Tag Archives: Los Padres

Los Padres Group Campgrounds

Los Padres Group Camping – Big Sur, Monterey & Ojai, California

Los Padres Forest is the SoCal camping mecca. Pinyon forests & peaks of nearly 9000′ make this the highest elevations of Kern County. This coastal forest on the San Andreas Fault burns bad due to winds & wildfires, but there is plenty back country to enjoy with minimal crowds – as long as camp fire safety is key.

Southern Los Padres National Forest operates Group Campgrounds for reservations. Several back country camp spots can accommodate a large group. Mount Able’s Camp-O-Alto and Mount Pinos’ Chula Vista walk-in camp can both handle a big crowd, but you may need to call the Lockwood Valley ranger station for more info and availability.

Northern Los Padres – Hwy 1 around the Big Sur/Monterey CA region has 2 Group Campgrounds w/ facilities, flush toilets & reservations online.

Los Padres Group Campgrounds:

campground elev people veg toilet water notes
Arroyo Seco Group Camp 1000′ 49 mixed flush piped Carmel Valley, Greenfield
Holiday Group Camp 2000′ 8 oak vault piped N of Ojai
Plaskett Creek Campsite 600′ 45 pines flush piped South Big Sur coast
Sage Hill Campground 1200′ 50 sycamore flush piped Lake Cachuma

If you are seeking regular campgrounds that take reservations and do not need a large group site, then follow this link below for all other Los Padres campsites.

http://www.totalescape.com/outside/campsites/los-padres-camping/

Los Padres Camps

Plaskett Campground is across the road from Sand Dollar Beach, a popular day use area. California Coast Campground – the infamous Central Coast Highway – Hwy 1 (so you may hear traffic @ this camp)

camptruck

Hungry Valley SVRA – off-road park located near Interstate 5 @ Gorman, accommodates large and small groups with numerous campgrounds. Expect busy weekends and crowds; sometimes snow during winter months.

Ballinger Canyon OHV Park – off road park near Cuyama River Valley, on Hwy 33 near junction w/ Hwy 166. Campgrounds suited for off-road campers and RVs. Dirt bike trails, off road routes; North of Quatal Canyon (Rd #9N09) & Chumash Wilderness.

maps of Los Padres Central Coast-


Frazier Park Camping

Mount Pinos Camping & Frazier Park Campgrounds

Hiking Pinos Signs
Frazier Park and neighboring towns, like freeway-close Lebec and Gorman, is where the Los Angeles hills meet the Kern County mountains. Mojave Desert meets to Coastal Range. EXIT I-5 @ Tejon Pass (elev 4144′)

Wildflower hills, seasonal creeks, forested peaks, high desert canyons. Bike trails, hike trails, off road routes. High elevation backpacking, hang gliding, mountain biking and camping in every direction.

MTB SOCAL
Mountain Bikers love the trails at Mount Pinos.

High desert washes, oak creeks, pinyon pine forests, mountain meadows and numerous peaks – Frazier Peak, Reyes Peak, Alamo Mountain, Mount Pinos, Mount Abel (Cerro Noroeste) and north facing San Emigdio ridge.

Mt. Pinos District:

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Aliso Park, Cuyama 3200′ 11 oak pit no Aliso Cyn Rd. (#10N04)
Ballinger OHV Camp 3000′ 20 pinyon vault no Rd# 9N10, Cuyama Valley
Camp-O Alto 8286′ 12 jefferey pit no ridge, Cerro Noroeste
Caballo Campground 5850′ 5 oaks pit no Rd# 9N27, Cerro Noroeste
Cherry Creek 4×4 5200′ 2 oak no spring 4WD trail, Cuddy Valley
Chuchapate Campground 6000′ 30 pines vault piped Rd# 8N04, closed winter
Chula Vista Walk-In Camp 8300′ 12 pines vault no walk-in camps & RV lot
Cottonwood Campground 4600′ 2 ctnwd no creek 4WD only trail, fish
Dome Springs Camp 4800′ 4 oak pit no Rd# 8N40, Lockwood
Dutchman Camp 6800′ 8 pines no no Rd# 7N01, 4WD trails
Half Moon Campground 4700′ 10 pines pit no Rd #7N03, May-Oct
Kings Campground 4250′ 7 pinyon vault no OHV & Piru Creek
Marian Campground 6600′ 5 pine pit no closed in winter
McGill Campground 7500′ 50+ pine vault seasonal mountain biking
Mount Pinos Campground 7800′ 19 pine vault seasonal closed winter
Nettle Springs Camp 4400′ 9 pinyon vault no Rd# 8N06, Apache Cyn
Ozena Campground 3660′ 12 cottnwd vault no Lockwood Rd
Pine Springs Camp 5800′ 12 pinyon pit no Road #7N03
Pleito Campsite 5000′ 2 mixed no no dirt rd access, dispersed
Rancho Nuevo 3550′ 2 mixed no no river crossing
Reyes Creek 4000′ 30 oaks vault yes creek camping
Reyes Peak Pine Mt 5200′ 6 pines none no ridge camping
Salt Creek 4×4 3000′ 2 mixed no no 4WD only
Sunset Campground 4300′ 2 cottonwd no no Lockwood / Piru Creek
Thorn Meadows 5000′ 5 pine pit no Rd# 7N03C, horse corral
Tinta Campground 3600′ 3 pinyon pit no river crossing
Toad Springs Camp 5700′ 5 pinyon pit no Rd# 9N09, Quatal Cyn
Twin Pines Camp 6600′ 5 pine vault no Dry weather only
Valle Vista Camp 4800′ 7 mixed pit no condors, new toilet

