California Condor Country: A Unique Chance to Hike Bitter Creek

Photo courtesy USFWS

LIke Hopper Mountain, Bitter Creek is another wildlife refuge dedicated to California condors with extremely limited public access. Luckily there's National Wildlife Refuge Week in October when this protected 14,094-acre portion of the San Emigdio Mountains, where Ventura, Kern and San Luis Obispo counties meet, will be open (.pdf) for an annual visit from the public.

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"It's a closed refuge normally due to sensitivity for condor management," explained Michael Woodbridge of the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex. "This is one of those few rare opportunities to see condors. Last year we got a really amazing display of condors flying above out heads."

Photo courtesy USFWS
The group-led hike is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday October 15th. Woodbridge said the mildly-intense walk should last two and a half hours. Space is limited to 30, and those wishing to attend should RSVP michael_woodbridge@fws.gov. (Tip: a condor tour scheduled this Saturday for Hopper Mountain was quickly booked to capacity. It could happen, too, with this one)

The refuge and two other condor-related ones are currently undergoing a study for a 15-year management plan. For fans of Bitter Creek, the document includes the possibility of opening up a birding trail with year-round public access. Unfortunately, condor sightings from it would be unlikely.

Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge is located long Cerro Noroeste Road, between the towns of Maricopa and Frazier Park.

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