Backcountry travelling in LA area
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Matthew Jaeger
(jaegermus2@yahoo.com) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
Backcountry travelling in LA area on 03/02/2010 14:08:22 MST Print View

I'm trying to find a good place for a 3-day backcountry trip. I'm amazed how difficult it is to find a place where I can hike and camp openly. No bathrooms, ability to pick up deadfall for firewood. Any suggestions?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Backcountry travelling in LA area on 03/02/2010 14:24:06 MST Print View

Your problem is firewood. I don't think there are many places here at all that you can just pick up "dead fall" and start your own fire!

But wild camping isn't a problem. In Joshua Tree, for example, there are campsites -- but there are also places where you can just plop down a tent -- with no one and no pit toilets around. No open campfire though.

Edited by ben2world on 03/02/2010 14:24:39 MST.

Matthew Jaeger
(jaegermus2@yahoo.com) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
Re: Re: Backcountry travelling in LA area on 03/02/2010 14:31:00 MST Print View

I know - but firewood is what I'm looking for - call me what you will, but I need a good fire. Any suggestions anyone knows of would really help.

Let me follow up with I don't mind driving 4-6 hours.

Edited by jaegermus2@yahoo.com on 03/02/2010 14:47:01 MST.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Sespe Wilderness on 03/02/2010 16:30:27 MST Print View

The Sespe Wilderness in the Ventura backcountry is close to LA. Plenty of opportunities to either hike on or off- trail. In the right places you can find large waterfalls, narrow canyons, hot springs, archaeological sites, fossils, pine forests, and on and on in addition to the officially designated wild and scenic Sespe River which runs through the wilderness area.

Fires are okay this time of year provided you pick up a free campfire permit. Typically open fires (and sometimes even stoves) get nixed sometime during the summer based on the very real fear of catastrophic brush fires. Anyway, you can either fax in the permit form to one of the Los Padres National Forest offices or I belive the Sequoia National Forest (not National Park) website has an option for a print-out campfire permit provided you pass their fire safety quiz. The permit is good for the calendar year and is valid in all National Forests. Collecting deadfall for campfires is fine in the LPNF although they encourage you to use established campfire rings.

EDIT: Just to clarify a little on the established campfire rings comment: All (or most) of the official backcountry campsites have fire rings/pits. You'll also find many "unofficial" campsites that don't show up on maps but have fire pits. I tend to believe these are fine to use. If you set up camp in an otherwise "untouched" spot, I'd just encourage you to practice LNT methods. I have a few "hidden" campsites where we've built stone pits for a fire, but we dismantle them, scatter the ashes (once they're fully out) and generally cover our tracks to leave the place more or less how we found it.

Edited by NickB on 03/02/2010 17:53:30 MST.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Sespe Wilderness on 03/02/2010 18:10:37 MST Print View

I second the Sespe Wilderness. It's probably the most rugged and remote place you can go. It's really beautiful. There's snow at the higher elevations right now and wildflowers at the lower elevations.

I did a hike in May from Santa Barbara all the way out to Interstate 5 near Pyramid Lake. It got prettier the further east I went. I hiked along Sespe Creek to Johnston Ridge up to Mutau Flat and up Little Mutau Creek to the Buck Creek trail. The views at the top of Little Mutau/Buck Creek were amazing. I followed bear prints the whole way.

There's supposed to be an interesting place in the Sespe called Devil's Gateway. The topo map lines look pretty amazing. There's a camp there called Ant or the Apiary, I can't remember. Might be worth a look.

Beware though that the trails aren't always that well maintained. Progress can sometimes be slow.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Backcountry travelling in LA area on 03/02/2010 18:24:09 MST Print View

The reason for no firewood is that most areas are over used. But even when I can build a fire (even car camping), I don't because fires cut you off from your surroundings.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: Re: Backcountry travelling in LA area on 03/02/2010 19:42:06 MST Print View

if you don't mind driving 4-6 hours,
I think there is a mountain range in california called

the SIERRAS !!

