20 April 2015

Romero Trail

Los Padres National Forest

Romero Trail is quite well known along the canyon it is named for, somewhat less known as it climbs down into Blue Canyon from Romero Camuesa Road, and somehow even less known as it goes over the top between its meeting with Camino Cielo (in this spot, a narrow and poorly known trail itself) and Romero Camuesa. People often walk or ride Romero Trail with the long closed Romero Canyon Road in a giant figure eight, never actually realizing that they cut across on Camino Cielo back to the saddle. I decided to finally hike this section of Romero and then poke around Blue Canyon. I went for it, as it turns out, on the second day of work on Gibraltar and although I was not "thru" traffic, which the road is closed to according to the signs, they would actually only allow residents through. I headed up the long way, only to find road closed signs at Angostura Pass. This small section of Camino Cielo apparently is, although not in the minds of the public, also Gibraltar Road. I could probably get away with sneaking past the signs, but decided to just walk Romero end to end. The parking is deserted except for a couple mountain bikers finishing up, but will be difficult to come by in another half hour when the dog walkers and such flood in at 8 AM. The marine layer is keeping things cool, so it is a good day for a climb.

Romero Canyon Road
Starting off on the old Romero Canyon Road under the fog.

A short way up the road, there is a creek crossing and the trail starts. It is steeper, shorter, rockier, and cooler than the road. There are a few flowers out, some getting a little thin and old. The clouds do not extend all that far into the canyon, and so I leave them behind. Once above them, it feels a like there is a little extra sun, some of it reflecting off the lower clouds.

wisps of cloud blow by wisps of flower
Getting toward the edge of the clouds, a wisp blows past some wispy flowering vines.

trees bent over the trail
It is often shady, even above the clouds.

purple petals that are very narrow at the base and open widely
One of the more delicate looking flowers around.

The trail crosses the road about two miles up, then gets out into the sun a bit more. Some of the places along this stretch slip a bit, building up short steep hills that are uncomfortable to cross. Eventually, it starts to level off in a grassy area. Off to the west, there is a water tank in a low saddle where Romero Canyon Road comes up and where Camino Cielo ends as a road and becomes a trail.

Romero Canyon Road climbing out of the canyon to the saddle.
Looking down to Romero Canyon Road and the marine layer.

Romero Saddle
The water tank in Romero Saddle can be a little hard to pick out. Behind it, Camino Cielo comes in from the west. To the left, Romero Canyon Road comes in, and to the right, Romero Camuesa starts down the back.

A little more than three miles up, Romero Trail joins Camino Cielo for a moment and a wide track heads west toward the saddle, splitting to either go over or behind a small peak that is a popular hiking end point. A miss track heads off north just a few feet after the join. It is marked by a slapstick, but is still easy to miss. This is where Romero Trail goes over the top of the mountains. There is only a few more feet up to go before it tucks into a small gully heading down. Small trees arch overhead making it quite pleasant. A couple open spots are grassy, the drying grasses arching over like the trees, obscuring the trail. It comes to a nice view of Blue Canyon, then edges west along the hillside to meet the road below.

grassy trail beside a slapstick
The trail is marked as it heads up and over the last couple feet of climb.

lush green area
Tall grasses fall across the trail obscuring it in the lush top area.

Blue Canyon
Looking out over Blue Canyon.

blue and red petals
Delphinium and paintbrush by the side of the trail.

A guy passes by below with a dirt bike on the back of his truck. He does not look like resident traffic only. The trail is suddenly surrounded by madrones just before reaching the road about four miles along. This side is only marked by a decaying sign post. The trail jogs to the right at the road. At the crossing, I chat with a mountain biker working his way up the road. He points out the trail to me not realizing I just came down it and says most people go the long way around on the road. A metal sign marks the way down. From here, the trail heads down steeply, but mellows out halfway down.

starting further down
At the second junction with the road and about to head down.

four spot
One of the flowers in the sand on the back side.

low hills with a trail
Looking back over the trail after it has become much more mellow and even climbs a slight bit.

orange flowers with a face
Sticky monkey flowers.

There is another metal sign at the end of Romero Trail at the bottom to point the way along Blue Canyon Trail. The trail up the canyon is much thinner than the one down the canyon. I head down, quickly coming to a couple of creek crossings full of water and Blue Canyon Camp.

creek in Blue Canyon
The water is flowing through Blue Canyon, which does have a few blue rocks like the one on the right.

small section of a field of small flowers
Tiny flowers cover patches just big enough to flop over into.

swallow tail on delphinium
The butterflies are out in force today.

picnic table in the grass
Blue Canyon Camp has a table and fire ring and tools. It had three ice can stoves once, which is quite a few for a little camp.

It is only another mile or so down to Cottam Camp. The small tributary just below Blue Canyon Camp is flowing as I pass.

Forbush Canyon
Looking up Forbush Canyon on the way down Blue Canyon.

blue rock rising in Blue Canyon
Checking out one of the bluer rocks in the canyon.

green fading in the large meadow
Coming over the hill into the meadow beside Cottam Camp. The grass is dying and owl clover is blooming.

Cottam Camp
Cottam Camp also has a table and fire ring and a few tools.

I thought it would be more, but it is less than seven miles to Cottam Camp. It is also a junction, with the trail down Forbush Canyon joining from Cold Spring Trail. The creek beside the camp seems to be dry even though I could see it flowing nicely along the way between the camps. It must go underground. I walk around the area a little bit, but do not pursue the vanishing water before heading back.

meadow from another angle
Another look at the meadow.

hawk moth
A hawk moth sipping nectar.

spiders on a rock in the water
Some spiders seem to love water.

The little tributary has become a line of mud when I cross it again. The creeks can have moods, or maybe it is the trees along them that have moods. It is odd to see it change so quickly.

inland clouds forming
Climbing back out of Blue Canyon and there seem to be clouds forming further inland.

Not far up the road from the trail crossing, there is a short and steep road down to a prominent rock outcrop. There is a little poison oak along the trail. Once at the rock, it is pretty easy to get up to the top and there are quite a few nooks and crannies to poke around.

blue rocks sticking up
Taking a moment to climb around some of the blue rocks.

close up on white flowers
Lilies along the trail.

After playing on the rock, it is time to head back up and over. The marine layer has mostly gone leaving only a little haze.

©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 24 April 2015

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