Posted by: James Wapotich | March 23, 2013

Exploring the Santa Barbara Backcountry

"Los Padres National Forest" hiking backpacking "Santa Barbara" day hike trails "San Rafael Wilderness" "Dick Smith Wilderness" backcountry "best places" "where to" camp camping backpack


Ever changing, the Santa Barbara Backcountry is a place of surprising diversity and rich beauty, and most of it is within a couple hours of Santa Barbara.

This year’s weather is both a boon and challenge for backpackers and hikers. Right now the weather couldn’t be better for getting out there on the trails, and if we don’t get much rain this year the fall could be a challenging time to know where to find water. Part of this talk will highlight 2-3 day backpacking trips one can craft through our local backcountry as well as reference where they’re is typically water in the fall and where there is not.

Past Participants have said:

“This was an awesome and informative event. James had an abundance of slides from our amazing backcountry.”

“I really enjoyed the perspective of the presenter – his enthusiasm and love for the backcountry is evident.”

On Wednesday, April 3rd, 7PM, the Wildling Museum will be hosting a FREE slideshow presentation, “Exploring the Santa Barbara Backcountry” at the Karpeles Manuscript Library, 21. W. Anapamu St., Santa Barbra, CA 93101.

The powerpoint slideshow with Q&A that I’ll be presenting will include images of our local backcountry from the San Rafael and Dick Smith Wildernesses as well as trails closer to home and is a great opportunity to learn more about our local trails.

James Wapotich, is an experienced backpacker and has hiked many of the trails in our local backcountry, he is a Volunteer Wilderness Ranger with the Forest Service and is the author of Trail Quest, the weekly hiking column in the Santa Barbara News-Press.

The Wildling Museum, where art and nature meet, offers visitors a unique perspective on the importance of preserving our natural heritage.

"How not to get lost" backpacking hiking hike backpack "Los Padres National Forest" "Santa Barbara" trails day


And for those who are interested, I will also be offering a 2-day weekend workshop on, “How To Not Get Lost In The Woods”.

You may have seen in the news, stories about people getting lost on our local trails. Hikers have gotten lost along the Santa Ynez River behind Santa Barbara, and just about every year hikers get lost while hiking to Cathedral Peak.

Through this class you will learn skills and awareness that will allow you to remove the word lost from vocabulary. This class is not about being a survivalist or living off the land, but rather it’s about learning how to see the land as a more familiar place and how to read the trails so that you can find your way anywhere.

This 2-day weekend workshop will take place on our local trails, Saturday April 13th, 9AM-Noon and Sunday April 14th, 9AM-4PM. And will include topics such as understanding the local topography so that you can easily orient yourself while out on the land, learning how to read the trails and transitions to be able to follow any trail, how to recognize plants and other features of the natural environment and how to shift one’s awareness from the place of outsider to native. And along the way enjoy some of the rich beauty of our local backcountry.

Past Participants have said:

“I feel much more comfortable now with the idea of exploring off trail, knowing that I can find my way back.”

“James has a way of speaking that makes what he’s offering easy to take in and work with.”

The class is $75 per person, or bring a friend and save 20% each, limit 12 students. Must be able to comfortably hike 2-3 miles.

For more information call (805) 564-6946 or email me at

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