Matthew Jaeger
(jaegermus2@yahoo.com) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
Re: Re: Re: Re: Backcountry travelling in LA area on 03/03/2010 00:36:29 MST Print View

I checked the Sierras - same issue.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: Backcountry travelling in LA area on 03/03/2010 08:36:47 MST Print View

What issue? With only a few roads crossing it, the Sierra wilderness areas runs about 350 miles south-north and around 40 miles east-west. Elevation ranges from a few thousand feet to fourteen.

Of all that, fires in winter, spring, and early summer are generally allowed almost everywhere below 10,000 feet. Later in the season, as fire danger begins to build there will be increased restrictions, or rarely a total ban. Two summers ago in late August fires were limited to between 8,000 and 10,000 feet- still a good sized strip of land 350 miles long.

Edited by jimqpublic on 03/03/2010 08:39:46 MST.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: Backcountry travelling in LA area on 03/03/2010 09:07:11 MST Print View

I should try to be more helpful- When is your planned time frame? Most of the conifer forest is buried in snow right now.

Matthew Jaeger
(jaegermus2@yahoo.com) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
Re: Re: Backcountry travelling in LA area on 03/03/2010 10:34:35 MST Print View

My problem isn'y allowance of fires - it's the pickup of deadfall. It's banned in all Federal parks, and the woman I spoke to actually suggested I CARRY my wood for my 3 day excursion. That's a lot of weight for a backpacking trip.

I'm going next week. Thanks.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
bathroom on 03/03/2010 10:45:39 MST Print View

why do you need a bathroom? If your backpacking just a dig a hole =) oh wait, you said you DONT want bathrooms, my bad.

Edited by isaac.mouser on 03/03/2010 10:46:17 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Backcountry travelling in LA area on 03/03/2010 13:41:27 MST Print View

If you want fires, I might suggest something different - go to a place that has a lot of windfall every year where it is legal. For example I don't feel guilty backpacking in the rain forest valleys of the Olympic NP and once in awhile having a fire. But and a big but, all we use is small branches! We are not hacking on the big trees that fall. We have a small fire. It is a rain forest and everything grows fast.

I wouldn't have a fire in the deserts of Eastern Washington or in high alpine. It is very understandable why fires are banned as is fire wood collecting. In the front country there just isn't any left to collect. In many areas there isn't the windfall yearly.

Personally? Every year I have fewer and fewer fires. In the past 3 years I think we have had one while backpacking and only due to having a partner who was getting sick and was freezing cold. I made the entire fire with small branches.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Backcountry Travel in LA area on 03/03/2010 20:49:09 MST Print View

I'm not sure which areas you've been researching but outside of the high fire hazard times of year, I've never encountered restrictions on collecting deadfall and/or using campfires in the local national forests. Perhaps things are different in the Angeles or San Bernadino, etc. Nat'l Forests, but at least in the Los Padres, I can attest that I collect deadfall for all of my fires as do all of the other backcountry hikers that I know.

I could see there being restrictions on collecting deadfall around car camping sites or in areas where there is not a lot of woody vegetation (i.e. desert, above tree-line, etc.) or even in high visitation areas like the Santa Monica Mtns but if you stick to wilderness/backcountry areas in the national forests, I think you ought to be fine.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Re: Re: Re: Backcountry travelling in LA area on 03/06/2010 08:43:32 MST Print View

"My problem isn'y allowance of fires - it's the pickup of deadfall. It's banned in all Federal parks, and the woman I spoke to..."

You got bad info. It's often prohibited near campgrounds to keep them from becoming a wasteland, and large-scale collection to take home for firewood is only allowed with a permit and lots of restrictions.

Matthew Jaeger
(jaegermus2@yahoo.com) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
Thanks everyone for the info on 03/08/2010 14:57:58 MST Print View

Thank you everyone for the info. I'm hitting the Piute Mountain Wilderness area for ease of access and nearness to the 40 (I'm new at the backcountry camping and I have a total outdoor newbie with me, so having a major highway is comforting should something go wrong).

joseph peterson
(sparky) - F

Locale: Southern California
Backcountry travelling in LA area on 03/15/2010 22:03:13 MDT Print View

Don't let fire restrictions keep you out of the most beautiful terrain in southern california!!