When you hear about the spectacular wilderness areas surrounding greater Los Angeles, the discussions typically focus on Angeles and San Bernardino national forests. However, not far from Holiday Inn Burbank is a third national forest that deserves your attention. Los Padres National Forest includes most of the mountains ascending high into the sky from Ventura to Monterey. The elevation of the national treasure varies between sea level and nearly 9,000 feet.
Covering more than 1.9 million acres, Los Padres National Forest includes 1.7 million acres for public use. The national forest contains two separate divisions, with the northern division located in Monterey County. The northern division is known for its scenic hiking trails and spacious camping grounds. Several rivers running through Central and Southern California originate in Los Padres National Forest, including the Piru, Carmel, Salinas, and Santa Ynez tributaries. Sespe Creek, which offers some of the best Rainbow trout fishing in the region, provides visitors the chance to partake in whitewater rafting.
Streams, rivers, beaches, and mountains offer visitors to the wilderness plenty of recreational options. With the weather varying throughout the forest at different altitudes, you should find your favorite recreational activity within one of the wilderness areas. Dunes and beaches lie on the western edge of the national forest along the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy cycling through the mountains or along the coastline. Los Padres National Forest offers one of the most challenging natural venues for rock climbing aficionados. Horse riding is one of the most popular recreational activities, as many of the hiking trails are wide enough to accommodate both two and four-legged animals. Winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding attract visitors from all over Southern California.
Fauna and Flora
Numerous endangered species call Los Padres National Forest home, including the California condor. The magnificent bird is easy to spot, as it soars above the canyons spreading its wings to span more than 10 feet. The United States Forest Service created the Sespe Condor Sanctuary to protect California condors. Other threatened species that enjoy protection inside the national forest include peregrine falcons and California mountain king snakes. Mountain lions and California mule deer are the most frequently spotted large mammals living in the remote regions of the national forest. American black bears dine on the berries and grasses growing in the valleys and bighorn sheep roam the highest mountain peaks. Coyotes and bobcats thrive in the remote sections of the wilderness.
Chaparral represents the most common type of vegetation that covers the ground in mountain ranges below 5,000 feet in altitude. Coniferous forests span most of Ventana Wilderness and the area surrounding Mount Pinos located in Ventura County. Research conducted by scientists affiliated with UCLA estimate the amount of old growth in the Los Padres National Forest to exceed 18,000 acres.
Los Padres National Forest is located northwest of Holiday Inn Burbank. The eastern edge of the national forest straddles Interstate 5. There are several entrances to the vast natural wonder, and the entrance you choose depends mostly on what your plans are for the day.