Where should I go backpacking in Los Padres National Forest?
August 1, 2012 10:46 PM   Subscribe

Where should I go backpacking in Los Padres National Forest?

I'm planning to spend three and a half days backpacking in the Los Padres National Forest outside of Santa Barbara CA and I'm a little bit overwhelmed by choice.

If you have spent some time in this area, which areas do you think really stand out?
posted by pknodle to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's a bit far afield from where you are (Los Padres is HUGE!) by the Ventana Wilderness is AMAZING. I have a good friend who does a lot of trail work in that area. If you're thinking of heading that direction, PM me, and I can hit him up for specific trail suggestions.

Also, as a motorcyclist, I know that Los Padres has a ton of OHV areas. You might want to look into where those are and avoid them. Not the environment that the majority of backpackers are looking for.
posted by mollymayhem at 11:03 PM on August 1, 2012

Also, I have heard good things about the Dick Smith Wilderness but I haven't spent any time there myself.
posted by mollymayhem at 11:09 PM on August 1, 2012

Willett Hot Springs in the Sespe is one of my favorite places on Earth.
posted by this roof at 11:26 PM on August 1, 2012

I don't want to scare you away, but just warn you to take the LPNF seriously. The LPNF is beautiful, but it can also be a deceptively difficult place to hike. It has some very steep and rugged terrain, with lots of poison oak to boot. It's also vast, with many places that are difficult to get into and out of. Finally, the soil is sedimentary and prone to erosion, so a number of trails are very challenging, if not altogether missing in spots.

Case in point: whatever you do, don't hike the Miller Canyon Trail. It's extremely rugged, and the one time we made the mistake of hiking it we found the trail to be poorly signed and dangerously washed out. You're looking at southern LPNF trailheads, so it's unlikely you'd go that far north anyway, but I still want to call it out as a Bad Idea.

Have fun, but be careful.
posted by mosk at 2:14 AM on August 2, 2012

Manzana Narrows is my favorite spot up there. This might not be the best time of year for it though.
posted by Mark Doner at 5:06 AM on August 2, 2012

Consider the time of year, the LPF can be a tough place in mid summer and fall. Contact the Santa Barbara District office or the Los Padres Forest Supervisors office in regard to possible closures. Little Pine Mtn. is doable in the short time you've got. The north side of the ridge there has some nice scenery and is a decent area.
posted by X4ster at 12:15 PM on August 2, 2012

Hi all,

Thanks for you suggestions. I'm going to go to the Willett Hot Springs and some of the surrounding trails. This area looks beatiuful and has the advantage of being near a water source for most of the hike.
posted by pknodle at 11:29 PM on August 2, 2012

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