A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Forest Service can no longer charge fees for visitors who simply park and explore in undeveloped areas of the Cleveland, Los Padres, Angeles and San Bernardino national forests.
The Orange County Register says the decision is a victory for four hikers who contended that Southern California forests were improperly requiring them to buy an Adventure Pass even when they didn't use any developed facilities.
The Forest Service is reviewing last week's ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Terry Hatter Jr. In the meantime, visitors can park for free unless they use amenities like toilets or picnic tables.
The regional pass costs $5 a day or $30 annually.
The Forest Service has been overhauling fees nationwide, spurred in part by similar lawsuits.