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Big Pine Camp South Los Padres National Forest

  • Camp Type: Wilderness Trail Camp
  • Topo Map Link: Big Pine Mountain
  • Elevation: 6,100 feet
  • Wilderness Area: San Rafael
  • County: Santa Barbara County
  • Ranger District: Santa Lucia Ranger District
  • Longitude: -119.6602976
  • Latitude: 34.69705226
  • Water Sources: There is a reliable spring located at the camp.
  • Length of Stay: 14 Days
  • Reservations: Wilderness Trail Camp
  • Activities & Features:
    • Backpacking
    • Biking
    • Camping
    • Campfire Rings
    • Horseback Riding
    • Hunting
    • Panoramic Views
    • Spring
    • Tables
    • Wildlife Viewing
    • Wilderness-Camping

Recent Water Reports:

Date Surveyor Water Report
05-19-2017MSchlessTrickle
04-01-2017Littleredridingwood Trickle
11-06-2016Cameron DTrickle
08-14-2016Los Padres Forest AssociationFlowing
07-16-2016Jasonn BeckstrandTrickle
02-13-2016JamesTrickle
06-07-2015Los Padres Forest AssociationStagnant
05-09-2015Los Padres Forest AssociationTrickle
04-29-2015Jeff B.Trickle
03-30-2015Shaddus Maximus Trickle
02-15-2015HeatherTrickle
11-25-2014Shaddus Maximus Stagnant
09-30-2014Los Padres Forest AssociationStagnant
06-15-2014Los Padres Forest AssociationDry
11-13-2009M. JonesFlowing
Photo: M. Jones - 11-13-2009
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Survey This Camp

Description:

Big Pine Camp (aka Big Pine Spring Camp) is located about 1/4mile down off the Buckhorn Rd on the western flank of Big Pine Mtn in the San Rafael Wilderness.  Big Pine Camp has a very reliable spring which helps fill up a large metal sub-terranean spring tank.  In order to access the water you must lower a bucket into the tank and pull the water out within the bucket.  That being said, there is usually enough water flowing out of the ground nearby that you don't need to use the tank water.  

The camp is the only reliable water between Upper Bear and Bluff Camp and as a result sees a good amount of traffic, mostly from hunters, peak baggers or bikepackers crossing the Los Padres on the Buckhorn Road.  There are great views of the upper Sisquoc River Valley.  There is cell reception is nearby as well.

NOTE: There are a few hazard trees in the camp, please pick your camping spot wisely.  The safest camp is located directly above the spring near some oak trees.

Survey Photos:


  • M. Jones - 11-13-2009

  • M. Jones - 11-13-2009

  • M. Jones - 11-13-2009

  • M. Jones - 11-13-2009

  • M. Jones - 11-13-2009

  • Shaddus Maximus - 11-25-2014

  • Shaddus Maximus - 11-25-2014
    There is one main campsite with picnic table here but several other places to pitch a tent, too.

  • Shaddus Maximus - 11-25-2014
    The spring at Big Pine Spring camp.

  • Shaddus Maximus - 03-30-2015

  • Los Padres Forest Association - 06-07-2015
    Collage, Jenkins

  • Los Padres Forest Association - 06-07-2015
    Springbox, Jenkins

  • Jasonn Beckstrand - 07-16-2016
    Spring is full and clear and about 4 feet deep

  • Jasonn Beckstrand - 07-16-2016
    well has water but easier just to go to the spring

  • Littleredridingwood - 04-01-2017
    Rock fall a few miles in from sierra Madre rd.

  • Littleredridingwood - 04-01-2017
    Large tree down at the sisquoc trailhead towards bear camps.

  • Littleredridingwood - 04-01-2017
    Multiple trees down before big pine mtn/windy gap

  • Littleredridingwood - 04-01-2017
    Looking south west towards cachuma, West big pine to the right?

  • Littleredridingwood - 04-01-2017
    West dry canyon rd washed out...

