23 June 2014

Carpinteria Salt Marsh Preserve

Land Trust for Santa Barbara County

Locate the trailhead.

Where Franklin Creek meets the ocean, a salt marsh once stood. It was abused for many years because people did not see the value of swampy land then, but now has been generally restored to allow the animals to return. Now the greatest need for restoration is a connection to other types of habitats since many of the predators for creatures in the marsh come from other places, thus prey animals can become too numerous now. A short series of trails with multiple entry points from Ash Ave. Beach access parking can make parking difficult at that end, but I find parking easy near the northern entrance. Dogs and bicycles are prohibited, says the sign. Taking a slight jog right, the trail passes along a line of mobile homes with small water channels visible to the south. A couple gardeners are working along the edge of the trail and below, there is an egret fishing. Quick jabs into the water seem to be coming up with some sort of fish.

egret wading in brackish water
An egret stands in the shallow, brackish water fishing.

Past the water channels, the trail passes over Franklin Creek on a bridge with egret designs. A cormorant lands in the water for a moment, sitting low in the water, then takes off heavily. The trail turns to continue around the edge of the open area by following the creek shortly. A few mallards are floating in the water and seem more likely to stay. The trail turns again to follow a fence by the railroad tracks, then finishes in a swirling flourish just before private Sandyland Cove Rd.

fairly dry marshland
Looking across the marshland past the bridge to the houses along the edge of the ocean.

silly path
A swirling finish to the trail along here.

There is not much to see at this end of the trail this time of year. The land around it is rather dry and the brush is getting tall. Turning back, I stop by the little spur of trail near the bridge because this seems to be the only spot to see the water on the far side of it that is not part of the creek. At first it is not an interesting sight, then I notice movement. There are crabs as big as my fist scuttling about in the mud. As I look, I see more and more of them both on the bank and in the water.

crab under metal
A crab hides under the edge of a metal culvert in the mud. A few barnacles have made the metal their home.

I cross back over and return the way I came, past a number of informative signs.

muddy flats of the salt marsh
A muddy flat around one of the channels in the salt marsh.

I turn toward the ocean to see what this trail holds in that direction. This edge is somewhat more developed with a higher density of educational signs. Near one entrance, there is a pair of binoculars, although the bushes are mostly too high to look out with them. Another spot holds a small amphitheater. Past the last entrance, there is the beach, with crowds of people even though it is Monday and overcast. I turn back and return again the way I came.

swamp, houses, and mountains
Looking out across the salt marsh to the slowly clearing mountains.

delicate purple petals
One of the few flowers that is blooming currently.

channels in the marsh
Another look at the channels for water flow through the marsh.

©2014 Valerie Norton
Posted 23 June 2014

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