Alder Creek, or the Franklin Trail
The hike starts about .25 miles from where you parked the car, if you parked it where I described. The starting place used to be a campground called Juncal Camp, but now it is closed and guarded by large boulders. You start by walking through the camp. Look for a clump of sycamores on the campground side of the road, a telephone pole on the opposite side of the road, and a trail leading to a dirt road inside the campground with another, newer pole ahead.
If you can't find all that, just head inward and follow whatever you find.
At about .38 miles, there is a metal gate and creek crossing.
At about 1.5 miles, there is a shortcut if you are tiring of the dirt road. All along, you may have seen a rather dry looking hill looming ahead. You can climb the side of that hill and shave off a quarter or half a mile of dirt road switchbacks. The shortcut is very steep, however, so you decide.
To find the shortcut, look for a small meadow on right (it certainly won't be the only one, but it's at the 1.5 mile mark, so that's the small meadow you are looking for!), and an opening between the trees. You may see a faint trail visible aiming toward the creek. The main road will curve slightly left and a telephone wire will be directly overhead if you keep going. I put a small duck at the opening, but it might not be there now.
If you can't find the place I describe, what you are really trying to do is get to the creek and aim to that hill.
Still on the shortcut, after crossing the river bed, aim toward a very low concrete wall. The rest of the shortcut trail is through the bushes to the left of that wall.
Ok, for those who didn't take the shortcut, at about 1.75 miles there will be a creek crossing. Looks like a small swimming hole to the left there. Very inviting.
At 2.25 miles there is a view of the Juncal dam.
2.37 miles, junction with Juncal Dam road. There is a big keep out sign.
At 2.55 miles the previously mentioned short cut emerges back at the road. The road veers left to a straighter, leveled out section. The short cut trail is to the right at the apex of the curve. Look for small opening next to oak tree, to the left of it. You may wish to take it on the way back.
Along the road, at the 3.1 mile mark, there is another junction with the road to the dam.
At 3.5 miles, there are 2 signs. One says Upper Santa Ynez camp 2.5 miles, and Murietta Divide 4 miles. The other says Franklin Canyon Trail, Alder Creek Camp 1.5, Ocean View trail 2, Foothill Road (Carpinteria) 9. Take the Franklin trail, which is the right fork. Look for an old rusty car down the side for fun.
At 3.65 miles you will be under the sluice. At the fork take the right one.
At 3.75 miles, there is a turn around spot for autos. You can see alders in the creek. You're finally getting to the real trail. Go straight.
At 4 miles, the trail crosses the creek under the sluice. Around bend you can get level with the sluice. You may miss this creek crossing if you go all the way to the debris dam, but if you do, just cross at the debris dam.
At this point, there is a cold sulphur spring in the trail. Also, giant ferns. From the debris dam onward, the trail begins more of a climb. Switchbacks, a little treacherous and overgrown but followable.
At 5 miles you'll reach Alder Creek Camp. It's a pretty spot, a bit shady, so maybe not the best place to stay in winter. You could backpack to here. There's a fire ring, and a perfect spot for a one-man tent.
The trail continues but overgrowth increases. My description ends here because with the return trip, the round trip will be 10 miles. But you are welcome to continue. I have done the hike all the way to the top, but that was a few years ago.