Explore the most popular hiking trails in Los Padres National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
8 hours ago

Trail is SPILLING over with wildflowers! Also even though the Thomas Fire came through this area there is so much new growth in the understory - it’s beautiful! Nice bench to eat a snack at at 2 miles, and another one at 3. You will not be disappointed, don’t skip this one!

great hike. mountain was covered in color today. very steep for the last mile but the view is worth the effort.

backpacking
11 hours ago

This is a very beautiful trail in May with all the wildflowers. This canyon has the most wildflower diversity of any trail I have ever hiked. The views of the San Rafael Mountains from the Sierra Madres was also pretty fantastic. The trail was in decent shape, but it was in great need of some bushwacking at about the 2.5 mile mark, and the poison oak was very thick in areas with no option beyond having to push or bushwack through. The creek that flows down the Judell was stagnant in areas, but flowing in others; either way, it needed to be filtered until you get to the Sisquoc River at the bottom, which runs pretty clean. The trail, despite the need to bushwack, is pretty easy to follow, but does not see a lot of traffic.
The biggest disappointment, and the reason I took a star off of the review, is the locked gate that blocks access to the trailhead. The gate is locked 1.8 miles after you pass Dry Canyon Road, and adds 5.5 miles of hiking before you can even start the Judell trail. It is ridiculous to have this gate locked year round, and it turned a 9 mile hike into a 22 mile hike.
on IG as @picbynathan

Did this as a 3 day back pack trip on 5/21- 5/23 2018 with my friend Linda. Both of us early 60’s. Started at Nira, hiked to White Ledge camp (12 miles), hiked via hurricane deck to Manzana Schoolhouse camp (20+ miles), then back to Nira (10 miles). Hikes to and from White Ledge and Manzana schoolhouse were pleasant, easy, beautiful with plenty of wildflowers and water along the way. Hurricane deck is a different animal. The San Rafael wilderness map tells you it’s about a 15 mile hike, the sign at White Ledge says 23 miles, the one at Manzana Schoolhouse says 22 miles. Whatever the distance, it is a long hike, but spectacular. With the various times you spend backtracking to find the trail you might as well call it a 20+ mile day. There are patches of well maintained trail (thank you so much for those doing the work) and areas where it is easy to get lost due to overgrown areas combined with lack of cairns or marker flags. It does become obvious when you are off trail and I advise you to backtrack right away to find it. Getting off trail can quickly become scary with the very rough terrain and dramatic drop offs. Once we did not backtrack - as it seemed more work then trying to reconnect with it going onward - it was our biggest mistake of the day, that fortunately only cost us time and a bit of a scare. The hike is epic and spectacular, with drop offs on both sides of the long long ridge, with views into eternity. It was a brilliant sunny day, but a nice breeze kept the hike comfortable. Start early so you don’t run out of daylight. Make sure you are in good shape since besides Lost Valley Trail (8 miles) and Potrero trail (3 miles) there is no way off the mountain unless you carry a hang glider or love rides on rescue helicopter. Look for condors and the Sisquoc Sasquatch - no proof of existence of either one this trip, but a trip to remember for sure!
Leesbeth

you went up today May 24th 2018 I was unaware that the trail was closed we did see a security guard on the way up and down he did not say anything. The trail is intact although if you aren't very familiar easy to go off of Trail. there was hardly any traffic on the trail probably due to the fact that it's States it's closed. There are many wildflowers that are blooming still a great hike.

off road driving
4 days ago

Went up after heavy rain and was surprised it was open. Awesome views, blue difficulty, most stock 4x4s can get through when it's dry.

hiking
4 days ago

Great walk even if you take the short walk. Green and cool in April and May.

hiking
5 days ago

Such a rewarding hike! Amazing view!

We did The Cerro Alto loop yesterday taking the long way up and the short path down. It is a great hike. This trek is not very technical and the trail is really good. I would rate this and Easy/Moderate. It is easy in that, there is nothing difficult to climb through. It’s moderate simply due to the amount of climb. So, go do it. If you are struggling on the climb, take your time. That’s all. You will really love it. The trip down is slippery though. With so much activity the path is broken down a bit to smaller sized pebbles etc. So if you can use some poles, that would help. Bring a lunch and enjoy the top. Really fun hike.