See Mount Pinos Recreation Campgrounds only

Group Camping Sites in Los Padres Forest

Map of Los Padres NF –nettle spring camp

Los Padres mountain towns –

DSCN0043

Toad Springs Campground atop Quatal Canyon. Small camps located in Los Padres NF have no fees, and often no toilets – so bring the shovel.

Many dirt roads are gated seasonally for wet weather or snow. Call rangers to find out which routes are open before you plan your weekend. Or have a plan B and C camp site ready if route is closed. Flashfloods, thunderstorms, and erosion means you may all-of-a-sudden need to use your 4WD. This is the mountains after all. UNpredictable weather is common.

frazier park camping

Primitive Camping in Quatal Wash, next to the OHV Route and the Chumash Wilderness

PeaktoPeak
Peak-to-Peak Hike: the toughest climb you’ll do, this decade.


Big Sur Campground

Big Sur Camping Sites & Campgrounds

big sur camping

Plaskett Creek Campground has green lawns, pine trees, & flush toilets. Located across the highway from Sand Dollar Beach, right on Hwy 1. Ponderosa Campground, on the other hand, has native grasses, oak trees, a seasonal creek and is located on a paved back road, with easy access from US Hwy 101

Central Coast Camping

Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest manages several Campgrounds along the Central Coast. Some are first come, first serve.

aldercamp
Alder Creek Camp
willowcreekrdsign
Willow Creek Road #23S01

hikes

Los Padres National Forest

Backpacking trails lead into the wilderness backcountry, along ridge lines with vast ocean views and also deep into fern creeks with redwood canyons. Sykes Hot Springs is a remote destination, if you like to hike, although summer can get crowded. Overnight wilderness permits and campfire permits may be needed.

mcwayfalls
McWay Falls @ Julia Pfieffer Burns SP

Free camping in Big Sur
can be found on dirt back roads:

primitive camp sites

DISPERSED CAMP: No charge camp sites means dirt road access, tighter camp fire restrictions & no facilities (table, bathrooms, fire pits). Campfire permits are required for primitive camping (stoves & BBQ), but unfortunately much of the time camp fires are not even allowed in the backcountry due to extreme wildfire danger.

None of these free camp sites are located on the beach or ocean shoreline. They are situated in the mountains near the coast.  These premium, hard to find camp spots usually require that you venture off the beaten path – w/ a National Forest map or regional topo map. If you want to camp without the tourists and crowds, with excellent views of the coast & the night sky, plus avoiding all fees – then take one of these dirt roads off the main highway & start exploring (preferably before sunset, with a high clearance vehicle).

prewittroads

Free camping California

Big Sur Private Campgrounds –

camp

Big Sur State Park Campgrounds –CA state parks

Big Sur Coastal Towns –

Prewitt Ridge Camping

Santa Barbara Beach Camping

Santa Barbara Beach Camping
Santa Barbara Beach Camping

Santa Barbara Campsites

Beach Campgrounds along the coast are made up mostly of State Beaches & Parks. This is a popular and busy part of the California coastline for camping, all year long. Many RVers vacationing year round and big family events are held often. Tent camping is also available – but you will be surrounded by motorhomes, and paying a premium price for a camp spot. With the major highway US 101 zooming along the cliffs at shoreline, some of these campground are located within ear distance from the freeway and the railroad track. Ocean waves may overpower the traffic noise, but we aren’t guaranteeing anything. Early summer vacations tend to be foggy.

Try also, Santa Barbara Mountains Camping

Big Sur Camping, Ojai Camping & Ventura Coast Camping

Sand Dollar Beach
Sand Dollar Beach on the South Big Sur Coast

nearby towns –

DSCN3402

Cuyama Valley

Cuyama River Valley, California

Ventucopa WineriesNorth of Ojai, Highway 33 meets Highway 166: Ozena, Ventucopa, & New Cuyama make up the 3 small communities inside the Cuyama River Valley, located in south of the San Joaquin (California’s Central) Valley.

On the outter edge of Santa Barbara County, where Kern, San Luis Obispo & Ventura counties all meet, you can find great solitude, a large red dirt, high desert wash & plenty rural trails. Off-roading, backcountry camping, hiking, mountain biking all over this region.

Ozena Ranger Station sits at the south end of Cuyama, at the intersection of Lockwood Valley Rd & Hwy 33. Ozena Campground with 10 spots @ 3660′ elevation, is to the east off Lockwood.

