Romero Canyon Trail
[out of 5]
|For:||Uphill, long if you go all the way to the top|
Romero Canyon is a popular destination for hikers and mountain bikers. The trail is shady and along a creek bed for the first half. There is a strong scent of bay laurel in the air. The creek almost always has plenty of water, making the first half of the hike a tranquil forest hike. Then about 2 miles up, there is a junction with a fire road. Mountain bikers often use this road because it offers a challenge without being a complete death trap. Follow the trail instead of the road for a challenging climb up and over the Santa Ynez range to East Camino Cielo Rd, which is a dirt road where the trail meets. Follow East Camino Cielo leftward to the water tower and follow the old fire road back down to the junction. Then choose to follow the shady trail or the interesting, shaley road back to the trailhead.
There are wonderful views of Montecito and the ocean from the summit of this trail, and sweeping vistas of the wild back country when you reach East Camino Cielo Rd. Keep your eyes open where the trail meets East Camino Cielo for a rusty sign announcing Romero Trail continuing down the hill into Blue Canyon, a nice destination for a backpack trip.
Romero Canyon Trail
From the Mission, corner of Laguna and Los Olivos Street in Santa Barbara...
Get on US 101 going southbound by taking Laguna St. to Mission St. (toward the ocean).
Turn right on Mission St.
Follow Mission St. to the freeway and take US 101 south.
Take the Sheffield exit just before going up the hill to Summerland. This is a left exit, getting off the freeway from the left lane.
Turn left. Turn right again after crossing under the freeway onto Sheffield Dr.
The road winds immediately to the left. Don't go right up the hill.
At East Valley Road, Turn left, then almost immediately turn right onto Romero Canyon Rd.
Follow Romero Canyon Rd. for a mile and a half. There is a fork in the road. Make sure to take the right fork.
At Bella Vista Rd, turn right. Go about 1/4 mile and park just before or just after the stream crossing where there is a metal gate across a dirt road to the left.
The Trailhead is at the metal gate on the dirt road.
(About 20 minute drive)
Romero Canyon Trail
From the trailhead...
Walk through the red, iron gate and follow the dirt road. This road is popular with mountain bikers, as is the trail itself.
At about 1/4 mile, cross a concrete bridge.
At approximately 1/2 mile, cross the stream.
A little ways past the stream, look for the sign marking the trail. Turn left onto the trail at this sign.
The trail follows above the creek in lush vegetation and shade. There are a few creek crossings that are not difficult.
At just under 2 miles is the junction with the road again. You can return by turning right and following the road if you like.
To continue the trail, cross the road and begin uphill at the small sign. The sign points you to Camino Cielo Rd. which is what you want.
The trail climbs steeply in sparser vegetation. You summit at the 3 mile mark at about 3100ft. There are many separate trails going this way and that at this point. Bicycles and motorcycles use these trails. Recently a fire break was created making the area even more confusing. The hiking trail is marked with a small sign saying trail. The trail goes downhill at this point. Last time I hiked this last section of the trail it was terribly overgrown.
At 3.5 miles you meet up with East Camino Cielo Rd, which at this point is a dirt road. Across the road and a little to your right is a rusty metal sign marked Romero Canyon Trail. This is the continuation of the trail and descends into Blue Canyon, a nice spot for an overnight camp out.
For the day-hike to the water tank, turn left at the road and continue until you reach the water tank.
The water tank is at just over 4 miles and lies at a spot called the Romero Saddle. There is a road heading back toward the city at the tank. This is the same dirt road you crossed 2 miles below. Take this road for the return trip. It will meet back at the junction with the trail, the same junction as at the 2 mile mark.
To return home either take the trail and return the way you came (2 miles and a figure 9), or continue on the road (just over 2 miles and a figure 8). Both take you to the trailhead again.