Los Padres National Forest

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The Los Padres National Forest is a United States national forest located in both Southern California and Central California. It includes most of the hills and mountains along the coast of California from Ventura north to Monterey. Approximately 88% of the 1,950,000 acres are public lands with the remaining being private inholdings. The headquarters of the Los Padres National Forest is in Goleta which is in Santa Barbara County. It is governed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Wildlife includes California Condors, American Peregrine Falcons, California Mountain Kingsnakes, California Mule Deer, American Black Bears, Bobcats, Coyotes, Mountain Lions, and Bighorn Sheep.

Communities that are to the south of the Los Padres National Forest include Santa Barbara, Montecito, Carpentaria, Ojai, Fillmore, and Piru. The far west end of the Angeles National Forest meets the Los Padres National Forest near Interstate 5 just north of Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita Valley.

 

Sespe Condor Sanctuary

The Sespe Condor Sanctuary is a 53,000 acre wildlife refuge in the Topatopa Mountains in northeastern Ventura County. The refuge, established by the United States Forest Service in 1947, is within the Los Padres National Forest, directly north of Fillmore, to the east of Lake Piru, and to the northeast of Ojai. The refuge was created to protect the California Condor, an endangered species and the largest bird found in North America with a wingspan of up to nine and one half feet. The sanctuary has been highly successful in accomplishing its goal.

 

Sespe Wilderness

The Sespe Wilderness is a 219,468 acre wilderness area located in the Los Padres National Forest. It was founded in 1992 and includes the Sespe Condor Sanctuary and the Matilija Wildernes. While there are many trails in the Sespe Wilderness, the trails within Sespe Condor Sanctuary are very limited.

 

Sespe Hot Springs

The Sespe Hot Springs are located along the Sespe Creek in the Sespe Wilderness north of Fillmore in ventura County. The location is very remote, but very beautiful.

 

Hasley Canyon

Hasley Canyon is an affluent, residential, census-designated area located northwest of Castaic and east of Sespe Condor Sanctuary. The population is approximately 1,500 and the elevation is 1,765 feet.

 

San Rafael Wilderness

The San Rafael Wilderness is a 197,380 acre wilderness area in the mountains within the Los Padres National Forest. Governed by the U.S. Forest Service, the San Rafael Wilderness contains the Sisquoc Condor Sanctuary that was created in 1937. The San Rafael Wilderness was first inhabited by the Chumash People more than 8,000 years before the area was claimed by Spain and later by Mexico.

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Dick Smith Wilderness

The Dick Smith Wilderness is a wilderness area, established in 1984, in the Los Padres National Forest which is in both Ventura County and Santa Barbara County. It is adjacent to the San Rafael Wilderness which is to the west and the Matillija Wilderness which is to the south. The Sespe Wilderness is to the east and Ojai is to the southwest. The Sisquoc Condor Sanctuary is to the northwest and the Sespe Condor Sanctuary is to the southeast. Madulce Peak, which stands at 6,541 feet, is the highest peak. Wildlife in the Dick Smith Wilderness includes mountain lions, coyotes, black bears, and California Condors.

 

Pine Mountain

Pine Mountain Ridge

Pine Mountain Ridge is located in Ventura County, California within the Los Padres National Forest. The highest peak is Reyes Peak which rises to 7,510 feet. The north slope is part of the Sespe Wilderness. The Pine Mountain Ridge Trail leads to the top of the ridge. The views and scenery are beautiful.

 

Lake Casitas

Casitas Reservoir

Lake Casitas, also known as Casitas Reservoir, is a man-made lake in the Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County, California. It was created by the construction of the Casitas Dam in 1959 on Coyote Creek, two miles before it joins the Ventura River. Both Santa Ana Creek and North Fork Coyote Creek also flow into Lake Casitas. The lake is approximately 3.3 miles long and 1.9 miles wide and has a surface area of approximately 1,100 acres. Body contact with the water is not permitted, but boating and fishing is allowed. There are several camp sites at Lake Casitas. The lake is northwest of Ventura and southwest of Ojai.

 

Piru Creek

Piru Creek, which originates from springs on the north side of Pine Mountain Ridge in the Santa Ynez Mountains, is a 71 mile long natural stream in eastern Ventura County and northern Los Angeles County. It drains an area of nearly 500 square miles and is the largest tributary of the Santa Clara River, providing more than half of its flow. Piru Creek flows through the Los Padres National Forest into Lake Piru.

 

Lake Piru

Lake Piru is a man-made lake located in the Los Padres National Forest in Ventura County not far from the community of Piru. The lake was formed in 1955 by the construction of the Santa Felicia Dam on Piru Creek which is over 70 miles long. Piru Creek is a major tributary of the Santa Clara River that drains nearly 500 square miles and provides over half of its flow.

 

Mount Pinos

Mount Pinos is a mountain in the Los Padres National Forest and the highest point in Ventura County. Pine Mountain Club is located directly north of Mount Pinos. The summit can be reached by a trail where the views are absolutely spectacular.

 

Sawmill Mountain

Sawmill Mountain is the highest peak in the Chumash Wilderness and is located on the county line between Ventura County and Kern County in the Los Padres National Forest. Its elevation is 8,822 feet. Sawmill Mountain is the highest point in Kern County and the second highest in the Los Padres National Forest behind Mount Pintos which stands 25 feet higher at 8,847 feet. From the summit, the lights of Bakersfield in Kern County are clearly visible. A hiking trail leads to the top of the mountain. Sawmill Mountain and the surrounding area was home to the Chumash People, also known as the Chumash Indians, for thousands of years before the area was claimed by Spain and later by Mexico.

 

Frazier Mountain

Frazier Mountain is an 8,013 mountain located in the Los Padres National Forest in northeastern Ventura County. Frazier Park is to the north, Mount Pinos is approximately 21 miles to the west, and the Sespe Condor Sanctuary is to the south.

 

Sierra Madre Mountains

The Sierra Madre Mountains are a 25-mile long mountain rang in northern Santa Barbara County and northwestern Ventura County in Southern California. MacPherson Peak standing at 5,747 feet in elevation is located within the mountain range. Most of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range is within the Los Padres National Forest which is the northern boundary of the San Rafael Wilderness area. The Sierra Madre Mountains are an essential habitat for the endangered California Condor.

 

Pyramid Lake - Pyramid Dam

Pyramid Lake is a large reservoir located near Castaic in northern Los Angeles County. Pyramid Lake was formed by the construction of the 386 foot high Pyramid Dam in 1970 on Piru Creek. Pyramid Lake is part of the California State Water Project and California Aqueduct and is the deepest lake in the system. The reservoir is located on the border between the Angeles National Forest and the Los Padres National Forest. The lake offers fishing, boating, jet skiing, and beautiful picnic areas.

 

Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail is a long distance hiking and equestrian trail that starts in San Diego County, California at the Mexican Border, and ends in Washington State at the United States – Canada border. The trail runs through the northern part of the San Bernardino National Forest, south of Hesperia, through the northern part of the Angeles National Forest, south of Palmdale and Lancaster, and through the eastern end of the Los Padres National Forest before it heads north into Central California.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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California, Chumash Wilderness, Los Padres National Forest, Public Lands, United States National Forest