Nettle Springs Campground (8 spots @ 4400′ elevation) can be accessed via Apache Canyon, a 10 mile long dirt road# 8N06, off Hwy 33

2 smaller campgrounds – Tinta and Ranch Nuevo are on the west side of Hwy 33 & may require a high clearance vehicle to reach. Trails out of these campgrounds lead to the Dick Smith Wilderness.

Chumash Wilderness is just east of Ventucopa, as Los Padres National Forest surround this agricultural valley. Quatal Canyon and Quatal Wash reach from the upper elevations of pinyon pines near Mount Able to Cuyama river bed below, as Cerro Noroeste Road skirts the northern rim of the impressive red rock canyon. Toad Spring Campground is at the top. Apache Saddle and Pine Mountain Club are just east of Quatal Cyn.

Cuyama riverbed follows Highway 33 and then turns west, following Highway 166, past the ranch lands, the volcano hills and notorious Rock Front Ranch.

All the pavement around Cuyama is very popular amongst motorcyclists. Scenic touring kinda roads. A very nice 100 mile loop trip is from Pine Mountain Club – W on Mil Potrero Hwy, W on Cerro Noroeste Rd, W on Hwy 166, S on Hwy 33, East on Lockwood Valley Road – back to Frazier Park & I-5 Lebec.

Mahutasan, the indian sweat lodge and the extremely rustic Sage Brush Annies Restaurant w/ winery are the highlights of this rural agriculture valley called Ventucopa CA. Cuyama Peak and fire lookout tower overlooks the whole Cuayama Valley & can be accessed via Santa Barbara Canyon Rd. 4×4 may be required in certain spots. This lovely oak and manzanita lined canyon was scorched by the Zaca Wildfire in mid 2007.

  • Cuyama Wineries
  • Pistacio Orchards
  • Quatal Canyon
  • Ballinger OHV Park

helpful maps of the region –

towns in the valley –

towns close by –


View Larger Map

Hwy 166 Wildflowers, School House Canyon
Hwy 166 Wildflowers, School House Canyon


Los Angeles Mountains

LA forest / Los Angeles Mountain / LA National Forest

wrightwood

Los Angeles forest & parks –

San Bernardino National Forest
Angeles National Forest
Los Padres National Forest

Santa Monica Mountains NRA
Malibu Creek State Park
Verdugo Mountains Park
Mount San Jacinto State Park

+ numerous Wilderness Areas

Los Angeles Mountains
Maps & Hiking Trails –

Los Angeles mountain towns –
Big Bear, Angelus Oaks, Arrowhead, Forest Falls, Green Valley Lake, Idyllwild, Wrightwood

Tunnel thru Rock

Angeles Crest Highway
Angeles Crest Highway 2

Reyes Peak

CA 33 N
Ojai Camping
North of Ojai, CA

Camp out among tall pines, well above the coastal fog.
Los Padres National Forest Road #6N06

Ojai, CA – NORTH on HWY 33
a very scenic drive, in North Los Angeles County

Coastal Foothills

Near the Pine Mountain Summit (elev 5080′) on California Highway 33, the small sign only reads PINE MTN and points east, to a rugged side road. By far one of the worst paved roads around.

This Reyes Pine Mountain, should not to be mistaken for the golf course community of Pine Mountain Club, many miles north of here, around the other side of Mount Abel.

This is Reyes Peak, also known as Pine Mountain Ridge “north of Ojai”, on the sorta paved Pine Mountain Road. (Los Padres National Forest Rd # 6N06)

overozena
The view above is from one huge dirt pull out, on the left – over looking Ozena Valley, on the west end of Lockwood Valley Rd. Motorhomes, trailers, off-roaders and hunters like this as a last minute camp site, very close to the highway.

If your vehicle can endure 9 long miles of poor pavement, pot-holed roads, then maybe you can find seclusion back in the woods around here.

Six or more primitive campsites, spread out along a forested ridge line (around 5000′ elevation). Tables and fire rings only. No fees, no toilets. Bring a shovel and plenty water. No pipes, no running water up here.

The scattered camp sites are located far enough away from each other, that the location provides some privacy and still relatively close to town. Some sites are in forested settings, while others have big boulders, but are exposed to wind and sun. Although these few sky view camps are perfect for the stargazers.

Dark night skies can be okay, if the coastal fog stays low. Neighboring Mount Pinos is all paved – usually best choice for RV campers w/ telescopes, who need large areas of flat level ground.

reyespeakcamp

One particular camp site is located at a very decent view spot. Boulders, pine trees and mountain views to the south. Click the image above to expand.

PRIMITIVE CAMPGROUNDS
Campfire permits are required.

Launch Spot

The end of the road is a top destination LAUNCH spot for hang gliders & para-sailers. Watch them jump on YouTube compliments of DanaMite.

