Waxing Poetic About the Los Padres

In case you needed a reason, it is definitely backcountry season, hope you are getting some trail time!

After consulting with the Forest Service and due to COVID, the Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training will be postponed until the fall. 
Stay tuned for more updates as they become available….

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Hello Friends,

We hope this email finds you in a nice comfortable place, with some sore trail legs and a smile on your face! January has certainly been interesting here in the Los Padres between volcanic tsunami warnings and a rare January wildfire. Never a dull moment, and that’s not even mentioning the ghosted backcountry plane…. While we had a tremendous run of storms over the holidays, January has unfortunately been a bit of a precipitation dud up to this point with no additional storms in the forecast. Most of the Los Padres remains just above the normal percentage of rainfall to date but we’re still quite a long way from reaching our normal water year totals. We need more rain. That being said, the forest is spectacular at the moment with lots of green and plenty of water flowing through most of the creeks, rivers and waterfalls. Lets collectively keep our fingers crossed for lots more gentle rain in the near future. Until then, we should all be taking advantage of the clear skies and finding as much trail time as we can. As always, HikeLosPadres.com is a terrific resource for checking trail conditions and of course reporting back what you find. There’slots more forest information and updates in the email below…. Enjoy and please let us know if we can help with anything or if you have any Los Padres questions……..

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Sunrise on the Sierra Madre, the makings of a great poem, photo CHorner, LPFA Trail Crew


We’ve been busy! You may be familiar with the saying about making hay when the sun shines, for us if it’s not raining in January we are out there. Here’s a quick update of what the LPFA Trail Crew and our terrific volunteers have been up to across the Los Padres:

• We just wrapped up three weeks of work along the Red Reef Trail in the Sespe Wilderness working from the Sespe Creek side up towards Ladybug Camp. Over that time we brushed out approximately 3 miles of really overgrown trail up past Horsethief. This was a combination of volunteers along with the LPFA Trail Crew. Huge thanks to our volunteer packers Emma and Joe for fueling the effort. We’ll be back soon, continuing work from both sides with the goal of completing the Red Reef Trail by early May!

• As always, we are open for business to help provide answers and information for forest users. Both Big Sur Station and Wheeler Gorge Visitor Centerhave been open and are helping people enjoy their time in the Los Padres. If you’re ever in the Hwy 33 or Hwy 1 neighborhoods, stop by and say hello to Tim, Andres, Peter, Gordie, Kasey and Terry. Then be sure to ask them a really hard question, make em sweat a bit…. You can always reach us with forest questions at INFO@LPForest.org as well. We are also always looking for volunteers to help at the Visitor Centers, please email if interested or with questions….

• Another trail in our cross-hairs this year is the Sweet Water Trail, which connects the Sierra Madre down to the Sisquoc River within the San Rafael Wilderness. The LPFA Trail Crew was out there last week starting to chip away at the brushing and there will be some volunteer opportunities for runners soon helping to bring water out along the trail as well. If you are a runner, like to camp and would like to help, please let us know. 

• On the other side of the San Rafael, the LPFA Trail Crew are out this week putting the finishing touches on brushing out the Sulphur Spring Trail coming off of Zaca Ridge and dropping into the Lower Manzana. We’ve been hacking away at this trail for the past year or more and doing our best to avoid the poison oak in the process.

• We’ve also been busy working on all the Figueroa Mountain Trails focusing again on brushing and clearing downed trees. If you’re interested, we’ve got a few volunteer days on the schedule below and would love to help organize a larger volunteer team-building day for your group, company or organization. Let us know…..

• The best volunteers ever have stayed busy keeping trails open and clearing downed trees, slides and brush where needed on many of the frontcountry and midcountry trails including Cold Spring north, Blue Canyon, Franklin north, Tequepis, Horn Canyon, Red Reef, Santa Cruz, Arroyo Burro, Romero north, Big Falls and more…. Thanks everyone!

• Volunteers have also been busy working on the far southern side of the Sespe with trail days focused on the Agua Blanca, an upcoming reroute of the Pothole Trail and scouting for future projects working from Dough Flat to Sespe Hot Springs. Good stuff ahead down along the lower Sespe.

• Lastly, we’re gearing up for some continued work along the lower Buckhorn Trail in advance of our May 2022 Working Vacation on Indian Creek. The Working Vacation will be focused on clearing the Indian Creek Trail from Meadow Camp up to Indian Canyon Camp, aka Indian Creek Camp. This is something we’ve been wanting to do for many many years. Stay tuned for more information or you can always sign up now by emailing Volunteer@LPForest.org.