Submitted Camp Reports

Big Pine Camp Survey - 05-19-2017 - by MSchless
Link: Big Pine Camp
Date: 05-19-2017
Surveyor Name:MSchless
Camp Description:Grated "tank" has a bunch of bugs and stuff on the surface with water about 5-6 ft below the grate. Lots of hazard trees around. Counted 5 different ice can stoves, but only one site below a big oak just up the drainage from the spring is safe to camp. Big deadfall tree across the picnic table which basically confirms the danger of camping at that "main" site. Lots of bear sign including scat and scratches below the big oak where we camped. Beautiful sunset over the Sisquoc.
Water Source:Trickle
Water Source Details:Spring is trickle/flowing with good clear water
Weather Conditions:High 40s overnight
Big Pine Camp Survey - 04-01-2017 - by Littleredridingwood
Link: Big Pine Camp
Date: 04-01-2017
Surveyor Name:Littleredridingwood
Camp Description:While I didn't actually find/stay at this camp, I scouted the road from buckhorn/Sierra Madre intersection,  to Big Pine Mtn/windy gap.
Road washed out/Rockfall  in many places,  a few large trees down, blocking road/trail.
Water Source:Trickle
Water Source Details:
Weather Conditions:Sunny,65
Images:

Rock fall a few miles in from sierra Madre rd.

Large tree down at the sisquoc trailhead towards bear camps.


Multiple trees down before big pine mtn/windy gap

Looking south west towards cachuma, West big pine to the right?


West dry canyon rd washed out...
Big Pine Camp Survey - 11-06-2016 - by Cameron D
Link: Big Pine Camp
Date: 11-06-2016
Surveyor Name:Cameron D
Camp Description:The subterranean tank had fairly clean water. Lots of bugs on the surface but after skimming those off (and filtering) the water looked and tasted good. I poked around the area and didn't see the spring. It might be dry or just trickling, but more likely I just missed it since I wasn't really looking.

Trail to campground from road was a bit grown over and there were a lot of different use paths. Still easy enough to find the way down since all the options probably worked.

Campground itself was somewhat overgrown and had lots of 'widow makers'. The whole area rests on a hill as well, but the site I stayed at had two nearby cut-outs of level ground (big enough for 1).
Water Source:Trickle
Water Source Details:Spring tank was fine, did not locate other sources
Weather Conditions:
Big Pine Camp Survey - 08-14-2016 - by Los Padres Forest Association
Link: Big Pine Camp
Date: 08-14-2016
Surveyor Name:Los Padres Forest Association
Camp Description:Good water flowing below the spring tank as well as within the spring tank.  A scout project is planned for later in 2016 to relocate one of the campsites, fix the trail down to the camp and make some improvements to the spring tank water collection system.
Water Source:Flowing
Water Source Details:
Weather Conditions:mid-90's and HOT HOT HOT!
Big Pine Camp Survey - 07-16-2016 - by Jasonn Beckstrand
Link: Big Pine Camp
Date: 07-16-2016
Surveyor Name:Jasonn Beckstrand
Camp Description:
Water Source:Trickle
Water Source Details:spring was clear and clean located 20 feet north of the well, next to the trail.
Weather Conditions:85
Images:

Spring is full and clear and about 4 feet deep

well has water but easier just to go to the spring
Big Pine Camp Survey - 02-13-2016 - by James
Link: Big Pine Camp
Date: 02-13-2016
Surveyor Name:James
Camp Description:Campsite is very overgrown, and lots of dead trees in the area.  Originally was planning on camping here, but decided it would not be prudent to camp under so many dead trees during a windstorm.

There was 1 picnic table, and 4 ice can stoves.

Well had water

Water Source:Trickle
Water Source Details:Water in well
Weather Conditions:
Big Pine Camp Survey - 06-07-2015 - by Los Padres Forest Association
Link: Big Pine Camp
Date: 06-07-2015
Surveyor Name:Los Padres Forest Association
Camp Description:

VWR PATROL

We successfully found the springbox this trip. There are a few feet of water in the bottom of the pipe that can be reached with the five gallon bucket and rope. The rust line on the pipe wall suggests that the water is very low from previous years. The seep up on the road has all but dried up. We photographed five stove sites. 

