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Santa Barbara Canyon Trail

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Diane
Guru at the summit


Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 836
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara Canyon Trail
Post Posted: March Sat 26, 2005 6:28 pm
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Post your update here or from Bryan's Interactive Backcountry Map.
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ByCrout Bill
Day Hiker


Joined: 31 Mar 2005
Posts: 6
Location: Willits (Mendocino County)

Santa Barbara Cyn Tr.
Post Posted: April Sat 02, 2005 11:37 am
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Hiked this from old Madulce Station camp-site to the trailhead as last leg of a Nira to S.B. Cyn. thru-hike in late March '05. Much mountain lion and bear sign around Madulce Station. The upper third of the trail is brushy, very steep, and badly eroded. In places, the "trail" is a 3' deep gully straight down the slope. No water bars left at all. Middle third of the trail is merely over-grown, with some tricky creek crossings as long as the water is still so high. Bottom third is a lovely stroll along a beautiful canyon.
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Duane
I live on the trails


Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 223
Location: Los Angeles, CA

SB Canyon Trail
Post Posted: August Sun 14, 2005 9:25 pm
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I hiked the SB Canyon Trail yesterday from the trailhead at Willow Camp up to Madulce cabin and back. 14 miles round trip. Total time: 9 hours.

Hiking the upper half of this trail was a very painful experience. The brush is extremely thick starting about three miles up from the trailhead all the way to Madulce Cabin, and it is mostly a very thorny wild rose. That's FOUR MILES OF NEARLY CONSTANT BRUSH, if you're keeping score. In fact, in several places, the trail completely disappears underneath a carpet of waist high brush.

Unfortunately, I had chosen to wear shorts and a tee shirt on this hike, and both my legs from the knees down ended up seriously lacerated (I'm better now!).

It was an extremely difficult trip: Almost 5 hours to hike the seven miles up to Madulce Cabin, and 3.5 to walk back. I lost the trail numerous times along the way. If not for the horse traffic pushing through the worst of the brush, I wouldn't have been able to finish the hike.

That last mile long ascent didn't help matters much, either.
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Duane
I live on the trails


Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 223
Location: Los Angeles, CA


Post Posted: August Sun 14, 2005 9:33 pm
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ps. Lots of water, from the trailhead all the way up. Water also at Madulce Cabin.
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Duane
I live on the trails


Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 223
Location: Los Angeles, CA

"Cooler head" update
Post Posted: August Wed 17, 2005 8:18 pm
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The trail is clear and easy to follow for the first 2.5 miles from the trailhead (heading south towards Madulce from the trailhead on SB Cyn Road).

The trail then turns right, and for the next mile, trail is relatively easy to follow, but surrounded on both sides by thick brush, mostly a mix of wild rose and oak with poison oak near the creek beds. The trail is washed out at creek crossings and can be difficult to spot.

From about mile 3.5 to mile 6.0 (approximately), brush is very thick, and it is mostly wild rose. Very thorny. I lost sight of the trail several times because of the heavy brush, and at one point became disoriented in a large waist high thicket.

At mile 6.0 the trail begins to climb a hill. The trail passes a small spring, which proved to be a life saver. The trail is easy to follow at that point, but at some places the trail is more of a flood channel than a trail, and near the summit the wild rose once again crowds the trail with thorny branches reaching over your head.

The descent down to Madulce was a piece of cake. I'd never been more happy to see a dilapidated tin shack in my life.
hills
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george
I live on the trails


Joined: 26 Mar 2006
Posts: 113
Location: santa barbara


Post Posted: June Wed 28, 2006 8:17 pm
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Pretty and generally pleasant this late June, but with an annoying growth of wild rose across the trail in the second half. Wear long sleeves and pants! We found it easy to follow.
The last 1/2 mile is of course nasty steep, narrowly rutted with some brush as well. Without the cabin at Madulce, I don't think it's much of a destination anymore. We went on by it up the steep but beautiful Madulce Trail to the road, and then on over to the Sisquoc trial to camp down at Bear Camp.
boots
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Bryan
I live on the trails


Joined: 27 Mar 2006
Posts: 233
Location: Goleta


Post Posted: March Mon 19, 2007 8:47 pm
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Hiked Santa Barbara Canyon the weekend of March 6, 2007. The trail was slightly overgrown but really not that bad, I expected worse. There is some brush and it gets worse the further up the trail you go. Starting at Chokecherry Canyon the trail begins to deteriorate until you reach the Half Mile of Hell, at which point the trail gets more overgrown with the at times waste deep ruts. Waterbars sure would be nice. The trail stays brushy until you drop down to the old guard station. There was not much water in the creek but a lot of snow. 2007 is shaping up to be one of the driest years - the spring was not looking too appetizing either.

I heard a rumor that a group was going to clear this trail by late March 2007 so it most likely will be in better shape now than it was 2 weeks ago.
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Duane
I live on the trails


Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 223
Location: Los Angeles, CA


Post Posted: March Tue 20, 2007 1:38 pm
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I went out with Ray Ford's group and helped clear the trail up to the base of the hill. The trail is in much better shape up to that point. We did a little work on the hill portion, and I believe more was done for that portion after I left.
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toejam
I live on the trails


Joined: 08 Jun 2009
Posts: 123
Location: Pismo!


