14 June 2012

Toro Canyon Park


Locate the trailhead.

I got it into my head to see Oil Canyon, which is behind Carpinteria. I had read that there's really no way to hike around at the back of Carpinteria. One day the Franklin Trail will reopen allowing local access to the backcountry for Carpinteria's residents, but that has to wait for the building of fences along some of the sections where it passes private property. But I see road on the map, I think I can go on road on the map. And this road included the Edison Catway, which is very accessible in Santa Barbara. Checking Bryan Conant's backcountry guide for Matilija and Dick Smith indicated that there's no hiking route up there except for a couple of small trails in Toro Canyon Park. It seems the county has a "private" inholding in the National Forest... It isn't very far, so I decided to poke around.

I got to Toro Canyon Road and with ample warning for the turnoff for the park, turned down Toro Canyon Park Road. I went down it until suddenly I was greeted with two signs, one on each side, threatening legal action if I chose to continue down the road. How darling. Looking down a road to the left, I saw that it was the park. There is a fenced in dog area that two women were playing with their dogs within. There are a number of group picnic sites. I continued through the park over a nearly single lane bit of road and at the end of another wide spot, saw a sign saying "trail" with an arrow. The trail starts at a large gate and is indistinct as it crosses a large field. To the side of the field is a large outcrop of rock that was covered in playing kids. At the far side of the field, the trail becomes an extremely distinct road climbing the hillside easily.

lines of trees in an orchard
Most of the actual private inholdings around the park seem to be orchards.

Old fences line the edges of the park. Well ordered trees cover the hillsides. Coming to a fork, I piked the left and meandered around to a gazebo I'd spotted up on the hill (and on the map) shortly before. I drew some of the orchards sitting in the gazebo, but was feeling a little depressed about the trail. I studied my hiking map and a printed segment of the Carpinteria 7.5' quad and decided to poke up Toro Canyon Road a little further.

gazebo on the top of the hill
A couple benches, one with a dedication, and a garbage can with holes in the bottom adorn the gazebo at the top of the hill.

scetch of the orcards from the gazebo
Some of those ordered trees in line drawing.

view of the city from the hill
Being on a hill, there is a bit of a view out the end of the canyon, although it is made even less by the foggy day.

I continued along the trail after the gazebo and, as expected, came back to the fork. A bit of trail branches to the left just before the fork giving a second route down to the picnic areas. I continued along the larger route. A few wild flowers were still blooming along it.

deep red stems and tiny pink petals
A number of these deep red and pink things, generally a few inches high, were along and in the trail.

white inside these monkey flowers
A variety of bush monkey flowers could be seen, some that were particularly white on the inside like these.

the usual coloration for bush monekey flowers
One of the more common bush monkey flowers that is consistently orange all over except deep within the inside.

a bit of the trail with an overhanging oak
A few oaks along the way would offer shade on a sunnier day.

After coming back down, I walked over to the bathroom. Along the way, I noticed that there's an old road up to the right that had evidence of use as a trail. I thought it would be nicer than the road, so took it. It climbs and does not come back down. Under the thick trees, there is an assortment of vines and poison oak along the sides of the track. It plunged into drier chaparral further up and becomes difficult to travel on, so I left it. I also did not try to find the second bit of trail marked on my map although I did see something saying "trail" as I traveled back. I passed it quickly, but it seemed to be on a gateless fence.

Continuing up the canyon on the road, I saw no turn offs except driveways and a road to the left while I was looking for ways to the right. The road became single lane then the public portion ended at two gated driveways, so I turned around. I decided to spend a little time at the Carpinteria Bluffs and the oil seeps below them since I couldn't go up Oil Canyon.

©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 14 Jun 2012

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