Youtube

 

The hiking Trailhead for Reyes Peak and the Chorro Grande Trail #23W05 are also at the end of this dead end road #6N06. Reyes Peak Trail leads east, out to 7510′ elevation, overlooking the whole lower Los Padres region – Lockwood Valley, Ozena, Piedra Blanca, Sespe Gorge, Potrero Seco.

reyespeaktrail

Get outside this weekend. There are no more excuses!

MAPS: Los Padres National Forest Maps

NEAREST TOWNS:

Santa Lucia Camping

Miranda Pines – Camping Los Padres Back Roads & 4×4 Camps
Hwy 41 & Hwy 166 Camping – Santa Lucia District:

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Baja Campground 1400′ 2 oaks pit no Branch Creek Rd
Barrel Spring Campground 1000′ 6 oaks vault no seasonal
Bates Canyon Camp 2900′ 6 pines vault no Cottonwood Cyn Rd
Brookshire Campground 1500′ 2 pit no
Buck Spring Campground 1500′ 1 pit no OHV area
Cerro Alto Campground 1000′ 22 trees vault piped on Hwy 41
Colson Canyon Campground 2000′ 5 pit no Colson Canyon Rd
Davy Brown Campground 2100 13 mixed vault creek Sunset Valley Rd
Figueroa Campground 3500′ 33 oaks pit yes San Rafeal Wilderness
Friis Campground 2200′ 3 pit no Rd# 29S02
Hi Mountain Campground 2400′ 11 vault no Pozo-Hi Mountain Rd
Horseshoe Campground 1600′ 3 vault no Colson Canyon Rd
La Panza Campground 2400′ 15 vault no Pozo Road
Lazy Campground 1400′ 2 vault no Rd# 30W29
Miranda Pines Campground 4000′ 3 vault no Sierra Madre Ridge
Navajo Campground 1900′ 2 pit no Rd #29S02
Nira Campground 1000′ 11 vault creek Manzana Creek
Wagon Flat Campground 1400′ 3 pit no Colson Canyon Rd

Most of these camps are free; No reservations needed!

see also – Rock Front Ranch

Los Padres National Forest

maps of the Los Padres region –

dscn5110

Davy Brown Campground has lush terrain and a small, seasonal creek

Toad Spring Campground

Toadsprings

Los Padres National Forest; Toad Spring Campground

Atop Quatal Canyon on Forest Rd #9N09
– less than a mile off of Cerro Noroeste Road; just west of Apache Saddle. Cerro Noroeste Road name has changed to Harris Ranch Road (2015), so make sure to check on several maps before venturing out, just so you know.

5700′ elevation w/ 5 camp sites.
picnic tables, fire rings & no toilet. OHV trails nearby

Red dirt Quatal Canyon, next to the Chumash Wilderness & the Apache Saddle, a small campground is an oasis for the wildlife. A year round drippy, soggy natural springs feeds the meadow & trickles down the dirt road. Great birdwatching, hiking, native wildflowers & hunting.

OHV use is quite common; Quatal Cyn trails,  a long desert wash to explore. Short side canyons to the right, off of main road (9N09). Many routes may require a high clearance vehicle, but not 4×4, unless it’s raining or wet or snowy. You’ll need a Los Padres Forest map to get the most enjoyment out of this confusing landscape.  The multi-colored, eroded badlands makes great day hikes. Chumash Cliffs & Mount Abel 8286′.

Ballinger Canyon OHV Park is about 20 miles away, via Quatal Cyn & then 5 miles N on Hwy 33


View Larger Map

LOS PADRES NATIONAL FOREST MAPS – USDA
LOS PADRES EAST MAP – NatGeo
LOS PADRES WEST MAP – NatGeo

towns nearby:

PINE MOUNTAIN CA

VENTUCOPA CA

Big Sur Camping

ocean of fog

Camping in Big Sur – Los Padres National Forest / Primitive Camps

If you want to escape the expensive redwood campgrounds on the coast, then you’ll need to head for the hills . But what? You are not up for that back packing trip in Ventana Wilderness & long trek over to Sikes Hot Springs. Well, in between back packing & car camping is a new concept – “back roads” camping. Often you will do without a campfire, a table & a toilet, but heavenly skies will grace you, well above the fog.
These are unmarked camp sites & there are no facilities. You’ll hafta search for yours. Nearly half of these prime camp sites have great ocean views.

Check the local ranger station for up to date fire restrictions & to obtain your free campfire permit.

camp area
elev spots veg toilet water .
Los Burros Rd 2000′ 8 oaks no no Rd# 23S01
Plaskett Ridge Rd 2000′ 3 oaks no no Rd# 23S02
Prewitt Ridge #23S05 3200′ 12 oaks no no via Naciemiento Ferguson Rd

maps of the area –

Check out the Big Sur Back Roads for self guided routes thru redwood forest.

redwood drives

Central Coast California

Central Coast Mountains / Central Coast Cali

Within 40 miles from the Santa Barbara coast are mountains that reach near 9000′ elevation, the tallest in Kern County. Mount Pinos & Mt Able, as well as the Sespe, Dick Smith, San Rafael, Matilija & Chumash Wilderness Areas, make up this southern portion of Los Padres National Forest. There are plenty of tiny, primitive campgrounds that offer seclusion for RVs & car campers. 4×4 camps, OHV routes & parks, plus numerous Wilderness areas that will suit everyone’s need for the outdoors. A great drive for accessing this area is Hwy 33 North from Ojai.

