24 December 2012

Knapp's Castle

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trail head.

The family wanted a little walk and with bright blue, freshly washed skies and the last of the lingering grey clouds puffing out of existence in the sun, it didn't seem like the time to wander some ocean bluffs, but to head to some high place. Knapp's Castle was among the suggestions, so we went there. George Knapp was a driving force in first laying down the roads we still use to access the backcountry, so it is no wonder that he knew a good spot to build his house. Somewhere below, there is a waterfall, but it is not along the maintained route and the tales of getting there describe a fair bit of work, especially considering that the route was once a road. I couldn't get anyone interested and hadn't dug out the bit of map that would be necessary, so we stuck to the very short stroll to the ruins.

the gate at the fire road and driveway
Every road that isn't open to driving by the public has to have a gate, and this is the one at Knapp's Castle.


The road was muddy and slick in places from the rain. The views of the mountains come quickly and include Lake Cachuma. After a few wiggles, we can see our first view of the ruins. The current owner (this is private property) has plans for the ruins and there are a few anachronisms scattered around the brick skeleton of old home.

Knapp's Castle
The ruins at the site of Knapp's once glorious estate.

Santa Ynez River
A bit of the view from Knapp's chosen site into the Santa Ynez River valley.

The road forks and Snyder Trail continues along the fire road to the left, but we continue up the driveway for the ruined house which continues past the second gate to the right. Arriving at the main house, we find a shiny blue broken down jeep and a couple sheds of sorts and some reinforced ruins. There's new concrete among the old stones and a new amphitheater has been built for watching the show out the old picture windows. An old wall can be seen poking out of the bottom step of the new stones.

a big chimney and the main room
A huge chimney with a little recent patchwork. To the left, the large picture windows of the main room. The stones in the middle are another chimney with a small room with plumbing tucked away behind it. In the distance, Cachuma Lake.

We wandered a little around the ruins.

Santa Ynez River and Cachuma Lake
The view from by the picture windows out over the valley toward Cachuma Lake.

ruins from the north side
Another look at the ruins from the north side. A little more patchwork is visible from here.

We made our way back up the road to Camino Cielo. The slick mud was drying out and leaving more sturdy footing for the people coming next. Being a popular spot on a good driving around day, there actually were quite a few people next. We were part of a steady stream of people coming and going although it was never more than a few at the ruins at a time. If I mention the waterfall to enough of them, maybe there will one day be a nice little use trail up to it.




©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 25 December 2012

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