Dan and Hannah Return to the Scene of Major Drama – San Ysidro Falls Trail

I am so glad it wasn’t Owen or Max, Molly or Tip, Hannah remembers that early afternoon five years ago when the trail beneath her feet gave way. She ended up on a perch twenty-five feet into the canyon, fifty feet below (See the links below to recapture that 2017 experience.)

A steep cliff on the San Ysidro Trail similar to the one where Hannah fell in 2017

She also remembers the sound of a crack she heard in her head as she landed on the rocky perch.  She thinks it came from the gash to the bone of her leg as the sharp rocks ripped into her leg. I remember after supporting her for a mile and a half back down the trail from where she fell that the paramedics said to Hannah, You can choose whether you go to the emergency room with us or go with your husband, but you are going with us. The wound to the bone was so severe that the ambulance was, in fact, her only option.

Four-mile roundtrip to the falls

Nonetheless, Hannah and I choose the trail to the San Ysidro Falls in Montecito as our first winter hike of 2022.  Due to the Covid pandemic we did not return to the Santa Barbara area in 2021.  As usual, we come back this mid-January fleeing the cold and snow of our home base in Maine. 

San Ysidro Trail at the start looks pretty benign.

A mere twenty minutes from our home away from home condo in Carpinteria, we have no trouble finding parking along East Mountain Road among the multi-million dollar mansions of Montecito.

After “easy pickings” walking the level beaches of Carpinteria, we have a 1000’+ of elevation gain to the falls.  Ever since the rainy February of 2017, the falls have not flowed when we have hiked because of persistent drought.  Also the debris flows of January 2018 that killed 23 local residents have scoured the ravine to recontour the terrain; deadly 15’ diameter boulders littered the ravine.

Guard rails along the trail

The first mile of the trail is a wide fire road with gravel and small rocks here and there on the trail.  Not so pleasant for the feet but not difficult at all for hiking.

At the one mile mark, we head on a single trail that weaves through the forest along the south side of the still, in places, steep cliffs of the ravine.  It doesn’t feel perilous at all, though we hike closer to the mountainside than the cliffs.

Since this area has received a good deal of rain over the last three weeks, we have green grasses and lush leafy bushes flourishing along the trail.  Winter is in fact the rainy season in Santa Barbara, but you’d never know it from our eight winters here when the parched and coughing brown landscape was all we saw.  The recent rains also make us hopeful that this year we’ll see water cascading down the falls.

And that we do! Weaving our way in sight of the falls, we are plumped to see the waterfalls some 100 yards away.  Where in 2017 we were able to hike to the base of the falls, the trail no longer exists to do that any more.

Returning to the trailhead looking out to the Pacific Ocean and the distant Channel Islands.

It’s another five-star day in Paradise.  The falls are tumbling, the sun is casting its glory on us, and Hannah safely returns to the trailhead after four miles of hiking in 2022.

Six blogs of 2017

5 thoughts on “Dan and Hannah Return to the Scene of Major Drama – San Ysidro Falls Trail

  1. This means we’ve known you two at least 5 years because I remember reading the post about her fall when it happened. It broke my heart! It must be a little unsettling walking it again. “Yonah” is ready for another visit from “York”! If we didn’t have two older dogs who are impossible to board, we’d drive up to see you. Maybe 2023. ❤️

  2. Pingback: Dan and Hannah Hike the East Fork of the Cold Spring Trail in Montecito – over60hiker

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