Further up the coast is the northern section of Los Padres National Forest – which is the mountainous back drop to the magnificent Big Sur coastline. If you are seeking to camp near Big Sur without the fees of a developed Campground, these dirt road ridge lines may be your saving grace… if you don’t mind roughing it. Views over the ocean & coastline are even more spectacular than from Hwy 1, but campfire restriction can be tight in summer & fall months. There are plenty lodging opportunities, historic lodges, cabins or luxury RV parks, located in the small towns along the coast.

Both Los Padres forest north & south are open all year long for recreation & camping. Only one town in this region, Pine Mountain Club, gets considerable amounts of snow (roads may be impassable without chains, AWD or 4×4). Central Coast icon Big Sur with Hwy 1 is prone to mud & rock slides during heavy rains, so plan for alternate routes & check road conditions w/ CalTrans when traveling during inclement weather.

Central Coast forest & parks –

Los Padres National Forest
Andrew Molera State Park
Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park
Limekiln State Park
Pfieffer Big Sur State Park
San Simeon State Park

Moonstone Beach Cambria

Central Coast maps & trails –

Central Coast towns nearby –
Big Sur, Cambria, Frazier Park, Gorda, Gorman, Ojai, New Cuyama, Pine Mountain, San Simeon, Ventucopa

Milpotrero

Los Padres Topo

 

Los Padres Monterey

Los Padres National Forest Maps

Los Padres atlas

7 minute topo maps inside a spiral bound book. Black & white satellite photos. Covers both north & south part of Los Padres National Forest. This map book can be found at ranger stations for Los Padres USFS

Los Padres Monterey Los Padres Ojai

Waterproof plastic map; USDA National Forest Service Maps

Additional topo maps for Los Padres region –

Forests

see more about Los Padres National Forest

Big Sur Coast

Fiesta Days in Frazier Park

Frazier Park~ 2/10/07

Frazier Fiesta Days

40+ years running, this small mountain town fair is a local favorite in Frazier Park, California. Family fun and festivities include a parade, live local bands, carnival & rides, vendors, dances, pet show and maybe even a fishing derby.

Annual event; August

Mountain Memories Association
P.O. Box 858, Frazier Park, CA 93225
661-623-2340

frazierfiestadays.org

Frazier Park CA

Frazier Pond

Ellen Langsfeld

DSCN1422

Dick Smith Wilderness

Santa Barbara Mountains
Ojai Backpacking, Ventura, CA

old cabin cuyama
Old Cabin at Cuyama Peak Fire Lookout, Dick Smith Wilderness Area in the background

64,800 acres

30 miles N of Ojai, CA
Los Padres National Forest

Dick Smith Wildernessreyes lift off

  • backpacking
  • camping
  • hang gliding
  • hiking
  • horseback riding
  • parasailing
  • OHV trails nearby

Los Padres National Forest – Located in between the Santa Barbara coastline and the Cuyama Valley, this coastal wilderness area is situated miles north of Ojai, off Highway 33.

The Dick Smith Wilderness is where the San Rafael Mountains and the Sierra Madre Mountains merge on the east side, next to Pine Mountain Summit (elevation 5080′ @ highway). This PINE MTN should not to be confused w/ the Pine Mountain Club, on the north side of Cerro Noroeste.

Big Pine Mountain – 6828′ elevation
Cuyama Peak – 5875′
Lizard Head – 5350′
Madulce Peak – 6536′
Samon Peak – 6527′

Closer to Ojai, Matilija Wilderness is on the southern boundary of DickSmith and the San Rafael Wilderness sits to the west side. Native American petroglyphs can be found in this region.  Access to “Painted Rock” on the Sierra Madre ridge, via Road #32S13 (which has a locked gate on both ends), is a long one so you might want to bring the mountain bike. The dirt road hike is about 10 miles (one way) and it starts at the Santa Barbara Canyon trailhead. If you plan to visit the rock art from the west side – take the dirt road road up past Bates Canyon Campground. The turn off on Hwy 166 is called Cottonwood Canyon.

Dick Smith Trails
hiking trailheads –

  • Chorro Grande (Hwy 33)
  • Potrero Seco (Hwy 33)
  • Santa Barbara Canyon (Hwy 166)

 area campgrounds –

  • Nettle Springs
  • Ozena (closed)
  • Pine Mountain (dispersed)
  • Rancho Nuevo
  • Reyes Creek
  • Reyes Peak
  • Tinta

 nearby towns –

more Ojai camping

ojai backpacking

Dick SMith Wilderness

Ozena Valley Badlands

Cerro Noroeste Road

Fresh Blacktop 2011

Scenic Drive California: Cerro Noroeste

Tejon Pass, Frazier Mountain, Tecuya, San Emigdio, Mount Pinos, Apache Saddle, Mount Abel, Quatal Canyon, BitterCreek, Klipstein Canyon

Los Padres NF – Cerro Noroeste Road #9N05

One of the best driving roads in Central California!