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Squalls over the Hurricane Deck, pretty sure there are some poems about that as well….. 


• The biggest news around the Los Padres has certainly been the Colorado Fire, which burned approximately 700 acres north of Big Sur this past weekend. The cause of the fire was released earlier this week and fortunately it was quickly contained. Fires in January?

• The other biggest news was the apparent staged plane crash along the Sisquoc. If you haven’t seen this video, buckle up (pun intended) and prepare for the rabbit hole. You can watch hours and hours of commentary videos dissecting each of the pilots choices and there will be more coming as the FAA investigation takes shape. The fortunate news is that the crash didn’t ignite a fire and we’ve heard that the wreckage has been removed. We’ll keep you posted on future developments……

• Campfires are currently permitted across the Los Padres with a California Campfire PermitCheck here for more information from the Forest Service. Be safe and always extinguish your campfire.

• You may remember the video from fall 2020 of the mountain lion standoff in Utah, well, here is a shorter cougar charge also caught on film from just outside the Los Padres.

• The Forest Service has released an additional report regarding the entrapment and burnover during the 2020 Dolan Fire.

Not a poem but a blank canvas, surveying the Pothole Trail reroute.

• Good news shared this week as some much needed money will be invested to rebuild and repair the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road which was severely damaged as a result of the Dolan Fire. The road remains closed but should reopen by the start of 2024.

• No new news to share on the Reyes Peak (Pine Mountain) Fuels Reduction Project but here’s an article from the Guardian which does a good job of sharing multiple sides of the debate. 

• It was announced late last year that the Tepusquet area outside of Santa Maria will be getting a fire prevention related haircut in order to help protect the area. 

• The Los Padres NF is looking to fill a temporary Recreation Office position on the Ojai and SB Ranger Districts. Click here for details….

• Sunset Valley Road and paved access to NIRA remains closedue to bridge construction. The project is on schedule to be completed by the end of March. Dan McCaslin recently wrote an article featuring some photos of the under construction bridges. Check it out….

• The Forest Service will be overseeing a few piling and burning operations here and there across the forest, most notably up at Figueroa Mountain. More details and updates will be shared on social media……

• The Los Padres NF has some new Campground Occupancy Use regulations which limit the amount of time people can camp at certain locations, check here for the Forest Order.

• Our great friend and recent Condor Trail Guide author Brian Sarvis was recently featured on the Road Dog Podcast hosted by Luis Escobar. If you are thinking about the Condor Trail, be sure to pick up Brian’s book and check out the podcast.

• Speaking of condors, while our favorite feathered friends continue a remarkable multi-decade recovery, it’s not all rainbows and puppies. Recent reports indicate that lead poisoning remains a threat and cause of death for condors. For more information or to help out, reach out to the Ventana Wildlife Society or the Friends of California Condors.

• Last but not least we wanted to wish a fond farewell to Diane Cross, who retired at the end of 2021 after 38 years with the Forest Service. Diane served a lot of roles over her decades of work but is mostly known for her contributions to recreation within the Ojai Ranger District. We’ll share some more information on Diane in the coming weeks but wanted to thank her for all her help and wish her the best of luck on her forthcoming stanzas. And of course, she has a lifetime invite to attend any upcoming Working Vacation (hint hint DC).

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Forever exploring…. check one goal off the list and add three more.


January 28-30: Pine Ridge Trail Work, VWA
January 29: Agua Blanca Trail Work

February 9: Hwy 33 Adopt-A-Highway, LPFA
February 10: Horn Canyon Ojai Trail Work, LPFA
February 17: LPFA Backcountry Presentation, SB Library
February 18: Figueroa Mountain Trail Work, LPFA
February 19-21: Pine Ridge Trail Work, VWA

March 9: Hwy 33 Adopt-A-Highway, LPFA
March 26 – April 3: Alder Creek Working Vacation, Sespe, LPFA

April 7: Tour de Los Padres Bike Event
April 22 – May 2: Red Reef Working Vacation – Ladybug Camp, LPFA

May 14-23: Indian Creek Working Vacation – Meadow Camp, LPFA

October 2022: Volunteer Wilderness Ranger Training
November 5-13, 2022: South Fork Working Vacation – San Rafael Wilderness, LPFA

Los Padres Forest Association