Southern California hikers visiting the Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino, and Cleveland National Forests have become accustomed to hanging an Adventure Pass from their rearview mirror before heading out on a trail. These $5 per day or $30 per year passes may soon be a thing of the past. A case involving similar fees for Coronado National Forest in Arizona was brought before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which decided that the U.S. Forest Service cannot charger a fee for hiking or other activities that do not require park amenities. Stated plainly by Judge Roger Gettleman in the ruling, “Everyone is entitled to enter national forests without paying a cent.”
The Forest Service is allowed to charge fees for use of developed areas like campground and picnic areas, but heading into the mountains just to hike should get a free-pass. Until SoCal national forests issue a policy change, it is probably a good idea to keep displaying an adventure pass, but that may change soon. For more information on how this ruling could affect the Adventure Pass, read Steve Scauzillo’s article from the Pasadena Star-News.