Motorcycles love this route.

Los Padres National Forest stretches from Ojai to Monterey, mostly along the California Central Coast. If you are traveling on Interstate 5 (atop the Grapevine, Tejon Pass) and you wanted to head westbound,  then you really want to take this scenic route.

Exit Frazier Park Rd @ Lebec, on the top of the Grapevine (Interstate 5 N of jct Hwy 138). Proceed westbound thru the Frazier Park stop sign (5 mi), up the hill past the turn off for Lockwood Valley Road. Frazier Mountain Park Road now becomes Cuddy Valley Rd, continue up to pine trees. Turn right on Mil Potrero Highway & drive thru Pine Mountain Club (4-8 mi). Continuing past the golf course, heading up to Apache Saddle.

Approximately 6000′ at a forested intersection is the ‘saddle’ with ranger station. The paved road is now considered Cerro Noroeste Road.

A left turn will bring you up to Cerro Noroeste 8286′ elevation. (10 mi/closed in winter) This mountain peak is also known as Mount Abel.

At the saddle, continuing straight (veering right) through the P&J forest (pinyon and juniper) to the gorgeous rolling hills, fog & cloudscape countryside of ..

HUDSON RANCH ROAD

WTF? Recently county authorities have renamed Cerro Noroeste Rd to Hudson Ranch Rd, which has many locals infuriated and of course, keeping visitors confused. There is a popular Hudson Ranch up near Napa Wine Country, but this is not named after that location. Rumor has it that one local family complained to Kern County about the difficulty of spelling ‘Cerro Noroeste’ for outsiders. Go figure! Want a local roadway name changed? Easier process than imagined – just file a suggestion w/ Kern County.

HUDSON RANCH ROAD

Bitter Creek Wildlife Area & Highway 166 (23 mi) are all out this way. Sports cars & motorcyclists love this route, so do hikers & hunters. Every weekend you can find hundreds of bikes cruising this scenic byway.

Best Sunset Drives
Numerous forest roads can be found out this way. Quatal Canyon #9N09 is a great side route to explore if you like long dirt roads, red dirt, lupine & pinyon pines. Chumash Wilderness backcountry access is way back in this super scenic canyon. Toad Spring Campground is a small site located near the top of the canyon, only half mile off the pavement.

Forest Road #9N27 leads up to Caballo Campground & even further out to the steep ridge line, Marion Campground & Blue Ridge 4×4 trail. Across from the Apache Saddle Ranger Station, San Emigdio dirt road #9N34 climbs to 7400′ elevation and has a great viewpoint. Unsigned San Emigdio 4×4 trail starts at the viewpoint and heads east.

Way out west on Cerro Noroeste Road is Valle Vista Campground, with new a outhouse. This small campground is perched on the edges of red cliffs overlooking the great Central Valley of California.

Klipstein Canyon, a side route/short cut to Taft, offers decent wildflower displays in springtime. San Andreas faultline uplift is also evident on this detour. Road Closed barriers seem insignificant, as many drivers just skoot around them.

CerroNoroeste

nearby towns:

Pine Mountain Club, CA
Frazier Park, CA
Ventucopa, CA
Taft, CA
New Cuyama, CA

Sespe Hot Springs

Sespe Hot Springs
Los Padres National Forest

Backpackers Below

Sespe Wilderness
Los Padres National Forest

hike

Sespe Hot Springs is one of the hottest thermal springs in the California coastal region. The unique springs, leaking from a cliff high above, leaves a red mark down the white rock wall and it is too hot to touch near the source. Scalding is possible in Sespe Gorge!

Several clearings and tent spots are located in the sandy canyon, between the cottonwood grove and the springs source. Stack river rocks and boulders to create your own soaking tub and relax. Do bring your backpack and plan on spending the night, cuz if not it’s an 18 mile RT hike (done as a day hike – it can be very long and rough). Weekdays are best for seclusion and having the whole place to yourself. Weekends are the prime time for SoCal trekkers to arrive.

DSCN3022

Sespe Trail MapGrade Valley Road – The access to Sespe Hot Springs trailhead is via Lockwood Valley Road; west of Frazier Park about 12 miles. Take the backroad #7N03 (Grade Valley / Mutau Road) southbound  into the forest and traverses 13 miles of rough dirt road to reach the small dirt parking lot. Deep inside this route, you are now totally surrounded by Sespe Wilderness. Both Thorn Meadows Campground and Half Moon Campground are located back here on the main dirt road. A dead end dirt road is the trailhead for Sespe Hot Springs.

Via Johnston Ridge – The access trail is LONG, with a lot of up and downs, changing in elevation, thru pinyon pine forest and oaks, along dry dusty ridges, very exposed. Cottonwood trees line the large canyon at the Hot Springs.

