Top Ten Los Angeles Adventures
What you're supposed to do when you happen upon a black bear is wave your arms up and down and make noise until it runs away. So what did I do when I saw a cub sniffing around my Figueroa campsite in Los Padres National Forest? Stopped walking, dropped my jaw, and stared. Eventually, the little guy found nothing edible and wandered off into the woods. For him, the encounter was just a failed scavenging effort. For me, it was an official welcome to one of Southern California's most remote-feeling campgrounds.
Critters far outnumber humans in this particular chunk of the Los Padres, but that's not even its most appealing feature. The number-one reason to camp here is its proximity to the Davy Brown Trail, which takes you beneath oaks, laurels, and manzanitas to Davy Brown Creek, where you'll rock-hop alongside banana slugs and mushrooms on your way up to Figueroa Mountain Road. From there, climb up to the Figueroa Mountain Lookout, where views stretch over the Santa Ynez Mountains all the way to the Channel Islands.
Each of the 33 campsites offers a certain amount of solitude—they're not very big or very far apart, but they are rarely occupied. Of course, the farther you camp from the entrance and the toilets, the quieter your stay will be. And when the sun warms the trees during your afternoon nap, sending the scent of pine into your tent, you won't even notice if the silence is disturbed by another camper or two.
Directions: Take Highway 101 north. In Los Olivos, exit at Highway 154 and turn right onto Figueroa Mountain Road. Drive 12.5 twisty miles to the campground.
Travel Time: Approximately 2 1/2 hours
Fee: Adventure Pass required for parking; no camping fee
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication