It’s the cool season and it’s time to focus on lower elevation areas.
I haven’t been to Los Padres National Forest or Ventana Wilderness in nearly fifteen years. I think I’ve walked there three times. The longest trip was five days as a boy scout. We went up the Double Cones. I remember a camp where I pulled no less than 14 ticks off my shirt.
Some of the trails in Ventana continue to be in terrible shape. Do your research before you head out! The popular corridor trails (Sykes, Pine Valley) are generally fine. It’s the other trails that can verge on non-existent. This is not the type of bush-whacking that you think you like. It’s thick chaparral and head high poison oak. Think of struggling through sharp bushes where your feet don’t touch the ground. Consider volunteering in Ventana.
Ventana Wilderness maps
The Ventana Wilderness Alliance stewards trail location and condition information on their website. Hikers report on trail conditions in their forum. You can click on Ventana’s trails and get the same trail condition information on their interactive map. More interactive maps on ventanahiking.net, including the great Gmap4 and Google Map (and Earth) basemaps, present the exact same data.