Post Posted: April Mon 26, 2010 6:07 am
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This trail is currently doable, but will need some attention before the summer is over. Lots of brush on the upper half. The last steep mile before the top has had someone make an attempt at re-routing. The proposed route tries to maintain an ADA grade and switches back nonsensically all over the mountain. It's too frustrating to follow and will be unmaintainable when the brush starts growing in earnest. The ditch in the old road bed is still the way to go.
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Cross Tie Walker
I live on the trails


Joined: 21 Jul 2010
Posts: 185


Post Posted: November Mon 22, 2010 2:05 pm
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We did the Santa Barbara Canyon trail to Madulce this past weekend (Sat/Sun Nov 20/21, 2010). We got off to a late start and it was an afternoon hike in from Willow Flat. Trail's in great shape from Willow to about mile 3 or so (a few deadfalls, but nothing impassable), and then starts to become a bit overgrown ... the stretch from Chokecherry Canyon to the turn out of Santa Barbara Canyon is hemmed in with willow, rose, coffee berry and others, but not as bad or blood-letting as it could have been (e.g., Upper Rancho Nuevo last year).



Once heading up the side canyon, there are a few spots where the trail is failing, one spot especially at a bend in the creek where you've just about a foot's width left, and even that's beginning to be a maybe. Lots of water bottles and other debris in the streambed directly below, which indicates to me a few people have taken a spill here (we almost did as well).

The ascent of "Heartbreak Hill" was very, very slow. It had rained the night before, and everything was a mess. We followed the flagging and switchbacks along the lower portion as best we could, but afterward (as previous posts have mentioned) there is absolutely no point. Some of the flagging we saw was so far off the rut and in such thick brush we were half-convinced somebody helicoptered over there just to mess with us. Wink

We got to Madulce Camp just as the sun was setting and the temperature took a drastic plunge. Everything was soaked, the site was very muddy, and so we set up camp, got in our bags, and started the stoves. A few hours later it sounded like a freight train was coming in over the ridge, and the wind and ice kept us in our tents for nearly 12 hours. There was some genuine concern the tents might not survive the night, it was so strong. Finally around 0600 the wind let off, and we got out to poke around. While the storm had only left ~4 inches of snow, everything was coated in a beautiful wind-blast of rime. We had perhaps 10 minutes of sun before it started again, and so we bundled back into our bags to catch up on the sleep we didn't get all night. Finally around 0900 the sun broke out, and things stayed clear enough for us to put the kettles on again.

We headed out the same way through the snow (Heartbreak Hill now was a bit of a glissade/skirun). The snow petered out at about 4250', and was thawing quickly. A great weekend out; all the gear is on the line drying and the dog's still asleep. Smile

Photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/umotamba/sets/72157625448417318/

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Cross Tie Walker
I live on the trails


Joined: 21 Jul 2010
Posts: 185


Post Posted: February Sat 26, 2011 3:07 am
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As part of a longer hike in earlier this month (see http://www.santabarbarahikes.com/community/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=847), ZK and I returned to Santa Barbara Canyon.

I don't know if anybody's been up there clearing trail, but it did feel a bit clearer than last time. But a LOT more water, and wet feet were had pretty early on. Heartbreak Hill was an easier climb this time around because it wasn't so mucky.

Great trip.



CTW
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Cross Tie Walker
I live on the trails


Joined: 21 Jul 2010
Posts: 185


Post Posted: August Thu 25, 2011 8:15 pm
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As a historical sidenote, check out this gallery recently posted showing Madulce Cabin in all its restored glory. Breaks the heart to know it's not there any longer.

http://www.ewalkerphotography.com/EMW/MadulceStation/18720978_9mzvP8



CTW
boots
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Cross Tie Walker
I live on the trails


Joined: 21 Jul 2010
Posts: 185


Post Posted: November Wed 30, 2011 9:52 pm
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Just a head's up to a recent flurry of Santa Barbara Canyon/Madulce-related web activity.

DH has posted some fine photos at https://picasaweb.google.com/sharingtrippics/LosPadresMadulce1111?feat =content_notification from his recent trip, and the Los Padres Expat and I recently endeavored upon a two-part discussion about Madulce Cabin, which can be viewed at

http://www.craigrcarey.net/2011/11/station-to-station-no-1-madulce/

and

http://www.emwalker.net/wordpress/2011/12/01/madulce-station-revisited  /

CTW
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Cowboy Clark
Day Hiker


Joined: 15 Apr 2009
Posts: 23


Post Posted: December Thu 01, 2011 9:18 am
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Wow - great write-ups by both of you! How sad this landmark was lost - at least it lives on in memory.
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carp_nb
I live on the trails


Joined: 20 Sep 2006
Posts: 133
Location: Carpinteria

Maldulce
Post Posted: December Thu 01, 2011 12:27 pm
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+1. That was a great pairing of stories on the old Maldulce Station. Awesome job both Craig and Eldon. Wish I could've seen it in its early 80s post-remodel/restoration prime!
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