San Rafael Wilderness
South Fork Camp is located at the intersection of the Sisquoc and its South Fork 18 miles from Nira. It is an absolutely beautiful place to camp and the South Fork admin station is nearby in case you need quick shelter. Excellent for equestrians.
Elevation: Google Earth says the elevation is 2,487'
Distance: South Fork is 14.85 miles from Nira. Lonnie Davis is .5 miles up the South Fork and 2.8 miles to White Ledge Camp. It is 5.56 miles downstream to Sycamore Camp.
Facilities: There are two very nice camping spots on the south side of the river, the main one with a table and metal grate, one slightly upstream where the trail crosses to the other side. South Fork Station is in the open meadow nearby and is unlocked and always available if it rains. There is a pit toilet there as well. The Station is fenced and works well for equestrians and pack stock.
South Fork is kind of the place that you'd call the middle of the wilderness. The closest road is on the top of the Sierra Madres and is amost 9 miles and 3,000' of elevation gain away. To get to the Spouth Fork you've got to put in a lot of effort no matter which way you come in from. The South Fork was the location of a major seasonal hunting and gathering camp for the Chumash and may have sustained a small year-round population as well. In the 1930s it became a key outpost for Forest Servive management of the backcountry and the cabin built there during the CCC days provides a glimpse of the area's past history. Now it is maintained by a group of the VWR light hikers, especially the ever-energitic Rik Christensen and Beeman Paul Cronshaw.
Whether a trip up or down the Sisquoc, coming in on the Sweetwater Trail from the Sierra Madres or while doing the Sisquoc Loop, there is no nicer place to spend the night than at the South Fork. My most memorable trip was one I did many years ago with Dave Weaver. Dave said he'd bring the coffee on our 5 day trip from Santa Barbara Potrero to Nira but when we got to our first night's stay at Heath Camp I discovered he'd brough decaf — an addict's worst nightmare. The hike down the Sisquoc to South Fork was a tough one when you've been forced to do it without a drop of the leaded java I was used to.
But when we got to the South Fork Station we discovered two fishermen there who'd brought in a huge amount of supplies, including a 3 pound can of Folgers. Thankfully they were willing to part with some and at least for me they saved the trip.
Jim Blakley Notes
Located next to the South Fork Forest Service Station. An overflow camp was established on a short trail to the right of where the Sisquoc River Trail crosses the river just east of the station. Down the Sisquoc River from the camp, at the first crossing of the river, are a couple of good sized pools for swimming.
At one time there were grated stoves and pit toilets. Water is available from the river. Often used by horse packers, it is usually littered with a large quantity of trash.
Bob Burtness Notes
Administration: Los Padres National Forest, Santa Lucia District Access: About 13 miles above the trailhead at Nira Camp via the Manzana Trail (30WI3) to the intersection with the Sisquoc Trail (numbered 27WO7 at this point). The camp is situated where the Sisquoc River and its South Fork meet. U.S. Forest Service map coordinates: J-16 Topographical map: Hurricane Deck Elevation: 2,520 feet (770 meters) Terrain: canyon Vegetation: oaks, sycamores, alders Tables: none Stoves: 5 (grated) Water: Sisquoc River Firewood: yes Toilets: I (pit) Season: closed during fire season Fee: none Requiredpermit: wilderness Reservation: no Time limit: 14 days
Special features: The U.S. Forest Service South Fork Station (seasonally occupied), the only one in the San Rafael Wilderness, and a corral are located here. The camp is a quarter mile below Lonnie Davis Camp.
Historical Highlights: The station was built in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps.