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Santa Barbara Hikes

Alder Creek Trail (Franklin Trail)

This trail is no longer accessible due to recent fires and floods. The trail may be completely gone or it may only be inaccessible due to road closures.

Alder Creek/Franklin Trail

[out of 5]
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For:Long, exposed to the sun at first, then steep.
The sluice at Alder Creek
The sluice at Alder Creek

This trail has been closed but not burned by the Rey Fire. I don't know when it will be open again.

Sometimes people ask if there is anywhere you can hike in Carpinteria. This hike almost counts. You will be hiking behind Carpinteria.

The hike begins at the old Juncal Campground on Juncal Road, which is what East Camino Cielo Road becomes some long distance past the end of the pavement. You hike through Juncal Camp toward Jameson Reservoir, then at the far end, turn up a steep canyon and follow the creek along what is officially the Franklin Trail.

You can follow the Franklin Trail all the way to the top of the mountains for a look over the other side at Carpinteria and the ocean. Theoretically, you can follow it back down to Foothill road in Carp, but in reality, you can't because of private property issues.

It's a lovely creek and well worth the long walk along the dirt road to get there. The total mileage for the described hike is 10 miles. It's mostly level with some steeper uphill when you finally reach the real trail in the creek.

You will need an Adventure PassPass to park.

Boulder, CO Leave No Trace Frountcountry program

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A friend and I hiked this trail today. The stream around the sluice area is flowing well. The trail from the sluice to Alder Creek Campground is a little overgrown, but pretty straightforward to follow, except for one stretch right after the debris dam: there are some trees and bushes blocking the trail, but once you push through those the trail's easy to find again. We tried to follow Franklin Trail up to the crest, but couldn't find it at all. There was a flag at Alder Creek Campground that marked the start of the trail, and for maybe a hundred feet or so it was easy to follow, but once it hit the creek it disappeared completely. We tried to rock hop along the creek and scramble through the brush to find it, but once we climbed up to the top of the ridge and still had no clue where it was, we gave up and turned around. Either we missed something obvious (quite possible), or the trail is hopelessly overgrown. But otherwise, it was a gorgeous hike! Too the bad the drive to get to the trailhead is so painstaking (and I don't think my car was too happy with me about it...)
Posted by: Sebastian  on  2015-01-25
Did an overnight at the creek July 14th 2011. The road down from Camino Cielo was in fantastic shape. We saw someone driving it in Honda Civic! We got a late start, and ended up walking in the afternoon heat. Sadly, we could not find the rubber duck marking the shortcut, so we hiked up the exposed switchbacks to the dam. The final stretch from the dam is mostly flat, but completely unprotected from the sun. Needless to say, we were very pleased to find the creek flowing fast with fresh and cool water. The conditions of the trail beyond the debris dam were pretty good. The first 1/8 mile after the damn is fairly flat and a little hard to follow. Lots of poison oak there. Once you hit the switchbacks the poison oaks disappears, and the trail becomes easy to follow. However, a few places had been covered by rock slides. One in particular was very sketchy, as it was covered with loose sand with a 30 foot drop on one side. A few hours work with a camp shovel could fix these parts of the trail. We did our best to power up the steep switch backs, but after about 45 minutes, we ended up on a ridge high above the creek. I'm not sure if we passed the camp, or if we were almost there. Either way, we gave up, headed back down, and camped at the debris dam. This worked out quite well. The spaces below the sluice are pretty level and clear, which made perfect spots to pitch our tents. There was some spare lumber nearby that we fashioned into a bench. To top it all off, about 50 feet down the trail from the dam, the sluice was leaking, making a great shower. We saw a few ticks on the fire road to and from the creek, but none in the vicinity of the creek. There were a few mosquito's at the creek, but they didn't show up until late evening.
Posted by: deckardxmen  on  2012-07-17
Did this trail on October 16, 2011 as a day hike. We went down East Camino Cielo till you reach a gate at the bottom. The trail is pretty easy to follow and takes you by the reservoir at Jameson Lake. The sluice is pretty cool to see. Part of it is being rebuilt and you can walk along the boards of wood placed atop of the sluice. When you get to the end of the sluice, head a little to the left and forward (you'll cross the stream and little waterfall). From there you continue back. We went to the Alder campground, which barely looks like a campground at all. There was a makeshift firepit with slight clearing to put a tent. All in all, a very enjoyable hike with a well-maintained trail. The drive down Camino Cielo to the head of it is the hardest part. If you don't have a pickup truck or some offroad tires, it's going to be very difficult to drive to the trailhead.
Posted by: Jules  on  2011-10-19
Hiked/biked from the Divide Peak TH down to Juncal and out to Alder Creek this past weekend (Sunday, 6/5/2011) in the rain. Though the road from the TH to the Juncal junction is closed due to damage further toward Pendola, this stretch of road was in good shape. The road from Juncal to Jameson also in great shape; portions are a bit weedy from the dam turnoff to Alder Creek, but other portions have clearly been mowed/weedwhacked in recent months. All in all smooth sailing. Somebody's been working up on the sluice; tools and come-alongs and timber and new planks all around. [img:c4dc87c7cc][/img:c4dc87c7cc] The Alder Creek trail, however, isn't getting any attention. Lots of treefall, extremely overgrown (mostly with thick poison oak). Ugh. We didn't progress very far from there. [img:c4dc87c7cc][/img:c4dc87c7cc] En route back to Divide Peak TH, the rain took a nasty turn and so we made a makeshift shelter from some old corrugated tin at Juncal and hunkered down for some lunch to wait the storm out. It never relented, so after a calorie load we just got back to it and slogged up those last miles. Messy, wet, and very windy, but still a great exploratory. Some photos at [url][/url] CTW
Posted by: Cross Tie Walker  on  2011-06-06
Hiked up Franklin trail from "behind"; that is, from the Jameson lake side. I have heard rumors (now quite old) that they are working on the trail from the Carpenteria side. From the exit of the service road next to Jameson Lake all the way to the source of the aqueduct trail is quite clear and free. At that point the trail all but disappears into the creek and big bushes of poison oak. If you get around this, however, you find more evidence of the trail further up the creek, and if you follow it further the trail ascends into a series of switchbacks. For a long while the trail looks remarkably clear and legit, though could use some clearing of poison oak. Eventually you reach what looks like a campsite with a fire pit. Now the trail goes headlong into a thicket of poison oak---managed to get through it with extreme care and hope I didn't make mistakes. After you get through this thicket the trail is not looking as good, have to fight your way through overgrowth and its tricky to avoid the poison oak. However the existence of the trail is clear all the way up to the electricity pylon. From here the trail is not so easy to see but if you follow your nose you'll find your way to the top. A very nice and special view of Carpenteria and the ocean from there. I was not able to see any evidence of a trail in the vicinity which would go downhill on the Carpenteria side.
Posted by: surfertedd  on  2010-08-15
On December 8th, we hiked from Juncal to Jamison then up Alder Creek Trail to the top. Alder Creek Trail is in good condition with flowing water for most of the first mile. Lots of poison oak along the creek, and some ticks.
Posted by: Chris Chirgwin  on  2006-12-10