3 access trails to Sespe Hot Springs

Johnston Ridge Trail

Sespe River Trail

Alder Creek Trail

Ojai Rangers Trail Description (PDF)

 

hike Another hike is the soaking tub @ Willet Hot Springs

NFS

Los Padres National Forest
Mt. Pinos Ranger Station
34580 Lockwood Valley Rd
Frazier Park, CA 93225
661-245-3731

Haze in Los Padres

West Kern

festivals kern

CA Kern / western Kern county

Kern County is known for its oil, its agriculture, and outdoor recreation. The Kern River is the highlight of the region with lush, green and grey granite canyons, a big reservoir & the Sequoia trees just up the road. On the western side of Kern County are small towns like Frazier Park, the golfing cabin community of Pine Mountain Club, plus the oil meccas of Maricopa and Taft. Expansive Lockwood Valley enters into Ventura County. Cuyama River borders Santa Barbara & SLO counties.

Much of the western Kern area is rural ranch land, desert or forest. Los Padres National Forest, Chumash Wilderness, Bittercreek Wildlife Refuge, Wind Wolves Preserve, Buena Vista Reservoir, Ballinger Canyon, Hungry Valley and Fort Tejon State Park all call this region home, right on the mighty tangent of the San Andreas fault line. The San Emigdio range and the surrounding mountains of Mt Pinos and Mount Able design a perpendicular range to the Central Cali coastline, connecting the huge Mojave desert to the ocean. Cerro Noroeste is a very scenic drive.

The 17 mile long Quatal Canyon, where the indian camp of Mahu Tasen hosts a Bear Dance every summer is also a wild place of bird watching, camping and hunting. The indian word for Mount Pinos is “Iwihinmu” – a sacred spot for Chumash Indians, as well as others; Chumash call it the ‘center of the world’. Locals respond regularly with music, hikes, star gazing, drum circles (seasonally) and local festivals (annually) .

PHOTOS: Los Padres Photos | Miller Jeep Trail Off Roading Photos

Drum Camp Pinos | Drumming Cerro Noroeste

Tecuya Ridge

Tecuya Ridge, Cuddy Valley 4×4 trails can keep you busy for a whole weekend of back road exploring.

boating, camping, dirt biking, fishing, hiking, horseback, hunting, mountain biking, off roading, skydiving, xc skiing

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Quatal Canyon

Ventana Wilderness

ventana hikes

Central Coast California
Backpacking Big Sur

Ventana Wilderness is a 40 mile stretch of protected land located in the Santa Lucia Mountains on the Big Sur coastline in between the Monterey peninsula and the Nacimeinto-Fergusson Road #4004. Fort Hunter Liggett lies to the east side and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Ancient volcano peaks called “cones” line the pine ridges – Ventana Cone,  Ventana Double Cone, South Ventana Cone, Black Cone & Cone Peak.

240,026 acres
Cone Peak – 5155′ elevation
Los Padres National Forest
San Antoni River
Sykes Hot Springs
Tassajara Creek
Tassajara Hot Springs

campgrounds bordering area –

hiking trailheads –

  • Cone Peak
  • Escondido
  • China Camp
  • Arroyo Seco
  • Bottchers Gap

redwood hikes

nearby towns –

Central Coast Big Sur Maps

ventana map

Los Padres Forest Maps

NatGeo Big Sur Topographic Map

Pinnacles National Monument Map

Ventana Wilderness Topo Map

Smaller Silver Peak Wilderness (31,555 acres) is also featured on the same map, situated south of Ventana and north of the San Simeon Hearst Castle area.

 

Ventana Wilderness Alliance
Ventana Wildlife Society

Rock Front Ranch

rockfrontranch

Rock Front OHV

San Luis Obispo County Off Roading
Los Padres National Forest

Rock Front Area is located on the north side of Hwy 166 in between New Cuyama and Nipomo, on the very edge of San Luis Obispo county in the center of the Santa Lucia Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest.  Landscape varies from rock covered canyons to ridge line trails with outstanding vistas of the the mountains and Cuyama Valley. Remote area features Los Machos Hills, Alder Creek, Branch Creek, Cuyama River, cool rock formations.

15,328 acres
41 miles of trails

From US Hwy 101 @ Hwy 166 travel east 25 miles, left turn into Rock Front Ranch gate on left side. (This road may also be known as Branch Creek Rd on some maps). This off road area can be closed during rainy seasons, so it is best to call rangers ahead of time to ensure the gates are open. There is also one brown Forest Service sign along gate10mileshighway 166, (couple of miles from 101)  letting eastbound traffic know if this OHV area is open or closed.

The dirt Road #32S07 (Arroyo Seco) from the west connecting historic Huasna townsite to Rock Front is CLOSED to thru traffic and has a locked gate. Private properties and ranches are abundant in the backcountry of Arroyo Grande, CA

Los Padres National Forest
Santa Lucia Ranger
805-925-9538

vistas

Rock Front Ranch Campgrounds

Off Road Trails in Rock Front Ranch

OHV trail ratings in this region are designated below
Rock Front OHV

  • Green diamond – easy & least difficult
  • Blue diamond – moderate & more difficult
  • Black diamond – extreme & most difficult

Logan Ridge Trail #17E05
Green diamond. Least difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 1.4 miles long. This route is a good route for beginning riders. It is located on the main ridge top of Logan Ridge. Route dead-ends at a locked gate.

