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.
|Quickly, expansive views can be seen from the road in the Carpinteria direction.|
|A deep purple thistle displaying all the stages of thistle flowers.|
|Montecito Peak sticking up highest among the green points south of Camino Cielo.|
|A little later, there are expansive views in the Santa Barbara Direction.|
|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 and power lines and houses to the south.|
|As usual for roads, there are some substantial cuts into the mountain to make it.|
|Looking down to the other side of the canyon, a bit more trail can be seen taking a small section of the roadway.|
|Even the substantial rockfall is simply a little hill along the way now that many feet have found their way across it.|
|Some more pretty flowers along the way.|
|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.
|The crumbling shale looks quite dry, but the huge sycamore trees hint that there might be a pool down there.|
|A thicker bit of draught tolerant plants doesn't indicate a local water source, just that it stays wet longer.|
|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.
|Finally coming to a shallow canyon with a bit of water in it. There's plenty of water loving plants here.|
|An oak that seems to have been a bit unhealthy at one point as holes now go right through it.|
|The canyon looks quite complicated from below, branching out over and over again.|
|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.
|The common greeting in the area of the forest to the east, it seems.|
|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