Hiking with our daughter Molly, her hubby Tip, our grandsons, Owen (kindergarten), and Max (pre-school) has become a family tradition for Hannah and me when they come to California. Choosing the four mile round-trip Rattlesnake Trail, we have what is referred to online as the most popular hike in Santa Barbara. Traveling a mere 12 miles from our home-away-from-home in Carpinteria on The 101 north, we pull into the city of Santa Barbara Skofield Park. A hopeful sign of the times greets us.
Not two hundred yards away, we begin our trek by crossing the canyon stream. Today, Tip calmly steps on stones 2/3 of the way across the creek, turns back with his hand reaching for first Owen, then Max, followed by Molly, Hannah, and me.
Maybe half a mile into the hike, the trail diverges – to the right along the mountainside, to the left back to towards the river. I swear that when Hannah and I were here two years ago that we hiked this trail to the right. Click here for that blog. My memory? It’s not batting 1.000.
Not my shiniest moment. Climbing up and away from the luxury homes of Santa Barbara, we are soon walking single file on the steep mountain-side – Owen with his Omi and Max with me skipping along the trail. As the trail narrows and falls away sharply to the creek, Hannah and I turn to the first team, their parents, to take over and guide them along the trail. Later, three athletic women call this the “technical” path to the meadow on the Rattlesnake Trail. My bad.
Eventually crossing back over the creek with Tip’s reassuring support, we reconnect with the original (and by that, I mean reasonable) trail, which is a gentler climb towards the mountain meadow. A good hour and 45 minutes after we started we arrive at the meadow beneath the towering Santa Ynez Mountains.
Returning by way of the advertised main trail, we pass the mini-waterfalls (and by that, I mean tumbling cascade) during the rainiest winter in eight years. On the main trail back, we do have two more water crossings. At the second, Tip again confidently steps ¾ of the way into the creek, first lifts Max, then hoists Owen over to the other side. Molly follows without aid as does Hannah.
Being a tad less agile than these athletic women, I reach down for the creek boulders to lower my center of gravity to steady myself. At that point, Tip reaches for my hand to support me mid-creek. As I’m about to step to the dry side, Owen reaches out his hand to get me to dry land.
Hannah sees it all and tears up. Like father, like son.
More pictures from the Rattlesnake Trail