02 January 2008

Rattlesnake Canyon

Santa Barbara front country

Locate the trailhead.

Somewhere along the windy bit that is Las Canoas Road off of Mission Canyon Road is Skofield Park and Rattlesnake Canyon, which is apparently part of Skofield Park.

Sign starting the trail up Rattlesnake Canyon in Santa Barbara's front country.
Start of the trail up Rattlesnake Canyon. Well, the one one the west side of the creek, anyway.

This trail is an old standby from childhood. That is, we must have been on the start of this thing at least a dozen times. As is typical of front country trails, continuing on the trail can be a challenge at times. A little ways up, the trail goes straight while a bulldozer width trail turns right up the hillside. It goes a short way up to a road and fencing and, believe it or not, a bulldozer. There's an okay view from it too.

Seminary and city below.
A short offshoot of trail leads to a view of some of the city below and St. Mary's Seminary.

Further along the trail splits twice very close together. If memory serves, going up at the first split will get to a hill with some power poles for a total hike of about two miles (one way). It has another view of the city and is popular with the evening crowd. We took the lower section. This one splits to go straight down and cross the creek which will get you out on the horse pasture to go back over the fence signed "no trespassing", again if memory serves. The middle road also quickly crosses the stream, but does so going upstream. Some nice rocks around there.

Water erosion of rocks so that many holes are left, topped by a small cave.
Just before crossing the stream, eroded rocks of inconsistent hardness show off their holes and a cave.

Further along is a big meadow topped by a huge oak tree which seemed to be a popular destination or rest point.

Meadow with kingly oak at the top.
Large meadow full of dry grass now but likely full of flowers other times of the year. This oak dwarfs the others seen.

Just into the trees on the other side of the meadow, the trail splits again, but this time on purpose.

Junction along Rattlesnake Canyon: forward to Gibralter Road and left to Tunnel trail.
These are the choices, without a lot of information as to how far anything is.

Junction along Rattlesnake Canyon: right 1/2 mile to Depression Drive and left 1/2 a mile to Tunnel Trail or 3 miles to Camino Cielo.
On the ground there's more information. Presumably this is the older sign since it refers to Gibralter Road as "Depression Drive". They must have been measuring with a meter wheel they thought was a yard wheel to get this mileage for the right direction.

We decided to take the right, a half mile up to Gibralter Road. This half mile turns out to be a bit steep and somewhat more than a half mile. Still not the longest "half mile" ever, but made longer by all the constant and determined up. The last bit of trail drops from the road in a near vertical slippery slope. The sign from the road is tucked away a bit below this drop and has become two posts rather than a sign. Braving the last bit of uphill gets a much nicer view of the city than anywhere along the trail.

Looking down on Santa Barbara easily seeing the harbor and bits of Goleta and islands.
The harbor and everything else right on to Goleta could be seen from the top of the trail. I didn't actually take these as a panorama, but they can be placed together alright. I can even see the car (look for the orange block). Er, I think that's where it is. The lower left shows some power lines which were almost as far above us a "half mile" ago. All four islands could be seen, counting Anacapa as one. (Click it to see something bigger.)

There's still more mountain to climb if desired. It looks a bit steep here and there.

A few trees peaking over from the north side of a ridge.
The trees peaking out from the sheltered north side of slopes. They're always cute.

Back down to the meadow, the view is somewhat less than before.

A bit of ocean as seen down Rattlesnake Canyon.
A segment of ocean peaking through the valley.

Then back down the somewhat less steep bit of the steep trail.

©2008 Valerie Norton
Posted 6 January 2008
Last updated 7 January 2008

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