20 July 2012

Romero Canyon Road

Santa Barbara Front Country

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

After hiking up Romero Canyon by the trail, I continued down it by the road. It felt very flat at first, although was dropping a few feet. It quickly comes to a large turnout that is an unsigned junction with a trail that was not on my map. The cut of this trail followed an easy upward slope and eventually joined with the road at some distance. Other routes seemed to join there, too, but this one seemed like a built trail while others looked more like old fire break. Keeping on the road, it wraps around the outside of a hill in its lazy descent. A few rock slides partly block the road, but all but one has been small enough to clear a route by hand, which someone has done long ago.

coastline in the Carpinteria direction
Quickly, expansive views can be seen from the road in the Carpinteria direction.

nice purple thistle
A deep purple thistle displaying all the stages of thistle flowers.

green front country
Montecito Peak sticking up highest among the green points south of Camino Cielo.

overlooking Santa Barbara
A little later, there are expansive views in the Santa Barbara Direction.

rock slide on road
One of a few rock slides blocking the road for cars, but a flat route has been found or made by those who have passed through previously.

Coming around the edge of the hillside, which has a panorama stretching from east to west of the whole of the local coastline, I find the one significant rock slide. An easy trail leads up and over this one as well. As the road continues its lazy descent across the canyon, there start to be a few trees as it gets to the first of many crossings over small and steep canyons.

mountains to the south
Mountains and power lines and houses to the south.

road cut along the mountain
As usual for roads, there are some substantial cuts into the mountain to make it.

winding trail taking up a small fraction of the winding road
Looking down to the other side of the canyon, a bit more trail can be seen taking a small section of the roadway.

rocks across the road
Even the substantial rockfall is simply a little hill along the way now that many feet have found their way across it.

purple flowers that loop puffy
Some more pretty flowers along the way.

a rock waterfall waiting for some rain to make it a real one
This rock waterfall was visible high in one of the small canyons, just waiting for a bit of water to make it a real one.

As the road crossed these shallow canyons, there would be a hint here and there of the presence of water. Sycamores [ed: except I am told, actually they are maples] growing out of a bit of crumbling shale in one spot, more flowers in another. Crossing the trail again, I continued along the very lazy road which was still in no hurry to lose elevation.

sycamore trees in shale
The crumbling shale looks quite dry, but the huge sycamore trees hint that there might be a pool down there.

a clump of sages
A thicker bit of draught tolerant plants doesn't indicate a local water source, just that it stays wet longer.

orange vlower with yellow lines
But the flowers near the foot of the bushes aren't quite so hardy.

Eventually, I found a canyon with a flow, the source of the flow below. A small path goes up from the road here. Perhaps it has a look at the water, perhaps it goes all the way to see the spring itself. It might be fun to try to find that source sometime. I crossed the exposed concrete ford and then continued past some more dry canyons.

water flowing over a concrete ford
Finally coming to a shallow canyon with a bit of water in it. There's plenty of water loving plants here.

oak missing its inside
An oak that seems to have been a bit unhealthy at one point as holes now go right through it.

green trees and brown grasses
The canyon looks quite complicated from below, branching out over and over again.

power lines and ocean
Looking further down, there's the power lines, a bit of homes, and the ocean.

The road keeps on heading east and I started to feel done with going down at this rather absurdly slow pace. My legs just don't seem to like it much. Upon almost reaching a tower for the power lines, the road was suddenly wider and clear of vegetation and rocks. Shortly after, it meets up with the Edison Catway. There, the route turns right and travels west again. The road to the east is bared by a gate with that common Carpinteria greeting of "no trespassing" posted on it. The huge houses got closer, and I could hear voices drifting up from some. Spotting something colorful, I found a string of prayer flags fading in the sun.

gate to block all comers
The common greeting in the area of the forest to the east, it seems.

prayer flags
Prayer flags flapping in the breeze and fading in the sunshine, each one with a god and some writing.

Coming around a corner, I heard the water again and knew I was close to the point the trail leaves the road again. The long, seemingly endless and far too shallow downhill was coming to an end. Oddly, as the road got to places that should be more commonly used, it seemed to get narrower and worse in quality. I crossed over the stream again and found my way back to my car for the ride home.

©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 22 Jul 2012

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