Legacy Trails Program Awardee


Santa Cruz Trail

The Los Padres Forest Association will restore 5.4 miles of the Santa Cruz National Recreation Trail (27W09) along the southern flank of Little Pine Mountain between the single track trailhead at Upper Oso Campground and Happy Hollow Campground. The funds will go specifically towards restoring a .9 mile subsection of trail that contains 3 broken retaining walls and a failing rock wall. The Santa Cruz Trail is one of only two federally designated National Recreation Trails (NRT) within the Los Padres National Forest (LPNF) and has historically been a very popular multi-use trail loved by hikers, backpackers, equestrians, and mountain bikers.

Applicant: Los Padres Forest Association
Project Location: Santa Barbara Ranger District, Los Padres National Forest, California
Amount Awarded: $17,595.00

The frontside of the Santa Cruz Trail is located solely on LPNF land and was completely burned and largely destroyed in the 2016 Rey Fire. While the trail has received some trail work here and there since the Rey Fire, it remains in very poor condition and is not passable for most trail-users. In particular there is a large section of broken retaining wall approximately 3 miles up from the lower trailhead called the Little Pine Slides that is in dire condition and is quite dangerous to cross. Beyond being unsafe, this broken wall is causing increased sedimentation of Oso Creek, which lies below the trail. This creek feeds the Santa Ynez River, a major watershed of Santa Barbara County, and is home to two federally endangered species, the Southwestern Arroyo Toad and California Red-legged Frog. The LPFA has been working with the LPNF to design a solution for this treacherous section of trail and the LPNF will be applying for a large sum of funds to repair this section of trail through the Great American Outdoor Act (GAOA). The LPNF is eyeing fiscal year 2023-2024 for these GAOA funds. The LPFA is planning on restoring the Santa Cruz Trail both above and below the Little Pine Slides so that the trail will be ready for stock use, machine use, and for any trail crews to access the larger section of destroyed retaining wall when the GAOA funds become available. We have the full support of the LPNF to complete this work and will be starting our trail restoration work in December 2022 with the goal of completing all work by May 2023.

We have broken the proposed 5.4 miles of the Santa Cruz Trail that we plan on reworking into 8 sections. The 8 sections range in distance from 0.16 to 1.1 miles. We have created a detailed plan for how best to restore each section of trail and based on that plan we have also determined who would be best suited to manage that trail restoration for each section. With the funds from the Legacy Trails Grant, we will be dedicating three weeks of a combination of volunteer and LPFA Trail Crew work to replace 3 damaged retaining walls at a section called the Gray Slides with one new 42ft retaining wall. We will also rebench the trail above and below the Gray Slides and repair a damaged section of rock wall just below the Gray Slides . Before restoring this .9 mile section of trail, we will be brushing the trail corridor, re-benching the entire trail, and adding erosion control along the entire trail. We will begin work on this 5.4 mile section of the Santa Cruz Trail in December 2022 by hosting a combination of volunteer days and hired trail crew days working from the bottom of the trail up towards 19 Oaks Camp. Work will progress from there, again using volunteers and hired trail crews, throughout the winter and early spring of 2023 as weather and road access allow. The trail will be completely reworked up to the Little Pine Slides by April 2023. Depending on how the winter goes, we should be able to access the top of Little Pine Mountain by mid-April and will begin working from Little Pine down towards the Little Pine Slides . This work from the top down will take approximately 4 weeks and we expect to have all our work completed by mid-May 2023. Most of the work will be completed using hand tools but we do plan on using machinery where needed as well. By the time our work is done, the Santa Cruz Trail will be open to hikers, backpackers, and mountain bikers while also providing valuable access for future GAOA work along the Little Pine Slides.

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2023: Lost Lake Trail

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2023: Continental Divide National Scenic Trail

2023: Southfork Trail, White Mountain Wilderness

2023: Black Canyon and Trail Creek Drainages

2023: Twenty Lakes Basin Toads and Trails

2023: Dickey Bell Trail Reroute and Bypass

2023: Horseshoe Canyon Trails

2023: Lower San Francisco River Wilderness Study Area

2023: Trails in Ontonagon and Sturgeon watersheds

2023: Bandit Springs Trail System

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2023: North Country National Scenic Trail Connections

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2023: Rocky Gap Horse Trail System

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2023: Johnson Creek Trail Re-Establishment

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2023: Restoration of Buckhorn and Indian Trails

2023: Hauf Lake and One Horse Lakes Trails

2023: Building Resilience on the TRT/PCT

2023: Camp Creek Watershed Improvement

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2023: Western States Trail & Tevis Cup Trail, within Granite Chief Wilderness

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232 views • posted 05/24/2023