Choose your own path with Los Padres Outfitters
By Zachary Rosen
Nothing symbolizes California more than the iconic image of the Western cowboy. While those days may have passed, Graham Goodfield has actually lived it, spending his entire life around horses and ranchers. A third generation Carpinteria resident, his grandmother was a “horse woman” who began teaching Graham how to ride when he was around 3 years old. Graham grew up working at several of the local ranches, and was later mentored by longtime rancher Tony Alvis. Tony taught Graham all about cattle wrangling and riding in the Los Padres National Forest and other trails. Today, Graham owns and operates Los Padres Outfitters with his wife Hannah and their children.
At Los Padres Outfitters, experienced staff members guide guests — on horses or mules — through the splendor of the picturesque Central Coast and the Los Padres National Forest. Graham and his crew specialize in small, private groups, and each ride is tailored to the needs of the riders. Their offerings attract everyone from families and couples to businesspeople looking for a unique day of team-building. They even occasionally provide horses for commercial work. When booking a ride, guests will connect with Tessa Nash, the head schedule wrangler. She collaborates with each group and customizes the trip to their interests, experience level, and needs.
Los Padres Outfitters has a wide variety of trips suitable for all schedules and groups. Their most popular option is the 90-minute ride along the beach or mountain trails. Select the picnic lunch to add an additional hour to your outing, and enjoy a meal catered by Graham’s mother and staff. The Half-Day Sespe Ride offers a chance to experience the pristine backcountry of the Sespe Wilderness. Although beach rides remain one of their more popular tours, Graham and the friendly Los Padres crew have a plethora of other recommendations that will take you on winding trails through vibrant farms and rural areas. It is on these longer adventures that riders might just get a chance to jump in a swimming hole or saunter along a river.
Graham and Los Padres Outfitters are permitted to explore all two million (yes, million!) acres of the Los Padres National Forest, and the extensive experience of their guides lets them choose a trail that best fits the group. The main trailhead they use is in Ojai; however, they do frequent trailheads in Santa Barbara as well. Scheduled riders meet the Los Padres Outfitters wranglers at the selected trailhead, with the horses and gear ready to giddyap.
“In our Santa Barbara front country, we love to ride right up the San Ysidro Trail,” Graham said. “We go all the way up to the top of Camino Cielo, where you get this radical view of both the backcountry and all of Santa Barbara, the harbor, and the Channel Islands, which is pretty special.” If you want to spend a little more time in the wilderness, then their multi-day excursions are a natural fit. The shortest overnighter takes a day and a half, but Graham recommends at least two nights, as that gives you and your posse enough time to unwind from the everyday world and settle down in the saddle. However long you choose, the multiple day expeditions allow for even more options for the experience, with a variety of trails and stopping points to choose from.
When it comes to vittles during the overnight treks, each meal is prepared by the guide who is well-versed in delectable fire-cooked chow and baked goods (like pineapple upside down cake!). Spend the night watching the stars and wake up to the good ol’ country breakfast of coffee, bacon, and eggs before setting off for the day.
But like everything else Graham and his team do, the menu is flexible and can be suited for different dietary restrictions — even for the short picnic jaunts. In fact, their catering has been so well received that they’ve launched a separate catering business whereby they provide barbecue, cowboy cooking, and more for weddings and other events.
Whether it is one of their morning rides or an immersive multiple day trip, Los Padres Outfitters lets you blaze your own trail to an unforgettable journey.
To book a ride or learn more: (805) 755-8687 or lospadresoutfitters.com