August 1, 2019
10,000 Ojai Road
Santa Paula CA 93060
Media Contact: Anne Forsyth, Director of College Relations
(805) 525-4417
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SANTA PAULA, CA—August 1—Thomas Aquinas College is happy to announce that, working with the Ventura County Planning Division and the United States Forest Service, it has restored the historic access trail to the Los Padres National Forest. Located just north of the entrance to the college, the restored trail is a shorter and more flat, shady, and scenic route to the Forest than the steep, black-top road on the college’s perimeter  used by hikers for the past 30 years.

Under the terms of the college’s conditional use permit (CUP), the school is required to provide access to the National Forest, and has done so via its perimeter road since its move to the former Ferndale Ranch in 1978. The CUP, however, did permit the college to change the location of the access point should circumstances arise allowing for a better alternate route. When the college acquired 700 acres of land surrounding its campus last year, thereby reconstituting the original Ferndale Ranch, the possibility opened up of restoring the original access trail. 

Says the school’s facilities manager, Clark Tulberg, “We took the idea to both the Ventura County Planning Division and the National Forest Service, and everyone was in agreement that restoring the original trail would indeed be an improvement.” Tulberg, who grew up in Santa Paula, adds that though lightly traveled, the trail has been in constant use since the 1970s. “We are happy now to have restored this historic route into the Forest, and we hope that hikers will enjoy it.”

Says Kim Prillhart, the Resource Management Agency Director, who oversees the Planning Division, “The Planning Division was pleased to have the opportunity to work with Thomas Aquinas College and the National Forest Service to ensure continued public access to the Los Padres National Forest. The new trail realignment is a win for both the hiking community as well as the college. Trail users are now able to begin their hiking experience on a wonderfully shaded and scenic trail that fits in with the natural setting of the beautiful Santa Paula Canyon.” 

Adds Los Padres National Forest District Ranger John F. “Pancho” Smith, “Much of our work involves volunteers and partners, and this new stretch of trail will enhance recreation access for the public and improve their overall experience.” 

Jim Hines, a member of the Sierra Club Los Padres Executive Committee agrees, saying, “As a lifelong hiker on the Santa Paula Creek trail, I am so pleased that the new entrance route provided by Thomas Aquinas College will allow even greater enjoyment of the great natural beauty of the Santa Paula Canyon area."

The restored trail is now open for use by day and overnight hikers.

About Thomas Aquinas College

A four-year, co-educational institution, Thomas Aquinas College has developed over the past 48 years a solid reputation for academic excellence in the United States and abroad and is highly ranked by organizations such as The Princeton Review, U. S. News, and Kiplinger. At Thomas Aquinas College all students acquire a broad and fully integrated liberal education. The College offers one, four-year, classical curriculum that spans the major arts and sciences. Instead of reading textbooks, students read the original works of the greatest thinkers in Western civilization — the Great Books — in all the major disciplines: mathematics, natural science, literature, philosophy, and theology. The academic life of the college is conducted under the light of the Catholic faith and flourishes within a close-knit community, supported by a vibrant spiritual life. Graduates consistently excel in the many world-class institutions at which they pursue graduate degrees in fields such as law, medicine, business, theology and education. They have distinguished themselves serving as lawyers, doctors, business owners, priests, military service men and women, educators, journalists and college presidents. The College will open a second campus in Northfield, Massachusetts in August 2019. For additional information, visit