Water Source:Stagnant
Water Source Details:Some water within the springbox tank
Weather Conditions:
Images:

Collage, Jenkins

Springbox, Jenkins
Big Pine Camp Survey - 05-09-2015 - by Los Padres Forest Association
Link: Big Pine Camp
Date: 05-09-2015
Surveyor Name:Los Padres Forest Association
Camp Description:One 18" downed tree along the trail between Buckhorn and the camp.  Camp was clean and looked good.  No water in the creek or drainage but the spring most likely had water.
Water Source:Trickle
Water Source Details:
Weather Conditions:
Big Pine Camp Survey - 04-29-2015 - by Jeff B.
Link: Big Pine Camp
Date: 04-29-2015
Surveyor Name:Jeff B.
Camp Description:
Water Source:Trickle
Water Source Details:A sufficient trickle of good, clear, cold water.
Weather Conditions:
Big Pine Camp Survey - 03-30-2015 - by Shaddus Maximus
Link: Big Pine Camp
Date: 03-30-2015
Surveyor Name:Shaddus Maximus
Camp Description:
Water Source:Trickle
Water Source Details:Water is accessed from a spring just downhill from the main camp w/ picnic table.
Weather Conditions:
Images:

Big Pine Camp Survey - 02-15-2015 - by Heather
Link: Big Pine Camp
Date: 02-15-2015
Surveyor Name:Heather
Camp Description:Not a lot of water flowing, but deep and clear at the source just above the large round water container with the grate over it. I would happily filter from there in its current state.
Water Source:Trickle
Water Source Details:
Weather Conditions:
Big Pine Camp Survey - 11-25-2014 - by Shaddus Maximus
Link: Big Pine Camp
Date: 11-25-2014
Surveyor Name:Shaddus Maximus
Camp Description:To be clear, this is Big Pine Spring camp, located just west of Big Pine Mountain. Some of the photos above appear to refer to a different Big Pine campground.
Water Source:Stagnant
Water Source Details:Water available in well next to the one established site with picnic table. Must use a bucket with rope attached to pull up water. (Bucket w/ rope are at the campsite.)
Weather Conditions:Freezing overnight temps here.
Images:


There is one main campsite with picnic table here but several other places to pitch a tent, too.


The spring at Big Pine Spring camp.
Big Pine Camp Survey - 09-30-2014 - by Los Padres Forest Association
Link: Big Pine Camp
Date: 09-30-2014
Surveyor Name:Los Padres Forest Association
Camp Description:We cleared the trail to Big Pine Camp. There is a 24 inch tree very close to the road that someone still needs to cut out. We limbed the tree so the trail is still usable for now. We were able to clear all other obstructions including a 12 inch tree. At camp we painted the table, leveled two tent sites, and generally cleaned things up.
Water Source:Stagnant
Water Source Details:The well still has water although it's low.
Weather Conditions:Hot and Windy
Big Pine Camp Survey - 06-15-2014 - by Los Padres Forest Association
Link: Big Pine Camp
Date: 06-15-2014
Surveyor Name:Los Padres Forest Association
Camp Description:
Water Source:Dry
Water Source Details:No water in the spring at Big Pine Spring Campground
Weather Conditions:
Big Pine Camp Survey - 11-13-2009 - by M. Jones
Link: Big Pine Camp
Date: 11-13-2009
Surveyor Name:M. Jones
Camp Description:

Historical highlight:

Because of its spring and protected location, this site replaced the Windy Gap Camp used by the first visitors to the area. The Hartman brothers used it as a hunting camp until the Forest was closed during World War II. It was also used by the Civilian Conservation Corp during the construction of the Buckhorn Road. During this time the spring was boxed in with a corrugated iron culvert pipe. Since the water in it is often contaminated, it’s better to go west down the little draw to the bottom of the camp area where there is another spring. Should this be dry, go about 2/10’s of a mile northwest through the old horse corral to the big spring. (Source A Camper Guide to the Tri-County Area, Robert Burtness 1981).

Water Source:Flowing
Water Source Details:OK when we were there, best to always filter water
Weather Conditions:65* and sunny
Images:








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Last Updated: Monday, August 15, 2016

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