Tag Archives: ojai

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.


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 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

Matilija Wilderness

Upper Matilija Fall

Matilija Wilderness
Matilija Falls

Matilija Canyon
North of Ojai, California

Los Padres National Forest Map

Established 1992 by the Los Padres Condor Range & River Protection Act.

29,600 acres
Ojai, CA

Los Padres National Forest
Ojai Ranger District
805-646-4348

USDA web link – Matilija Wilderness

hikelospadres.com/matilija-wilderness

The coastal mountain range wilderness located approximately 12 miles north of Ojai, CA. Drive 5 miles N on Highway 33; left at the Matilija Canyon Road turn off.

Chaparral is the prevalent vegetation with poppies plentiful in springtime. Cottonwood, alder and maple trees dominate the canyon. One trail has trail campsites along it and follows 9 miles of the North Fork, gaining about 3,400′ feet in elevation as it makes a north-south journey, and leaving the Wilderness at a parking area on Cherry Creek Road. This road is open seasonally from Aug. 1 to Dec. 15

Upper North Fork Matilija Creek

Matilija Hot Springs, a primitive rock tub near the creek is also a popular destination for hikers and backpackers, although it can be closed for restoration at times. Ecotopia is currently managing the Ojai Hotsprings. ojaihotsprings.com

Matilija Canyon Trails & Trailheads

Landowner closes popular trail to Matilija Falls (2010)


View Larger Map

aaron climbing

Upper North Fork Matilija Creek

San Rafael Wilderness

Sierra Madre Mountains
Cachuma Lake to Cuyama Valley

Sierra Madre Mountains

197,380 acres
Central Coast Foothills
Los Padres National Forest

North of Santa Barbara, CA
East of Santa Maria, CA
South of New Cuyama, CA
West of Ventucopa, CA

San Rafael Wilderness is otherwise known as the Santa Barbara backcountry. The Sierra Madre mountains and San Rafael mountains make up the this chunk of wilderness, a vast open space near the coast – which extends from Lake Cachuma to the Cuyama River Valley. This is the southern ridge line along Highway 166, with few pine trees, mostly oaks, leading west to Santa Maria River.

Figueroa Mountain and Lake Cachuma are to the south near Santa Barbara. Vineyards and wineries skirt the western hills of Santa Maria, cattle grazing, oil fields and agriculture line the northern borders near Cuyama Valley. Dick Smith Wilderness is just to the east a little bit, spanning over toward Hwy 33.

OHV: better known as off-roading and dirt biking is common in the foothills behind Santa Barbara, as well as on the west side of the San Rafael Wilderness, near Miranda Pine and Tepusquet Road. Numerous small campgrounds on dirt roads are positioned around the perimeter, but no OHV trails lead into the wilderness areas.

McPherson Peak – 5749′ elevation
Peak Mountain – 5843′DSCN5759
Timber Peak – 4764′
Miranda Pine Mountain – 4120′
Wheat Peak – 2436′

trailheads –

  • via Figueroa Road #8N09

    • Cachuma Saddle
    • Davy Brown
  • McPherson Peak, on Sierra Madre Ridge
  • Painted Rock, on Sierra Madre Ridge
  • Santa Barbara Canyon, off Hwy 166

developed campgrounds surrounding the wilderness

  • Davy Brown Campground
  • Nira Campground
  • Cachuma Campground
  • Figueroa Campground
  • Manzana Schoolhouse
  • Colson Canyon (OHV) #11N04
  • Brookshire Springs
  • Miranda Pine #11N03
  • Horseshoe Springs
  • Lazy Campground
  • Wagon Flat Campground
  • Barrel Springs #10N06
  • Alesandro Campground

back road access –

  • Figueroa Mountain Road #8N09
  • Tepusquet Road, off Hwy 166
  • Miranda Pine Road #11N03
  • Sierra Madre Ridge Road #32S13
  • Cottonwood Canyon Rd @ Hwy 166
  • Santa Barbara Canyon Rd, off Hwy 166

Native American petroglyphs can be found in this remote region of Central California, but may require topographic detective skills and a full day of action.

rock art

Access to ”Painted Rock” on Sierra Madre ridge is hike in only. The dirt road that access these trailheads are rough road and not maintained. High clearance may be needed. This day trip is an all-day adventure and you might want to consider bringing the mountain bike. Just stay on the road, as rangers will ticket for riding in the designated Wilderness Areas.PigPen Trailhead

from the west – Cottonwood Canyon, past Bates Canyon Campground up to ridge, east on dirt road #32S13 several miles to the dirt parking area at the pig pen w/ locked gated and signed trailhead.

from the east – dirt road hike is about 10 miles (one way) and it starts at the Santa Barbara Canyon trailhead.

 

If Los Padres Westyou 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. Pay attention to private property signs, cuz the locals are serious about their lands.

 

nearby towns –

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

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

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

 

rd7N03

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

Los Padres Camping

Los Padres Campgrounds
Big Sur, Mount Pinos, Ojai, Santa Barbara, Santa Lucia

Forests

Los Padres National Forest campgrounds span the length of the California Central Coast, from the Monterey Bay to Los Angeles County. Choose a desired area:

Big Sur Campgrounds

Frazier Park Camping

Mount Pinos Campgrounds

Ojai Camping

Santa Barbara Camping

Santa Lucia Camping

Bottcher Gap Campground
Lush coastal campground is Bottchers Gap near Big Sur, CA

Los Padres National Forest

see also Los Padres Group Campgrounds

maps of the Los Padres regions –

Los Padres nearby towns & cities –

Pine Mountain Club from ridge
Pine Mountain Club from ridge