Shaw Ridge Trail #17E06
Black diamond. Most difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 8 miles long. This route leaves the Twin Rocks route on a spur ridge that drops into the Alamo Creek drainage and dead-ends. A very steep section of trail exists at the end of this route where specialized equipment is recommended. This section is recommended for advanced riders.

maps Los Machos Trail #17E07
Green diamond. Least difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 2.8 miles long. This route is a good route for beginning riders. It is located on the main ridge top of the Los Machos Hills. Route dead-ends at a locked gate.

Paradise Trail #17E08
Blue diamond. More difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 2 miles long. Access to Paradise Campground and Los Machos route. It is best suited for intermediate riders due to a steep section along the route. Route dead-ends at a locked gate.

Branch Creek Trail #17E09
Blue diamond. More difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 5.5 miles long. Access to Buck Springs Campground, parallels the Big Rock route and offers a loop ride.

Big Rocks Trail #17E10
Blue diamond. More difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 4 miles long. Located on the main ridge top and intersects with the Jack Springs route.

Twin Rocks Trail #17E12
Blue diamond. More difficult. Open to motorcycles, ATVS, 4WD. 3.5 miles long. This route intersects Shaw Ridge and dead-ends at a locked gate. The first half-mile of this trail is steep. Once on top of the ridge you have excellent views of the Cuyama Valley and the Santa Lucia Range.

Kerry Canyon Trail #30W02
Black diamond. Most difficult. For motorcycles only. 6 miles long. This trail must be accessed through Colson Canyon or Sierra Madre. The trail is highly technical and is recommended for advanced motorcycle riders only.

HORSE TRAINING – Along the highway at the gate of Rock Front Ranch is a rock structure home and ranch catering to horse training. skeltonperformancehorses.com

Sespe Wilderness

Sespe Wilderness & Hiking Trails

Los Padres National Forest
Campgrounds & Trailheads

Sespe Wilderness is located in the mountains W of Interstate 5, North of Los Angeles. The chaparral region lies in between Lockwood Valley and the Santa Clara River Valley (Hwy 126). Higher elevation Mount Pinos lies to north side of Sespe and Ojai Valley to the south. The infamous 4×4 Miller Jeep Trail is located on the north side near Alamo Mountain, which is also accessible via Hungry Valley.

The 2006 Day Fire burnt a good portion of the Sespe Wilderness, so you can expect to see some black and toasted areas. Sespe Creek is also referred to as Sespe River. and certain waterways may dry up during drier months. Piru Creek, Alder Creek, Aqua Blanca Creek, Tarr Creek, Mutau Creek, Snowy Creek are several worthy of note. Expect heat and high temperature in the summer & fall month, and possible campfire restrictions during extreme wildfire season.

219,700 acres
6 areas of hiking trails

Los Padres National Forest
Lockwood Ranger Station
661-245-3731

Sespe Trail Map
Sespe Trails, Tom Harrison Topographic Map

Sespe hiking trailheads located at –

Highway 126 – Fillmore, CA
Sespe Condor Sanctuary – Dough Flat Trailhead

Highway 150 – Ojai, CA
Sisar Canyon Day Hike / Road #4N15

Highway 33 – Ojai, CA
Rose Valley Road #6N31, Rose Valley Falls, Day Hike
Piedras Blanca Trailhead for the National Recreation Trail
Pine Mountain Rd # – Reyes Peak Trailhead

Lockwood Valley Road – Frazier Park, CA
Reyes Creek, Camp Shiedeck – Pine Mountain Trailhead
Half Moon Mutau Flat Trailhead, Sespe Hot Springs

Interstate 5 Tejon Pass @ Hungry Valley
Hard Luck Trailhead

 

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Los Padres Campgrounds near Sespe Wilderness

  • Frazier Park Camping
  • Ojai Campgrounds
  • Twin Pines Campground, Road # 18N01
    Alamo Mountain via Hungry Valley OHV
  • Lockwood Creek Campground
  • Half Moon Campground, Lockwood #7N03
  • Thorn Meadows Campground, Lockwood #7N03
  • Dome Springs Campground, Lockwood #8N40
  • Reyes Creek Campground, Lockwood Valley Rd
  • Pine Mountain Road @ Reyes Peak (dispersed)
  • Nettle Springs Campground, Cuyama Hwy 33
  • Ozena Campground (closed)letswalk
  • Tinta Campground, Hwy 33
  • Rancho Nuevo Camp, Hwy 33
  • Rose Valley Campground, Hwy 33
  • Wheeler Gorge Campground, Hwy 33

 

nearby parks & lakes –

nearby towns –

Backpackers at Sespe Hot Springs