|Trail description:||I did Johnson Ridge, from trailhead to Hot Springs and back, Sept 17-18, 2016. It's cleared of brush and easy, well, *easy* except for two things: |
It's confusing as you cross the Stonehouse trail valley. There's too many trails, cattle tracks, roads, fences, etc. Just aim to keep the same compass direction crossing that little valley as you came into it. Yes, like Shaddus Maximus said, go left on 1st choice, but when you come up out of the creek, then you take the right path.
The other thing that is not *that* easy, is coming back uphill out of the Hot Springs. Whoa! Most of your elevation gain is in 1st couple miles. It's a south facing ridge, and you can bake your brains out. But anyone who hikes Los Padres National Forest knows about that! I strongly suggest hitting the trail before the sun. After 2-3 miles of nonstop climbing, it's basically level back to trailhead, maybe a couple hundred up and down.
I last hiked Johnson Ridge in its last year as a motorcycle trail, 1994? God bless Bill Clinton for locking up Sespe and a lot of other land as Wilderness. Back then Johnson Ridge was an old car road, seriously rutted out by the dirt bikes. Now it's a nice trail, with just the right amount of switch backs. Little or no erosion. Excellent job NF rangers! Is there a volunteer group that puts in work? There must be. God bless them!
Last time I hiked it, and this time, -- nobody else on the trail. That's wilderness!