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California’s Chumash Wilderness: Spritual Salvation

The condors know all about Chumash Wilderness, but luckily, the masses in Los Angeles don't.

DRIVE TIME: The Chumash Wilderness is 90 miles (2 hours) north of downtown Los Angeles.

THE WAY: From Los Angeles, take I-5 north to Frazier Mountain Park Road, then go west 7 miles and bear right at the Y onto Cuddy Valley Road. Proceed 5 miles to Mt. Pinos Road (Forest Service Road 9N24) and turn left. If there’s snow on Mt. Pinos, start at Nettle Springs trailhead. Use CA 33 and Forest Service Road 8N06 to Nettle Springs Campground.

TRAILS: Connect the Tumamait Trail and Nettle Springs Trail to cross the wilderness from east to west (26 miles round-trip). Another option is the North Fork Lockwood Creek Trail, which links Mt. Pinos and Three Falls Boy Scout Camp (19.2 miles round-trip). An Adventure Pass is required for all recreation in Los Padres National Forest (see Contact below).

ELEVATION: From a high of 8,831 feet atop

Mt. Pinos, the terrain drops steeply to just below 5,000 feet. The wilderness is generally snow-free until mid-December, after which you’ll need snowshoes above 7,000 feet.

CAN’T MISS: Stream-laced San Emigdio Mesa, with views of the badlands below.

CROWD CONTROL: Human use is light all year. Hunting season is in October and early November.

GUIDES: USDA Forest Service Los Padres National Forest map for Mt. Pinos, Ojai, and Santa Barbara Ranger Districts ($6, contact below). USGS 7.5-minute quads Apache Canyon, Sawmill Mountain, and Cuddy Valley (888-ASK-USGS; http://ask.usgs.gov;

$4 each).

WALK SOFTLY: Native American archaeological sites are protected by federal law. Some reintroduced condors have shown little fear of humans. Avoid contact with both.

CONTACT: Los Padres National Forest, Mt. Pinos Ranger District, (661) 245-3731; www.r5.fs.fed.us/lospadres/html/mprd.htm.

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