ForestWatch Launches App Showing Public Trails Status

ForestWatch Launches App Showing Public Trails Status title=
ForestWatch Launches App Showing Public Trails Status
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By the Los Padres ForestWatch

A free web app with an interactive map showing the public access status of trails and roads across the region is now available. Created by Santa Barbara-based nonprofit Los Padres ForestWatch, the new web app—OpenTrails—provides the most comprehensive look at which trails and roads normally open to the public for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and off-highway vehicle use have been closed due to winter storms in January.

OpenTrails includes approximately 1,800 trails and access roads across a region that stretches from Morro Bay in the north to Santa Monica in the south, and inland to the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Most of these recreation routes are located within the Los Padres National Forest and Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, but a significant number are found in city and county parks, state parks, and nature preserves.

The web app is easy to use and includes important information about trails such as which types of uses are allowed if open. There is even a colorblind-friendly version that can be toggled with a single click.

“There has been a lot of confusion about which trails are open ever since the big winter storms caused extensive damage in and around the Los Padres National Forest,” said ForestWatch’s director of conservation and research, Bryant Baker, who took the lead on developing OpenTrails. “We wanted to produce something that could help reduce confusion and give outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to discover new trails that remain open.”

Large storms in January, while welcome in many respects, took a serious toll on many trails along the Central Coast. One of the areas hardest hit was the Santa Ynez Mountains in the Los Padres National Forest. Following the rains, the Forest Service closed the entire forest except for the Mt. Pinos Ranger District near the Ventura-Kern county line. The closure—which extends to mid-March—includes nearly every national forest trail as well as most trails that start on non-federal land but lead into the Los Padres.

The desktop- and mobile-friendly web app can be accessed at ForestWatch will continue to update the map as new information becomes available. 

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bicyclist Feb 02, 2023 02:20 PM
ForestWatch Launches App Showing Public Trails Status

Interesting that according to the (difficult to view/zoom on the provided link) map it shows that both Gibraltar & East Camino Cielo are/were CLOSED, so Patrick's question here seems to be still "unanswered"?:
So HOW did he actually get to that crash site? Ouch...

bicyclist Feb 02, 2023 03:05 PM
ForestWatch Launches App Showing Public Trails Status

Questions part II - why is Hollister Ave. listed as open "Regional Trails and Access Roads"? I get that the Los Carneros park is listed as open etc. What am I missing Hollister & the section of Upper State to the 154?

EastBeach Feb 04, 2023 11:58 AM
ForestWatch Launches App Showing Public Trails Status

The map worked fine for me (Chrome and Edge browsers).

If previous road closures from past fires are an indicator, they're manned 24/7. Sometimes it's just a sign. But the fines are steep.

EastBeach Feb 04, 2023 11:48 AM
ForestWatch Launches App Showing Public Trails Status

What a great map and use of ArcGIS - thank you LPFW! We were thinking about heading out to Gaviota SP but found out it's also temporarily closed.

Ray Ford and Bryan Conant have some photos of storm damage around the county here:

The area around Mono Debris dam and Pendola look like a mess! Reminds me of that big storm in the mid-90's that carved away a huge chunk of the west end of Camuesa road near where it now climbs steeply up from Santa Cruz Creek.

EastBeach Feb 05, 2023 02:07 PM
ForestWatch Launches App Showing Public Trails Status

I noticed people like Dan McCaslin are hitting the trails even though they (should?) know the forest is closed:

If you can get past the (poetic?) overhead in his columns, it appears his rationale is he didn't see any signs.

EastBeach Feb 05, 2023 01:55 PM
ForestWatch Launches App Showing Public Trails Status

Photo album of storm damage in the Los Padres:

Folks who don't get out onto the trails much might not be able to make sense of these photos. But for those who do, they're pretty impressive. Photos include Happy Canyon, Upper Oso, the first few river crossings, Romero Canyon, the road down to Pendola, etc.

Basicinfo805 Feb 05, 2023 05:55 PM
ForestWatch Launches App Showing Public Trails Status

Wow, yeah that’s some serious damage to the main road into the Red Rock area especially. Hard to imagine how long that’s going to take to be repaired, assuming it even can be. It would be cool of they just let hikers and bikers go in. People are going to do it anyways. Most won’t bother hiking too far, and those that do will be rewarded this spring/summer with a significantly less crowded outdoor experience. Look, there have always been risks on our trails for users - steep sections with a massive cliff drop off on one side, for example. Most of the main front country trails have spots like that, where if you made a big mistake you could pay a big price. That’s the outdoors, and being out there always entails some risk in one fashion or another.

It’ll be interesting to see how long the USFS tries to keep the public out.

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