Great hike for one day... moderately steep uphill, with plenty vista points to view Morro Bay from the top

a good healthy hike that is beautiful

healthy hike, beautiful views overlooking Pine Mountain Club and the valley. beautiful view of mountains.

this is a must see hike, it is relatively short to the waterfall and has beautiful views. the waterfall changes personalities through the seasons. it ices over during the winter and has some spectacular icicles.

hiking
13 days ago

Great hike. The trail gets a little hard to follow at times.

on Baron Ranch Trail

14 days ago

Overgrown

I went last Sunday and the gate leading to the trail was closed and it was 9 miles from the gate to where the hike started. Does anyone know if it is open yet?

Just hiked here yesterday. It’s starting to get HOT but it was still an awe inspiring experience to turn the corner and be at the base of these majestic rock formations! Definitely will be back, hope to backpack into Sespe.

Fun trail but my girlfriend who isn’t a very experienced hiker had trouble at some of the steeper narrower parts.

Nice view water pool and river

Beautiful views and great weather in April. Grass was high, and the trail is almost exclusively single-track.

Some sections of trail were encroached or overgrown with poison oak throughout the hike.

We stayed to the right on the way out, to do the loop counterclockwise. After the last really steep section, the trail just disappeared into heavy brush. It wasn’t as steep, but we essentially had to break brush for the rest of the climb to the top of the hill. After cresting the hill, we were able to pick the trail back up. Heading back to the trail junction, we came across a relatively recent tree fall that blocks the trail. We were able to work through the branches (it wasn’t that big a tree). The rest of the looks section of trail had considerable overgrowth across the trail again.

Trail has a moderate climb and is very rocky. Beautiful natural landscape and creek views.

Beautiful hike! Great views of the river and valley. Hard to follow the trail on the way down though.

on Potrero John Trail

hiking
28 days ago

Beautiful hike that was a moderate challenge. We ended up scrambling up the river to the waterfall which was slightly more challenging but beautiful. Met some friendly hikers along the way but most of the time was quiet and serene.

Nice trail, but overrun with poison oak almost the entire way. Shaded, which is nice in the heat, but unfortunately there is almost no view of any mountains, landscape, etc because the entire hike follows a creek down between two large mountains. Only saw two other people the whole way so it was quite peaceful. The only animals I saw were birds. The lower part of the trail, near the Davy Brown Campground, is very lush and green. A bit late for wildflowers seemed like (late April) but still lots of tall green grass. The drive up Fig Mountain to the actual trail head is stunning, a windy, one lane road, with lush green meadows and oak trees the entire way. (PS) Don't park your car in the loose gravel at the trail head, stay as close to the metal fence as you can. It can and will get stuck.

Hike is definitely advanced as far as fitness is concerned. Lots of loose footing on the way down, steep, and uphill the whole way back. (I'm not kidding. I trail run several miles everyday and I found this difficult) I used Strava to track myself: 2,244 feet of climbing, took me just under 3 hours to make it down to the Campground and back up to my car.

If you start from the Figueroa Mountain Road trail head (which the app gives great directions to) the trail goes through a grassy meadow and then down into a ravine. When you reach a river crossing, the trail forks into three. Be sure to stay AWAY from the left trail, this is Willow Pond trail, which I took by accident on the way down and it is nearly impassable. I am covered in ticks. Keep to the center trail at the fork to stay on the Davy Brown Trail. Not sure where the right trail goes. Once you take the center trail, you will almost immediately come to another crossing, this time again, KEEP RIGHT. Don't go up the left trail, this is Willow Pond. Keep right and follow Davy Brown Trail downhill. (SEE PHOTO WITH GREEN ARROW) On the way back up, remember these crossings. Take pictures if it helps. Can get confusing. Stay away from Willow Pond Trail it is overgrown and infested with ticks.

Easy hike and family friendly. Like the cave!

Great wildflowers. Steep at times. Better than sneakers is preferable. Poles would be good idea unless you are very fit or light on your feet. Outstanding views from top but very nice views throughout the hike.

(Now I have to hike down...)

Connect with Snyder to get great views back down to the campground!!

1 month ago

Good moderate hike. Some sun exposure so depending on your comfort pick an early time!

Beautiful views but it’s not a hike

backpacking
1 month ago

Backpacked from Rinconada trail to 101 E Cuesta Grade. Camped 1 night on Big Falls Trail, second night at Sulphur Pots. Super cool area, lots of water (dried up just above Upper Lopez Camp), just SO MUCH poison oak. Definite evidence of a trail, but hours walking through with PO all around the trail.

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