On this mid-January Wednesday, it’s a simple 15 minute drive from Carpinteria to the trailhead of Romero Canyon in the foothills of Montecito. Parking near the trailhead at Belle Vista Drive, we see the road again in rough shape but nothing like it was in 2019.
Fact is, the rainy winter we spent in California last year is a distant memory as we have had 11 straight sunny days on the Pacific. We’ve had effective temperatures in the 70s! Though the daytime highs are generally in the low to mid-60s, as a trained meteorologist (by that I mean I watch the Weather Channel), I add 8-10F to the ambient temperature (temp in the shade) to get the true “feels like” temperature in the sun. Please, it’s not rocket science! I just do the math!
As we begin the dusty trail, we see what appear to be volunteers with white flags. As we approach them, I ask, What are you doing? (By that I mean que paso?) They tell me and now it’s time for you to figure out what’s up from the pictures below? Answer at the end of the blog.
The trail up Romero Canyon is relentless (by that I mean there is 1500’ of elevation gain in just over two miles of hiking). Popular with mountain bikers, the Romero Canyon trail has the distinctive jingle of bike bells when riders approach. The bells are free and available at the trailhead. Throughout our two hours on the trail, we see five or six rockin’ riders; we are never startled by their passing.
With little rain since December, the trail is dusty with creek crossings that we take with a simple step or two.
For the most part tree covered, the very rocky trail meanders into the mountains for a mile and a half with vertical drops of 20’ or more just a few feet from the trail.
After our final creek crossing, we follow the mostly shaded switchback trail into the mountains. Our turnaround point is the fire road; there is much more hiking into the Santa Ynez mountains available for the adventurous.
Adventurous we are not today, so we return for the trailhead knowing that we love our hikes of about four miles roundtrip; they are our bread and butter, our peaches and cream, our yin and yang, our Ali and Cat… I think you get the idea.
Romero Canyon? It’s a workout but worth the effort.
White flags? The volunteers are taking a tick survey. Really, active ticks in January? Yes, in California.