesome work on the Schoolhouse. Our stupendous volunteers were able to repair tables around the campground and restore approximately 1.5 miles of the incredibly overgrown western Hurricane Deck Trail. If you know the Deck, you know how much work was needed to just get it cleared that far. (round of applause please) For those of you who missed out on the fun, don’t worry, we’ll be back soon with plans to finish the Deck up to the Potrero Trail junction. STAY TUNED!



Dough Flat, Alder Creek, Sespe Working Vacation

Tis the season for volunteer Working Vacations and we’ve got another great one planned for December, this time in the Sespe Wilderness! We are planning a Working Vacation based at Dough Flat from December 1-10 working the Alder Creek Trail. The plan as of now is to have both a car-camping option as well as a backpacking option. The car-camping portion of the project would be based at Dough Flat working the first 4 miles of the trail out towards the Bucksnort junction. The backpacking portion would be based at Cow Spring Camp and working down from there. Lots of details need to be worked out ahead of time and we may even have a combo option where half the project is at Dough Flat and half at Cow Spring. TBD. 

If you are interested in learning more or to sign-up, email us at VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org or click the link below. As usual, the LPFA is planning on providing all food and tools. We’ll likely do some cleanup at Dough Flat as well and could use help with painting, cooking, etc… Sign up if interested and we’ll provide details in the coming week or two. THANKS!



It’s always great to hear from trail users who use the trails we help maintain. Here is a group of backpackers from Midland School enjoying a section of the Sespe River Trail that the LPFA Trail Crew restored over two hard weeks in May 2022. Many thanks to all of you who donated as part of #GivingTuesday so that we could repair this trail. Looking forward to #GivingTuesday 2023! photo Dan Susman


FOREST 411

The big news across the forest right now is the impending rain stormset to hit the Los Padres next week. Forecasts are showing significant rain that will likely initiate the seasonal gate closures across the forest. Don’t shoot the messenger…..

Thanks to all of you who helped support yet another successful LPFA Used Camping Gear Sale! We were able to set records for both most money raised as well as most happy forest-users leaving with awesome gear. Cheers to Gossamer Gear and Rik’s everlasting spirit.

LPFA 2024 Calendar Update 

Wow, did we get a bunch of great photos for this years 2024 Los Padres wall calendar! We actually have 517 photos submitted ~ it’s going to make selecting the photos really really hard. Good problem to have and the calendar is going to be something special this year. The calendar is currently for sale, if you’d like to reserve your copy and/or copies for all your friends and family, please click here to order. Thanks. this photo Wayne Spada

LPFA Trail Work Updates 

With the temperatures falling and water still flowing, the LPFA Trail Crew and LPFA Volunteers will be busy working trails this fall and winter. We have work scheduled on the following trails: Pothole, Agua Blanca, Alder Creek, Sespe, Matilija, Santa Barbara Cyn, Sisquoc, Sweetwater, Manzana, Hurricane Deck, Santa Cruz, Aliso, Matias, Arroyo Burro, Cold Spring, Blue Cyn, Franklin, Davy Brown, Trout Creek and anywhere else trail work might be needed. Click here if you’re interested in learning more about the Trail Crew.

Volunteer Help Needed 

In addition to the larger scale Working Vacations mentioned above, we have the following volunteer projects scheduled as well: 

  • November 12: Agua Blanca Trail, Sespe – this will be the first of many regularly scheduled and weather dependent trail days along the Agua Blanca Trail. Led by local trail steward Alan Coles, we’ll be driving out beyond locked gates and strategically chipping away at both the Agua Blanca as well as the Pothole Trail. We’ll be out there this Sunday with future dates to come. If interested click here or email VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org
  • November-December: Matilija Trail – Led by another local legendary trail steward named Peter Wilder, the LPFA has continued to work the Matilija Trail on most Thursdays and Saturdays since August. Our work will continue tomorrow and then we’ll likely change schedule a bit due to Thanksgiving. If interested click here or email VOLUNTEER@LPForest.org.


Before, During & After photos showing trail repair work the LPFA Trail Crew completed this summer along the West Fork Cold Spring Trail in support of Montecito Trails Foundation. This section of trail was severely damaged during the January 2023 storms and needed a complete overhaul. Please remember to share any trail damage you might find either with the local Forest Service Ranger Station, on HikeLosPadres or email us directly and we’ll forward to the appropriate persons – thanks!

Los Padres Backcountry Season is Here!!!

MANZANA SCHOOLHOUSE WORKING VACATION: Nov 1-6, 2023

Hello Friends,

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

   BACKCOUNTRY SEASON IS HERE!   

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

Manzana Schoolhouse Working Vacation

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

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

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

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

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

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

VOLUNTEER CLICK HEREDONATE HERE

LPFA Used Outdoor Gear Sale

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

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

Got Used Gear to Donate

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

Used Outdoor Gear Sale

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

Forest 411

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

Volunteer Here

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

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

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

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

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

LPFA Working Vacation Season is Here!

