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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 21:24 EDT

Los Padres National Forest

Los Padres National Forest is a United States national forest that is located in central and southern areas of California. The forest holds 1,950,000 acres of public and private land, most of which is accessible to the public. The park is divided into two areas known as the northern division and the main division and it holds a number of designated wilderness areas including Garcia Wilderness, Silver Peak Wilderness, and Dick Smith Wilderness. Visitors must obtain a National Forest Adventure Pass before entering most areas of this national forest.

The northern division of Los Padres National Forest is located in Monterey County and holds many popular features including the Big Sur Coast, Ventana Wilderness, 11 campgrounds, and 323 miles trails for hiking. The main division within the forest is large and is located within five counties including Kern, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. This area of the forest holds many mountain ranges including the La Panza Range, the Sierra Madre Mountains, and a small portion of the Caliente Range. Many rivers begin in Los Padres National Forest like the Santa Ynez and Ventura rivers.

The elevations in Los Padres National Forest vary between sea level and 8,847 feet. Areas at elevations blow five thousand feet are typically dominated by chaparral forests, while areas at lower elevations hold mainly coniferous forests. It is estimated that the national forest holds 18,900 acres of old growth forests, which contain many species including white fir, coast redwood, and coast-Douglas fir, although Jeffery pine dominates these areas. The forest supports a variety of wildlife including the endangered California condor, American peregrine falcon, and mountain lion, which is abundant in the area, as well as bighorn sheep, coyotes, and American black bears.

Image Caption: View into the Los Padres National Forest; photo by Antandrus (April 2002). Credit: Antandrus/Wikipedia

Los Padres National Forest