National Forest Ordinance bans camping and hiking on the central coast

All of California’s national forests will be closed from midnight Tuesday – and getting caught in one during the shutdown could result in a hefty fine.

This is bad news for anyone planning to explore parts of the Central Coast over Labor Day weekend.

The closure includes much of the Los Padres National Forest that reaches the edge of the Big Sur coast and the interior areas of San Luis Obispo County, from the Cuesta Grade to the mountains along Highway 58.

The US Forest Service announced Monday that it will close California’s 20 million acres of national forests to public access starting at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.

“By temporarily reducing the number of visitors during this extreme threat, this closure will minimize the likelihood that visitors will be trapped on National Forest System lands in the event of an emergency, reduce the potential for further fire outbreaks at a time when Firefighting resources are extremely limited and will improve firefighter and community safety by limiting the exposure that occurs in public evacuation situations, especially as COVID-19 continues to impact human health and put a strain on hospital resources, ”we read in a press release on Tuesday.

According to the Forest Service order, anyone found in a California National Forest – including hiking trails, driving forest roads, and camping in campgrounds – during the shutdown will face a fine of up to ‘to $ 5,000 for an individual or $ 10,000 for an organization.

The shutdown is expected to last until September 17 – leaving hundreds of people who planned to visit popular recreation areas over Labor Day weekend scramble to find new plans.

On the central coast, the closure means you won’t be able to access your favorite hiking, camping or biking spots for the next two weeks.

Highway 1 is open, Los Padres National Forest closed

Heading north along Route 1 through Los Padres National Forest?

You won’t be able to camp in almost any place north of Ragged Point until you reach Limekiln State Park in Big Sur. (California State Parks are different from National Forests and should remain open for now.)

Most of the trails, starting with the San Carpoforo Creek Trail and heading north along Route 1, will also be closed as it is Forest Service land.

Some of the heavily used areas included in the closure include Salmon Creek, Sand Dollar Beach, and Jade Cove.

Popular campgrounds, including Plaskett Creek and Kirk Creek, will also be closed.

Although Highway 1 itself is not closed, it will be prohibited to turn on a number of forest roads that lead deeper into the Los Padres National Forest during the closure, unless you own property in the area. , have a special permit or are engaged in firefighting Activities.

No hiking, biking or driving in SLO County National Forests

Heading inland, mountain biking and hiking areas such as TV Tower Road along the Cuesta Ridge above San Luis Obispo will also be closed as part of the order.

According to the Forest Service, the TV Tower Road closure begins at Highway 101 and extends to the end of the trail at Tassajara Peak. The Cerro Alto campsite located near Highway 41 will also be closed.

The Forest Service shutdown extends inland into the Santa Lucia, Garcia, and Machesna Mountain Wilderness Areas, which include popular spots such as Big Falls Trail, Hi Mountain Campground, Off-Road Vehicle Zone. Turkey Flat Road and La Panza Campgrounds.

Further south, the Los Padres National Forest lands off Route 166 are also closed, meaning no off-road riders can use the Rock Front off-road vehicle area. There is also no camping at Buck Spring Campground and no hiking on the Gifford Trail.

For more information on closed areas, see the US Forest Service map at

Related Stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune

Kaytlyn Leslie writes on business and development for The San Luis Obispo Tribune. Hailing from Nipomo, she also covers municipal governments and events in the South County area including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach, and Grover Beach. She joined The Tribune in 2013 after graduating in journalism from Cal Poly.