05 January 2014

Arroyo Hondo

Land Trust for Santa Barbara County

Locate the trailhead.

I decided that my next monument hunt would be around Arroyo Hondo where there should be two witness corners along the boundary of the forest. One is in the canyon at a wide spot and could be reached either by an abandoned trail up the canyon or an abandoned road at the end of Upper Outlaw Trail on the eastern ridge that comes down into the strike canyon to meet more abandoned trail. The second is up on the ridge to the west and can be reached by continuing up the abandoned trail to near its end or taking an abandoned road along the western ridge. The key to this is how abandoned these routes are. The first is just a little ways past where the trail is not abandoned via the canyon and has a structure marked a quarter mile into the forest to pique curiosity, so this looks like a nice one to start with. Going up the canyon, it looks like only a narrow spot just above where the trail is currently maintained is the only difficulty besides the unknown quantity of vegetation, so I'll take the easy route. Noticing the next open weekend was in a few days, I got permission to visit and thus find myself taking a hard right off the highway into the narrow driveway of the preserve and getting greeted by one of the happiest, friendliest dogs ever. Packed up and signed in and set up with my new trail spats (gaiters), it is time to get moving up the canyon.

funky green gaiters for keeping the dirt out
Some gaiters thrown together to try to keep the dirt out so my socks won't look like I've been walking through mud in them at the end of the day.

water in the creek this time
There is water in the creek this time, at least in most spots.

western ridge rocks
The rocks on the west side of the canyon.

narrowing in the canyon
The end of maintained trail comes as the canyon narrows to a few tens of feet wide and it would be difficult to maintain trail for more than a few years.

At the end of the maintained trail, the creek looks lovely as the canyon narrows down to nothing. There's still a little bit of trail here and there, but it does have a little bit of rock hopping. Trying to keep high at one point means coming to a cliff and having to back up again. The trick is, there wasn't much trail use visible there. Climbing up again, the trail shows use and the rock hopping is over as the canyon widens and the trail continues through a forested flat. A fallen oak forms a curved low bridge and although it would only be a quick duck to follow the faint trail under it, the trail has moved over now. Just past the oak, there's a bright yellow on the side of a tree the trail used to pass next to.

a bit of rocky cliff high above the tall tree tops
There are high cliffs through the narrow section of canyon.

a bit of green on the old trail bed
Some excellent trail bed with a bit of green growing everywhere but the center.

location poster on a bearing tree
On an actual bearing tree marked with a red line, a location poster set by the same surveyor shows the way to the monument.

Wandering over to the tree, I find another location poster set by FEC in 1967. According to it, I just have to go north 30 feet and there it is. Looking around the tree northward, there's nothing that stands out. There's just a flat bit of dirt covered in leaves. If the monument is on a post, it's not there. A fallen tree a bit further away has produced a pile of leaf litter sufficient to cover one, but a bit of digging doesn't find anything. Pulling out the compass and pacing out ten somewhat long steps and pushing aside the leaf litter doesn't show anything either. The person who has scratched "not" onto either side of the poster probably was finding the same thing. A bit of walking around in the vicinity of expected location doesn't turn up anything either, but is right where I already am looking.

grassy forest of bay trees
A lovely little forest of bay laurel and oaks with a bit of litter to try to cover things over, which seems to include corner 341.

Back to the trail and following it north, there is a spot where most seem to be heading up to a higher flat while a bit continue along this flat. This must be where the trail splits to climb the strike canyons to either side. Climbing up, there's more easy to follow trail right up to the door of the marked structure. It turns out to be a small cabin, as expected, that seems to have had a bit of love. Some of the boards aren't even particularly weathered. Inside, it has a lovely floor of stones fit together. Tools hang around the edge and three chairs in the middle. Of course, someone has left a brochure for the preserve on the table.

little cabin with a cactus garden
A one room cabin in the forest. It looks like it has had somewhat recent maintenance for the doors although obviously the windows aren't so good. It has quite a number of cacti in the garden.

a look inside the cabin
Shovels and saws and some other tools hang out inside around the table and chairs. The other side has two bunks.

The trail continues around the side of the cabin and past the collapsed toilet without a reduction of use. From here, the other corner is just over a mile by this abandoned trail that may or may not continue much further or about three miles by another uncertain route. I decide to try the trail which even has a bit of ribbon at a couple spots. It continues as an easy route for another 1/3 of a mile to about the point where, in the opinion of some USGS cartographer, the trail crosses the creek. Well, the stream bed. The water was coming down from a different section of the canyon and this part is quite dry. Continuing up the canyon isn't so hard, but it looks likely to be important to catch the trail as it comes back around halfway or it is likely to get moving up the wrong branch.

Finding a nice bit of trail to climb up onto about the right time just gets me into a load of hard brush. It looks like a nice trail tread but it is overgrown, so back to trying to go up along the bottom of the canyon. This does indeed take me up the wrong slot, so as that route gets hard, I turn back to try again. This time, I find the right slot and climb again, until the brush is just too much, even down in the center of the canyon. Climbing up onto a stout bit of brush for a look around doesn't show any better routes. It's all just a scramble through loads of twigs. About 800 feet short, I turn around.

strike canyon with a bit of Camino Cielo in the background
This is a look down the strike canyon while perched up on a bit of thick brush to check out the surroundings. Down past the end, Camino Cielo winds along the top of the Santa Ynez Mountains.

Back down is a lot easier, of course. Catching the trail out of the creek bed is simple, but might not have been had I not come up that way. Once back down into the canyon proper, there isn't really enough time left before I have to finish up to get up the abandoned road, but I decide to check out the Western Ridge Trail on the way back. It does have a bit of abandoned road heading off it and achieves a bit of view.

checking out the hideout from above
Looking down on the hideout down in the canyon.

up the canyon
Looking up the canyon from above.

The lower section of the trail is an easy slope, but once it gets up a bit, it starts climbing more enthusiastically.

cow pasture to the west
The canyon to the west is full of terraces like the one to the east, but much smaller and built by cows wandering their pasture.

rocks of the canyon
The same rocks up on the western canyon wall from much earlier, but from a very different angle.

the mouth of Arroyo Hondo
The bridge and the barn and the house all down in Arroyo Hondo.

bench for taking in the ocean
There's a bench up here with excellent sunset potential.

cliffs and ocean
A taste of the coast in the afternoon.

It's quick down after the rather unsuccessful monument hunt.

©2014 Valerie Norton
Posted 6 January 2014

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