Still mostly Grass Mountain, March 24, 2023

Hello Friends,

Heading into 2023, the LPFA Program of Work was going to feature large scale trail projects on quite a few of the more remote trails located deep within the Los Padres backcountry. We had Working Vacations scheduled to work on trails including the Puerta Suela (Dick Smith), Sweetwater, Bucksnort, Hurricane Deck and what was sure to be an epic two-week Working Vacation based at South Fork Station restoring the Sisquoc Trail. Alas, the best laid plans often go awry and Mother Nature had other plans. Due to this years substantial storm damage it’s looking very unlikely that we’ll be able to make it out this season to these more remote locations. Bummer… but those trails aren’t going anywhere and we’ll get there eventually….

As a result of the storm damage, we have pivoted our Program of Work to focus on trails a little closer to home. We’re still finalizing dates and details but we’re hoping to host larger scale projects this season on the Manzana, the Sespe, Santa Barbara Canyon, Santa Cruz, Blue Canyon, Alder Creek (Sespe), Tinta and the trails located off the back of Figueroa Mountain. While we certainly love the backpacking style Working Vacations that come with pack support, the fancy gravity water filter and wetting canvas manties to keep the coolers cold; it’s looking that at least through April most of our Working Vacations will be more along the lines of car-camping. Car-camping is great too, don’t get us wrong and it’s much easier driving in coolers of ice as compared to packing them in on mules.

All that being said, our first larger scale trail project of the season is set for April 5-9 at NIRA working up and down the Manzana Trail. We are still finalizing details but we’re hoping to drive in to NIRA on Wednesday April 5, setup camp and work the next 5 days clearing slides, downed trees and brush. While we’d love each of you to come for the entire 5 days, we know that life sometimes gets in the way of trail projects and there will be opportunities for people to come for shorter periods of time as well. If you are interested in signing up or to learn more, click the link below and get on the email list – we’ll provide updates as soon as we can. Hope you can make it!

Exuberant Trail Volunteers  – Indian Creek Working Vacation, Spring 2022
SIGN UP NIRA WORKING VACATION HERE!

Downed Trees Everywhere!!!

So many trees have fallen this month due to a combination of super saturated soil, wind and snow load. if you come across a downed tree or any other obstacle along the trails or roads, PLEASE take a photo of the trail impediment, try to position an object or person in the photo for scale, record the location and share on HikeLosPadres, with the Forest Service or send directly to us: INFO@LPForest.org      Thanks….

Forest Hiring Opportunities

It’s certainly harder to get around the forest at the moment, but that just makes the rewards greater for those who do – photo Wayne Pooper
  • FOREST SERVICE: The LP Forest Service is looking for candidates who have an interest and passion for outdoor recreation and public service! Click Here
  • LPFA TRAIL CREW: The LPFA is currently hiring for our spring-summer Trail Crew. If you like spending time in the forest and working on trails, check it out! Click Here

So nice to see so much water flowing just about everywhere across the forest. It’s going to be a great spring. Photo Tommy

Sespe Working Vacation & Exciting Santa Cruz Trail News!

Sespe, Red Reef & the Topatopa’s – shining!

Hello Friends – HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

While there is much to be thankful for here in the Los Padres, we are most thankful for the 32 volunteers who helped out last week on our Sespe Working Vacation based at Willett Camp. The LPFA has hosted dozens of Working Vacations over the years but they just keep getting better, more efficient and more fun. We had a great time out there, the Sespe in fall is hard to beat and we watched the colors get better and better with each passing day. We’ll share the whole story later but for now some quick bullet points of what we accomplished:

Otis, Annie, Tommy, Honey, Floyd & Jessabelle – could not have done it without you!
  • Our awesome volunteers cleared and restored 4 miles of the Sespe River Trail, mainly between Willett and Coltrell Camps.
  • We hauled out, thanks to the mules, over a dozen trash bags filled with garbage left along the trail and at Willett Camp. Willett is clean now, please help keep it that way!
  • We repaired 4 disastrous fire rings around Willett while creating defensible space for when the fire ban is lifted.
  • Repaired and cleaned most of the out-buildings at Willett Camp. Much more love is needed!
  • Cut out 13 downed trees which were blocking both the Sespe River and Red Reef Trails.
  • Somehow kept everyone well fed and energized despite the freezing conditions and daily long hikes to the work sites.
  • Engaged with countless dozens of backpackers who were out enjoying the Sespe and its fall colors over the past week!
They don’t call him the Shermanator for nothing…..

We want to also thank Southern California Edison, who provided a grant to complete some of this work and a private anonymous donor (you know who you are THANKS!) who paid for all the food and drinks for our hungry and thirsty volunteers.

We are working on scheduling next years Spring Working Vacations and as of right now will be working on the Alder Creek Trail within the Sespe Wilderness and hosting another Working Vacation at South Fork Station in the San Rafael Wilderness. Stay tuned for updates and we hope you can join us in 2023 and beyond……

You likely know that #GivingTuesday is this coming Tuesday November 29. Last year the LPFA raised funds to fix a sketchy section of the Condor Trail within the Sespe Wilderness called the Alder Creek Slide. This year we will be focusing our #GivingTuesday efforts to continue our trail restoration along the Santa Cruz Trail within Santa Barbara County. Thank you everyone who helped support our efforts this past year and we hope you choose to support this #GivingTuesday as well. 

Sespe Creek in Full Bloom

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